Speaking at a packed meeting of the Andover Business Forum, held on the premises of Preformed Line Products on the East Portway Industrial Estate, Philip Hammond spoke of the burden of regulation on small and medium sized businesses.
Philip Hammond, MP for Runneymede and Weybridge and Conservative Spokesman on Trade and Industry, said that the total cost of implementing government regulations was £21 billion and, as this figure was higher than for other countries, this was an additional burden which hit our ability to compete in world markets. “4642 new regulations were introduced last year – 50% up on the figure for 1997”
He also warned that Trade Union power was on the increase, so, as industry tried to look forward to the new century, industrial relations might be dragged back to the last one.
The European Union and the Trade Unions would be major “drivers” on the legislative framework that businesses would operate under.
The decision by the Labour Government to remove our “opt-out” from social legislation from Europe was a mistake, as our business culture was more similar to that in the US than the rest of Europe. European legislation was based on protecting those in work – at the expense of those out of work; whereas our legislation and that in the US was based on a freer labour market, making it easier to create new jobs.
Labour’s claims to be business friendly were based on their relationships with the 1% of businesses that were big; smaller and medium sized businesses tended to be more critical of Government. They increasingly resented being an unpaid extension of the welfare state, having to operate schemes such as the Working Families Tax Credit scheme.
Philip Hammond answered questions on the extension of Broadband to rural Hampshire and on the Employment Bill going through Parliament at the nmoment.
"Philip warned us of some major changes that were under way, and I know all those who listened to him found it a thoroughly interesting talk" said Sir George