HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc109-11W
2. Mr. Hind

asked the Paymaster General what progress has been made in reducing bureaucratic burdens on small firms.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

The Government have made good progress in following up the proposals in the White Paper "Lifting the Burden" to reduce the administrative requirements on business and particularly small firms. We intend to produce a second White Paper reporting progress and making further proposals later this year.

31. Mr. Soames

asked the Paymaster General what steps he proposes to take to seek to encourage small firms to use distance learning packages to improve their management expertise.

Mr. Trippier

I am anxious to encourage small firms to consider relevant training opportunities of all types as a route to success. Open learning methods have much to offer the small business sector in a number of areas including management training. The Manpower Services Commission's open tech programme has funded the North East Wales Institute to design material specifically for small businesses, and these packages will be available, early in 1986. Other open tech projects have produced material which is helpful for small businesses. Training using open learning methods can be funded by the MSC through the normal rules applying to grant payments under its other schemes.

In the context of our request to the commission to focus adult training programmes more sharply on the needs of small firms and enterprise, we have asked the MSC to consider whether there is a need for additional open learning material to improve the management expertise of small firms, and whether more should be done to make small firms aware of the facilities available to them.

36. Mr. Bellingham

asked the Paymaster General what is the net increase in small firms in the United Kingdom over the last 12 months.

Mr. Trippier

It is estimated that the net increase in the number of small firms in the United Kingdom in 1984 (the latest period for which an estimate is available) was of the order of 35,000.

The figures were published in British Business on 23 August 1985, and a copy has been placed in the Library.

71. Mr. Robert B. Jones

asked the Paymaster General what is the trend in venture capital investment in small firms.

Mr. Trippier

I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Chope) on 3 December 1985, at column183.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Paymaster General what training supported wholly or partly from public funds is available for those starting small firms.

Mr. Trippier

The Manpower Services Commission supports a range of training courses for people wishing to start up their own business as part of the training for enterprise programme. In the current financial year the programme has a budget of £14.3 million, and around 25,000 people setting up or running small businesses are expected to benefit.

In addition, many further and higher education institutions provide courses geared to the needs of new and small businesses.

We have asked the Manpower Services Commission to focus its adult training programmes more sharply on the needs of small firms, and I am at present considering whether more needs to be done to encourage those starting small firms to undertake relevant training.