West business leaders this afternoon broadly welcomed the emphasis in today’s Queen’s Speech on economic revival and measures to make Britain more business-friendly.
But there was concern over some of the proposals for the Coalition’s net round of legislation and a plea for less politics and more action.
Phil Smith, managing director of Business West, which includes Bath Chamber of Commerce, said: “Proposals to cut regulation through the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill sound sensible, and will help employers hire new staff and resolve disputes in the workplace more quickly.
“These measures will further boost the confidence of business, despite the technical move into a double dip recession.
“So we welcome the Government's continued commitment to place deficit reduction and economic stability at the forefront of their programme.
"On balance, business will be pleased about some of the Government’s proposed legislative measures, but will express serious reservations about others. The Government is in danger of undermining positive steps such as reform to employment tribunals and red tape reductions by adding in complex new burdens such as those around shared parental leave.
"However, we really do need to see much more progress on action rather than rhetoric. Given the Government's previous commitment was to put deficit reduction and economic growth at the forefront of their proposals, the downgrading to economic stability is a concern for business. To restore greater business confidence and to meet our economic growth potential there need to be more drastic measures to cut costly regulation and continue to tackle the deficit.”
He said ministers could equally have been much bolder in their commitments by including legislation to establish a British business bank, to further simplify dismissal rules, and to progress the construction of our high-speed rail network.
"While there are clear wins for business in the Government’s programme, ministers are wasting parliamentary time on House of Lords reform and other politically-motivated measures, rather than on more support for growth and jobs,” he said.
Institute of Directors South West chairman Gerry Jones said the Government was right to place deficit reduction and economic stability at the forefront of their programme.
But he added: “We need to see them pursued enthusiastically in practice, not just in principle.
“To restore business confidence, which is the real key to growth, there must be drastic measures to cut costly regulation and continue to tackle the deficit.
“Tweaking the edges of the system will not be enough – it’s not the number of Bills that matters, it’s what is in them that really counts.”
He said reform of the electricity market was urgent and essential.
“The devil will be in the detail – affordability must be a priority, and the Government should resist the temptation to introduce new, heavy subsidies for renewables.
“It is vital that a new nuclear programme goes ahead in the UK, and there must be strategy to overcome recent setbacks. British business needs affordable energy to get the job done as efficiently as possible.”
PUBLICATION: Bath Business News - 9 May 2012