Big business and Treasury capture government


It looks to me like the triumph of big business - or rather the triumph of the Treasury's view of what big businesses need and want.

This would be true of today's announcement to streamline and simplify the planning system, and to introduce a presumption in favour of supposedly sustainable development into planning decisions.

It would be true of putting Royal Mail on a path to privatisation with the postal service's decision to take advantage of new freedoms to significantly increase the price of stamps.

It was true of the recent announcement that long leases over roads will be sold to the private sector, to bring private capital into road development.

It is true of the government's awakening to the potentially seriously negative impact on inward investment of constrained runway capacity in the south east.

And of course it is trebly true of the cut in the top rate of income tax, the accelerated reductions in corporation tax and the reform of taxation for multinationals based here (the controlled foreign company rules).

Now many of these policies have been desired by the official Treasury for years: they were developed under the last Labour government as required to improve the competitiveness of the British economy but are only now being implemented by this coalition.

Some of the measures, such as on corporation tax, can be identified with the personal preferences of George Osborne, but most pre-date him.

So, to use the jargon of the City, there has been a reverse takeover of the government by the gents (yes they are mostly of that gender) of the Treasury, the officials not the elected politicians.

Healthy? You tell me.

Robert Peston, economics editor Article written by Robert Peston Robert Peston Economics editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    The public is not anti-business, but strongly for good business, and the public wants good strong business to do well.
    The belief is that, too often, it is not the cream that rises to the top, but the bribe and the corrupt.
    Democracy can help guard against this - if it is not corrupted itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The problem is not that significant elements of the countryside will be despoiled - the lobbies always undermine their positions by not being open to a balanced debate.
    There is a national priority to encourage economic activity so that in the future we can afford to maintain our countryside to the standard it deserves. The current planning legislation is a nightmare and totally inefficient.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    We are going the same way as Europe with unelected officials in league with corporations working the system for their own benefit. It matters little what political party you vote for you are going to get the same 'solutions' anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Its certainly healthy if democratically elected politicans start making decisions on the basis of strong and robust evidence rather than ignoring it for the politics of the pork barrell.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Democratic Corporatism. You unwittingly vote for their agenda, and you unwillingly pay for it, one way or another.
    Unfair? Well, if you don't like it you can always abstain from voting. But you still have to pay tax.


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