Only business can lead us out of recession

GIVEN that we are so close to a general election it was not surprising that this year s British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual conference in London last week was not only a sell out but also attracted a number of political big hitters including Lord

GIVEN that we are so close to a general election it was not surprising that this year's British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) annual conference in London last week was not only a sell out but also attracted a number of political 'big hitters' including Lord Mandelson and Ken Clarke.

The supporting acts also featured the Transport Minister Lord Adonis and the Government's enterprise tsar Lord Sugar.

The BCC is broadly recognised as being the most accurate economic forecaster which, given the high level of response to its quarterly economic survey, is probably to be expected. Prior to the election there will be the little matter of a budget.

The Chamber's budget submission, which was well received by the audience, included:

l A call for a clear deficit reduction plan that sets out detailed cuts. This plan must include a freeze in the total public sector wage bill and fundamental reform of public sector pensions.

l Cancel the 1 per cent hike in employer National Insurance contributions, which is a tax on jobs. The BCC has suggested that 1p on VAT would largely offset the lost revenue.

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l New employment legislation and tax over the next four years will cost business over �25 billion. The BCC is calling for a three-year moratorium on new employment law.

l Provide more support around export trade finance, where Britain's exporters continue to be at a disadvantage compared to rivals on the Continent and further afield.

l Sustain investment in our transport, digital, and energy networks, which will underpin growth and form the foundation of our future competitiveness.

I am convinced that it is only business that can lead us out of recession and I was delighted to be able to lend the support of the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry to these demands.

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