Unemployment in the UK

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 7:18 pm on 7th October 2008.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 7:18 pm, 7th October 2008

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman does not appear to believe that, given the financial and cost-of-living pressures on pensioners, freezing the council tax is a good idea. We happen to think that it is, and I would be delighted to argue the case with him on the doorsteps of pensioners in my constituency and elsewhere.

We need to take steps to protect small businesses that face a sudden problem, especially in the current climate of difficult times and in the months ahead. At the moment, our insolvency rules do not do enough to stop those firms going under. That needs to be changed as a matter of urgency. The United States has a special system for companies in that position, called chapter 11. The system allows companies in difficulties enough time and protection to sort things out. A similar system should be introduced in the UK. It would allow company directors the time to formulate a plan to rescue or restructure the company. It would not save lame ducks, but it would give good companies a breathing space when their financing was put under pressure by world events or a sudden, unexpected and unwanted hiccup, such as a supplier failing to supply or a customer going bankrupt.

The current insolvency system often means that the only option is to close down the business, destroying livelihoods and creating significant job losses. If we were to adopt the proposed reforms that we have set out, introducing a chapter 11-style system, it would create a breathing space that allowed company directors to formulate a plan to rescue or restructure a company.

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