§ Mr. Colvin
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many inquiries have been received so far in 1982 by the small firms service; and how many during a similar period in 1979, 1980 and 1981.
§ Mr. MacGregor
During the period January-June 1982 the small firms service received 117,821 enquiries. During a similar period in the years 1979 to 1981 enquiries received were as follows:
Number 1979 49,315 1980 47,593 1981 88,687
§ Mr. Loveridge
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a report on the counselling activities of the small firms service.
§ Mr. MacGregor
I am pleased to congratulate the counselling activities of the small firms service and indeed the service itself on a highly commendable year of increased activity. Almost 16,000 counselling sessions were given on over 12,000 cases in the year ending 31 March 1982 and over 212,000 requests for information were answered. The service also strengthened its links with other organisations in the private and public sectors which provide support services to small businesses. Co-operation with COSIRA has been increased and counsellors have also contributed significantly to the pilot enterprise allowance scheme. An indepedendent report on790W the counselling activities confirms that it is a highly cost effective and practical way of providing a business advisory service for small firms. As required by section 18(3) of the Industry Act 1980, a report on the counselling facility of the small firms service covering the period 1 April 1981 to 31 March 1982 has been laid and a copy placed in the Library.