Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:59 pm on 25 January 2012.

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Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills 4:59, 25 January 2012

You are very kind, Mr Hollobone. Within the 10 minutes that I gather I have, I should like to try to respond to the smorgasbord of ideas suggested by my hon. Friend Anne Marie Morris. Although this is indeed a debate about micro-businesses, it is nevertheless significant—colleagues are still streaming back from the vote in the main Chamber.

This country has a strong tradition of entrepreneurship, and we as a Government really do have an ambition to ensure that we retain, and indeed strengthen, our position as one of the best places in which to start and grow businesses, throughout their life cycle—start-ups, micro-businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, and so on. About 4.3 million micro-businesses exist in the UK, and yes, they represent about 95% of all enterprises in the country. In that cohort lies a huge variety of enterprise, everything from the university high-tech business—the spin-off—right the way through to the traditional family concern. Therefore, the Government need to be clear and effective in focusing on the right long-term framework for all types of enterprise, regardless of size and throughout their development. That will relate, in a moment, to the question of definition.

My hon. Friend has rightly set out her thoughts about how we can best help micro-enterprises, and I want to put very firmly on the record, as you have done Mr Hollobone, that with her enthusiasm and knowledge she is one of the best champions in this field. We could do with more champions like her.

I shall address the question of definition, and then come on to some of the other issues, at reasonable speed I am afraid, given the time before me. The issue that has been highlighted is: how do we define micro-enterprises? In some cases, people have argued that we might look at that group of up to and no more than four employees—