I should declare that I worked for the John Lewis Partnership for three years, from 1979 to 1982, and was therefore a beneficial owner of part of the company. That is not the only model to encourage employees, of course; share ownership is developing more widely as part of generally non-employee-owned companies. I look forward to the private sector making the business case for this model through the Employee Ownership Association, which is the representative body for employee-owned businesses.
Does the Minister agree that, taken as a sector, the UK’s 300 employee-owned businesses have higher than average productivity? Will he follow the example of the Scottish and Welsh Governments and more actively promote the sector, particularly to small and medium-sized businesses that are looking for a succession plan?
That is very interesting. I will look with care at what is happening in Scotland and Wales. We are generally in favour of employee-owned companies and companies with employees who have a share in them.