Self-Employment

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:25 am on 24th January 2012.

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Photo of Mark Garnier Mark Garnier Conservative, Wyre Forest 11:25 am, 24th January 2012

Yes. Being a small business man is quite an isolating experience, as many hon. Members will know. People are out there on the front line, struggling to get more business in. They can join network groups and all the rest of it, but they feel like they are in a foxhole, with letters in brown envelopes coming at them from HMRC and all sorts of regulators. That is not necessarily a particularly enthralling experience. My hon. Friend is right.

In addition to accountants and tax specialists to handle tax compliance, a plethora of organisations offer advice on human resources, fire and emergency, health and safety and other things. All that is welcome and they provide an excellent service, but the fact that they are needed and that a sub-class of business advice has been created shows the amount of regulation that we have to face.

The Government have made some progress on access to finance and cash flow. I do not want to be an apologist for the banking crisis. I have to declare an interest here. I was an investment banker and one or two other hon. Members here were, too. It is important to understand that banks have an aversion to risk. Part of the problem faced by the banks is that the Basel III and the Vickers’ recommendations, and so on, are trying to deal with the problem of not wanting the banks to fail. On one hand the banks are being asked to tighten their balance sheet, and on the other they are, rightly, being asked to lend more money. For the banks, those are opposing requests. We need to take great consideration of that as we go through the process of implementing the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking, because we cannot ask the banks to take on more risk and expect them not to go bust. That is a contradiction.