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Economic Growth (South-west)

Volume 513: debated on Tuesday 13 July 2010

As I stated in response to the previous question, there are a number of initiatives in the Budget to support economic growth in the regions. We estimate that up to 54,000 businesses in the south-west will benefit from the national insurance contributions exemption for new businesses, and our plans for NIC more broadly will save businesses in the south-west about £260 million.

My constituents will be very glad to hear that, because times have been tough in North Wiltshire in recent years, particularly as a result of a contraction in food production and defence. What does my hon. Friend intend to do in regard to the excellent report produced by my constituent, Sir James Dyson, on innovation and technology, which seems to point the way forward for this new Government?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Sir James Dyson made an important contribution to the debate on increasing the high-tech sector, and the Government are looking at the implementation of his findings. In the Budget, we announced a review of the taxation of intellectual property, including research and development, and we are committed to ensuring that the UK again becomes a centre for high-tech manufacturing.

But does the Minister agree that, in the south-west and in the whole of the UK, growth in the economy depends on growth in employment and jobs? What is his estimate, and that of the OBR, of the effect of his decisions on employment?

The independent forecast published by the OBR at the time of the Budget demonstrated that employment would rise over the course of the next five years.

Five thousand small and medium-sized companies in Gloucestershire will welcome the Minister’s comments on progress for economic growth in the south-west, but will he tell us what specific plans the Government have to deal with the red tape and bureaucracy, which many of those businesses feel is an impediment to growth?

My hon. Friend is right to point out the barriers to investment that red tape can create. That is why we have set out a series of specific measures in the Budget to reduce the burden of red tape. We believe that that will help up to 500,000 businesses in the south-west.