Letter: American way to curb big business

Sir: Hamish McRae's two proposals for the Labour Party - trust- busting and support policies for small businesses ("Small business is Labour's business", 6 September) - are most timely.

For practical guidance on both we have already suggested to the Labour Party and to the Government that they look across the Atlantic. The United States started trust-busting in the 1890s and has not stopped, reflecting its culture of support for checking corruption in giant undertakings. The US competition laws are models for Europe.

In Washington the Small Business Administration, a government department, has existed since the Second World War to ensure that there is competition in the market place by making certain that there is no undue concentration of business power.

What constitutes a "small business", and as such qualifies for assistance/support, is dependent on the market sector, not just on a definition such as any manufacturing business with fewer than 500 employees. In the aircraft industry, for example, a qualifying small firm can have up to 1,500 employees.


The Union of Independent Companies

London SW1