§ 9. Mr. Boswell
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the increase in the numbers of people self-employed during 1989.
§ Mr. Boswell
I thank my hon. Friend for that reply and congratulate him on his translation. Can he confirm that that was the 10th successive year of increase in self-employment and that the figures are now some three quarters higher than when the Government took office? Will he take it from me, from personal experience, that it is a satisfactory way of employing oneself and serving the customers?
§ Mr. Forth
Indeed. My hon. Friend has made the point better than I could. We know that the main hope for future wealth creation and growth in employment is precisely the growth of the self-employed sector. The Government have demonstrated that we welcome and encourage self-employment. Our track record is excellent and we intend to maintain it.
§ Ms. Short
I do not suppose that the Minister has had time yet, but if he looks at the figures for the incomes of self-employed people, he will find that large numbers of them are on very low incomes. Given the stress that his Government place on self-employment, will he consider securing better standards of protection against unemployment, sickness and low income levels for the self-employed, most of whom are extremely low-paid workers?
§ Mr. Forth
The answer must be no, because the great strength of the self-employed sector is precisely that most self-employed people do not want intervention, interference, or the pseudo-protection that the hon. Lady suggests. Self-employed people are vigorous, self-maintained people; they want to get on with wealth creation and job creation unencumbered by the measures for which the hon. Lady asks.
§ Mr. Butler
Does my hon. Friend agree that the number of self-employed people would be much higher had the Inland Revenue not engaged in a campaign classifying entire groups of people from the self-employed to the employed?