Derek Twigg: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what steps he is taking to support the car manufacturing industry in Cheshire and Merseyside.
Derek Twigg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent assessment she has made of the level of domestic violence in (a) England, (b) Merseyside and (c) Halton.
Derek Twigg: What evidence do you have that a local authority would impose this increase on business on the basis of wanting greater economic development, when the fact is that business does not like it, it will cause it a problem and jobs will be lost? What local authority would do that? What evidence do you have that local authorities, in wanting to promote economic development, would cause job losses...
Derek Twigg: So you are not opposed to the legislation per se. The issue is the safeguards that it includes.
Derek Twigg: But you can see the logic. Economic development for local authorities has, certainly in the past ten to 15 years, been a focus, and it most probably was 20 or 30 years ago. You say that you hope that local authorities would not impose the increase. I ask the question again: what evidence do you have? Do you have any evidence at all that local authorities would impose an increase on business...
Derek Twigg: So, it is more of a fear than a fact.
Derek Twigg: It seems to me that your strongest objection—you said that you do not have an objection in principle—is that there are several areas in which councils can introduce charges, such as congestion charges or workplace parking levies, and the BRS will be another one. I think that you said there was no coherence, which surprises me. Those are the sorts of tools and mechanisms that...
Derek Twigg: But there is a difference between not getting the agreement of business and saying that there is no coherence. Your strongest argument seems to be that there is no coherence to the measures. There is a difference between that and agreeing or disagreeing. Local authorities set out economic strategy, which you would be involved in.
Derek Twigg: Involvement is not agreement.
Derek Twigg: But it does not mean, because you cannot agree on a particular scheme, that the whole thing should fall. That is what you are trying to say.
Derek Twigg: What is your view of the balance of power between central and local government in terms of raising local government finance—the ability of local government to raise finance compared with the proportion determined by central Government?
Derek Twigg: Right. So the CBI has no view on the balance of fundraising powers?
Derek Twigg: I am asking generally. Does this betray a distrust of local government by the CBI—that you do not think local government can be trusted to act responsibly and sensibly? Would your view be contrary to the Financial Times which said that this Bill is a good thing and that local government has moved on considerably in recent years and should be given the chance to win more responsibility?...
Derek Twigg: That may be so of some local authorities but there is a general acceptance that since the ’80s the relationship has moved on considerably. That is not quite the point in terms of trust that I was making. Are you suggesting that local authorities will come up with some crackpot scheme, which will put a burden on business and drive away jobs from their own areas—drive away the jobs of...
Derek Twigg: The key thing, therefore, for you is that you do not fully trust local government and that at the end of the day you must have a veto. That is your bottom line.
Derek Twigg: It is a veto in effect, is it not?
Derek Twigg: Dr. Grail, you said—paraphrasing you—that having a vote would provide that safeguard but might not be the only way. I have heard a lot today from representatives of business about how there has to be a vote, full stop and that is it. Is there a plan B in your mind?
Derek Twigg: That is what I am trying to expose.
Derek Twigg: Have you any idea of what those other ways may be, given your experience and involvement?
Derek Twigg: I just want to pursue two points. First, I do not want to labour the London-centric view. I was the Minister when the Crossrail Bill was drafted. I therefore understand the strong arguments for it, and I remember the many months of hard work to get it into a state to go forward. Relatively speaking, it is not as though there are not equally important projects. I understand that we are not...