Business Secretary Vince Cable didn’t mean it when he told a Birmingham audience that Government efforts to help industry have been “Maoist and chaotic”, the Prime Minister has insisted.
In a speech to the Lunar Society, the Birmingham-based society for leading figures in the worlds of business, politics and academia, Dr Cable said mistakes had been made in the development of new agencies to support employers.
But asked whether he agreed with the remarks, David Cameron insisted his colleague did not actually hold that opinion.
Speaking in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “Given that he is implementing the policy, that is not his view.
“We all take a view that the RDAs wasted a vast amount of money, many of them weren’t popular with the businesses in their area and the local enterprise partnerships will do a much better job.”
Responding to MP Bridget Phillipson (Houghton and Sunderland South), the Labour MP who had raised Dr Cable’s comments, Mr Cameron said: “Instead of complaining about it why not work with her local authorities to get a good local enterprise partnership in her area to start backing business and jobs and economic revival?”
In a speech last week, shortly after visiting China, Dr Cable said the reforms had been “Maoist”, a reference to the Chinese Communist leader Chairman Mao whose policies led to the deaths of millions of people.
He said: “We’re investing heavily at a local and city level to reverse years of terrible over-centralisation in London that has led to a lack of independence for cities.
“Getting rid of the regional development agencies and bringing in Local Enterprise Partnerships has perhaps been a little Maoist and chaotic, but overall we’re giving back to councils and local authorities the powers and incentives they need to see a resurgence in civic pride.”
Labour claimed the comments were an admission that abolishing regional development agencies such as Advantage West Midlands has been shambolic.