Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me the opportunity to speak in this Budget debate, which affects each and every household in the country. The Budget presented last week was unique in post-war British history because the country has never found itself in more difficult times and the level of borrowing is at an all-time high in modern memory. We needed to face that challenge. Real politicians do not come into politics to be popular—they come to do what they believe is right. Politicians need do what is right for the country and that is why the Government have taken some very difficult spending decisions. We need only look at Portugal, which has singularly failed to implement a credible plan to deal with its budget deficit, to see why we need to continue with our plan to get our country back on track. We need to continue to deal with the deficit while also ensuring that the conditions for economic growth are in place and I commend the Chancellor on a job well done in achieving the balancing act referred to by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
The Budget is first about promoting business growth, as we have heard already, secondly about helping households and families and thirdly about dealing with the tough issues that need to be addressed. First, on business growth, one aspect that stood out in the Budget was the measures to encourage business growth. The Prime Minister recently spoke of his desire to implement the
“most pro-business, pro-growth, pro-jobs agenda ever unleashed by a government” and I believe that the Government will achieve that.
How will we rebuild our economy? The new, low rates of corporation tax will help our home-grown businesses and will encourage new investment from overseas companies. Other measures include the entrepreneur’s tax relief and new finance available for small and medium sized firms, the simplification of the tax system, the removal of red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy, the extension of the small business rate relief holiday and the increased funding for work placements and apprenticeships, which will encourage investment and trade, as my hon. Friend Stephen Metcalfe has said. There is also the support for science and technology that my hon. Friend David Mowat mentioned. Those measures and others will help to stimulate business growth.
“This budget will help businesses grow and create jobs. The chancellor has made clear the UK is open for business.”
“welcomes the measures aimed at stimulating business growth—particularly lower corporation tax, enterprise zones, fuel price caps, reduced red tape and simplified planning processes. They will all help.”
Mike Freely, the managing director of design firm Octink, who recently met the Prime Minister to discuss how the Government could help small and medium-sized enterprises, said:
“There is a lot in the Budget for Small and Medium Enterprises like ours and a feel good factor that should inspire more confidence throughout our sector”.
The Budget has a lot to offer businesses both large and small. My constituency is full of successful and aspiring entrepreneurs and I hope that some of the measures in the Budget will encourage new business start-ups and continued expansion and investment. I am particularly interested in encouraging women who would like to start their own business, because a recent Federation of Small Businesses report has suggested that women could contribute far more to the UK economy if they started up more businesses. If we had the same level of entrepreneurship among our women as there is in the US, there would be 600,000 extra female-owned businesses contributing an additional £42 billion to the economy. We also need to get more women on boards. I refer hon. Members to the recommendations in Lord Davies’ report that FTSE 100 companies should have 25%-female boards and that companies should publish and disclose the number of women at all levels in their organisation. I believe that that would help to create growth, improve performance and make use of the great skills that are available to us in this country.
Secondly, the Budget will help households and families. The oil price, the scrapping of the fuel duty escalator and the cutting of duty have already been mentioned. I am also delighted that the Chancellor has announced the next step in increasing the personal tax allowance, as was mentioned earlier. Also, the announcement of £250 million to help first-time buyers will directly benefit many young people and will help on to the property ladder people who would not otherwise have been able to get on it.
Thirdly, the Budget is about dealing with tough issues. The Government have proved that they are not afraid to deal with difficult issues and the Chancellor has shown that he is willing to be resolute in fighting the deficit.
In conclusion, the Budget is one for business growth, helping households and families and continuing to face up to and deal with tough issues. We have a job to do and we are getting on with it. This country of ours has a genius for invention, industry and trade. There are great and powerful forces awaiting liberation in our economy—the forces of commercial creativity and innovation. Entrepreneurs just need to have their hands untied so that they can create wealth for this country. The Budget supports aspiration, will help many people to achieve great things for themselves and will create a stronger, sustainable and stable economy—a better future for us all. I commend the Budget to the House.