Sunday, 31 January 2010
Vince Cable, Treasury Spokesman and Deputy Leader of the Liberal
Democrats, visited Southport Town Hall last Saturday to take questions
from local business people about the economy, banks and the recession.
"Vince's economic knowledge is second to none," said local MP and
Treasury team colleague, Dr John Pugh. "it was great that members of
the local business community had a chance to ask their questions.
The majority of the concerns raised by those who attended centred
around the danger of heading back into recession and also about how
the power of the banks can be curbed."
Dr Cable was the first MP to predict the financial crisis when
Gordon Brown was proclaiming that he had 'abolished boom and bust'.
He opened the meeting by paying tribute to the hard work of local MP
and colleague John Pugh at a local and national level. He then went on to
talk about the state of the economy, comparing the UK to a heart
attack patient on life support following a crash. He went on to
outline his and the Liberal Democrats prescriptions for a return to
He said that the recent report of a 0.1% growth rate should not be
taken as a sign of a full recovery, and warned of the danger of the
country sliding back into recession. He warned that the patient has
been artificially propped up by the policy of quantitative easing,
and the support has to be withdrawn gradually to prevent the patient
Apart from careful budget planning, he also emphasised the urgency
of large scale banking reform. He argued that banks should be
separated into high street and investment banks to prevent a future
financial crisis from occurring.
He also placed investment in infrastructure and education and training at
the top of the list ensure recovery and a more stable economy.
He also talked about the issue of public sector pensions and the
rising costs of senior judges, Civil Servants and MP's."There needs
to be more of a sense that the Country is being fair when it comes
to tax policy."
He was then quizzed on a variety of topics by members of the
audience on everything from credit card debt, to health and safety
He stressed the need for sensible spending cuts and identified areas
where these cuts can be made. 'Quangos are not accountable, and can
be extremely financially wasteful. The Government scrapped the
Learning and Skills Council, yet there are now three more bodies in
its place. Also, while Regional Development Agencies may be
worthwhie in the North of the Country, why should they be needed in
London and the South, where the majority of business is concentrated?'
Combatting personal debt was another area on which he touched,
"Credit and Store card debts have caused problems for many young
people especially. Asset repossession has rocketed because many
simply did not know what the interest rates on these cards were. The
only way to stop this is to set a cap on interest rates, and to make
things more transparent."
When questioned about what steps he thought needed to be taken to
help small and medium sized businesses, he pointed out that the
Government has not used the nationalisation of several of the banks to
the full advantage of a key part of the economy. "The Credit Guarantee
Scheme was introduced by the Government to encourage smaller
businesses, but its not working. When business owners apply for the
scheme they are not told about the complex fifty pages of
forms they have to fill in. The Government now has Directors on the
Boards of several banks and they have not taken advantage of their
position to make it easier for businesses to get the help they
Posted by iain at Sunday, January 31, 2010