Interviews

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Entrepreneurs’ Summit 2013 live: What can government really do?

2 Mins

12:25pm: Lord Bilimoria CBE, chairman, Cobra Beer on “Is parliament fir for purpose in a new, entrepreneurial economy?”

The world is becoming more interconnected and integrated. And yet, how many of us really take part in public life? “People lead one-dimensional lives.”

But how do you have time to engage in anything else when you’re running a business?

Lord Bilimoria was contacted by Peter Davies, chairman of the New Deal Taskforce, saying: “We want some input from business.”

Lord Bilimoria: “Took me one year to get used to this new life in government. They lived in a different world! They had no appreciation of business! But then I started to appreciate that they’re actually bright people. But they didn’t have an understanding of business, and I had no experience of government.”

Should the House of Lords be elected? But most people don’t know who is in the House of Lords – or what they do. “People do not appreciate what the House of Lords does. I challenge people: name me one world expert in any field in the House of Commons! House of Lords? I can name you hundreds. Scientists, journalists, business people…” This is compared to career politicians in the House of Commons.

He says there is a lack of experienced businesspeople in parliament.

On business: Revenue over cost and selling on value – “better before price” – rather than price are the most successful businesses in the world, according to a study by Harvard Business Review, says Lord Bilimoria. Could these principles be applied to a country? “It’s ‘better before price’ that’s important. Are we as a government investing in the right things? We spend less on higher education than the EU average, and way below America, and even South Korea.

“And taxes: Does government really get the relationship between taxes and competitive growth? And quite frankly, the public don’t understand it either.”

Only 17 per cent of the public trust government; only 16 per cent trust business. Only four per cent of the British public say they are proud of British business.

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