HC Deb 21 June 1982 vol 26 cc11-2W
Mr. Woolmer

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) when the pilot study on a Europort data bank was commenced; when it is expected to be completed; and what is the main purpose behind the study;

(2) what consultants are being employed on the Europort data bank pilot study; what is the estimated cost to public funds of the study; and what is the estimated cost of employing the consultants;

(3) if he will give the names and locations of the organisations which have been selected to have terminals as part of the pilot study on a Europort data bank; who proposed these specific locations; and what criteria were used in their selection.

Mr. Butcher

[pursuant to his reply, 14 June 1982, c. 199.]; The Europort pilot study was launched on 7 May 1982 and will last until October, when it will be reviewed to consider whether and how to extend the project. The project is designed to assess the value to exporters of obtaining information about public sector supply contracts within the European Community more quickly than was possible when the principal means of identifying the opportunities was dependent upon the arrival of the Official Journal of the EC through the post from Luxembourg.

The details of all such invitations to tender can now be available to those involved in the trial on the day of publication by means of viewdata.

No firms are employed as consultants on the Europort pilot but NVA Consultants Ltd is the firm that originally devised the project and which is operating the viewdata system on which the invitations to tender appear. The Department of Industry has provided the hardware for the pilot study and will pay for an element of the running costs during the trial. I shall write to the hon. Member when the trial has ended to let him know the realised cost to public funds. It is anticapted that participants in the trial will wish to acquire the hardware involved. 13 Chambers of Commerce have joined the pilot study. They are the

  • Bristol Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Shipping
  • Birmingham Chamber of Industry and Commerce
  • Coventry Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Dudley Chamber of Commerce (Incorporated)
  • Kidderminster and District Chamber of Commerce
  • London Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Rugby and District Chamber of Commerce
  • Telford and Shropshire Chamber of Industry and Commerce
  • Walsall Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • 12
  • Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Worcester Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Many Chambers of Commerce were interested in participation in the trial but being a trail the numbers to be limited. One of the most active groups of invitations to tender is the electronics industry and, being IT Year, it was decided to concentrate the trial in the Birmingham/Bristol/ London region, where a significant cross-section of electronics firms are located. If the project were to be extended beyond the end of the trial period, it will be relevant to consider extending both the geographical spread and type of invitation to tender to be covered.