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Lord Leach of Fairford: A Queen's Speech fit for today's economic emergency

6a00d83451b31c69e20147e1c191e0970b-150wiA few weeks ago ConservativeHome published an Alternative Queen's Speech, written by a variety of Tory MPs. Rodney Leach, Baron Leach of Fairford is Chairman of Open Europe and a successful businessman. He offers another Alternative speech - this time focused on the economic emergency.

"Great emergencies demand an emergency response. We can't save the Eurozone from itself, but we can do a lot more to protect ourselves from its worst effects.

Without debt reduction there is no way back to economic health, but that’s not enough. For the duration of the crisis the government will single-mindedly subordinate other objectives to policies whose purpose is the promotion of economic activity. If this entails U-turns or “betrayal” of a Coalition agreement made in very different times, so be it.

We will start by cancelling the High Speed Rail project and switching transport spending to a third London runway and the elimination of road bottlenecks. Britain must retain - or regain - its status as an airline hub, so commitment to a new airport in the Thames Estuary will be announced within three months.

Water shortages are largely unnecessary. We will revive disused connecting canals and start construction immediately on the five southern reservoirs previously approved but later cancelled.

The Climate Change Act will be suspended until the crisis is over. We are virtually the only major country still harbouring the illusion of carbon free energy, which is already bringing us unaffordable electricity bills and destroying our industrial competitiveness - just when Germany, the US, Canada and others are turning away from wind farms and solar energy in favour of gas, coal or nuclear.

We need thriving banks, not just for lending but because this is a financial crisis and London is the world's primary financial centre. The new management brought in to repair our banks does not deserve to be treated with the same suspicion as their predecessors. During the emergency we will trust them to run their businesses soundly and will suspend enactment of any super-regulation beyond the existing and proposed complex Basle regime.

Our successful insurance markets are suffering an excess of petty regulation through being unthinkingly lumped with the banks. We are taking steps to put this right.

The quickest way to combine economic activity with satisfying a real need is to build houses. We have today given the Bank of England instructions to direct £12 billion of cheap three-year loans to lending institutions against the security of mortgages on newly built homes.

The government has decided to encourage those in the 40% tax band - the aspirational and the "squeezed middle" - through cutting their effective tax rate. This relief will pay for itself in increased economic activity and VAT receipts.

It is easier for governments to strangle growth than to promote it. Health and Safety and much environmental legislation are watchwords for unnecessary interference to daily life and damaging business costs. Both departments will be reduced and instructed to confine themselves to major hazards. Some of the staff will be redeployed in an ombudsman's office to protect victims of official zealotry.

The reaction to the Beecroft Report from many on the left shows how little those who live off the tax paid by others understand what's needed to encourage wealth creators to take on, keep and motivate their best employees.

There is more to be done. We intend to appropriate brown field sites and disused airports, to extend broadband and to boost existing programmes for apprenticeships and industrial training. We will announce within 90 days whether it is feasible to reduce employer NI. And we will free small businesses from most employment legislation.

EU legislation should not be accorded unqualified respect by our courts. We will not hesitate to face infraction procedures if we are faced with badly thought out measures imposed by Brussels.

Our current crop of think tanks are a rich source of ideas, whether on tax simplification, land use, energy policy, the EU or public service reform. We shall listen to them the same way that Churchill listened to the brilliant minds that gave us Bletchley and so much else during the war.

It's an emergency. Let's stop blaming Coalition politics and treat the crisis as the people deserve."


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