HC Deb 14 February 1983 vol 37 cc14-5
19. Mr. Richard Page

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what assistance is currently available from his Department for the computer software industry.

Mr. Butcher

The software products scheme can provide grants of up to one third of the cost of developing and launching software products. The scheme was relaunched last year with an additional £10 million funding. I am greatly encouraged by the response from industry. In addition, we are continuing to look at ways in which the public sector may draw upon the considerable talent available in the United Kingdom software industry.

Mr. Page

In thanking my hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is satisfied that enough of that aid is going to the smaller software houses and through them into the smaller businesses, which need the aid to compete?

Mr. Butcher

As with industry in general, often many talented people are contained within our smaller companies. There is no restriction precluding the smaller companies from taking advantage of the scheme. The major criteria are an application area and type of software product and not so much company size.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Would not the computer software companies also benefit if the enterprise allowance employment premium—the manpower subsidy introduced by the Government last year to run for six months—were extended to those companies and to all other companies throughout the whole of the United Kingdom in the way that the Department of Employment and the Manpower Services Commission were suggesting only a few months ago? Will the Minister put pressure on the Department of Employment to ensure that the scheme is extended?

Mr. Butcher

The scheme has to stand on its own merits and each application must be looked at on its merits, regardless of location within the United Kingdom or whether the company or the region in which the company is located receives special grants. I shall examine Hansard, and, having clarified the position further, see whether I can meet the hon. Gentleman's point.