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September 17, 2008 1:35 PM

Solihull's MP, Lorely Burt went straight into the 'Dragon's Den' when she arrived at Bournemouth for her party's annual conference.

The Lib Dem small business spokesman was pitched against other panellists including Will Hutton, CEO of the Work Foundation in a head to head to find the best solutions for business and enterprise. The event was organised by the Smith Institute.and the theme was 'setting small business free'.

Mrs Burt said:

"The rise in the financial burden regulation places on businesses in the UK now stands in excess of £50billion per annum. This has come about as a direct result of the failure of the current Labour government to pursue a deregulation agenda resulting in a £10billion increase in the regulatory burden in one year alone.

"The competitiveness and success of small businesses is impaired by government's failure to free small business from red tape and regulation, imposing such a disproportionate cost on small business sector.

She said small business would play a vital role in helping to dig the country out of recession and that the Liberal Democrats would champion small businesses and introduce regulatory reform to make sure they were always 'open for business'."