HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 c910
15. Mr. Timothy Smith

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the performance of the Local Enterprise Development Unit in terms of employment development.

Mr. Adam Butler

I am pleased to say that the number of jobs promoted by LEDU continues to increase. In the year ended 31 March 1983 it promoted a record 2,550 jobs compared with 1,615 in the previous year, itself the highest achieved since the LEDU's formation in 1971.

Mr. Smith

Is this not a remarkable performance at a time of acute economic recession, and does my hon. Friend expect this encouraging trend to continue?

Mr. Butler

My hon. Friend is right. It is most remarkable at this time. I expect it to continue, because the unit reports that it continues to have a large number of representations made to it. It has set itself a target of about 3,000 jobs in the present year. The people of Northern Ireland have responded to the efforts of the unit and also to the many measures that the Government have introduced to encourage small businesses, which help to contribute to the recovery of the national economy, along with that of Northern Ireland.

Mr. Fitt

Does the Minister accept that any success that this organisation may have has been brought about by the dedication, loyalty and sincerity of the staff and officers of the LEDU organisation and, in particular, the almost daily 25-hours-a-day activities of a man called John Carmichael in the LEDU unit in west Belfast, which is so sorely deprived?

Mr. Butler

Without picking on any names, I echo what the hon. Gentleman says. The staff has shown remarkable dedication over the past years, but most particularly, what is so welcome to myself is that the work that it has been doing has achieved the response to which I have referred.

Mr. Soley

If the involvement of the Government in the private sector is so beneficial, as I agree it is, why does not the same philosophy apply in the rest of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Gentleman has not looked at the figures. Small businesses development has been remarkable in the rest of the United Kingdom as well.

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