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Self-Employed People

Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 22 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were self-employed in December 1989.

In December 1989, there were 3·3 million people in self-employment in the United Kingdom, an increase of no less than 70 per cent. since 1979.

Bearing in mind the fact that those are the last figures for the 1980s, how does the trend in the number of self-employed during the 1980s compare with the trend during the 1970s? Will my hon. Friend confirm that he has no plans to reduce the number of self-employed by raising a levy on the payroll of the self-employed, by removing the upper earnings limit on the national insurance contributions of the self-employed and by loosing the trade union bully-boys on the employees of the self-employed, all of which are the official policies of the Labour party?

In addition to that catalogue of the Labour party's official policies, the Labour party expects Brussels to play a significant role, with the added regulations and burdens that such EC intervention would impose on small businesses, all of which will be apparent if my hon. Friend cares to read the report of the debate in the House last night. Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen cannot get away from the fact that during the previous Labour Government the number of self-employed fell by 5 per cent. while under this Government it has risen by more than 70 per cent.

How many people entered the enterprise allowance scheme in 1987 and what percentage have survived as ongoing genuine businesses? Does not the Minister understand that such schemes do not provide a genuine means of starting up new businesses, but are simply financially more attractive than the dole in the short term and give rise to all kinds of scams, such as the one that I discovered in Dundee—a delivery service for condoms?

The hon. Gentleman is completely out of touch. We have just announced the 500,000th participant in the enterprise allowance scheme and yesterday I gave an award to a young lady who was the 10,000th EAS recipient in Nottinghamshire. More than 600,000 people are now working because of EAS who would not have been had it not been there.