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Brian Binley: The objective of allowing scrutiny is to allay suspicion and fear. The appointment of the whole board would be in the hands of local authorities, some of which are very unpopular. In my area we currently have a Liberal local authority that is immensely unpopular. Does my right hon. Friend agree that suspicion would not be allayed if such power were invested in the hands of such an authority?
Brian Binley: I understand the thrust of the new clause and I have some sympathy with it. However, my concern is twofold. First, if the property owner is liable for the BID, at the next lease review is not the cost likely to be placed on the lease? The business user is therefore likely to face the cost anyway. Secondly, how does this relate to accounting? If there is a BID in one town but not in another,...
Brian Binley: The right hon. Gentleman is most kind and I am very grateful to him for giving way. Can I get it clear in my mind? We have a BID in operation. If we introduce a supplementary rate, is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that the levying authority would be able to divide the element of supplementary rate between the owners and the occupiers, not exceeding the total of 2 per cent., or is he...
Brian Binley: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for taking great steps to ensure we understand what is a rather complicated area. Let us consider a situation in which a business rate supplement is in being and a new BID is then mooted; does the right hon. Gentleman fear that the supplementary rate could make it much more difficult for a new BID to be introduced? Let me say to him at this point that I am a...
Brian Binley: Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government clearly trust local government so much that they had to put a cap on the local rates applied in every district? They do not trust local government. That is the problem, and that is the point that my hon. Friend is making.
Brian Binley: The Minister is generous in giving way and it is appreciated. He referred to the £50,000 rateable value limit, but the Bill does not come into effect until April 2010, by which time we should have had a revaluation. I wonder whether he will give hope to small businesses by saying today that he would be willing to look at that figure, because if he does not, many more small businesses could...
Brian Binley: The Minister cannot tell me what the average rateable value will be and we know that the revaluation will be based on the peak property prices in early 2008. Also, rateable values descend as we move out from town centres. Many independent retail businesses in valuable properties in town centres are struggling to survive at the moment, so the level of the rateable value threshold is vital to them.
Brian Binley: The Deputy Speaker himself.
Brian Binley: With due deference to my hon. Friend's remark, I was simply agreeing that many of us came up through political youth organisations, and I was paying tribute to the Deputy Speaker's great achievement in one of those particular movements. That was my point.
Brian Binley: Does the hon. Gentleman know of the T.S. Eliot poem that states that there are places "Where prayer has been valid"? The argument is that that activity enhances and heightens the place itself. Does he agree that the activity that takes place here "has been valid" and that it heightens the meaning of this place?
Brian Binley: My concern does not rest necessarily with the Youth Parliament but with all the other people who may wish to come here thereafter. We have not heard from Government Front Benchers about what restrictions might be imposed on using this place. Does he agree that some such restriction is needed?
Brian Binley: Does my hon. Friend agree that this proposal might just have been made because this year might be an election year, and that Members on the Government Benches might think there is electoral advantage in it?
Brian Binley: Will the right hon. Lady give way?
Brian Binley: Will the Minister give way on that point?
Brian Binley: But she is wrong!
Brian Binley: Will the Minister give way now?
Brian Binley: Will the Chief Secretary give way?
Brian Binley: The Minister is always kind and gentle with me, and I am most appreciative. She has talked about the impact on small businesses of the Government's loan schemes, but I remind her that on 13 March the Minister for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs said that 26 applications had been approved and that loans were "being made". I take that to mean that not one loan under that scheme has so...
Brian Binley: The hon. Lady always speaks up bravely on behalf of her constituents, but does she recognise that the building up of debt is a dangerous thing in itself for a business, because it could mean that it becomes legally not able to trade if the debt is too much and is unsustainable? Therefore, the projects she talks about, to do with holding back payment and building up such debt, could be the...
Brian Binley: Money is not getting through. We have said that again and again, but the Government seem not to be listening. In recognising that there is a management element to the Government's job, will the Minister tell me what the Department is doing to ensure that he is getting out there, monitoring the process and ensuring that the thing works? It is not working at the moment.