Page last updated at 17:48 GMT, Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sugar attacks 'hollow' help for small firms

Lord Sugar has criticised the government's lack of help for small businesses, and accused politicians of trying to deflect blame for the economy elsewhere.

In a debate on the economy on 22 March 2012, the Labour peer said Business Secretary Vince Cable announced a lot of "hollow" initiatives "under the guise" of helping small businesses.

"Yet he is someone who has never been in business; never been on the coal face; never run a business or understood the needs of a small business."

He said the only way to cut the deficit was to have a plan for jobs and growth, which encouraged small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) to invest and take on more workers.

But many firms were too "nervous" to borrow money because of the "lack of confidence" in the marketplace created by "politicians jockeying for position or applause on BBC Question Time, as well as a very mischievous media".

'Pay peanuts, get monkeys'

Lord Sugar argued that cuts in VAT and fuel duty, and a one-year National Insurance holiday for small firms employing more staff would encourage investment and instil confidence.

"These are just a few things that would have an immediate impact and provide genuine help for small business, rather than the hollow promises we continually hear," he told peers.

The Apprentice star also hit out at politicians "jumping on the bandwagon of bank bashing", telling the chamber it only served to "depress the business environment".

"It is not encouraging in any way, shape or form. It's sheer political capital," he added.

Defending the bonuses paid to top executives employed to take over failing banks, he said: "Replace them, pay peanuts and you will get monkeys - there is no question of it, and you will delay recovering the billions invested from the public purse."

Click here to watch part one of the debate, where Lord Heseltine makes his maiden speech in the Lords.

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