§ 11. Mr. Greenway
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied with the provision of small nursery units for small firms.
§ Mr. MacGregor
The report of the study carried out by the Department of Industry and published on 27 May indicates that the annual rate of supply of small workshops has probably tripled since the 100 per cent. industrial building allowance for small industrial premises was introduced in 1980. There remains a shortage generally of the very small units—broadly, units of under 1,250 sq. ft.
§ Mr. Greenway
In view of the potential growth of jobs in this area, I warmly welcome the tripling of the rate of supply announced by my right hon. Friend. Does he feel that local authorities are doing enough in rate relief and other assistance that they could give?
§ Mr. Jenkin
The interesting aspect is that the scheme shows that when incentives are given the private sector responds. The study showed that the vast majority of new premises were coming from private investment by local investors. That is an interesting indication of the way in which incentives can achieve the required result.
Many local authorities are now concentrating far more, as is the English Industrial Estates Corporation, on the provision of small workshop units. Local authorities, however, must always balance the problem of expenditure to encourage small firms and hence jobs against costs through higher rates and thus loss of jobs. On the whole, therefore, I think that the direction that we have taken in encouraging the private sector to do this is very attractive.
§ Mr. Carter-Jones
Is this not an ideal area for the use of advanced technology and information technology in equipment to allow disabled people to acquire education and to find employment at home? Will the Minister discuss this with his hon. Friend the Minister for Industry and Information Technology? Is he aware that the development of information technology can bring great joy and pleasure to the disabled who cannot work and to the elderly—
§ Mr. Jenkin
I am aware of the importance of accommodation for the disabled in many instances and my hon. Friend is examining this.