HC Deb 09 February 1981 vol 998 c597
19. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take steps to expedite the payment of regional assistance grants to industry.

Mr. MacGregor

Applications for regional development grants are now being approved markedly quicker than last year. Payment of approved applications remains subject to the four months' deferment announced by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 12 June 1979.

Mr. Hamilton

Will the Minister say what protests he is getting from industry? Is he aware that the paper industry in my constituency has complained to me specifically about slowness in the payment of grants, to the embarrassment and disadvantage of those firms?

Mr. MacGregor

I am aware of some complaints which I have received since my appointment. I point out, however, that there has been considerable progress. Last year, the average time was about 22 weeks. It is now between three and four months. I shall continue to take a personal interest in this question.