Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, Lord Bilimoria addressed a number of issues raised by the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement – the penultimate finance statement ahead of next May’s General Election. Lord Bilimoria criticised the slow pace of deficit reduction and missed economic targets by the coalition – whilst also speaking in favour of tax reform, increased government support for research and development and expressing concern at funding levels for the British Armed Forces.
Lord Bilimoria was interviewed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), who recently celebrated their thirtieth anniversary of their UK office. To celebrate this relationship with the United Kingdom, the CII spoke to a number of senior governmental figures in both nations, as well as leading businesspeople from the UK and India, regarding the commercial and economic links between them.
The Confederation of Indian Industry is a non-governmental , not-for-profit, industry-led and industry-managed organisation that has played a key role in Indian economic development since it was founded in 1895. As India’s premier business association, the CII now boasts over 7200 members from both the private and public sectors, and from businesses of various sizes. Together with its ties to over 242 national and regional sectoral industry bodies, it enjoys an indirect membership of over 100,000 enterprises.
Lord Bilimoria participated in a major debate on Scottish independence, which was moved by the former Scottish Secretary, Lord Lang of Monkton. In his speech – Lord Bilimoria noted the tremendous benefits and potential that comes from the historic Union between England and Scotland, as well as the fiscal risks associated with the proposals for an independent Scotland to become part of the Stirling Zone;
My Lords, I declare my various interests in this area. I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord MacGregor, on initiating the debate. I also congratulate my friend the noble Lord, Lord Leigh of Hurley, on his excellent maiden speech. He is a fellow chartered accountant and we have known each other for many years. As he humbly said in his speech, he is also a fellow entrepreneur and a successful one at that. I read a book by a Wharton professor about givers and takers: in life you have givers, takers and matchers. It is not necessarily the case that the givers will get further in life, but when they do get there they always get there in a much better way and have a more sustainable, happier future. The noble Lord, Lord Leigh, is a giver. He has given to this House today his expertise as an entrepreneur, as an expert in corporate finance and as a chartered accountant. We welcome him here.
My Lords, I join in wishing the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, a very happy 90th birthday. He has asked an excellent question in that it relates to forward guidance. For a long time I have been saying that when setting interest rates the Governor of the Bank of England and the Monetary Policy Committee should look not just at inflation targeting but at the wider economy. This is excellent news. However, is it wise that the governor should tie himself down to a specific level of 7% unemployment, after which interest rates are to be raised, unless inflation is going out of control? When does the Minister think that the 7% will be achieved? Secondly, would it not have been wiser to have had a wider remit taking into account other aspects of the economy, not just inflation targeting?
Lord Bilimoria was interviewed for the Financial Times’ “My First Million” column, which was published on Saturday 14th September, 2013.
My Lords, today the former Governor of the Bank of England has taken his seat, and we welcome him. His successor is a Canadian. How many other countries would have a foreign national as the governor of their national central bank? We do. Do not the Minister and the Government think that we should be proud that we are one of the most open economies in the world, and that that is a great strength to this country? Regardless of that, and on the other hand, how much longer are the Government going to dither and procrastinate about increasing our airport capacity in London?
My Lords, I declare my interests in this area. I remember when qualifying as a chartered accountant it was very clear that tax avoidance was legal and tax evasion was illegal. Recently, there has been a huge public outcry about avoidance having escalated to abuse and companies operating within the law have been vilified.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Harris, for initiating this debate. He said right up front that London is the greatest city in the world and I could not agree more. It is the greatest of the world’s great cities. He congratulated the London Finance Commission on its report, Raising the Capital. I had the privilege of serving on mayor Boris Johnson’s Promote London Council, which was a great experience. It came up with what ended up being London & Partners and had huge success. It really understands London and looks at its competitiveness.
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?