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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Adrian Bailey Adrian Bailey Chair, Business, Innovation and Skills Committee 3:41 pm, 24th March 2011

I am sorry but I am not taking any more interventions, because a lot of Members want to speak.

There are a number of measures that in themselves might be good, but which I do not think address the scale of the problem created by the Government’s macro- economic policy. First, research and development tax credits are very welcome. Business has been pushing for them, particularly in high-quality manufacturing, but at the end of the day they will affect only a few thousand businesses. They are very welcome but will not in themselves transform the economic landscape. Entrepreneur reliefs are also welcome, but they affect only a few hundred people. National insurance holidays for start-ups were announced some time ago, but so far only some 1,500 of the 400,000 that it was thought would apply have done so. The Government need to look at that again.

I have mixed feelings about enterprise zones. There will be one in my area, which I very much hope will work—I will certainly be working with the black country business community to ensure that it does. However, the reality is that enterprise zones are a recycled policy from the 1980s, which was not even very successful then. Indeed, those fears were expressed yesterday by Mr Tyrie, the Conservative Chair of the Treasury Committee. If the policy is to succeed, we have to prevent existing businesses from relocating just to pay less tax, while not necessarily employing more people. I am concerned that we may end up trying to prevent that by incorporating a lot of regulations that will defeat the purpose of having enterprise zones in the first place.

Although there are some measures in the plan that are good, they are not sufficient to address the core problem of the macro-economic policy that undermines them. They are hot on rhetoric, but they will not deliver very much, I am afraid—although my Committee will be probing and supporting those that can.