HC Deb 27 March 1985 vol 76 cc465-6
6. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what studies he has undertaken of Government assistance to small businesses in other European Economic Community countries.

Mr. Channon

My Department keeps continually in touch with other EC Governments' measures in the small business field.

Mr. Kirkwood

Does the Minister accept that the imposition of rates as a cost to small businesses is unique in Europe in that it is not related to any ability of the businesses to pay? Will he undertake to make representations on behalf of small businesses to his colleagues who are studying the rating system to try to alleviate that impost?

Mr. Channon

As the hon. Gentleman implies, that is largely a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. Nevertheless, I note what the hon. Gentleman has said. It is extremely nice to have all-party support for attempts to reduce rates. That has not always been evident in all parts of the House.

Mr. Richard Page

In the past my right hon. Friend and his predecessors have taken note of any EC initiative to help small businesses, such as the loan guarantee scheme and improvements in employment legislation. Will he guarantee that if another good idea comes out of the EC that, too, will be introduced here?

Mr. Channon

Yes, indeed, but we have quite a few good ideas of our own. We are determined to go on removing any burdens which can sensibly be removed from small firms to increase their expansion and numbers.