28 MAR 2011

Budget Resolutions and Economic Situation

Paul Uppal: I thank all Members for the speeches that they have made this evening. We have heard a bit of knockabout and a few partisan comments, and of course that is all good fun in the Chamber, but I want to shed some light on the issue.

 I want to draw attention to the writings of one Hamish McRae, the economics correspondent of The Independent-a newspaper which, if truth be told, has not always expressed a favourable opinion of Conservative Members.From about 2005 onwards, Hamish McRae's weekly columns highlighted the fact that the then Chancellor was quoting his famous golden economic rules less frequently, until he eventually stopped referring to them, in much the same way as he stopped using the word "prudence". In later years, Mr McRae pointed out that the Chancellor had continued to borrow money even when tax receipts were fairly plentiful. Despite Tony Blair's best efforts to stress economic credibility and use the term "prudence" from the beginning of the last decade, the Labour Government abandoned Conservative spending plans and resorted to type, which meant spending money. Labour Members cannot help it: in the end, they always think that they can cure society's ills and promote social mobility by throwing money at a problem.

The present Government have produced a pro-growth and pro-aspiration Budget. First and most important, it outlines a strategy for growth, a strategy for reducing the national debt, and a strategy for continuing to restore confidence in our once broken economy. We must never shy away from supporting businesses by offering competitive levels of taxation, and we in the House of Commons must send out the message that the country is once again open for business.

Over the last decade, many high-profile companies have left the UK to escape our complicated tax system and our higher than average rate of corporation tax. Given the increased mobility of capital and people, Britain must be an attractive place in which to work and live. We must be a beacon for investment from around the world and the jobs that it will bring. With this Budget, we can once again start to attract the kind of investment that the country needs. Britain must be able to compete to attract the brightest and the best, and enterprise zones, lower corporation tax and other measures outlined in the Budget will achieve that.

I am proud to be able to speak about what I feel is the most important part of the Budget, the part that deals with enterprise zones. I know that the black country has already been allocated an enterprise zone, and I am delighted that the Chancellor has made that decision. I have in mind Wolverhampton and my constituency of Wolverhampton South West when I say that I hope and believe that the reintroduction of enterprise zones will offer the black country an opportunity to rebalance the regional economy and provide the building blocks for future prosperity in areas that have missed out on capital spending projects over the last decade. I grew up in the shadow of Merry Hill. I remember the original site, and I saw with my own eyes the power of ambition and aspiration being tangibly enhanced as the buildings rose up in a sea of regeneration.

The recovery must be led by the private sector, and the Budget outlines how we will be able to achieve that. The growth of small businesses employing a handful of people will be central to our future economic prosperity. They are the engines of our economy, employing 60% of the private sector work force and contributing half the United Kingdom's annual turnover. Lower taxation, planning simplification and less bureaucracy will provide an ideal cocktail of measures to kick-start local economies and encourage the growth of that vital sector.

Let me end by briefly discussing another of Labour's legacies. Labour created an environment in which young people feel unable or unwilling to take the first steps in creating their own businesses. On Friday I visited a number of sixth-form politics and economics students. When they were asked whether they wanted to set up their own businesses, none of them said that they did. I was struck by their reaction, which suggested that future generations would not be inspired to go out into the world of business. Indeed, that supports the finding of commissioned research that 50% of young people do not feel that they are encouraged at school to be entrepreneurial. Changing that culture is vital to our economic future. Children in our education system need to be challenged and encouraged to take employment into their own hands. We need to invest in and develop talented young people, supporting them in the first steps on the difficult journey towards creating their own businesses and ultimately becoming successful.

Perhaps more pernicious is the Opposition's determination to play politics and present the most draconian picture of the responsibility measures taken by the Government. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition compared the demonstration on Saturday to the struggle for civil rights and the suffragettes. In 2009-2010 Government spending was £669 billion; by 2014-15 it will be £647 billion, a few percentage points leaner. Even more tellingly, in 1999-2000 it was £343 billion, and had it followed inflation, it would have been £438 billion by 2009-2010. In fact, expenditure increased by over 50% in real terms during the current decade. Labour just cannot help itself: it will always be in its DNA to spend other people's money. Thank goodness we on this side of the House are implementing measures to return the country to good economic governance and responsible spending.

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Welcome. My name is Paul Uppal. I hope that this website will keep you up to date with what I am doing for the people of Wolverhampton both in the constituency and in Westminster.

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