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Chancellor Gordon Brown
"Labour is building its support amongst British business"
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The BBC's Caroline Quinn
"Blair has told the BBC that he sees the campaign as successful so far"
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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 16:12 GMT
Labour's UK 'open to all'
Chancellor Gordon Brown
Mr Brown said Labour was the party of business
Labour's ambition is to create a culture of enterprise "open to all", says Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The party promised on Monday to help more people to set up their own businesses if it wins the general election.

But shadow chancellor Michael Portillo said Labour red tape had taken Britain in the wrong direction and the Liberal Democrats said British business was fed up with "fence sitting" on the euro.

At the party's morning news conference, Mr Brown insisted that Labour was now the party of business and entrepreneurs.


Labour's higher business taxes and more red tape have taken Britain in the wrong direction

Michael Portillo
And he reinforced that message in an afternoon visit to Swindon, Wiltshire.

Earlier, Prime Minster Tony Blair said Labour had become the party of business and was the only party which could offer voters the chance "to enjoy a stable economy" for the first time in a generation.

In both of his speeches, Mr Brown said Labour would introduce tax cuts and increase spending on training courses to help people to create their own jobs.

However, the Conservatives have accused the chancellor of making Britain uncompetitive and suggest the government's policies are taking the country in the wrong direction.

Prosperity

But in Swindon, Mr Brown pledged: "Wherever there are barriers to competition in our economy we will bring them down."

Enterprise had to be encourage among the young, said Mr Brown, outlining measures to bring business into the classroom.

He said he wanted British enterprise to match that of the US and suggested that one in 10 people could be entrepreneurs if Labour were re-elected.

Earlier, speaking in London, the chancellor said: "In the 21st century, the more enterprising our people are the more prosperous our country will be."

Enterprise policies
Competition Commission to be independent
Reform of planning laws
Changes to New Deal jobs scheme
Tax credit for firms which train workers
Tax cuts for small companies
Tax cuts to encourage business creation and support enterprise
He promised a new competition Bill in the next parliament to make the Competition Commission independent.

Planning laws will also be reformed with the aim of making business development decisions easier and quicker, and there will be changes to the New Deal jobs scheme making it more employer-led.

Mr Brown also announced proposed tax measures in the first Budgets of the next parliament designed to encourage business creation and support enterprise.

Under his plans, more of a small company's profits, which are now taxed at the 20p rate, would be taxed at 10p in the next parliament.

Consultations would be held on introducing a special tax credit for firms which improved the skills of their workers.


Business people cannot have total confidence in Labour

Matthew Taylor
His comments came as Labour made a concerted effort to put business and enterprise at the heart of the campaign.

Tories 'anti-business'

Mr Brown said said a letter to the Times in support of Labour, signed by 50 leading businessmen, was "a sign of the relationship this New Labour government is forging with business".

He continued: "The choice in this election is between a Labour government founded on stability where the enterprise culture will be advanced by radical new measures, and the Conservative Party that would repeat the mistakes of the early nineties, undermining business entrepreneurship and returning us to boom and bust."

Labour believes that support from business leaders like Alan Sugar, the chairman of the electronics company Amstrad, is an endorsement of its handling of the economy.

The letter to the Times praised Labour policies such as cutting the national debt and giving the Bank of England independence.

Some of the signatories had voted Conservative until now, according to the newspaper.

'More red tape'

But shadow chancellor Michael Portillo said: "Labour's higher business taxes and more red tape have taken Britain in the wrong direction.

"Now Gordon Brown wants to go on increasing government spending faster than the economy grows year after year.

"That would require even higher taxes at a time when our competitors are bringing their taxes down.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Matthew Taylor added: "Labour has squandered its economic success on Conservative-style cuts whilst depriving public services of the investment they need.

"Businesspeople cannot have total confidence in Labour. They are disappointed with Gordon Brown's fence-sitting on the euro."

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