Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:39 pm on 14th April 2003.

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Photo of Mr Paul Boateng Mr Paul Boateng Chief Secretary, HM Treasury, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury 9:39 pm, 14th April 2003

I do not want to give way.

Some 70 per cent. of those people are in full-time jobs and 70 per cent. are in the private sector. As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development made clear, the UK is the best place to start out and to succeed in business. That is the result of the steps taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor.

We are doing more. We are improving the research and development tax credits as a result of talking to the CBI and the TUC. Industry is working together, management and workers alike. As Digby Jones recognised, in a difficult business climate with little room for manoeuvre, the Chancellor has remained focused on improving the overall performance of the economy. That is our intention: to continue to improve access to finance for small businesses and to cut red tape and the costs of entering the VAT system.

International comparisons consistently show that the regulatory cost of starting a business in the UK is one of the lowest—it is 30 times less than that of our European competitors. The former right hon. Member for Huntingdon told the Tory party conference in 1992:

"You need 28 separate licences, certificates and registrations just to start a business."

It now takes a day to set up a business and it costs £85. No more 28 licences under Labour. In the EU it takes an average of 11 weeks to set up a new business and costs more than £1,000. We have cut form filling and red tape for 700,000 small businesses with our new flat-rate VAT scheme. We have saved 150,000 small businesses up to £180 million a year by raising the statutory audit requirement to a turnover of £1 million. And it gets better. I commend this Budget to the House.