The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, did an excellent job, and the noble Lord is absolutely right. Will the Government accept, learn and consult business more in future?
The spending review is about to come along. Are the Government on target, given that, as the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, said, our borrowings are increasing and will double to £1.5 trillion? We have to bring government expenditure as a proportion of GDP down. Is there a target of 40% of GDP for government spending? Could the Minister confirm that?
With regard to priorities, immigration has reared its head again. I am really worried about this. The gracious Speech mentions dealing with illegal immigration, the bad immigration that harms our country, and yes, we need to deal with that. Unfortunately, though, the signals that are being sent out, reinforced by highlighting immigration in the gracious Speech, are about discouraging and deterring the immigration that we benefit from. The number of Indian students has gone down by more than 40,000. In fact, recently we had a former head of immigration from Australia in the UK, and he said that every day in Australia they pray and thank God for the existence of the UK Border Agency. It has been proven unfit for purpose; that is why it is being dismantled. We are harming our competitiveness. If students do not come here, they go to Australia, Canada and the United States. It is one of our biggest strengths. We need to send out a very clear signal that we want immigration to benefit this country and that we appreciate the good immigration that has benefited it.
On infrastructure and High Speed 2, the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, hesitated, but in his fantastic speech moving the Motion for an humble Address, the noble Lord, Lord Lang, spoke about High Speed 2 being a good investment in infrastructure from which our grandchildren will benefit. It is high speed being delivered at slow speed. Will the Minister confirm exactly when this project will be completed? It is an example of long-term thinking, which is great. The Minister spoke about Crossrail. I congratulate the Government on Crossrail. It is a fantastic initiative, started by the previous Government, which will benefit our economy, but nobody has spoken about Heathrow and the desperate need to improve our air services. We need that third runway at Heathrow. Why are the Government just postponing it?
What about a balanced economy? There is nothing in the gracious Speech about a balanced economy. When I am asked about my business, I say with pride that first and foremost we are manufacturers. Are the Government keen on promoting manufacturing? What are they going to do about that? We should be maximising our competitive strengths.
The tourism industry brings more than £115 billion to this economy. Expanding Heathrow would help tourism, but the most photographed building in the world is the Eiffel Tower. The second most photographed building in the world is our wonderful Palace of Westminster. The reason it is second is because we are not in the Schengen scheme for visas. There are so many people, particularly from China, who come to Europe, come as far as the channel, but do not come to the UK because a Schengen via for 25 countries is cheaper than a UK and Ireland visa. We should join Schengen. Anyone who has a Schengen visa should be able to come into this country. The reason we do not join Schengen is that we are worried about our border security. I have just spoken about the UK Border Agency. Why are the Government continually postponing imposing exit checks at our borders? They need to be brought in soon. We know who is coming into our country, but we do not know who is leaving. We need to have those exit checks. Will the Minister inform us of when they are going to be introduced?
Another of our competitive strengths is higher education, but there was not one mention of it in the gracious Speech. Earlier this month it was mentioned in this House that the University of Cambridge has achieved more Nobel Prizes than any other university. That is something of which we should be proud. That is in spite of the fact that we spend less as a proportion of GDP on R&D and innovation than the OECD or the European Union. We spend half the proportion of GDP on R&D that South Korea spends. When it comes to higher education funding, overall we spend less as a proportion of GDP than the EU average or the OECD average and way below countries such as the United States. Why is it that the United States always bounces back quickly? Why is it so competitive? Why is it so productive? Why it is so innovative? It is because it invests more than we do as a proportion of GDP in innovation and higher education. Why do the Government not do more of this?
Will the Minister confirm that we are going to be promoting clusters? There are three big clusters in the world: Silicon Valley, Boston-Cambridge in Massachusetts and Cambridge in the UK. We need to promote more clusters. Birmingham, for example, is a prime location for a manufacturing cluster. Will the Government promote clusters more proactively?
The noble Lord, Lord McFall, spoke about the financial sector. I remember speaking in the debates about Northern Rock. That was six years ago. The nationalisation of Northern Rock was rushed through in six months. It has taken us six years to get to reforming our banking system. That is scary. I am very hopeful, and I congratulate the Government on appointing Mark Carney, a Canadian, to come in and head our Bank of England. Can the Government confirm that, apart from inflation targeting, they will now encourage the Bank of England to also have nominal GDP growth targeting as well? On SMEs, which other noble Lords have spoken about, I keep hearing that they cannot raise finance. In fact, I have heard that the enterprise finance guarantee scheme loans are falling. Can the Minister confirm that? They should be increasing at times like this, when businesses desperately need finance.
On a positive note, I am delighted with the efforts that the Government are putting in through UK Trade and Investment to promote British businesses doing business abroad. I am delighted to hear that the UK India Business Council, which is funded by UK Trade and Investment and of which I am the founding chair, is now to be opening up within India. The British high commission in India has opened up two new deputy high commissions in Hyderabad and Chandigarh and will increase the number of people on the ground helping to promote British business in India. This is fantastic. As the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, concluded, we must promote and encourage our businesses not just in doing business with Europe, but in doing business with the emerging markets such as India-the BRIC nations.
The Government are doing a fantastic job through their marketing campaign, “Great Britain“. The “Great Britain” campaign tries to promote Britain with confidence aboard. I suggest that we need a “Great Britain” campaign to promote Britain within Britain. We do not appreciate enough the amazing strengths that we have as a country. We have the best of the best in the world in just about every field you could imagine, whether it is the creative industries or the legal and accounting professions, and manufacturing including beer, automobiles and aerospace, as well as sport, film and theatre. Our universities are, along with America’s, the best in the world. London is the greatest of the world’s great cities. I could go on.
We may be bumping along the bottom as an economy, but we should never take for granted the amazing strengths that I wish the Government would get behind-strengths which we should spread with confidence throughout our country. Then we will be able to generate growth with confidence.