Brown bids for business vote

Gordon Brown will meet with City leaders today
Gordon Brown will meet with City leaders today

Gordon Brown has made a bid for the votes of British firms today by promising to cut the regulatory burden on business by 25 per cent.

The chancellor is meeting with City leaders today where he will also announce a review of the way HM Revenue and Customs deal with top businesses to ensure Britain maintains "a competitive tax regime and a responsive tax administration".

In an article for The Financial Times he also promised to promote London as a global centre for financial services, to which end he will visit India and his closest advisor, Ed Balls - who has dubbed himself minister for the City - will go to Dubai.

His comments come as Conservative leader David Cameron also bids for the support of big business - he will today make a speech on how to simplify the tax system, and warn that nine years of Labour government has seriously damaged the UK's competitiveness.

Leaked documents in today's Telegraph also suggested that the Tories' tax commission, which is due to report its findings tomorrow, will recommend the 0.5 per cent stamp duty on shares be scrapped.

This would significantly cut the price of trading shares in London, raise the value of the FTSE-100 index of top firms and provide a welcome boost to pension funds.

Although shadow chancellor George Osborne has ruled out any firm tax cut pledges for the next few years, he is said to be in favour of the commission's proposal.

Mr Brown will also announce a new taskforce at this morning's meeting "based on a shared objective - that London be the great global success story of the coming decade".

The chancellor promised to maintain a "light regulatory touch" while promoting the City's strengths of stability, openness, inventiveness and high-level skill.

"In the next year our comprehensive spending review will rigorously examine priorities to secure the future infrastructure and education investment we need," he said.

And he stressed: "At all times we will promote a risk-based approach to regulation in areas where the Treasury is directly responsible, such as asset freezing, and we are today announcing a target to reduce regulatory burdens by 25 per cent."

Mr Brown also stated his opposition to a tough new corporate governance law along the lines of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act introduced in the US in the wake of the Enron scandal.

"I resisted in favour of maintaining a flexible principles-based approach. We will allow nothing to undermine that commitment," he said.


Politics @ Lunch

Friday lunchtime. Your Inbox. It's a date.