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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.

AprilFoolishness Wed 22-May-13 16:03:35

I've just found this. Think Cable's great, and "My relations with the Chancellor are perfectly business-like and amicable" keeps making me chuckle.

pickledginger Thu 02-May-13 13:00:10

The Telegraph seem to have used this. I suppose it's good that they're back to current events after their extended hagiography of Thatcher. And they're still finding the time to maintain royal bump watch.

YoniOno Thu 02-May-13 12:18:49

Seriously, saying 'this government doesn't have an opinion on whether mothers return to work' is totally disingenuous - I don't see me being given financial help to look after my son, whereas if I went back to work I would get financial help. Clearly the government wants women back in the workplace ASAP, being good little capitalists and paying taxes, and paying someone else to look after their children.

I do totally fancy him but that's besides the point

HoveringKestrel Thu 02-May-13 00:28:02

I've got to admit I thoroughly enjoyed this thread and am overjoyed he answered my questions.

I wish he was my local MP.

edam Wed 01-May-13 22:46:24

That's nice. Shame he's lending his support to such appalling policies, though. Why is a twinkly nice man supporting a government that bullies benefits advisors into tricking learning disabled people out of their benefits, for instance?

Corygal Wed 01-May-13 21:57:10

I worship Vince. I dealt with him at work and he is entirely splendiferous. Both twinkly and smily most of the time, but flashes of indignation when decency requires. And he works like a dog.

blondieminx Wed 01-May-13 21:00:10

He missed the point of my question too - parents want flexible working contracts - periods of leave, and shared paternity leave in the first twelve months is NOT the same thing. Pah!

YoniOno Wed 01-May-13 20:36:29

No answers for SAHMs regarding fair taxation either.

AlanMoore Wed 01-May-13 18:25:22

I still like him, I thought he came across well. He actually answers the question which is fairly unique for politicians smile

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 16:16:15

He was honest about it though grin

And don't pretend you aren't thrilled by the idea of your local hospital losing it's maternity wing but gaining a laser hair removal clinic. Happy, hairless days ahead.

edam Wed 01-May-13 15:10:45

That's so reassuring, ginger... not!

Hmm re integrity, really? His analysis of the financial crisis looked jolly good in opposition, he's not been that impressive in govt. and has made himself look a bit daft several times (e.g. telling a journalist he was out to get Murdoch, when he was supposed to be ruling on the BSKyB takeover and was required to be neutral...)

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:58:35

Hospitals can only earn up to 49% of their income from private work now though, so there's still 1.0000000001% to go wink

He's the only one in the coalition with any capability or integrity as far as I can see. He's still a politician though grin

edam Wed 01-May-13 14:54:17

I'm glad he came along but blimey, the effrontery of politicians who say one thing while doing precisely the opposite - flat denials re privatising the NHS, while passing laws and restructuring the organisation to carve it up for the private sector...

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:44:01

It would be helpful to see the number of unique individuals when looking at the makeup of boards. It's far from unusual for one person to sit on several boards and it would be a shame if the move to encourage more women in boardrooms simply led to more work for the same handful of women.

pickledginger Wed 01-May-13 14:38:35

I never doubted that they were. I would just feel happier with someone who knew what they were doing in number 11, even if I might disagree with them on some issues.

JustGiveMeFiveMinutes Wed 01-May-13 14:12:32

he didn't answer my question about the death of the high street.

What a pity.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:09:16

There were enough questions to keep me busy for several hours! Sorry if I haven't got to yours but I tried to deal with the main categories of questions. I have to head off now. Thank you for all your questions.



VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:07:19



Do you want to privatize the NHS? Does your party want to privatize the NHS? If not, why did you allow the competition regulations to be pushed through last week, meaning all NHS services have to be offered to any qualified provider - i.e. large companies, given they are the only ones who have the expertise and can afford the costs of tendering?

Do you feel guilty that you took part in making the Health Bill law, even though it wasn't in either the Tory or Lib Dem manifesto and the Tories specifically promised 'no top down reorganisation of the NHS'?

Hi edam,
The answers are 'no' and 'no'. The NHS remains free at the point of use, as a public service. Bringing in private providers occurred under the last government and has long been a feature of the NHS. GPs are after all private, not public servants. I certainly don't want to see big companies dominating the supply of services as against existing NHS operations and mutuals and there is no reason why that should happen if commissioning bodies are strategic in the way they deal with tendering.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 14:03:40


Dear Mr Cable,

I put the same question to you as I did to the Deputy Primeminister a month ago. Why is the Coalition discriminating against mothers who choose to look after their children themselves. Why does a single-income family on £36,000 pay £9,000 in tax compared to a double-income family who pays £6,500. Why does the tax system ignore caring duties? Do you are about the carers?
Laura Perrins

I've already replied to several SAHMs, making it clear that I have nothing but respect for their role. However, there is the issue of cash. The problem you describe dates back several decades to the point where it was decided to tax people as individuals rather than families. It used to be possible for families to swap tax allowances but in a world where most families have two earners, this created serious anomalies of its own. The current unfairness is party offset by tax credits but I recognise the grievance you describe. I don't think there is an easy solution, or we would have found it.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:58:50


As Business Secretary will you address the problem of 'The Banks'

I spend a lot of my time trying to answer this problem. Let's remember that Britain had some of the biggest banks in the world, and we had a banking collapse with a severity not seen since the beginning of the 19th century. We are clearing up the mess. Banks have been made safer and I have been working with the Chancellor to split the big banks as between so-called casino operations and retail banking through ring-fencing. There is still a serious problem funding small-medium sized business and I am currently setting up a business bank to help plug the gap and support new banks, filling this gap. It will take a long time to produce a better system of banking with competition and good relationship management but we are heading in the right direction.

edam Wed 01-May-13 13:56:36


Do you want to privatize the NHS? Does your party want to privatize the NHS? If not, why did you allow the competition regulations to be pushed through last week, meaning all NHS services have to be offered to any qualified provider - i.e. large companies, given they are the only ones who have the expertise and can afford the costs of tendering?

Do you feel guilty that you took part in making the Health Bill law, even though it wasn't in either the Tory or Lib Dem manifesto and the Tories specifically promised 'no top down reorganisation of the NHS'?

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:54:58


Do you think that the huge cuts to UK research council funding are likely to improve the chances that talented students from schools like Millthorpe will be able to do PhDs/post-docs, or are you essentially just pulling up the ladder behind you?

Hi JacqueslePeacock,
It looks as if we were at the same school but it was called Nunthorpe when I was there. There haven't been huge cuts to research funding. In fact, the research budget was protected. The research councils are independent and we don't tell them how to allocate the funding. I do recognise that there is an issue with post-grad funding though we have made some initiatives as with engineering and I am working with my colleague David Willetts to find a solution recognising that we are in a cash-strapped environment.

SacreBlue Wed 01-May-13 13:54:39

Hello Mr Cable,

I attended the business start up programme as part of the return to work help. I found the course useful, though financial help was no longer part of it, but what I found very heavy going was the amount of paperwork created by the course on one hand and other agencies dealing with benefits, on the other.

For example I had to complete income sheets for IS, for HB in a completely different format, and again, in a third format for the course.

Even now I need to complete my tax returns like everyone else, but the format for WTC is different and I still have a third, for HB - could these not be streamlined into the same format as the regular tax return?

Could your department work more closely with benefit agencies to smooth the transition from benefits to self employment by reducing duplicated paperwork?

Thank you

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:51:27


Hi Vince,

Does the government want / need parents to go out to work rather than stay at home with their children, so that higher tax revenues can pay for pensions and other costs associated with an increasingly elderly population?

If this is the case, do you believe that the school educational infrastructure e.g. length of school days and holidays needs to be restructured to support familes which have both parents out at work?

Thanks smile

The government doesn't have a view on whether or not both parents should work. I consider it a perfectly valid option for one parent, man or woman, to stay at home to help bring up children. That said, you make a good point about the need for school infrastructure to be flexible though we need to remember that there are very different needs in the parent population and that school teachers deserve a break too.

VinceCable Wed 01-May-13 13:49:11


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?

I will pocket the complement but will not rise to the bait! I've still got bags of energy and good health, and I will continue with my very high-pressured job as long as I can do full justice to it. But you're right - there is a lot of ageism around and I hope we can get to a stage when people are genuinely judged on their merits, not their age, their gender or their colour.

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