§ Mr. Biggs-Davison
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied that existing arrangements for public assistance to new industries in Northern Ireland are adequate to prevent short-term grant-snatching; and if he will give figures showing the number of new firms established in Northern Ireland since 1960 with Government assistance which have closed down in less than two years, less than five years, and less than 10 years, rsepectively.
§ Mr. Moyle
All agreements for assistance under the Northern Ireland industries development legislation, which is the main source of financial assistance to new industry, provide for the recovery of grants at the Government's discretion in the event of any company failing to fulfil the terms of its agreement. I am satisfied that the existing arrangements provide an adequate safeguard against the abuse of Government assistance.675W
Of the 154 new firms established in Northern Ireland since 1964 with selective assistance from the Department of Commerce or the Local Enterprise Development Unit, 12 closed down within two years, 19 within five years and nine within 10 years. Over £2 million in grant has been recovered.
Similar safeguards apply in the case of assistance provided under the Northern Ireland industrial investment legislation. Information about the establishment and closure of firms receiving such assistance could not be obtained without disproportionate effort; however, since 1966 some £1.87 million has been recovered from firms in breach of their agreements.