Absolutely, and I am glad my hon. Friend raised a matter that I will come to shortly. Investment is critical for productivity in this country.
I am struck by how the detail of the Finance Bill suggests that, rather than addressing key issues in a positive manner, the Government present some highly counterproductive measures on productivity. I and my colleagues initially welcomed some of the changes to the banking levy and the introduction of a surcharge. However, whether through carelessness or incompetence—what I am about to say surely could not be planned—the scope of the changes now captures both challenger banks and many building societies whose practices are very different from those of the big banks. Challenger banks already face additional hurdles compared with the big banks, and as the British Bankers Association has pointed out:
“The surcharge’s disproportionate effect on smaller and challenger banks was evidenced by the resulting fall in their share prices following the announcement, in some instances of over 10%.”
Of more concern to me and my colleagues is that the BBA has estimated that:
“Our preliminary analysis based on modest growth projections across the sector suggests that the contraction in lending could be around £10 billion over five years”.
If there is anything we do not need when trying to boost productivity, it is a contraction in lending, particularly for SMEs. If that was to be the only drag on productivity it would be bad enough, but let me turn to another.