Tory peer repeats his call for economic stimulus

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Former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine has renewed his call for urgent action to stimulate growth in the economy.

The Tory peer told the Lords that Britain should follow the example of other countries which had developed comprehensive support for small and medium-sized enterprises.

He dismissed criticism that his Downing Street commissioned report earlier this year should have been focused on
a more limited number of

“I don’t agree,” Lord Heseltine said. “The challenge we face is too immediate, too comprehensive and any adequate response must involve the broad range of our institutions and people.

“That is why I stressed the need for a comprehensive growth agenda, the involvement of every government department as appropriate and a central capability to ensure the
delivery of the promises involved in such a strategy.”

Lord Heseltine said he was encouraged by Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement response to his central theme of localism in the drive for growth and looked forward to a full response to the report next spring.

The report, No Stone Unturned in the Pursuit of Growth, made 89 recommendations to help industry. One of its key aims was to move £49 billion from central government to the English regions to help local leaders and businesses.

Devolving power from Whitehall and re-invigorating the big cities, the report argued, would help fuel the growth and wealth that the country had enjoyed in past decades.

Debating the report in the Lords yesterday, Lord Heseltine said local economies should be more driven by local factors.

“Most of the localist agenda should be led by local enterprise partnerships. The government has now made available sufficient funding to ensure their ability to do this,” he added.