The Economy

Part of Council Tax Rebate – in the House of Commons at 8:42 pm on 31st March 2009.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 8:42 pm, 31st March 2009

That kind of language is extremely dangerous. I have even received BNP literature in Pimlico in the past couple of days, which really is extraordinary, and now there is Sevenoaks. Situations are developing all over the country that are of grave concern, but which, at the same time, are a reflection of the economic crisis that we are in and which we must do something about.

That brings me to the more positive side of the equation. There is European government and over-regulation, but I want the introduction of the supremacy of Parliament amendment, which I have proposed on many occasions. We could thereby override legislation and return to what the leader of the Conservative party said in November 2005 about his imperative policy being to repatriate labour and social legislation, by using our powers in this House and ensuring that we govern on behalf of the people of this country, in accordance with the votes that are expressed in the ballot box, not according to majority votes or the rules of the European Court of Justice.

While we are on the subject of financial regulation, I simply make the point, which I have made many times, including to the Prime Minister last week, that there are a lot of weasel words coming from the Government. I challenge the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to tell me this evening whether we will indeed repudiate the idea of the Europe-wide supervision of banks and financial services. I have read the 85 pages of the de Larosière report and the European Commission's response. I have also read the Turner report and the explanatory memorandum to the European Scrutiny Committee, by the man whom I have described as the hapless Lord Myners, whom we are summoning to the Committee to explain the explanatory memorandum. There is absolutely no doubt whatever that, despite the Government's attempts to say there will be national supervision, if this turns into a regulation or directive under the Single European Act, that will mean simply acting as agents for a European system, and the effect will be to bring in majority voting. While it is being negotiated, we will be able only to tinker with it, not to change it, and it will subsequently be adjudicated by the European Court of Justice. That will cover the whole of our banking and financial services, which is an enormous threat to the City of London and an enormous threat to this country. I believe that it is also a threat to the Bank of England. I suggest that we wake up and realise exactly where all this is going.

I said that I was going to say something on a more positive note. There should be much more emphasis on the importance of giving credit arrangements to companies that need credit in order to buy the excellent machines of companies such as JCB in my constituency and others. We should also remember that small businesses employ 58 per cent. of the UK's private sector work force and contribute half of the UK's GDP, employing more than 12 million people. We want to look after those small businesses.

One of the first things I did when I came to the House was to bring in the Small Business Bill. I have always believed in it; I have always believed in promoting enterprise and employment. We should bear it in mind that 90 per cent. of UK businesses employ fewer than 20 people, so what should we do to help them? Of course we have to help bigger companies, but at this point in the debate I emphasise that we should ensure that we provide these businesses with post office banks, which I believe would help a great deal. There is a proposal from the Federation of Small Businesses to provide a network of small post office banks, which would help rural communities where there is a great deal of deprivation, while also providing facilities in competition with, but not overtaking, the main banking system.

I think we should reintroduce enterprise allowances and enterprise zones, which were enormously successful in the 1980s, and I think that we should reduce the burden of legislation and the burden of taxation wherever it is possible to do so in application to small businesses. In the light of what I have already said about the economic crisis, I fear that public expenditure will be massively reduced and taxation will go up. In the course of that, we must also look after small businesses. I strongly advocate more relief for empty properties.

We want a positive message to go out about what we could describe as the grass-roots people in this country; we should ensure that they have a real purchase on their own future. Right now, what is happening is that they are being crushed, yet they represent a very substantial proportion of the business community and of the population of this country. I say we should put small businesses right at the top of the list.

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