I am not going to rehearse again in these pages my own particular tussles with the DTI/BERR/BIS that are now entering their fifth year, but needless to say any organisation that refuses to accept that French companies can have foreign shareholders, and refuses to accept that subsidiaries form part of a consolidated balance sheet, you cannot have a logical argument with.
As with Cable yesterday Business,Innovation & Skills makes its mind up first then adjusts reality to fit the decision. Refusal to accept the decision will entail personal bankruptcy for the small businessmen and catastrophic financial consequences for larger enterprises.
Cable in the section I listened to yesterday has a quasi-judicial role at BIS, in what other sphere of justice do you have a ‘Judge’ declaring war on the applicant or the defendant in a case, and being allowed to keep his job ? The other telling phrase is ‘I cannot politicise this issue, because there are legal implications’ then proceeded to spew out his bile against Murdoch.
Today, I see that Ed Davey has been recorded as well as his still boss. This is a man who has admitted that he found my particular case ‘complicated ‘ and difficult to understand. The commercial ignorance and overt politicisation of an organisation that is anti business to its very public sector core, whilst professing to be for promoting British Industry is breathtaking.
Free Marketeer Sir Nicholas Ridley, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry back in the 1980s, was one of the first in that office to wonder in public what the DTI was actually for.His solution is to abolish the post. Sadly Ridley died before he could put this into action. 15 years later, new Conservative leader Michael Howard appeared still not to have found the answer.
If the Conservatives are to lay claim to being the party of business, they ought at least to pretend to be interested in the wealth-creating sector. This is one Ministry that should have been reduced or abolished, it should certainly have not been handed over to the Social Democrats whose penchant for regulation matches that of the Labour Party.
There is no point Cameron expecting the Private sector to take up the slack of laying off public sector workers, when the nationalised banks come under BIS and Cable and are just not making vital loans to industry to allow recovery to pick up momentum. BIS is acting as it is some form of third police force, and is indeed allegedly recruiting retired policemen to beef up its activities against business, with the lucrative fines that it entails. One in seven Finance firms are looking to move to Guernsey, Jersey or Switzerland, HSBC is reviewing whether it should be headquartered in London. Not a ringing endorsement of the business environment in Britain. It is Private industry that creates real jobs not fake jobs as under Brown in the public sector.
This is another function that ought to be stripped away from Cable and given to the Treasury if there has to be regulation.
The shambles over tuition fees should be returned to County Councils and away from the Social Democrats centralising instincts.
DTI/BERR/BIS or whatever it is called this week has a terrible history.
The saga of Matrix Churchill where a nod and wink from one part of the DTI as to export licences to Iraq, was not relayed to Customs and excise who prosecuted the Directors, who faced jail. It was only when Alan Clark admitted being ‘economical with the actualitie’ did the Directors walk free. However the skills and the business had been lost.
Appointing Peter Mandelson over the mega-department that took upon itself the role of ensuring the probity of the business environment was a joke too far. His demands that the Directors of the Phoenix Consortium be investigated by the fraud squad, who politely declined. The skewed report that removed the Labour Party’s political interference from the narrative was farcical. Finally he demanded that the Directors be banned ‘forever’ from being directors on public TV.
This Department has aspirations to direct and run British Industry from a Whitehall Ministry run by just one man. This is Government control of the means of production by another route. Clause four never went away.
The fact that Cameron has allowed Cable to stay in post, where a Tory would have been out on his ear is a testament to the weakness of political resolve in Coalition.