Conservative Economic Policy Review

My colleague John Redwood MP's economic policy review, published today, has already caused quite a stir. Labour has attacked it as a "lurch to the right", as though the idea that we need to ensure that enterprise can thrive is somehow beyond the pale.

What pathetic spin. If the Government thinks the burden of regulation on business is perfectly ok, it should say so - and explain why it has its own ‘Better Regulation Executive'. What has this body done? You might well ask. The British Chambers of Commerce says that the cumulative cost of red tape in the last decade has risen to a staggering £55 billion.

I introduced my own Bill in the Commons to tackle this problem. Small businesses in particular are the job creators of the economy.   Firms, large and small, must be able to contend with counterparts in highly productive new economies across the globe.

But as John Redwood points out, ensuring competitiveness isn't just about red tape. When people queue at airports, or sit on jammed roads, or can't get onto slow trains, the economy suffers. Ultimately it feeds through to lower growth and poorer living standards.

Lousy infrastructure really matters, and it affects us a great deal locally. The Chambers of Commerce are right to join the call to upgrade the A27, because quite apart from the inconvenience, regular traffic jams badly hinder investment in our Sussex coastal communities - a key reason why many are so deprived.

And I don't see how the Government can contemplate downgrading our local hospitals or building 58,000 new houses in West Sussex without addressing this infrastructure deficit.

I suggest that, instead of attacking a report which they cannot possibly even have read yet, Ministers should focus on the need to unblock the jammed arteries of the South East, the region which drives this country's economic prosperity.

Michelle Taylor