THE Government seems at last to be listening to small businesses, according to Malcolm Lyons, Huntingdonshire chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses.

On his return from the FSB annual conference in Liverpool, Mr Lyons said the fact that the conference was addressed by the Prime Minister, Business Secretary and the Leader of the Opposition was testament to that - even if neither Minister was actually present.

"Politicians from all parties attended to woo the FSB small business delegates, who came from all parts of the UK," Mr Lyons told The Hunts Post.

"Despite the stress of running a small business today, they were at Liverpool to engage with our politicians, and debate important issues.

"The world of small business is firmly on the political agenda; and is of great economic importance," he enthused.

Political promises abounded in Liverpool, he added.

"They included the tackling of red tape, stopping gold-plating regulation, and the setting up task forces.

"There was amusement when Mark Prisk, the Small Business Minister, highlighted rules on the noise levels of ice-cream van musical jingles that have existed since the early 1980s."

Unfolding events in North Africa meant the Prime Minister appeared in Merseyside by video-link, and Mr Prisk read the speech that was to have been delivered by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

"During a question-and-answer session with MPs from the main parties, they were pressed about the lack of help from bankers," Mr Lyons continued. "Some delegates pointed out to the panel that they all made sweet noises about making credit better available to business, but they do not put their words into action (despite the Government owning a large share in two national banks).

"My reflection is that small business is vital to the economy - politicians need our views. If we do not convey the views of small businesses through organisation like the FSB, running a business would be great deal harder; Conference did achieve this, I think."