A voice for business?

Yesterday at a meeting with business people in the constituency I was asked who will speak for business if the government presses ahead with scrapping SEEDA and other regional quangos?

My answer was simple. Local MPs. Taxpayers are already paying for MPs to give voice to local and national concerns that need a government answer. Why pay twice or three times over, by also paying for quango heads and advisers to do the same thing?

In the 1990s in the Thames Valley one of the business organisations like the CBI or the IOD or the Chambers of Commerce arranged regular meetings when representatives of the business community could meet local MPs. At those meetings the business community told us what they wanted. We explained what the governemnt was seeking to do. We debated disagreements, and took up issues where they needed representation. If they want to meet us at Westminster we can provide a free room. If they would prefer to meet nearer to home, I am sure one of the larger companies can offer us a room.

In the last decade there has been a profusion of networks, talking shops and consultations, but no-one I have met thinks it meant the Thames Valley got better answers or indeed on many issues answers of any kind. Big decisions about how to strengthen the supply of power, broadband, and transport capacity have usually been deferred. Huge sums have been spent on consultants and consultations, but there is little to show for it.

So why don’t we go back to the idea that where business – or any other group of constituents – wants an answer from government or seeks a change of policy, they put their case through their MPs? Why pay twice?

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  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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