HC Deb 05 February 1998 vol 305 cc1223-4
20. Dr. George Turner

What action she is taking to provide information relating to the work of her Department to small and medium companies. [25705]

Mrs. Roche

My Department provides more than 1,100 publications giving information and detailing the initiatives and programmes carried out across all parts of the DTI. All titles are listed in our "Publications in Print" catalogue, which is also on the internet. Included is a series of booklets and factsheets produced specifically for small businesses.

Dr. Turner

I acknowledge the work being done in the Department on the use of information technology. Does my hon. Friend recognise that nothing is more important for a small business to succeed in the new millennium than investing in IT? What is the Department doing to encourage that? Will she take to our right hon. Friend the Chancellor a clear message that any help that can be given in his Budget this year to small firms to invest in IT will be most welcome?

Mrs. Roche

I absolutely agree that the use of IT by small and medium enterprises is essential. In the Department, we are focusing our efforts on the promotion and uptake of the new information technologies, spearheaded through the information society initiative programme for business. I have seen for myself a number of businesses—particularly small businesses—coming in to use the local support centres, which is impressive. The message that we need to get across to small businesses is that the use of IT is not a luxury or an add-on; it is essential for their competitiveness and vital for British companies in an increasingly global marketplace.

Mr. Gray

If the Minister is so committed to the use of information technology, would she care to comment on the rumour circulating Whitehall that the backlog of unopened red boxes in the Secretary of State's office is such that extra shelves have had to be built in her office? She is simply not opening them, far less dealing with their contents.

Madam Speaker

Order. That question was a total waste of time.

Mr. Skinner

Can my hon. Friend or any other Minister in the Department of Trade and Industry shed any light on that other little bit of information that is being sent out to small and medium companies, concerning the delivery of concessionary coal to the 55,000 miners who look like losing up to 16 bags of coal? Will she reverse the contents of that circular?

Madam Speaker

Order. I think that we shall now move on to the statement/

Forward to