HC Deb 12 May 1983 vol 42 cc393-4W
Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is now able to comment on the experiment on joint management of advisory services between the small firms service and the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas.

Mr. MacGregor

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I are now able to announce the results of the experiment on the joint management of the advisory services of the small firms service and the council for small industries in rural areas. The experiment was conducted to see whether there was wasteful duplication between these two public sector advisory organisations. A copy of the full report has been placed in the Library of the House.

The results of the experiment, including the use of CoSIRA's initiatory approach in the urban environment of south Bristol, have been encouraging. The different objectives, working methods and skills of the two organisations have been found to be complementary rather than a wasteful duplication. The two organisations are now building on, and broadening, their present co-operation. Increasingly they appear together at promotional events and co-operate on publications for small firms. Where appropriate the SFS uses CoSIRA offices and is represented on CoSIRA county committees. Senior management of the two organisations meet regularly. Together the organisations represent to Government the interests of small firms. The main conclusions are that although, in theory, the possibility of duplication exists, it is not a material factor in practical terms, and that there is no justification for radical changes to existing successful operations.