HC Deb 01 December 1999 vol 340 cc292-3
6. Mr. Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham)

When he last met the First Secretary to discuss assistance for small businesses in Wales. [98881]

The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Paul Murphy)

I have regular meetings with the First Secretary and discuss a wide range of issues, including assistance to small businesses in Wales.

Mr. Loughton

That is all very interesting, but did the First Secretary think that small businesses in Wales had been helped or hindered by the £30 billion of new business taxes introduced by the Labour Government?

Mr. Murphy

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that what is important in Wales today is that the Welsh Federation of Small Businesses has announced that it has confidence in the way in which our Government are running the economy, that small businesses in Wales are more optimistic than ever about their future, and that 25 per cent. have increased their work force.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

Does the Secretary of State agree that one of the best things for developing small businesses in Wales would be the establishment of a development bank for Wales, as called for by the Federation of Small Businesses as well as, of course, Plaid Cymru. Will he give us an assurance that the objective 1 money for Wales, which can be used on a 7 per cent. basis ahead of demand, can in part be made available for such a development bank so that small businesses get the aid that they so clearly need?

Mr. Murphy

I take the point made by the right hon. Gentleman, but I am careful not to commit the National Assembly for Wales, of which he is a Member, to any policies. I agree with the thrust of his comments. As he knows, an innovations fund with £5 million of venture capital was announced in Cardiff by the Welsh Development Agency and National Westminster bank.

Mr. Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire)

Small businesses feel that they have not been sufficiently consulted about objective 1 and 2 status funding. Is the Secretary of State willing to consider further consultation with small businesses to ensure that they can make their creative views known to him?

Mr. Murphy

As I told the right hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), the matter that the hon. Gentleman raises is essentially for the Assembly, but I shall convey his views to the First Secretary.

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