§ 15. Mr. Win Griffiths (Bridgend)
What steps he is taking to encourage businesses to raise productivity levels. 
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Paul Boateng)
The creation of a sustainable, stable macro-economic framework since 1997 has provided the foundation for productivity growth in UK firms. We have a long-term ambition to ensure that Britain achieves a faster rate of productivity growth than its main competitors, thereby closing the productivity gap. The Chancellor's pre-Budget report takes us a step nearer that ambition.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. When he considers the efforts of small and medium-sized companies to increase their productivity, will he examine the issues surrounding the charges for authorisations under integrated pollution control? A small company in my constituency, Abril Waxes, has found that it has to pay £7,000 for its authorisation, which might be the same as that paid by a company such as BP. Will he consider a system of sliding scales based on output for such charges?
§ Mr. Boateng
My hon. Friend takes a very close interest in these matters and I am grateful for his support for our objectives. He makes a fair point and I will ensure that officials consider his proposal and get back to him on our likely capacity to be able to introduce such a measure.
The pre-Budget report sought to help small businesses through the simplification of VAT and by further reforms to the business tax system. I hope that they will assist the sort of firm that he rightly said has particular concerns about compliance costs.