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Monday, 21 May, 2001, 07:40 GMT
Conservatives: Business and employment

Find out more about Conservative Party policies on business and employment.


THE BURDEN ON BUSINESS

The Conservatives see themselves as the natural home of the business vote.

They are committed to reducing the tax burden on business, which, they say, has mushroomed under Labour, and dramatically slashing red tape.

They plan to scrap Labour's Climate Change Levy, or 'carbon tax', which charges more to companies who are heavy users of energy.

Shadow chancellor Michael Portillo has also pledged to scrap Labour's changes to foreign tax relief for companies, which outlaws offshore tax havens.

In their planned war on 'red tape', the Tories want to set a regulation budget for each government department, and aim to reduce it year on year.

They will also set up a Deregulation Commission to scrutinize all new legislation and, if necessary, debate it in Parliament.

They will also replace Labour's Working Families Tax Credit, which they say is a burden on many small businesses, with a benefit.

And they will reduce business rates by 200m a year.

They say that the government has increased regulation and introduced new "stealth taxes" that together have cost business 15bn a year.

In the long run, the Conservatives have "aspirations" to cut the rate of capital gains tax and inheritance tax, and to take more people out of the higher rate of tax - all of which would benefit business owners.


WORKPLACE RIGHTS

The Conservatives are broadly in favour of allowing working parents to spend more time with their children but are concerned about the cost to business.

They are likely to resist further legislation in this area.

However, William Hague has proposed new family scholarships to help parents re-train on returning to work.

The Conservatives have also dropped their opposition to the minimum wage, but have not supported calls for automatic yearly increases in its rate.

The party is committed to scrapping Labour's union recognition laws.


CONSUMER RIGHTS

The Conservatives are sceptical about Labour's claims of a 'rip-off' Britain.

They say the government's allegations are undermining confidence in British business.

They believe prices for goods and services are not necessarily higher in the UK, as Labour has claimed.

They also claim Labour's attack on cartels and anti-competitive practices has created uncertainty among business.

The Tories say petrol prices are the biggest 'rip-off' in Britain and have pledged an across the board cut of 6p per litre in the price of petrol.


THE NEW ECONOMY

The Conservatives have been highly critical of what they see as Labour's over-regulation of the internet.

They are committed to a more hands-off regulatory regime.

They have promised to review the controversial RIP act, which allows government agencies to monitor electronic communications.

They have also pledged to scrap Labour's IR35 tax law, which has proved highly unpopular with freelance IT consultants, some of whom are now treated as employees for tax purposes.

They would also carry out a review of the policing of domain name ownership and cyber-squatting.

The party believes that there is a role for the public sector in increasing IT literacy, without interfering in what companies do.

It has pledged to speed up the delivery of government services over the internet and to ensure they are cheaper than conventional services.

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