The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, today addressed London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) members as guest speaker at a breakfast briefing event hosted by the Goring Hotel.
Mr Hands, who is the MP for Chelsea and Fulham, was appointed to the Treasury role after the General Election, taking over from the previous Coalition incumbent, Danny Alexander. With responsibility for managing over £740bn of public spending, the Chief Secretary is second within the Treasury only to the Chancellor, George Osborne.
The minister outlined his priorities for London, including investment in transport and skills (citing the £11bn pledged to transport infrastructure), getting more homes built and maintaining London’s status as the most dynamic financial centre in the world.
He took questions from LCCI members on a range of topics including stamp duty reform, air passenger and fuel duty, financial support for older students, the Apprenticeships Levy and funding for local authority planning departments.
Responding to LCCI’s calls for further fiscal devolution to the capital – as a means to help fund critical infrastructure projects like Crossrail 2 – Mr Hands expressed his in principle support for the new railway line and, as he saw it, the accelerating movement towards greater devolution across the UK. He cautioned the need to make sure that, in calling for further devolution to London, the capital does not risk the impression that it wants to become a city state at the expense of the wider country. He called for further representations by LCCI on this and other key topics discussed, and we will certainly be following up with our ideas.
On the EU referendum, Mr Hands said that whilst a Eurosceptic, he would be campaigning to remain in the EU.
LCCI regularly hosts political briefing events with key politicians and decision makers from across London’s political landscape. If you are interested in attending these events as a member of LCCI, please get in touch with LCCI policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rob Griggs, Head of Public Affairs Team LCCI