HC Deb 04 March 1976 vol 906 cc1520-2
13. Mr. David Mitchell

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward legislation to implement the policy concerning small businesses expressed in the motion passed by the House of Commons on 30th January 1976.

Mr. Dell

I cannot anticipate the Budget Statement, but the Government do not accept that the existence of this sector of the economy is threatened.

Mr. Mitchell

The right hon. Gentleman says that the Government do not accept that this sector is threatened. Is he not aware that on 13th January the House carried, with support from both sides, a motion stating that the sector was being threatened? Is he further aware that the small business sector is important in the role of job creation? Will he ensure that there is some incentive for it in this year's Budget?

Mr. Dell

I am aware of the motion that was passed by the House. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of Industry, said that the Government did not accept that the existence of the small business sector was threatened. There is no doubt that the sector is very important to Britain. I cannot make any further comment on any measures that my right hon. Friend might take.

Mr. Molloy

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the result of many analyses is that the three-day week, which was inflicted upon us by the stupidity of the Conservative Government, imposed as much suffering on small businesses as any other sector? If that sector is to recover, will my right hon. Friend ensure that a policy is adopted which does not result in bringing in another three-day week, a policy which was a disaster not only for small businesses but for everyone else.

Mr. Dell

I think that my hon. Friend has accurately stated the Government's policy.

Mr. Anthony Grant

Although the right hon. Gentleman says that this sector is not threatened, is he aware that there has been a more than 40 per cent. increase in bankruptcies over the past year? Does he recall—even if the Government want to wriggle out of the motion that they accepted—that the Minister of State specifically said that the Government would do everything possible to help this sector? What is he doing to help it in its undoubted plight?

Mr. Dell

The country as a whole has been going through very difficult times. I am glad to see that there is now some change in sentiment on the part of industry. I cannot make any statement at this stage about what measures my right hon. Friend might take.