§ 12. Mr. Kenneth Carlisle
asked the Paymaster General how many new businesses have been started under the auspices of the enterprise agencies scheme.
§ Mr. Trippier
As regards the number of businesses assisted by local enterprise agencies, survey information collected on behalf of Business in the Community in May 1985 indicated that 83 agencies replying to a question on this had helped 8,269 new businesses. That survey is being repeated this year, funded by my Department, and it is hoped that more comprehensive information may become available.
§ Mr. Carlisle
May I thank my hon. Friend for his recent visit to Lincoln and for his great encouragement of our enterprise agency? Does he accept that the figures that he has given show that enterprise agencies encourage jobs? During my hon. Friend's visit to Lincoln, he saw how a derelict building had been converted by the enterprise agency, using the community programme, in order to provide start-up units for new businesses. As there are thousands of derelict buildings around the country, could not that idea be developed further for the creation of new businesses and jobs?
§ Mr. Trippier
I was very impressed when I had the opportunity to visit my hon. Friend's constituency and see what his local enterprise agency was doing, particularly with the innovation centre that I had the privilege to open. I think that he is absolutely right. We have perhaps learnt our lesson in the last few years in that it is a little silly to look for purpose-built premises of a certain size. We should rather be trying to look for space that is, say, little more than a garage space, often in a derelict building, to convert to the appropriate use so as to give the people whom we are seeking to encourage the first foot on the rung of the ladder of enterprise.