HC Deb 28 April 1980 vol 983 cc961-3
20. Mr. Loveridge

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what reductions in forms, and generally unnecessary paper work, his Department has achieved in order to reduce the burden on small businesses.

Mr. David Mitchell

The Department has already made savings of over 16,000 statistical forms which would have gone to firms this year.

Mr. Loveridge

I am encouraged by that answer, but is my hon. Friend aware that the accumulation of forms that small traders have to deal with remains a severe deterrent? One woman shopkeeper said to me last week " I cannot bear the thought of filling in another VAT form ". Will my hon. Friend continue to act to cut the number of forms and to cut red tape?

Mr. Mitchell

I readily accept my hon. Friend's invitation. He will be pleased to learn that decisions taken by all Ministers since the Government took office a year ago have resulted in over 1 million statistical forms being saved. I shall publish details in the Official Report. That is in addition to the saving of 280,000 forms per annum resulting from a review of regular statistical inquiries initiated by the previous Administration and confirmed by this Government. It is still necessary for the Government to collect many kinds of statistical information. However, I believe that our decisions are widely welcomed in the small business sector.

Mr. Waller

I welcome what has been achieved so far, but is my hon. Friend aware that I hope that he has not put his scythe away and will continue to assess the need for the various forms?

Mr. Mitchell

I assure my Friend that it will be a continuing process. I shall be glad to hear from him if he has examples of forms that he considers to be unnecessary.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that, no matter what the Government try to do for small businesses, their policies are failing? Why will the Government not take the actions that we desire? Is he aware that in the Mexborough district, which covers the Dearne, Conisbrough and Denaby, no jobs have been created since it was made a development area? Does he agree that the Government need do more?

Mr. Mitchell

It is for the Government to create the conditions, and for employers and workers in the area to join in enterprises to produce goods that the consumer wants, at a price that he is prepared to pay. The hon. Gentleman suggests that Government policies are failing. However, it takes longer than the hon. Gentleman expects, and even longer than I expected, for changes in policy to produce results.

Dr. John Cunningham

Does the hon. Gentleman expect us to believe that the Government are creating the conditions for enterprise, with inflation at 20 per cent., the MLR at 17 per cent., VAT a: 15 per cent. and over-valued sterling?

Mr. Speaker

That was not a supplementary question related to the main question, whatever else it was.

Following is the information:


Inquiries stopped No. of forms saved
Quarterly export prospects survey 300 a year
Annual survey of film distributors 100 a year
Monthly manufacturers' stocks 7,800 a year
Export prices survey (monthly or quarterly) 5,000 a year
Shops inquiry 1981 150,000 in 1981
Census of employment for1979 and 1980 600,000 in each of the 2 years

Reduction in forms sent out
Annual survey of retailing 5,000 a year
Annual survey of other distributive and service trades 11,000 a year
Annual census of construction 2,200 a year
1979 purchases inquiry by manufacturers 1,200 in 1980

(i) All the inquiries are carried out by the Departments of Industry and Trade except for the census of employment, which is a Department of Employment responsibility.

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