A new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been launched today to champion rural businesses.
There are more than 540,000 rural businesses across England and Wales, all of which contributes over £200 billion to the national economy. A collection of MPs representing a wide range of constituencies from across the country met today in the Houses of Parliament for the inaugural meeting.
The group will meet with Ministers to discuss a variety of issues, hold evidence sessions and make recommendations on key policy areas, as well as providing MPs with a forum for celebrating rural business in Parliament.
Having been elected Chair of the Group, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said: “Rural businesses are the lifeblood of our countryside communities and they make a vital contribution to the national economy. I am delighted to have been elected Chair of this important new Group and I hope that by working together, Members from all parties will champion the cause of rural business. We need to have a frank and open discussion about the challenges such countryside organisations face and work towards delivering practical solutions that will improve sustainable growth and opportunities for rural businesses.”
The Group’s Vice-Chair Sue Hayman, MP for Workington, added: “From farmers to high tech manufacturing firms, from holiday cottages to internet start-ups, all business can be found across our countryside. However operating in a rural area brings different challenges and opportunities. That is why I am so pleased to be part of a group that will be focused on understanding those challenges and providing practical solutions.”
The CLA, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, will be supporting the group as Secretariat. CLA President Henry Robinson commented: “The CLA is pleased to provide support for the new APPG for Rural Business, and we look forward to working with the MPs and Peers who form the group as they champion the businesses that drive the rural economy.”
The Group will next meet when Parliament reconvenes after the summer recess, and will focus on promoting sustainability in the rural business community. Key issues for discussion will include how planning policy can deliver growth, what steps can be taken to ensure countryside enterprises have access to the necessary skills, training, and education services, and whether devolution will provide rural communities with greater decision-making powers.