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Andrew Bridgen: Businesses desperately need Redwood's policies

Andrew_bridgen_2 Andrew Bridgen is the candidate for NW Leics, founding chairman and managing director of AB Produce PLC, and a consultee to the Bank of England. Speaking from his experience he urges you to vote for business derregulation on Stand Up, Speak Up.

If John Redwood's recommendations for reducing the regulatory burden on British business are adopted as Conservative policy and enacted in Government, we could expect to hear a collective sigh of relief from the business community. Many politicians have talked about reducing regulation and cutting red tape, and here for the first time we have well thought out, researched measures to actually deliver it. Over the last ten years of this Labour Government, the increase of the regulatory burden has seen the UK falling from 4th to 13th in world competitiveness rankings.

This continued decline is unsustainable. As anyone who runs their own business would be able to tell you, they’re having to spend ever increasing amounts of their time ensuring that their business complies with all the latest rules and regulations emanating from an ever increasing number of various Government agencies and quangos both at home and from Europe. This is an unwelcome diversion from working and developing their business. Time always costs money in the business world.

It was Adam Smith who stated "vexation is the equivalent to taxation". John Redwood's recommendations would be the equivalent of a £14 Billion tax cut for business. When is a tax cut not a tax cut? When it’s a cut in regulation, which should make Labour's hue and cry about tax cuts reducing money for "schools`n`hospitals" look disingenuous in the extreme. Indeed the proposals will leave companies with more time and money to pursue their business aims.

The business of business is business, and the business of Government should be to create an economic and regulatory environment conducive to business growth and development. It is through a strong and vibrant private sector that the long term prosperity of our nation can asssured. Only the private sector can provide sustainable employment opportunities and create the wealth which generates the taxes which underpin and support the essential public services our population both needs and desires.

John Redwood's valid comparisons of our economic performance to that of the Republic of Ireland demonstrates the advantages of a low business tax regime which generates more jobs, more productivity gains and more business investment, thus creating a virtuous cycle of growth, prosperity and tax revenue. Many other countries are looking at the "Irish example" which could well precipitate a "race to the bottom" of corporate tax rates. A race in which the UK needs to be at the front of the pack. Having only the 18th lowest corporate tax rate in the OECD just won’t do.

While talking about taxes, I believe our nation as a whole, with the exception of the Labour Party, are now ready to have an adult debate about taxation, and whether it is there merely to provide the revenue for the public sector or if, as I believe it is increasingly used, as a blunt tool for wealth redistribution which effectively punishes the hard working and diligent. Tolley's tax handbook was 4,555 pages long in 1997 and it is now 9,841 pages long. This is too much, and business needs it simplifying.

The Stand Up Speak Up website is having a vote on which 3 of the 12 recommendations on the growing burden of regulation are the most important. Whilst all of the recommendations are necessary and welcome, I would urge readers to vote for options 7 an 9 which tackle the gold plating and over regulation from the EU where over 50% of our regulations are deriving. Whilst we implement regulations at vast expense, most EU Countries have neither the will nor the administration to do the same. This again is unsustainable. I also support option 3 of having the Audit Commission assessing costs and benefits of regulations. This is sheer common sense which is probably why Labour have failed to do it.

I hope our Treasury team will consider these recommendations most strongly. Regulations almost curtailed my business in the late 90s, when my business relocation issue took 7 years to resolve, and was described by the Institute of Directors (of which I have been East Midlands Chairman) as the worst case of red tape they had ever seen. It actually ended up on Tony Blair’s desk as an example of the worst case of red tape holding back an SME business in the UK. Over regulation is sending many businesses to the wall, and dissuading many others from going into business at all. John Redwood's report is the antidote to this and I urge our party to administer it.


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