§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the achievements of his Department and his policies in helping small businesses over the last 12 months compared with the previous 12 months, and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
§ Mr. Hurd
The Home Office has maintained its deregulation initiative during 1987–88, some aspects of which are of particular importance to small businesses. The Licensing Act 1988 will enable some 100,000 pubs, clubs and bars to benefit from longer opening hours fom 11 am to 11 pm on weekdays. In addition pubs, bars and off-licences will be entitled to open for an extra hour on Sunday afternoons. The licensing system has been streamlined and legislative controls on vineyards have been lightened. I recently made regulations allowing bingo halls to open in the mornings.
Last year the Data Protection Registrar introduced a simplified registration form aimed at small business. It was drawn up after wide consultation with groups representing small businesses and, so far, over 14,000 applications have been made on it. On 4 July in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Knight) I announced a review of the Data Protection Act which will include the registration requirements.
The Home Office, in partnership with other Government Departments, the private sector and local authorities, has helped to establish and fund a further enterprise agency in an inner city area with a high ethnic minority population in addition to the four similar agencies previously established. The performance of the first three agencies, which opened in 1986, continues to be independently evaluated, using performance indicators such as the number of businesses established and their survival rate. An interim report considered that there was ample demand for the agency's services and that, as far as could be judged at that stage, the agencies were fulfilling the expectations of their sponsors. A final report, which will provide more quantitative data, is due later this year.
The Home Office provides funding through section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966 for a number of local authority posts concerned with ethnic minority business development. There are presently about 80 such posts, of which 13 were approved in the year up to 30 June 1988. In addition, the Home Office continues to provide a grant for two business-development outreach workers from an existing enterprise agency. Routine monitoring arrangements cover all such posts.
In addition, my Department contributes indirectly on local small-business initiatives through its funding of the community projects foundation and of the local development agencies development fund. Projects that these groups support are often concerned with developing business skills in the community.