HC Deb 13 July 1988 vol 137 cc358-60
18. Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what initiatives his Department is taking to help small firms understand and take advantage of the legal consequences of the 1992 single European market; and what information he has on the 1992 advertising campaign initiatives in the rest of Europe.

Mr. Maude

Our "Europe Open for Business" campaign aims to encourage firms throughout the country, large and small, to prepare for completion of the single market. About 45 per cent. of all business inquiries we have received on the single market have come from firms with fewer than 20 employees. I understand that only France and Ireland have so far launched major Government awareness campaigns, although I understand that several other countries are planning them.

Mr. Bellingham

I am grateful for that encouraging reply. Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the reasons why unemployment in west Norfolk has almost halved in the past four years has been the effort and contribution made by the small firms sector? Is he also aware that small firms in west Norfolk will not sit back and let 1992 happen? They are already getting geared up to make the most of it. What extra help, assistance and advertising will be given by the small firms service? What effort will it make to help small firms get geared up for 1992?

Mr. Maude

As my hon. Friend said, small firms are already gearing themselves up very well. We shall continue to provide such help as is appropriate for them. My hon. Friend is right to draw attention to the fact that small firms, as much as big ones, have a great deal to gain from exploiting the opportunities that the single market will bring, and they must look to their laurels to ensure that they remain, and become more competitive, to meet the challenge that will come from the continent.

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