HC Deb 18 May 1978 vol 950 cc770-2
Q2. Mr. Corbett

asked the Prime Minister when he last met the CBI.

The Prime Minister

I met representatives of the CBI on 6th February. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

Mr. Corbett

Against the background of rising industrial output and rising investment owing to the success of many of this Government's policies, what conversations will the Prime Minister be having with the CBI to get it on the side of making it easier for small businesses to be set up and for those in business to expand in order to provide many of the new jobs which are so urgently needed?

The Prime Minister

The Government's policy towards small firms is well known. As the small firms recognise, the Budget made a number of improvements, including improvements in value added tax limitations, capital transfer tax, capital gains tax and corporation tax. All these have been of great assistance to small firms. I find that members of the CBI appreciate this.

Mr. Crouch

Does the Prime Minister consider that his dinner with the CBI the night before last was a useful meeting? Does he remember that the president of the CBI then said that it was the CBI's aim to drop the phrase "the two sides of industry"? What is the Government's view of that initiative?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member was there and he enjoyed the dinner as much as I and many other hon. Members did. I thought that I gave an adequate, full and acceptable reply on that occasion.

Mr. Greville Janner

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the CBI next week is due to receive a high powered trade delegation from the Soviet Union headed by Academician Kirillin? Will he express the deep disgust and distress of this House at the travesty of the trial of Yuri Orlov and the savage sentence imposed? Will he point out to the Russians that this is the worst possible way to achieve either detente or improved relations between our countries?

The Prime Minister

The whole House will agree that if the sentence has been passed on Mr. Orlov in respect of his attempt to monitor the Helsinki agreement, there can be no justification for a sentence on that account. The Government's view has been and will be made entirely clear on that matter. Certainly I shall lose no opportunity of making it so.

At the same time, I also wish to make clear, because there must be good State relations, that, whilst I am strongly in favour of individual groups and hon. Members such as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) making their passionate distaste and dislike of this type of thing clear, we must not cut off relations with the Soviet Union. I know that my hon. Friend was not suggesting that. But, sometimes, not what my hon. Friend says but what others say seems to shade off into that. This is one of the two great States of the world. We either live with her or we die with her. State relations must be conducted on a different basis from that of hon. Members and individual citizens in this country, who properly express their disgust at what is taking place.

Mr. Bulmer

When the Prime Minister next meets the CBI, will he explain to its members why he believes that it is in the interests of trade unions, let alone the nation, that neither the nationalised industries nor British companies should be allowed to compete in the international market with the best management available because of the high tax rates that rule in this country?

The Prime Minister

The CBI has expressed its views to me abou this. We discuss it from time to time. I shall consider whether it should be on the agenda at the next meeting.

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