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Small Businesses (Late Payments)

Volume 603: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2015

The Enterprise Bill, which is going through the other place, will create a small business commissioner, and one of his or her most important roles will be to make sure, as much as possible, that the continuing problem with late payment is brought to an end. Of course, we have other measures in hand to make sure that there is reporting, but we are making good progress.

Cheltenham’s superb range of shops and small business rely for their success on people getting out from behind their computers and physically visiting local shops. Does my hon. Friend agree that local authorities should promote flexible and, above all, cheap parking wherever possible to support small businesses and shopping hubs such as Cheltenham?

I fear that, as ever, I am a bit off message. I take a radical approach to parking. As far as is ever possible, I take the view that there should be no parking charges in any towns. The car parks belong to the people—they absolutely do. There are times when a local authority wants to put in car-parking charges—a very good example being in Rushcliffe—to make sure that people do not abuse them, but, as far as possible, we should be supporting our great town centres and our great small businesses. We should not charge people for the luxury of parking in their own hometowns.

In the spirit of Christmas, may I invite the whole ministerial team to come to Huddersfield, where they can learn about spinning and weaving? I can also arrange for them to have a wonderful “Made in Huddersfield” worsted suit, just like the one I am wearing. They can also meet small businesses and the Textile Centre of Excellence and talk about all the pressures on small business and the problems they face because the Government want to take us out of Europe, which will stop us exporting to the rest of the world.

It was all going so well—I was going to be a little Christmas fairy. Of course, everybody knows my views, and, indeed, those of my Prime Minister, on the European Union: we want to stay in a reformed Union and make sure that we get those reforms. In the spirit of Christmas, I would be delighted to go to Huddersfield. I could talk about my family’s long-standing relationship with Huddersfield. We will do that on the basis that I will go to Huddersfield if the hon. Gentleman will come to Broxtowe, to Beeston in particular.