He said the DTI should be scrapped as it cannot continue to operate as ‘poacher and gamekeeper’, promoting business and protecting consumers.
Instead there should be a Department of the Consumer, bringing together the principal consumer protection agencies such as the Office of Fair trading, the Competition Commission and the Food Standards Agency, which would ensure the market operates fairly and in the interests of consumers.
Cable is due to announce the policy today.
He will say: ‘The Liberal Democrats have never been a socialist party. We have always believed in setting people free, not cutting them down to size. This applies to business too. We must resist measures, which strangle business with red tape from Whitehall and Brussels or with Byzantine tax regulations: the hallmarks of a Brown economy.
‘The Liberal Democrats are not a corporatist party. Setting business free – to make money or to go bust – means we reject the begging bowl culture of industrial – or agricultural – welfare state.
‘The DTI, and its army of Sir Humphrey’s, should be scrapped. The £3.4bn slush fund the government has legislated for to provide unspecified industrial assistance, or the hundreds of millions spent each year subsidising arms exports, can surely be better spent. It would be better spent on education – the real driver of a modern knowledge economy – or, for that matter, giving the taxpayers their money back.’
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