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High-technology Manufacturing

Volume 523: debated on Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Office for Budget Responsibility sets out the official economic and fiscal forecasts. However, high-tech manufacturing is a key part of our growth plan and we need to ensure that Britain is not just open for business but making things again.

Is my hon. Friend aware of the latest data on manufacturing business confidence? January’s purchasing managers indicators show a sharp jump, suggesting annualised growth this year of 2.6%. Intuit, the software survey business, reports that 66% of small and medium-sized enterprise owners say that the VAT rise has no impact on their business, and Investec reports that two thirds of owner-managers plan to hire more staff in 2011. Does that not show that the Government’s policy is working and that the right hon. Member for Morley and Outwood (Ed Balls) is out of touch?

What it shows is that we have the right plan to get our economy back on track. My hon. Friend mentions the purchasing managers index for January, which was at a record high since the series began in 1992. We recognise that our road to recovery will still be choppy, which is one reason why we will bring forward the first phase of the growth review in the Budget that is coming up. That will examine how we can ensure that we create the conditions for our companies to be successful.

Does the Economic Secretary agree with the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the new patent box tax, reducing the patent tax from 28% to 10%, does nothing for new jobs or research and development, and that in fact the Pfizer case, with the loss of 2,300 jobs in Sandwich, is a case in point? It shows that she is doing nothing for modern manufacturing and that choking growth and increasing inflation through VAT is increasing the deficit, not decreasing it.

It is hard not to point out to the hon. Gentleman that his party supported the patent box when it was in government. It is not just that policy that will support high-tech manufacturing. Our policies of reducing corporation tax year on year rather than having it go up, and of reducing national insurance and getting rid of the worst impacts of the jobs tax that was making it harder for companies to keep people employed, will support growth in the economy. His party simply has no idea how to start making that happen.