§ Mr. Kinnock
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will reduce the £500,000 minimum value for expansion threshold which qualifies firms for assistance under the accelerated investment projects scheme to £50,000 so permitting small firms in Wales and other areas to qualify for assistance.
§ Mr. Cryer
The Accelerated Project Scheme has closed. But a new Selective Investment Scheme has been introduced with this minimum value of eligible investment
Under the powers for selective financial investment in Part II of the Industry Act 1972, each proposal has to be individually assessed. Setting a minimum limit under such a general scheme must take account of its prime purpose to encourage major new projects, the limited number of staff with the necessary skills to appraise proposals against the special criteria of the scheme, and the commitments arising from Section 7 and 8 measures already in train. Within these constraints it would be impracticable to open the scheme to projects smaller than this minimum limit.
Companies should recognise that this minimum covers not just fixed capital but also certain categories of associated costs. Where this limit prevents proposals under the scheme, small manufacturing companies in Wales, and other assisted areas, with viable employment-creating projects can be considered for selective financial assistance under Section 7.