HL Deb 12 May 1989 vol 507 cc862-3

11.10 a.m.

Baroness Platt of Writtle asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the proportion of recent new business starts undertaken by women, and what encouragement they are giving to this development.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, in the last two years nearly 80,000 more women have become self-employed and this is a quarter of the overall increase in self-employment. Since 1979, the number of women in self-employment has more than doubled, having increased by 113 per cent.

Baroness Platt of Writtle

My Lords, I welcome that news from my noble friend. Often when setting up a new business, whether to begin with it is faltering or very successful, there are problems of liquidity for which the enterprise allowance can be of great assistance. Can my noble friend tell the House how many women are taking advantage of the enterprise allowance scheme?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the proportion of women taking part in the scheme to which my noble friend refers has risen from 11 per cent. of the total when it began in 1983 to the current figure of just below 35 per cent. Under the scheme 34,000 women received support to start up new businesses in 1988–89.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, will the Minister be good enough to tell the House what support is available to women who may wish to rejoin the workforce after a spell of caring for their families but who wish to do so by way of self-employment? Are any special arrangements available?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, the arrangements to which I have already referred are of course available to women in the circumstances mentioned by the noble Baroness. I am not sure that it is necessary to provide additional support over and above that. As I said, the present scheme appears to be working very well.

Lord Auckland

My Lords, in view of the importance of the tourist industry in this country and the need to encourage conferences, can my noble friend the Minister say how much help has been given to women who wish to set up hotels (particularly small ones), in view of the fact that many such hotels are now run extremely successfully by women managers or deputy managers?

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am afraid that I have not in front of me the figures relating to small hotels only, but I shall certainly make enquiries and write to my noble friend.