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Devolution and Growth Across Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:47 pm on 3rd June 2015.

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Photo of Chuka Umunna Chuka Umunna Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills 1:47 pm, 3rd June 2015

I could ask the hon. Gentleman why, in the 18 years beforehand, his party did not come up with the ideas of the Mayor of London, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Ireland Assembly.

We will, of course, hear a lot more about the Government’s plans for growth in the Budget, but in the Queen’s Speech we had the enterprise Bill. To the extent that it promotes growth and supports businesses, we will support it. I see the new Minister for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise in her place. I am pleased that the Government propose to extend the primary authority scheme, which we established, to reduce the regulatory burden on business. That is good.

I would like the Business Secretary and his new deputy to go much further in the Bill than they have indicated they will in order to clamp down on the national scandal that is the late payment of small and medium-sized businesses by their large customers. We will press the Government on that during the passage of the Bill through this House. A conciliation service is all well and good, but what small businesses want is a regime with teeth that will impose sanctions on late payers automatically, without their having to have a row with their customers. That must be the Government’s goal.

To reform our economy, we must invest in our infrastructure. The key thing is to ensure that people in every part of the UK have a decent, affordable place to live. The shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government will say more about that later.