§ Mr. Richard Page
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what decisions he has reached about his Department's support for innovation programme.399W
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
The rate of grant of support for innovation was raised from 25 per cent. to 33⅓ per cent. two years ago, initially for 12 months only, as part of the Government's determination to encourage all aspects of industrial research and development. The higher rate was subsequently extended for a further year to 31 May 1984. This policy has proved outstandingly successful with the rate of applications under the scheme doubling during this period. In consequence, and in view of the improvement in the financial position of companies and the improved economic climate generally, no need is seen for a further extension of the 33⅓ per cent. rate. The maximum rate of grant will therefore return to 25 per cent. for applications received after 31 May 1984. The Department's allocation for expenditure on industrial research and development on 1984–85 is £237 million, an increase of 20 per cent. in 1983–84, and an increase of 97 per cent. on 1982–83. The reduction in the rate of grant will enable support to be given to a wider range of projects, though the high rate of applications will require greater selectivity in the choice of projects supported whilst achieving a high level of research and development in industry. In addition, the innovation linked investment scheme will be closed for new applications received after today, though applications already received will be considered under the announced criteria. The maximum rate of grant for investment projects under the microelectronics industry support scheme, stage II will also be set at 20 per cent. for applications received after today in order to allow a wider range of projects to be supported within the £120 million allocated to the scheme.