On the Politics Show, Sunday 13th September 2009, Jon Sopel interviewed David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce
David Frost, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
Q: The BCC's Director General David Frost is with us now. Thanks very much for joining us on the Politics Show, so what's the cornerstone of the manifesto?
DAVID FROST: Well the main message we would say is that we have to face up to what has been the deepest recession for decades and the economy needs rebalancing, there has to be a clear and unequivocal message from politicians that the party is over for the public sector and it has to shrink, and on the back of that, we need to stimulate the private sector, which has taken all the hit in this recession, to get it to grow again.
Q: So we've got to move away from where to spend and we've got to move to where to cut?
DAVID FROST: Absolutely, we, over the last ten years, we've seen an enormous growth of the public sector, a net 800,000 extra jobs, even now as we speak, the public sector is still recruiting over 15,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year and all the heat is on, is on the private sector. This cannot continue, we have £800 billion worth of debt, every set of statistics that come out on public finances are worse than the previous ones, it has to be faced up to now.
Q: And that is completely the opposite message that I suspect that Brendan Barber is, we're going to hear from in a few moment's time, from the TUC where they say, actually, we're just seeing a fragile recovery starting to take place, the last thing we should be doing now is jeopardising it.
DAVID FROST: Yes, well we've got to look at why we have that recovery, the reason being is that businesses, when they saw this recession coming a year ago, took some very hard decisions, unpleasant, unpalatable decisions, but they did it, they cut employment, and that's why we've seen this significant growth bump in unemployment, they cut investment, but the result of that is, is that we now have businesses in a far better position, far more capable of, of facing the upturn in, in the global economy and, and the issues that are thrown up, what we have to do is the public sector has to make those same choices.
Q: But what about the risk that we keep hearing, that phrase, the double dip recession that could come about if you suddenly throttle the spending now and then, all of a sudden, you know, you take money, you're taking money out of the economy and people stop spending again and the economy goes down?
DAVID FROST: Yes but we can't be in a position where we've seen the major stimulus over the last decade having come from the public sector, as I say, a net 800,000 extra jobs. In the downturn it's the public sector that, that drives it, this is not the way forward for a modern, successful 21st Century economy, we have to allow the private sector to grow.
Q: Right, so which bits, which bits of the public sector need to shrink, health spending?
DAVID FROST: I do not believe there can be any sacred cows in this, the idea of, of politicians that this area for health, or this area, education, can be protected is completely unrealistic, the scale of the problems with public finances are now so huge that I don't think any area can be immune.
Q: I, I hope you don't think this is a cheap point but, I mean some people might say well it's alright for you, you're members of the British Chamber of Commerce, I bet you've all got private health and private education for your children and therefore, it's fine to cut those services, you're not using them.
DAVID FROST: Well that, that's clearly not the case, I mean the first thing to say is that the businesses that I see, have seen over the last year, continue to see, is that they have adopted pay freezes. We're not seeing that in the, in the public sector, where wages continue to grow. In the terms of pensions we have a very real apartheid between the private sector, that's having to put more and more into its own pension scheme, and, and generously funded public sector schemes, so we, you know, we do not have it's the private sector creating the wealth and we've got to ensure that it's allowed the freedom to grow over the coming years.
Q: David Frost, thanks very much for being with us.
END OF DISCUSSION
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