§ 2. Mr. Bowen Wells
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will take steps to improve the level of management skills and training, particularly in small businesses.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. David Trippier)
My Department operates schemes providing management advice of various types, particularly for small firms, which also benefit from schemes directed at extending the knowledge and use of new technologies. We shall continue to keep our arrangements under review.
§ Mr. Wells
Does my hon. Friend agree that training in small business management can be carried out in two areas —first, formally, within colleges—I welcome my hon. Friend's reply to me today—and, secondly, through the creation of on-the-job training by local enterprise agencies and others? Small business managers need great support during this period, and training on the job. Will my hon. Friend make certain that that happens when he carries out his duties as the Minister responsible for small businesses?
§ Mr. Trippier
As I have already said, much assistance is already being given and we are prepared to consider extensions. We are considering whether to introduce a scheme to help in marketing. I think that my hon. Friend is right. Local enterprise agencies can play an important role in management training. I recently had the opportunity to visit the London Enterprise Agency and was very impressed by the excellent work that it is doing. We should encourage more local education authorities to become involved.
Mr. Bob Edwards
Is the Minister aware that the most important development in Britain today is the worker co-operative, the number of which has increased in six years from 20 to 700 registered under the Industrial Common Ownership Act 1976? When we refer to small firms, why is no attention given to that important development? There is a dreadful shortage of funds. A little expenditure on the industrial co-operative movement would further the new developments very much. Will the Minister give more attention to that matter?
§ Mr. Trippier
I am conducting a review of the Co-operative Development Agency. It is too early to speculate on the outcome of that review.