30/01/2004

Chancellor agrees to meet Beggs over insurance costs

Chancellor Gordon Brown has agreed to meet a delegation led by UUP MP Roy Beggs to discuss how Northern Ireland's small businesses can be better protected from crippling costs of public liability insurance.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday the Ulster Unionist Chief Whip said: "We in Northern Ireland are enjoying the lowest levels of unemployment and the highest levels of employment in my lifetime. However, I plead with you to take account of the high costs of public liability insurance, which is crippling small businesses in Northern Ireland."

Mr Beggs asked: "Will you bear in mind the fact that success in creating employment in Northern Ireland is largely in the hands of small employers, many of whom cannot afford to pay the huge insurance costs that have been asked for and have simply sold off their businesses, making many people unemployed?"

In his reply Mr Brown said that the Government was "concerned about the issue of employers' liability insurance.

"It has been raised with the Treasury, and the Financial Secretary has had discussions with business. If you wish to lead a delegation to the Treasury to go through the issues again, we are prepared to listen to your representations."

(SP)

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