I am delighted to say that Office for National Statistics figures show that there were 2.1 million registered businesses in March 2010, and that now there are 2.17 million.
New businesses are established as a result of brave decisions taken by individuals who are trying to make the most of their own enterprise and initiative. Since the Department has declared Northamptonshire the most enterprising county in the country, is it not now time to praise entrepreneurs such as those who attend the monthly business breakfast club in Kettering run by the Federation of Small Businesses, who have refused to be cowed by the longest and deepest recession since the war and who through their own hard work and initiative are getting Britain back to work?
It does not surprise me at all to hear that Northamptonshire is the most enterprising county in England, because it has one of the most enterprising Members of Parliament, and my hon. Friend continues to innovate in his role. I am delighted that Kettering and Northamptonshire reflect the huge boom in businesses—part of the 400,000 extra businesses overall that we have seen created since the coalition came to power.
As far as the south-west is concerned, the growth of small businesses will be dependent on four critical infrastructure issues, all of which fall to the Government to decide within the next few months. The first is the road system, the A303; the second is the rail system and communications to the far south-west; the third is flood defences; and the fourth—the Minister will not be surprised to hear me say this—is access to high-speed broadband for all businesses right across the rural areas of the south-west. Will the hon. Gentleman give a commitment to talk to his colleagues in other Departments to make sure that the south-west gets the infrastructure it needs?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his enterprising approach in getting so many different Departments into one question. I will want to make the case, but it is ultimately the decision of my colleagues in the Department for Transport when it comes to the road structures and of those in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when it comes to flood defences. Let me say, however, that broadband roll-out is going incredibly well in the south-west. Cornwall is one of the most well connected counties in England, while Devon and Somerset are not far behind.