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Treasury Questions


7th June 2016

Harriett Baldwin outlines Government support for British exporters with UK Trade & Investment more than doubling the number of businesses it is helping in the last six years.

Exports

Alan Brown (Kilmarnock and Loudoun) (SNP)

7. What steps he is taking to increase exports. [905194]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin)

Over the last six years, UK Trade & Investment has more than doubled the number of businesses that it helps. It now aims to help a further 100,000 firms to export by 2020.

Alan Brown

I thank the Minister for her answer, but it did not make it clear what is actually being done to increase exports. The Chancellor promised that his growth strategy would be underpinned by a doubling of exports to £1 trillion by the end of the decade, but to date his targets have been missed, and the export figures are moving in the wrong direction. What will the Government do to turn that dire performance around?

Harriett Baldwin

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor mentioned earlier the important work that UKTI is doing in not only promoting the Exporting is GREAT brand around the world, but, now—across the whole Government—encouraging all our embassies around the world to focus their resources on increasing the potential opportunities for our world-class exporters.

Sir Henry Bellingham (North West Norfolk) (Con)

22. Is the Minister aware that more than 25% of small businesses in France and Germany export, whereas the figure in the United Kingdom is about 20%? Does she agree that not just UKTI, but chambers of trade and business organisations such as the Federation of Small Businesses, can play a role in encouraging more small firms, in particular, to export? [905210]

Harriett Baldwin

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there is an important role to be played by not only our embassy network, but our chambers of commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses. I also welcome the fact that some of our larger banks have also set themselves targets for getting additional customers to start to export during the next five years.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)

Is the Minister aware that Huddersfield and Yorkshire are already a northern powerhouse in terms of manufacturing and the quality of partnership with universities? Is she aware that my universities in Yorkshire and the manufacturing sector are terrified that we will leave the European Union? It will bankrupt the universities and the manufacturing sector.

Mr Speaker

Did we get a reference to exports? I am sure that the hon. Gentleman meant to mention it.

Mr Sheerman

We have great exporters as well.

Mr Speaker

Well done.

Harriett Baldwin

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to highlight the fact that the UK’s universities are unanimous in expressing the value that they put not only on higher education, but on the potential for those educated in universities to export in due course. He is absolutely right to highlight the fact that all other trade deals would be worse than the current zero-tariff trade deal that we have as a member of the EU.

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Topical Questions

Bob Blackman (Harrow East) (Con)

T6. I note that the Government will publish a report on the progress of payments to Equitable Life policyholders who are victims of the great scam, and I congratulate the Government on the progress that has been made to compensate those individuals. Will my right hon. Friend undertake to review the amount of money paid to victims of the scam so that we can fulfil the debt of honour that we owe them? [905219]

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Harriett Baldwin)

I can announce that although the Equitable Life payment scheme is now closed to new claims, payments being made under the scheme to with-profit annuitants are not only tax free but will continue for the life of the relevant annuity.

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Chris Philp (Croydon South) (Con)

Does the Minister share my concern about the activities of ambulance-chasing law firms which encourage fraudulent whiplash claims, of which I have had personal experience? Can the Minister update the House on the Government’s plans to clamp down on this outrageous practice?

Harriett Baldwin

I hope that my hon. Friend has experienced only the ambulance chasers, not the whiplash. He is right to highlight the cost that this puts on motorists, which we estimate is about £90 a year for every motorist in the country. That is why we have already taken steps to reform this area. Last year in the autumn statement we announced further reforms, which will remove the right to cash compensation for minor whiplash injuries, while ensuring that genuine claimants are rehabilitated.

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Ben Howlett (Bath) (Con)

I welcome the Government’s support for the reporting of gender pay gap figures. What steps is the Minister taking to reduce the gender pay gap in the financial services sector?​

Harriett Baldwin

I welcome this question because our financial services sector is not only our highest-paid sector, but the one with the widest gender pay gap. That is why we launched the Women in Finance charter, and we are asking all financial services firms to implement the recommendations in the excellent review by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the chief executive of Virgin Money, on the representation, or rather the under-representation, of senior women in financial services.

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