§ 13. Mr. Tim Boswell (Daventry)
What recent consultations he has held with representatives of small businesses on the levels of business taxation. 
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mrs. Barbara Roche)
The Chancellor believes in the importance of consultation and has encouraged businesses to provide their views. He, his Ministers and his officials have met a great number of representatives of small businesses on a variety of occasions.
§ Mr. Boswell
As a former Minister with responsibility for small firms, the Financial Secretary will accept the importance of the small firms sector in encouraging entrepreneurialism and creating jobs—the stated objectives—as no doubt the Chancellor will as well. Will she concede that those small businesses are paying at least their fair share of the £5 billion a year extra tax burden imposed on British business, as estimated by the Confederation of British Industry? In addition, they are probably paying a disproportionate share of the regulatory burden of the additional requirements imposed by the Government. Will she take those factors properly into account when giving advice to her colleagues during the formulation of the Budget next week?
§ Mrs. Roche
Let me agree with the hon. Gentleman on one point—the importance of small businesses, which are the lifeblood of our economy. However, he is absolutely wrong. Small businesses have benefited enormously from the tax cuts introduced by the Government. That is why we have the best regime for businesses in Europe.
1211 On deregulation, we will take no lessons from the Conservatives who, when in government, imposed regulation after regulation. It was interesting that the Government in which the hon. Gentleman was a Minister 1212 established a deregulation task force. That task force, on which the Shadow Chancellor sat when he was out of Parliament, contained more Tory ex-Members of Parliament than small businesses—quite contrary to ours.