§ Mr. Sproat
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the changes, and proposals for change, that the Government have made to improve the prosperity of small businesses; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
The Government's general economic policies are designed to improve the climate in which all businesses operate and to make the start up or expansion of a small firm more worthwhile.
The first steps in this direction were taken in last year's Budget with its considerable reductions in direct taxation, extension of the criteria for the lower rate corporation tax and the "writing-off" of liabilities under the stock relief scheme. The Chancellor also announced a major 566W review of capital taxation which is a cause of great concern to small businessmen.
Among the other major measures introduced which will help small firms are several changes made to the Employment Protection Act by order and in the Employment Bill; a reduction in the amount of financial accounting information many small companies are required to disclose; proposals for speeding up planning procedures; an extension of the English Industrial Estates Corporation's building programme of small workshop units; a reduction in the number of statistical surveys sent to companies; and an extension of the Department of Industry's advisory services to small firms, including a pilot scheme to help make available finance from a pension fund in relatively small amounts.