Starting and Growing Businesses

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th November 2018.

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Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall 12:00 am, 20th November 2018

What progress he has made on meeting the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch

What progress he has made on meeting the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury

What progress he has made on meeting the Government’s ambition to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Our business environment is among the best in the world for small businesses. We have 16.3 million people employed in small businesses and the British Business Bank is supporting small businesses with over £5.5 billion of finance—and colleagues on all sides of the House will wish to support small business Saturday on 1 December.

Photo of Sheryll Murray Sheryll Murray Conservative, South East Cornwall

Earlier this year, Ideal Foods, a small business in my constituency, celebrated a huge milestone when it achieved a turnover of £10 million in just one year. Another business, the Cornish Cheese Company, has just been awarded the super gold award for its Cornish blue cheese. Does my right hon. Friend agree that these are shining examples of the importance of embracing global trade after we leave the European Union?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I do indeed, and I congratulate Ideal Foods and the Cornish Cheese Company. Perhaps I can add one of my own: Cornish Charcuterie, based just outside Bude, is one of my favourites, and I know that it has many satisfied customers across the UK and Europe, and increasingly around the world. This shows that, of all the manifold assets that Cornwall has, its food and indeed its drink are something to boast about.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Conservative, Redditch

More than 355 new businesses have been started up in my constituency since 2010. Many of them are microbusinesses with only one or two employees, and their needs are very different from those of the larger small and medium-sized businesses. What additional support can the Department give to those microbusinesses to help them to thrive?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to suggest that microbusinesses, and indeed start-ups, sometimes face challenges in accessing finance. The British Business Bank has a programme to focus on microbusinesses. Start-up loans, from which 44 businesses in her constituency have benefited, are also important.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis Conservative, Banbury

Late payments are a real problem for small businesses. What steps is the Secretary of State taking to tackle that?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and she will know that we are taking steps to reinforce in statute some of the measures that have been good practice across the industry. Indeed, the small business commissioner has been appointed to the prompt payment code compliance board to help with that.

Photo of Bridget Phillipson Bridget Phillipson Labour, Houghton and Sunderland South

Does the Secretary of State truly believe that what has been negotiated with the European Union will be better for jobs and business than the deal we have now?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

If the hon. Lady was at the CBI conference yesterday, and if she has read the responses from businesses small and large up and down the country, she will know that they are very clear that this deal will help to create the confidence that will allow investment to be made and jobs to be created and preserved across the country.

Photo of Neil Gray Neil Gray Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions)

The small businesses and manufacturers in my constituency are telling me that their biggest challenge right now is recruiting skilled labour. That challenge is set to get worse for them as we approach Brexit. Will the Secretary of State explain to them how stopping freedom of movement is going to help them with access to skilled labour for their manufacturing and their research and development?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

One of the reasons why companies up and down the country sometimes find it a struggle to recruit people is that we have such a low level of unemployment in this country. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would recognise that. He knows that one of the benefits of leaving the European Union is that our migration policy will be set in this country according to the needs of our economy—so it’s over to us.

Photo of Bill Esterson Bill Esterson Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (International Trade)

The Prime Minister’s botched Brexit deal creates uncertainty for business. The lack of any commitment to permanent customs arrangements means that there is no guarantee of tariff-free, frictionless trade. Frankly, I am amazed that any Business Secretary would put their name to this deal. Without any commitments to frictionless trade, how can the Government claim to be helping business?

Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has read the proposed agreement, but business leaders certainly have, and they have been warmly supportive of it. There are good reasons for that. One of the things that businesses have asked for is a transition period leading up to an agreement that we should be able to trade without tariffs, without quotas and without frictions. This agreement provides for that, which is one of the reasons why it has been endorsed by businesses up and down the country.

Several hon. Members:

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