HC Deb 08 February 1995 vol 254 cc341-2
19. Mr. Page

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps his Department is taking to ensure that only a single trade association liaises with each industrial sector.

Mr. Heseltine

As I made clear in a speech at the CBI last week and on other occasions, I want to see powerful, well-resourced and effective trade associations which represent the interests of all within their sector. To encourage that process, I have said that officials should refer to me only proposals or representations from a lead association in a sector.

Mr. Page

I thank my right hon. Friend for that positive response. Does he agree that, without one umbrella lead trade association in a sector, the Government would receive only a host of confused and muddled messages? That would waste the time of officials and Ministers getting those diverse messages and, worst of all, those trade associations would be doing a disservice to their members by not putting their views coherently to the Government.

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend has taken great interest in this important subject and I agree with him. There are too many trade associations. Many are too small and under-resourced. If they are to represent their members effectively to the Government and the European Commission with a wider audience, there is room for rationalisation and we in the Department of Trade and Industry are doing what we can to encourage that.