HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 c172
6. Mr. Colvin

asked the Paymaster General what steps he proposes to take to encourage large firms to second some of their executives to local enterprise agencies.

Mr. Trippier

Business in the Community is taxing the lead in encouraging an increase in secondments to local enterprise agencies from large firms. Such secondments can qualify for tax relief. The Government fully support BIC's efforts in this area.

Mr. Colvin

I am sorry that the "Pastemaster General" is not answering this question. Will my hon. Friend acknowledge that without the help of big business "oak trees", the small business "acorns", which are catered for by enterprise agencies, would be unlikely to take root? Will my hon. Friend pay tribute to The British American Tobacco, Co., which is assisting the Solent enterprise agency to get off the ground? Without its aid the agency would probably not have prospered. Will he use his best endeavours to encourage other big businesses to help enterprise agencies in the same way?

Mr. Trippier

My hon. Friend is right. I join him in complimenting BAT on the way in which it has sponsored the Solent enterprise agency by providing a secondee. I pay a warm tribute to the growing number of large firms which are seeking to help small businesses, indirectly or directly, in this way.

Mr. Bellingham

Is my hon. Friend aware that we have been setting up an enterprise agency in King's Lynn? Will he tell the House what he plans to do about seconding more civil servants to local enterprise agencies? Does he agree that a spell at the sharp end of the private sector would do their career development much good?

Mr. Trippier

My hon. Friend has been giving us a month-by-month account of the progress of his enterprise agency. I am glad that he has drawn the attention of the House to the agency, which comes into operation this week.

We welcome the fact that civil servants can be seconded to enterprise agencies. When I became a Minister two and a half years ago, we did not have civil servants seconded to enterprise agencies or to BIC. There are now eight such civil servants, who are not confined to the Department of Employment. We even have a secondee from the Treasury, so it must be a good idea.