I welcome this responsible Budget, which targets help to individuals and businesses intelligently. Our time is short, so I wish to focus on three points: personal allowances, the employment allowance and exports.
Like my right hon. Friend Andrew Stunell, I welcome the raising of personal allowances to £10,000. That is being delivered by a Conservative Chancellor and, as a result, more than 42,000 people in my constituency will be paying less tax and more than 4,000 will be taken out of paying tax altogether. Before the Budget, I suggested to the Treasury that we set an aspiration for future years that nobody on the minimum wage should pay income tax. I know that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is not in his place, shares that aspiration. It will take some years to deliver and it will be an expensive measure, but it is fair and it is the right thing to do. I hope that aspiration will be set and I hope it will be in the 2015 Conservative manifesto.
Small and medium-sized businesses in my constituency welcome the employment allowance, which is a big boost to job creation. The private sector is the engine of growth, and Reading, the town I represent, is an economic powerhouse in the south-east. No matter what the Opposition may say, the private sector is creating jobs. This morning, I met the chief executive of Huawei, a Chinese IT and telecoms group, which is opening its head office in my constituency in the next few months. It is bringing hundreds of new jobs to Reading and creating several hundred more over the next few years.
In the past few weeks, Tesco has confirmed that it is starting recruitment at a new distribution centre in my constituency, and I am pleased that this brownfield redevelopment is taking place. I have been discussing it with Tesco and its advisers since 2011, and it means more than 1,000 new jobs in my constituency.
A couple of months ago, I met Ross Snape, the chief executive officer of United Asphalt, a successful independent business located in Theale in my constituency. He said:
“All too often we hear politicians and the press talking down the economy, which can have really negative effects on business and the decisions we make on investment and employing people…it is time to move on and face the challenges we have with confidence.”
I could not agree more. Many billions of pounds have been sitting on UK corporate balance sheets as deleveraging has been going on, but businesses based in my constituency have decided that it is now time to invest. They realise there are no easy fixes to the economy because of the problems that had built up.