HC Deb 28 February 1972 vol 832 cc4-6
3. Mr. Tom Boardman

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he hopes to come to a decision about the Bolton Committee recommendation for setting up a chain of advisory bureaux to help small firms.

35. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has concluded his consideration of the proposal in the Bolton Report on small firms, that there should be a number of small firms advisory bureaux set up in key commercial centres; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Anthony Grant

We hope to reach decisions by the summer on as many as possible of the Bolton Report's recommendations including the proposal for a network of advisory bueaux. A statement will be made in due course.

Mr. Boardman

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that amongst the many excellent recommendations in the Bolton Report this one has given rise to most doubt? Will he consider whether the functions of the proposed bureaux might more effectively be carried out in the private sector by professional organisations, banks, chambers of commerce and the like?

Mr. Grant

We will certainly take into consideration what my hon. Friend has said. We are consulting a wide range of organisations, including trade associations, chambers of commerce, other Departments and many institutions dealing with small firms, as well as small firms themselves. We will take all these views into consideration before reaching a decision.

Mr. Mitchell

Will my hon. Friend add the Secretary of State for Employment to the list of those with whom he will consult to consider whether this service might best be provided through the new training initiative which is about to be undertaken by that Department, because it would appear to fall within the scope of management training and, therefore, to fit into that sphere?

Mr. Grant

Will well certainly consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment on this matter.

Mr. Fred Evans

Does the Under-Secretary realise that the setting up of a chain of advisory bureaux is of little use unless there is somewhere to channel the advice? Does he also realise that in regions, particularly like Wales, which depend on small to medium-sized firms, the withdrawal of the former range of regional incentives is the very thing which is preventing encouragement to go into those regions? Will he, as quickly as possible, announce any new policies which the Government may envisage—we have heard some whispers—about a change in regional policies?

Mr. Grant

That point does not arise from the original Question. There is another Question on the Order Paper on that subject. There are many small firms in Wales and the Bolton Committee took them into consideration in its recommendations.