Mr Newmark: It is always a privilege to follow the hon. Member for Islwyn (Chris Evans). I want to focus on one small aspect of the Bill, new clause 10, which I know Opposition Members hold dear to their hearts. A couple of years ago the Government extended the £25,000 rate tenfold to £250,000. I told the Chancellor that that was going down extremely well with small businesses and asked whether there was any chance that we could extend it a little longer. He said, “I can do better than that; I’ll double it again, to £500,000.” That takes in pretty much 99% of companies, which is a good thing.
For some reason, Labour wanted to enshrine in law the need to review the impact of the annual investment allowance, which I find peculiar. I do not think it is necessary at all. Governments review every year what is going on and whether tax cuts or increases work. I see no need to introduce that requirement into law.
However, I thought that it might be helpful for Opposition Members if I offered a quick review of what we have done for business. I have come up with 10 points. First, we have lowered corporation tax. Secondly, we have cut the business rate by extending the small business rate relief scheme. Thirdly, we have brought in electronic invoicing. Fourthly, we have raised the threshold for the enterprise investment scheme. Fifthly, we have introduced the seed enterprise investment scheme, helping small businesses get a kick start. Sixthly, we have brought in the employment allowance, saving businesses £2,000. Seventhly, we have cut national insurance contributions for under-21-year-olds, saving businesses £500 per young person they employ. Eighthly, we have introduced the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. Ninthly, we have frozen fuel duty, making it cheaper for people to go back and forth to work. Finally, we have improved the research and development relief for businesses. We have done a lot for businesses.
What has the impact been on businesses? The confidence index is at an all-time high. We have rebalanced the economy, with growth of 3% in construction, services and manufacturing. We do not need to enshrine in law the need to review the impact of the investment allowance on business, because actions speak louder than words. The Government’s long-term economic plan is working and Britain is back in business.
Earlier in the same debate
Mr Brooks Newmark (Braintree) (Con): The hon. Gentleman should at least acknowledge that we dropped the small business rate by at least 1p, which has helped businesses. Will he guarantee before the House that he would not increase corporation tax should the country be unfortunate enough to see a Labour Government in power after 2015?
Chris Leslie: That is already on the record. Our view is that the proposed change in corporation tax from next April—from 21p to 20p—should not proceed. That help, instead of going to 2% of companies, should go to 98% of businesses, including the small and medium-sized companies that are the backbone of our economy and that form the bedrock of enterprise in this country. Funnelling that resource through business rates is our preferred choice, but we will set out all our plans in a manifesto, as I suspect the Minister will do as well. We had a debate on this matter earlier, in which we focused on annual investment allowances—the capital allowances for businesses. As we all know, the Minister cut that allowance to a very small level straight after the general election, causing great chaos for very many businesses. Amazingly, it is going up again, in time, coincidently, for the next general election. He revealed in the small print today that it is a temporary change, so the allowance will presumably go back down again.