HL Deb 12 January 1988 vol 491 cc1221-2WA
The Earl of Onslow

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make a statement about support for major projects of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Lord Young of Graffham)

I presented to the House today the White PaperDTI—the Department for Enterprise. The White Paper announced substantial changes in DTI's role and its policies and programmes. A number of major new initiatives to encourage enterprise are being launched. My statement to the House today outlined these, together with those existing schemes which we believe are less effective and which are being closed. The details of the latter are as follows.

From today, a limited number of both research and development projects and investment projects likely to yield exceptional national benefits will be eligible for support under a unified facility—Assistance for Exceptional Projects. Support for major projects, under which investment projects likely to yield exceptional national benefits have been eligible for assistance, has been closed from 6 p.m. today (12th January) to further applications as a separate facility.

The automatic Regional Development Grant (RDG) scheme, which currently operates in the Development Areas, is to be terminated and no new applications will be accepted after 31st March 1988. Legislation is being introduced into the House of Commons today to terminate the scheme. New applications for project approval will be considered provided they are received on or before 31st March 1988. The transitional arrangements proposed in the Bill reflect the fact that RDG may be applied for before a project is started, while it is in progress or after it has been completed. Applications for project approval received on or before today, and applications received on or before 31st March in relation to projects started on or before today, will not be affected by the legislation. Applications received after today in relation to projects not yet started will be considered for grant only to the extent that relevant jobs or assets are provided (or, in the case of assets, expenditure is defrayed) within two years of the project application being approved by the department. Grants will not be payable in relation to such projects unless a claim is received within three years of the project approval, or such shorter period as may be prescribed in an individual case. Further details of the transitional arrangements are available to companies from DTI Regional Offices and from the Industry Department for Scotland and the Welsh Office Industry Department.

Requests for single company support for innovation and for projects under the Microelectronics Industry Support Programme, Support for Software products and the Fibreoptics Optoelectronics Scheme will be considered against the existing criteria for these schemes provided that formal applications are received by DTI before 6 p.m. today (12th January).

The major expansion of support for the use of DTI consultancy services by small- and medium-sized firms incorporates many existing DTI consultancy services. Except for those Business Improvement Services schemes which still have allocated unused funds, all existing consultancy services will be ended from noon on 14th January 1988. These include the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consultancy Scheme, the Microelectronics Applications Consultancy Scheme and business and technical advisory services.