§ Mr. Trippier
A wide variety of representations have been received. Many of these have demonstrated the need for the measures set out in the White Papers "Lifting the Burden" (Cmnd. 9571) and "Building Businesses … Not Barriers" (Cmnd. 9794), designed to simplify planning controls and speed up applications and appeals. These initiatives and the operation of the planning system are, of course, the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.
§ 43. Mr. Norris
asked the Paymaster General what steps he proposes to take to encourage small businesses on university campuses.
§ Mr. Trippier
I welcome the establishment of small businesses on university campuses, particularly where they are part of a science park, as they are able to benefit greatly from links with the university which offer easy access to academic expertise, research equipment and other support services.
I am particularly keen that these small businesses should take full advantage of the range of Government support measures that are available to the sector.
§ 61. Mr. Stevens
asked the Paymaster General what recent steps he has taken to discourage late payment of bills owing to small firms.
§ Mr. Trippier
Our "Payment on Time" booklet is a worthwhile step in encouraging a change of attitude towards good payment practice. I shall keep in mind the possibility of further initiatives in this area.
§ 82. Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Paymaster General what steps he has taken to assist small businesses in tendering for Government contracts.
§ Mr. Trippier
The principal requirement in Government purchasing is to obtain the best value for public expenditure. We have encouraged small businesses to compete for Government contracts by publishing advice such as the booklet "Tendering for Government Contracts" and by making Government purchasing procedures more easily understood by small businesses. The central unit on purchasing is charged with improving the effectiveness of Government purchasing and supply, and ensuring that small firms have access to contracts is an essential part of that process. Within the Department of Employment we are ensuring that purchasing staff are aware of the benefits from access to a wider range of suppliers, including small firms.
The Ministry of Defence has recently announced, with my Department, an initiative intended to assist small firms in competing for defence contracts. A small firms advice division has been set up to give advice to small firms and encourage developments within MoD that will help small 518W firms to compete for business. The small firms service will be closely involved in efforts to open up defence contracts in this way.
§ 84. Mr. Woodcock
asked the Paymaster General what steps he proposes to take to encourage small businesses in inner city areas.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
Small firms in inner city areas benefit from the wide range of measures available to small firms generally. These include the enterprise allowance scheme, the loan guarantee scheme and the help and advice of the small firms service and the local enterprise agency movement.
In addition, under our inner cities initiative, we are piloting new approaches to job creation and enterprise through our task forces in eight small English inner city areas. In these eight areas we are paying particular attention to the needs of small businesses. I have recently announced a new arrangement, in co-operation with the Association of British Insurers, to help businesses in the eight areas overcome difficulties in arranging insurance. I am also preparing new proposals to help small businesses in the eight areas to gain more ready access to the finance they need. I am supporting inner city-based enterprise agencies in Birmingham and Bristol, and intend to extend such agencies into the other areas. I have given a grant of £150,000 to the Cleveland youth enterprise centre to support its work in inner-city Middlesbrough.
I have contributed £77,000 to support the headstart programme, under which, in collaboration with the Industrial Society and MSC, we will give access to business training to 3,000 inner city youngsters. We propose to place building contracts in inner cities which provide work experience and training for local residents. Small subcontractors in Handsworth will benefit from the Broughton road contract recently awarded to Tarmac as the first of these arrangements. I have also given a grant of £50,000 in Birmingham for a scheme under which experienced business men are seconded for six months to small local businesses to give advice and support, and a grant of £20,000 to a design and marketing consultancy in Middlesbrough to provide advice to small local businesses. I am also intending to support numerous other projects aimed at helping small businesses in our eight areas.