§ 22. Mr. McBride
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if, following the publication of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Small Firms, Command Paper No. 4811, he will now state his policy on the role of the small firm in the Welsh economy.
§ Mr. Peter Thomas:
The Government attach much importance to the role of the small firm in the Welsh economy. The Bolton Committee Report will be considered carefully and sympathetically.
§ Mr. McBride:
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the provision of advice bureaux and information, while important, is not the real answer, that the rÔle of the small firm in the Welsh economy is seriously impaired by the lack of demand in the economy, and that the curtailment of demand and the seriously detrimental Government financial policies, for instance the abolition of investment grants, are the reason for the stubbornly high unemployment figures? Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman further aware that he has done precisely nothing in assisting small firms and so reducing unemployment in Wales?
§ Mr. Thomas:
The Question referred to the Bolton Committee Report. As I said, the recommendations in that Report, which will affect Wales as much as the rest of the United Kingdom, will be considered carefully and sympathetically. On 3rd November, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry told the House exactly what was the Government's policy.
§ Mr. Gwynoro Jones:
Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman admit that the abolition of investment grants has reduced greatly the cash flow to small firms in Wales, hence we see fantastic increases in redundancy and a reduction of jobs in prospect, which are 70 per cent. fewer in the first nine months of this year than for the same period last year? Are not smaller firms being hit by the proposals of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Government?
§ Mr. Thomas:
The Committee on Small Firms said that it was taxation, company legislation and certain other restrictions which they suffered under the previous Government that it wanted to see removed.