Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lib Dems Float Plan for Stock Exchange in North; but Regional Agency Would Take a Big Hit

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lib Dems Float Plan for Stock Exchange in North; but Regional Agency Would Take a Big Hit

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green

NEWCASTLE could house a North East stock exchange under Liberal Democrat plans.

The party's election manifesto, released yesterday, said such a move would make it easier for firms to secure investment instead of having to face "heavy" regulations to get listed on the London Stock Exchange.

But Lib Dems want to slash funding for One North East, the regional development agency (RDA), sparking Labour claims that the move would hit the economy. And the Conservatives said the Lib Dems had unveiled a tax bombshell, including imposing VAT on new homes along with pounds 3bn raised via an aeroplane tax and a pounds 255m tax on domestic air flights.

Another potentially controversial policy is a plan to encourage immigration to different parts of the country. The release of the Lib Dem manifesto comes amid predictions that they could hold the balance of power in a hung Parliament after the May 6 election.

Labour's North East Minister Nick Brown said the plans were "half-baked" and damaging.

Mr Brown, fighting to be Newcastle East MP, said there was no need for a local stock market with the market and RDA providing financial support to businesses.

"We need a fully functioning RDA. If they just cut it down we will be left with a bureaucracy and no money to do anything," he added.

North East Tory peer Michael Bates stressed the need to strengthen existing links to the London Stock Exchange as well as financial centres in Leeds and Manchester to help companies raise capital.

He called for One North East to be slimmed down, but warned against regional immigration "quotas".

"I just cannot see how they can work, how are you going to keep people in the region?" said Lord Bates.

He also claimed the Lib Dems had unveiled a damaging "tax bombshell" that would damage the regional economy. Ron Beadle, Lib Dem candidate in Newcastle North, heralded the plans as good for the region - with his party's tax plans meaning the average family would be pounds 705 better off. …

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