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Small Business

Volume 459: debated on Thursday 3 May 2007

9. When he next expects to meet representatives of the small firms sector to discuss measures to reduce the level of regulatory burdens. (135437)

I chaired the inaugural meeting of the small business forum, which comprises representatives from small business bodies and small businesses, on Tuesday.

I am glad to hear that the Minister did that. Does she agree with the calculation from the British Chambers of Commerce that the average British company now has to spend nearly £14,000 a year on implementing Euro-regulations? Is that not a staggering figure and an appalling waste of management time, especially in the small firms sector? Management time should be creating wealth. Is it not also a dreadful indictment of this Government’s record on small business? Is it not any wonder that small business men and women are now deserting this Government and coming over to the Tories?

Yet another Conservative who is promoting the idea that Britain should withdraw from Europe—

Such a move would cost the UK economy 3 million jobs, would massively damage our export markets and—[Interruption.]

I am sorry that Conservative Members do not like to be held to account. As far as small business is concerned, I will put the hon. Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Bellingham) right. We now have 4.3 million small businesses in the UK. That is 600,000 more than we had when we came into government 10 years ago. The start-up rate is faster than ever, the growth rate is greater than ever, the sustainability is better than ever, and the productivity gap between small businesses in the UK and elsewhere in the world is reducing. That is a success story and he does ill to the small business sector by pretending otherwise. That is why most small businesses support Labour.