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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:54 pm on 24th March 2011.

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Photo of Michael Fallon Michael Fallon Deputy Chair, Conservative Party 4:54 pm, 24th March 2011

I will not, if the hon. Gentleman will excuse me.

Secondly, Vine Publishing is a new media company in my constituency that is heavily involved in all kinds of print and digital work. Its turnover now approaches more than £3.25 million and it employs 12 people. It was founded by three entrepreneurs, who dropped out of university because they preferred to go into business.

Thirdly, I attended the opening of the Ideal Waste Paper Company this month. It has built a major new recycling facility at Swanley—a £14 million investment, creating 60 new jobs and recycling more than 250,000 tonnes a year.

Those are examples of companies of the future, in the new technologies, the new energies and the new media. We should all ask ourselves how we get more of them. Of course, getting the long-term climate is right, but we must also address how to make it easier for people to set up such companies.

First, we must consider how we make it easier for them to start up. Like my hon. Friend and neighbour Mr Gyimah, who made an excellent speech, I support the Government’s enterprise incentive scheme, the entrepreneurs’ relief and the relaxation of planning. I would also like us to return to share ownership and consider how we can spread it more widely among those who work for start-up companies, particularly in the payment of dividends.

Secondly, we should consider how we make it easier for such companies to employ those who have been shut out of the labour market, and who might be viewed as too expensive or too risky to hire.

I welcome the Government’s initiative to reduce the number of cases going before employment tribunals. That is still a very serious barrier to employing more staff for small businesses. Finally, we need to make it easier for such companies to access the capital that they need; a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House have spoken about that.

I welcome the agreement on lending targets in the Merlin negotiations. Those need to be met, especially for smaller and medium-sized enterprises. Of course the banks are right to want more certainty on the capital and liquidity requirements, which are now being emphasised on all sides, from the Financial Services Authority to the G20 and so on, but I hope that there will be more focus on simpler business models with stronger regional networks, which can make lending to small businesses more worth while. We need such businesses to flourish, because they will create the jobs of the future.

The Chancellor was right in the Budget to help people to cope with the unexpected increases in the cost of living over the last few months, but I hope the Budget will also be welcomed for its long-term effects: keeping the public finances on track so that we eliminate the structural deficit that we inherited, putting Britain back into the black without huge changes in the tax and spending measures already announced, and helping to pump the oxygen of enterprise around the economy. It is nice, after 13 years under the previous Government, to welcome a Budget from a Government who believe in enterprise and are prepared to back it.