HL Deb 14 December 1981 vol 426 cc1-2
Baroness Vickers

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what encouragement they have given to the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas to create new business and employment.

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, assistance in the establishment of new businesses and opportunities for employment in rural England is central to the functions of the council and of its parent body, the Development Commission. Her Majesty's Government provide the funds for these activities, which have their wholehearted support and encouragement.

Baroness Vickers

My Lords, in thanking the noble Earl for that reply, may I ask him this. In view of the fact that, from 3rd February 1981, COSIRA has been able to act as lender of last resort to small firms in manufacturing and service industries, can he also say how many they have been able to advise and how many have been successful?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, as my noble friend has asked the question, this information is not readily available, but I can say that COSIRA is in contact with some 12,000 small firms employing about 74,000 people.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, have the Government completed their review of the work of the parent Development Commission, and would the noble Earl and the Government welcome a debate on the outcome of that review, since these matters of rural development are of great concern to your Lordships' House?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, indeed I agree with the noble Lord that these are matters which concern this House very much. Decisions on the main recommendations have been delayed for a number of reasons. However, some review recommendations, such as those mentioned by my noble friend, have already been implemented. So far as a debate is concerned, of course that would be dealt with through the normal channels.

Lord Oram

My Lords, since it is widely agreed that COSIRA is cost-effective in its work, and over the years has built up a valuable fund of expertise, is there not a case for it to have more resources than at present, and for it to be relieved of its present geographical constraints so that it could operate in larger towns and perhaps even in collaboration with local authorities in inner city areas?

The Earl of Avon

My Lords, the Government have provided, and will continue to provide, adequate resources for both the bodies. So far as the regional question is concerned, I am sure that when the review comes out that will be taken into account.

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