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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

Live webchat with Vince Cable, Business Secretary, Wednesday 1 May, 1-2pm

(106 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Apr-13 16:25:44

We will be welcoming Business Secretary Vince Cable for a webchat this Wednesday lunchtime, following his aborted webchat last Jan (due to urgent business in the House).

A bit of background: The Rt Hon Vince Cable completed his undergraduate degree at Cambridge and post-graduate doctorate at Glasgow, where he then went on to work in a range of senior economic and foreign policy roles, becoming Shell International's Chief Economist in 1995. He became Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham in 1997 and served in the Liberal Democrat Shadow Cabinet from 1999-2003, and as Shadow Chancellor from 2003-2010. In May 2010 he was appointed Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Minister is looking forward to questions on all topics and especially any on starting a new business, mentoring schemes, reforms for flexible parental leave, and the Government's work on increasing women's representation in UK boardrooms.

We hope you can join us and, as always, do post advance questions here if you're not able to make it on Wednesday.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:05:45


Can I also ask what you hope to gain from doing a Mumsnet webchat? Without meaning to be at all rude - your time is precious, so what are you doing here?

I get to chat directly with an important group of people. The problem with my job - as with any Minister - is that unless I go out of my way, I'm in a bubble of Whitehall and Westminster.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:08:02


I am one of those 'stay at home mothers' the government seems to dislike so much. Do you think the government has been wise in their choice of language, talking about people who 'want to get on', with the implication that we have taken some easier option? You have turned off many of us stay at home mothers who feel they are doing the right thing for their families and have already suffered financially in giving up a salary to do so. I for one won't be voting for either of you at the next election.

I certainly don't share the prejudice against stay at home mums. I have married two. My late wife was an extremely talented historian with a PHD and a professional pianist who made a conscious decision to stay at home and work part time so she could spend more time with our children. It was difficult for her. Lots of frustrations, but she felt this was the right thing to do, and I tried to support her with childcare as best I could.

CrazyAlien06 Wed 01-May-13 13:08:59

Hi Mr Cable,

Please excuse the rambling post but I am busy playing with my beautiful 19 month old daughter smile

I am wondering why the government doesnt think about helping out mothers who choose to stay at home to raise their child rather than putting them into the care of strangers.
It has been proven through various studies that children benefit a huge amount from being with their mothers for the beginning part of their lives.

The government seem so obsessed with getting women to go back to work and giving them help in putting their children into the care of strangers.

A child being with their mother is one of the most important time in their lives .

Also why do so many people/ institutions look down their noses at stay at home mums? It's not about cake and chatting its about giving our children the best start in life and ensuring they feel secure , safe and grow up confident little people. Personally i have no idea Why people have a child for someone else to bring up.?
So lets remember the millions of mothers out there who simply chose to have a child as they wanted to raise them and not so that they can rake in all the benefits and incentives given to them.

Must dash! Swimming/cooking/reading awaits my daughters fun filled afternoon smile

BoffinMum Wed 01-May-13 13:10:01

Vince, what should we do as parents to make sure the next generation don't make as much of a hash of managing the economy?

LauraPerrins Wed 01-May-13 13:10:21

So do you condemn the PM remarks that implied SAHM are not hard-working?
Why don't you support SAHM in the Tax system?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:10:27


Hi Vince. What do you make of all this fighting between the Tories and UKIP this week then? Who's right - Ken Clarke who called them "clowns", or Boris who called Nigel Farage "a rather engaging geezer"?

I've debated with Nigel Farage a couple of times and also found him quite an engaging geezer. UKIP are a new phenomenon. They seem very light on serious policy but the best way to expose that is to engage them in serious debate rather than throw abuse at them.

One of the bigger risks for British politics is that the Tories chase after them and indulge some of the prejudices which UKIP express, but my party will remain very firmly on the middle and moderate progressive ground.

JacqueslePeacock Wed 01-May-13 13:13:48

Thank you for the answer. I suppose I meant more, why do you consider Mumsnetters an important group of people? -

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:14:32


Hello Mr Cable

What do you think of Ed Miliband? Could you do business with him, given that a Labour/LibDem coalition is a fairly likely outcome at the next General Election?

I've met him a few times but not as often as the right-wing press thinks. He's intelligent, affable and a good listener. After the next election, I and my party would be perfectly happy to do business with him but I'm equally willing to work with the Conservatives as we are doing at present, in the national interest.

We will fight the next election as an independent party equidistant between the other two and willing to work with either if the circumstances require.

Hippymama Wed 01-May-13 13:15:44

Hello Vince,

I would like to know why this government is not doing more to support families who choose to have one parent (usually mums, but not always) staying at home to look after their child(ren) rather than paying out the equivalent of a fill time wage to put them in nursery (as my family would do if my son went to nursery)?

I would also like to know what the government is doing to help support small businesses such as myself, working at home from my kitchen table? I chose to set up my own business to enable me to be at home as much as possible with my son, but with the advent of universal credit this option would be impossible for me if I had chosen to do it in two or three years time. This government is stifling small businesses sad

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:16:47


Please can you reassure me there are no plans to cut maternity leave down from the current length of one year?

I am planning baby number 2 and I think that first year with me was absolutely vital to my son's well being and development.

Hello and thanks for getting in touch. No there are no plans to cut maternity leave. One change you might have heard about - which is not cutting maternity leave - is the introduction of shared paternal leave and pay. This will mean couples can choose how they share care for their kids for the first 12 months.

Tiptoes28 Wed 01-May-13 13:17:38

What would you say to someone like me who voted Lib Dem in the last election - but who feels completely betrayed by the Lib Dems complicity in Welfare Reform, NHS Reform etc to the point of being ashamed of having voted for you?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:20:27


How are the government planning to implement the recommendations in Lord Davies' report? Do you feel they for far enough?

On a personal note, how do you feel about your role as Business Secretary? Do you find it difficult to sit back and watch someone much less qualified attempt to manage the economy?

We're making a lot of progress on implementing the recommendations for significantly higher levels of female representation on company boards. The numbers are better and we're on track to meet the 25% target by 2015. I'm chasing up companies which have women-free boards and had a leading mining company chief executive in my office just this week, answering my questions as to why they hadn't made more progress. There are genuine issues about long-term executive pipelines for women which we're tackling through shared parental leave, amongst other policies.

On your second point, the job is tough and high-pressured but I feel I'm achieving a lot through our industrial strategy, establishing the green investment bank and the business bank, re-launching apprenticeships on a large scale and with a variety of initiatives to support start-up companies and other small businesses. My relations with the Chancellor are perfectly business-like and amicable.

iseenodust Wed 01-May-13 13:20:46

It is my perception that at the moment the economic/employment gap between north/south is widening. What have you got in the pipeline to give us hope that things will get better for all?

ps You always come across as rational and well-informed on Question Time, unlike some who seem only to be there to point score.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:24:53


Hi Vince, assuming you're a certain age..... have you given back your winter fuel payment? Will you? Are you looking forward to a free tv licence or do you think should be means tested?

Govt. seemed to think it was right to take child benefit (a universal benefit) away from wealthier families, but doesn't seem to think the same about benefits to wealthier pensioners - I just wondered if you could explain this anomaly?

hi Crumblemum. Yes, I give my winter fuel payment to SPEAR, a local Twickenham charity that supports homeless people. It's my 70th birthday next week so I won't be getting a free TV licence for a while. I think it would be too complicated to introduce means testing for these relatively small benefits. It would be much more sensible to ensure wealthy pensioners pay tax on any benefits they receive like people in work.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:26:49


As well as reforms for flexible parental leave, can Mr Cable clarify what he and his dept. are doing to get employers to offer flexible working to new as well as existing staff?

There have been endless threads about highly educated, professional women becoming "stuck" on the mummy track - knowing they wouldn't get flex working from the off with a new employer they end up staying in the same position and not progressing/paying more tax via increased earnings.

One of the big advances in the last ten years has been the right to request parental leave and I strongly supported Patricia Hewitt when she introduced this under the last government. I'm now planning to make this entitlement apply to all employees, existing and new staff, and in a simple, non-bureaucratic way. In addition we're bringing in a system of shared parental leave so that childcare responsibilities can be equally balanced between men and women in the first year of the baby's life. These reforms will hopefully end the traditional assumption that women have an obligation to stay at home in deference to their male partner.

ChildrensStoriesNet Wed 01-May-13 13:27:42

Vince, you know the underlying issue for many is Low Pay (less than a living age).

Better pay means a stronger economy, ie: more personal spend = more tax for gov and more profit for business = more employment etc etc.

The simple self funding fix is to move 12% of the top earners income (400K+) down to the bottom 7 million workers, thus giving them a living wage. This goes a long way to fix the economy.

We are all better off as a result, including the top earners who benefit from more profits, it's a Win Win Win.

So why procrastinate?

nanamac Wed 01-May-13 13:29:35

As a committee member of Mothers at Home Matter I would like to know what this Government is doing to give all families a genuine choice whether to look after their babies and children themselves or do a paid job? Many mothers want help to spend more time with their children, not less.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:30:54


I would ask Mr Cable three things:

1) Would he now, in retrospect, take a different approach to the economy than he did before his party came into the Coalition?

2) Are you embarrassed that Nick Clegg does not have the vocals he deserves in the shadow of David Cameron?

3) Do you agree with Victoria Coren on Question Time that you wouldn't trust George Osbourne to water your plants.

NB. I like Vince Cable. But lately his opinions have been so sugar coated and indirect, he must be getting splinters in his bottom.

In opposition, I warned repeatedly that we were heading to a major financial meltdown and that any new government under whatever party would face very painful cuts in expenditure. Given where we now are, we have to balance the risks of creating a lack of confidence in the government's ability to manage its finances with the risks of continuing stagnation. I recently argued in the New Statesman that the balance of risks may well be changing so that the latter is the bigger problem.

We need to remember that the Liberal Democrats have one in six MPs within the Coalition and roughly the same number of ministers. We more than punch above our weight and if you read right-wing newspapers you get the impression that we really run the government...

I'm not sure I'd trust myself to water my own plants!

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:34:18


Hi Vince,
May I suggest your department reconsiders its HR rules regarding fixed term employees. I lost my job after a year at BIS because the department did not want to give me full employment rights despite the need for my skills and knowledge.

Hi amazingmummy,

I'm sorry you felt badly dealt with by my department. I don't have the full facts to help answer your question, but I am concerned that you left my department feeling that you had not been properly dealt with, and will ensure that the department follows this up if you send me your details.

superkat Wed 01-May-13 13:34:27

Do you think that going after welfare rather then tax evasion is the right move financially and in terms of morals?

I find the government's otherisation of people within the welfare system completely abhorrent.

noddyholder Wed 01-May-13 13:35:21

I just want to say you have an amazing voice in fact you give Mr Attenborough a run for his money! smile

Rowlers Wed 01-May-13 13:36:48

Happy 70th birthday next week, Mr Cable!

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:39:26


Vince, you know the underlying issue for many is Low Pay (less than a living age).

Better pay means a stronger economy, ie: more personal spend = more tax for gov and more profit for business = more employment etc etc.

The simple self funding fix is to move 12% of the top earners income (400K+) down to the bottom 7 million workers, thus giving them a living wage. This goes a long way to fix the economy.

We are all better off as a result, including the top earners who benefit from more profits, it's a Win Win Win.

So why procrastinate?

I announced an increase in the minimum wage last month, and the Government, at the instigation of my party, has introduced a higher threshold for paying income tax, which is now approaching £10,000 per year. Obviously I would like to see better pay and more purchasing power in the working population but we have to be realistic about what is feasible without damaging job prospects. On balance, workers prefer employment to higher pay if that is the choice. As regards the proposals for redistributing income, I support the principle but I don't think your arithmetic would work. It is almost certainly more practical and economically more sensible to tax high-value property - the so-called 'mansion tax' - than have very high rates of income tax.

AlanMoore Wed 01-May-13 13:40:00

You would make a miles better PM than Nick or Ed or Dave. Why are we so ageist? What's wrong with a bit of gravitas?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:40:32


Happy 70th birthday next week, Mr Cable!

Thank you - I was hoping to keep quiet about it but the secret's got out!

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