§ Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if it is his intention that the Telecommunications Bill should allow special arrangements within the proposed office of telecommunications in order to ensure that smaller firms are able to take advantage of opportunities to participate in the expansion of the telecommunication industry.
§ Mr. Butcher
Small firms are particularly well placed to take advantage of the Government's policy of liberalising the supply of telecommunications apparatus and services and are already doing so. My right hon. Friend has given approval for various items of apparatus made by small firms to be sold to the public for connection to British Telecommunications' networks, and small firms may take advantage of the general licence for value added network services. I am making arrangements for counsellors participating in the Department's Small Firms Service to give expert advice to small firms on how they may take advantage of liberalisation.
I do not envisage additional special arrangements for small firms within the Office of Telecommunications. The Bill will, however, make better provision for the 240W promotion of competition in telecommunications from which small firms can only benefit, and clause 49(1) of the Bill empowers the Secretary of State to give the Director General directions to have regard to such considerations as the desirability of promoting the interests of small firms when carrying out his functions.