§ Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what active steps are being taken in Wales by his Department to help small businesses; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. John Morris
A high priority is being given to helping small businesses in Wales. In the past year, approximately half of the total number of offers of financial assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 for projects in Wales have been made to concerns employing 50 or fewer people. Officials from the Small Firms Information Centre in Cardiff are visiting North Wales regularly to provide an opportunity for face-to-face contacts with clients in the area. Small firms also figure prominently in the Welsh Development Agency's increasing industrial investment and loans. The Agency's advance factory building includes a substantial proportion of units particularly suited to the needs of smaller concerns. The Agency's Small Business Unit is also now offering comprehensive advisory services, and in Mid-Wales the Development Board for Rural Wales is developing and actively promoting facilities for small businesses.