• Business and Trade are looking up

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    02 February 2018

    Last week I was busy on the Customs bill – the legislation that will ensure that we can bring in whatever customs arrangements we negotiate with the EU. The aim is clear – we believe that it is in our best interests for our customs arrangements post departure to ensure that there is a minimum of friction at the border. Especially for our roll-on roll-off ferry ports such as Dover where we need to make sure that trade continues to flow without undue restriction or these ports will grind to a halt with serious tailbacks. My work last week was the process of taking the legislation through committee. At the committee stage of a Bill it is scrutinised line by line and clause by clause. Amendments are tabled and those selected for debate are considered by the committee and may result in a vote where consensus cannot be found. This occurred around a dozen times last week. The Bill will continue for a further week in committee before it heads back to the floor of the House of Commons for Report and Third Reading. At Report further amendments will be tabled and some divided upon. The bill as amended will be debated as a whole for its Third Reading and then progress to the House of Lords before being presented to the Queen for Royal Assent at which point it will go from being a Bill to an Act of Parliament and come into law.

    Last week I was also pleased to address a business club headed up by Alan Mak MP. Alan is the MP for Havant and has done a huge amount of work around the so called 4th industrial revolution and the way in which the world of work might be expected to change in the years ahead. What particularly struck me about the businesses present was that despite the huge diversity of the areas in which they operate (kidney dialysis centres, a chain of solicitors, waste management, defence engineering, hotels etc) they were universally positive about the immediate economic outlook. Order books are good. This very much reinforces the more recent very positive news on the economy. Not only do we now have near record levels of employment but unemployment is at a 40 year low. Youth unemployment has halved since 2010 and we have cut the deficit by three quarters since that time. An official revision a week ago to our growth data indicates that growth in the last quarter of last year was actually up on that predicted at the time of the budget – manufacturing is surging ahead and exports are being lifted by the shift in the exchange rate. Consumption is holding up. All in all we appear to be doing well and with increasing signs that we may do rather better going forward than many have recently imagined. The Government continues to support businesses through lowering taxes and increasing reliefs. An approach that is working. More from Mel on Twitter @MelJStride.