HC Deb 23 July 1969 vol 787 cc1697-8
5. Mr. Wiggin

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he will not in all circumstances pay grant under the Industrial Development Act, 1966, on the air conditioning equipment necessary for the functioning of a computer which itself qualifies for grant.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Edmund Dell)

Because the Act provides for grant to be paid towards the cost of such equipment only if it is part of the expenditure incurred by the applicant in providing the computer.

Mr. Wiggin

Nevertheless, the fact remains that air-conditioning equipment which is necessary for the functioning of a computer does not qualify for grant, whereas other peripheral equipment, such as decollators, which is not necessary does qualify. May I ask the Minister to look at this again

Mr. Dell

Air-conditioning equipment qualifies where it is provided for the owner of the computer and is regarded as part of the installation expenses. The difficulty in the case which I think the hon. Member has in mind concerns the position of a lessee, which is different in the way which has been explained to the firm with which I believe the hon. Member is concerned.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Is not that a very silly answer? Why should there be a difference in the assistance given by the Government to the installation of a computer if it is leased? Would not the Minister of State look at this again, particularly with regard to the fact that we had almost exactly the same arguments in relation to the peripheral equipment for computers, on which the Board of Trade recently made what was, to us, a very welcome announcement?

Mr. Dell

I am advised that we do not have legal power under the Act to pay for air-conditioning equipment in the case of lessees in instances such as this. I agree that there is an anomaly, but it arises from the willingness of the Government to help in those cases where they can—that is, where the computer is bought by the user and the air-conditioning equipment is provided as part of the installation expenses. The fact that we have tried to help has created the appearance of anomaly.