§ Last year, I introduced a number of measures to help small firms. In addition to the major new initiative to establish enterprise zones, these included a venture capital scheme, improved tax relief for small workshops, and a reduction in the rate of corporation tax for small companies.
§ All these measures have been widely welcomed. The 11 proposed enterprise zones have stimulated intense interest among investors and the private sector has begun to respond even before the zones are formally established.
§ Meanwhile, provision of private finance for small factory units has grown rapidly. The continuing strong demand for small workshops shows the strength of the small business sector.
§ But we can and must do more to help existing small businesses to grow, and to encourage new businesses to start up. This remains an essential key to new jobs.