HC Deb 05 December 1989 vol 163 c151
16. Mr. Fearn

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will detail the number of small firms which have started business in the last year and over the past decade.

Mr. Eggar

In 1988, the latest year for which figures have been published, the net increase in the number of VAT-registered businesses was 64,000, an average of just over 1,200 per week. Since 1979, the net increase has been 285,000, an average of around 600 a week over the whole period.

Mr. Fearn

Does the Minister recognise that tourism plays an important part in those figures, which are extremely good, but that it needs help? Does he recognise that some small tourism businesses are in great difficulties because of the withdrawal of section 4 grants? Does he intend to give any more assistance to small tourist businesses?

Mr. Eggar

Of course, tourism has been a great success story over the past 10 years. There has been a massive increase in employment in tourism, and I note the hon. Gentleman's point.