HC Deb 09 June 2004 vol 422 cc262-3
6. Mr. Henry Bellingham (North-West Norfolk) (Con)

What recent representations he has received from small business organisations in Wales on the subject of the tax treatment for small incorporated companies. [177359]

The Secretary of state for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)

I have regular meetings with small business organisations. The Government and the Assembly have created an extremely supportive environment for small businesses to prosper in Wales.

Mr. Bellingham

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of small companies in Wales went to substantial expense to incorporate as a result of tax incentives brought in by the Budget two years ago? Those excellent initiatives, which were widely welcomed by small business groups in Wales, were removed in this year's Budget. How does the right hon. Gentleman explain that U-turn, which has angered so many small businesses in Wales?

Mr. Hain

As the hon. Gentleman knows, things are not quite as he suggested. As he also knows, small businesses in Wales are doing much, much better than ever before. The Royal Bank of Scotland reports that the economy will grow by 3 per cont. and that Welsh business activity grew for the 13th consecutive month to April 2004. A recent CBI survey also showed that business confidence in Wales stands at its highest since 1995, and the latest quarterly business survey from NatWest reports that 68 per cent. of Welsh small businesses noted significant improvements in their sales in the past year. That is the most positive response for a long time—thanks to Labour's excellent policies.

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