§ 59. Mr. Bellingham
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what further steps he plans to take to assist small firms in tendering for defence contracts.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
Ministry of Defence procurement policy is based on securing value for money through greater competition. Small firms especially are encouraged to become defence contractors through the promotion of competition at the sub-contract level and by advertising contract opportunities more widely. The launch of the MOD small firms initiative in November 1986 gave impetus to these policies, through the creation of a new division specifically to advise small firms wishing to enter the defence market. Small firms have welcomed this new188W service and over 1,300 contacted the division directly in its first year. Some 1,100 firms have attended regional seminars conducted by the division and many have made contact at business exhibitions.
The division will continue to offer advice and assistance to small firms individually, to give presentations and to be represented at appropriate exhibitions. In addition, a new edition of the booklet "Selling to the MOD" will be published this year with information helpful to small firms. Finally, a further £1 million is being made available during 1988–89 to enable those small firms with the ability to generate new and innovative products and processes in a cost-effective manner to obtain a larger share of defence research funds.