§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the achievements of(a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against 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. Alan Clark
The Government have continued to place a high priority on helping small businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and other measures, and through specific programmes of support and assistance.
To assist in obtaining better value for money through broadening its competitive base, the Ministry of Defence has continued to provide a new suppliers service responsible for encouraging and assisting small firms to compete for defence business. Over the past 12 months the new suppliers service has attended a wide range of seminars and "meet-the-buyer" events and has given advice to about 2,200 companies on how to sell to the Ministry of Defence. The Ministry of Defence has also continued to produce a fortnightly contracts bulletin, which includes notice of almost all contracts the Department expects to place valued at more than £500,000. Since 1 January 1990 clothing and textile requirements have been included in the bulletin at a lower threshold of £250,000. The bulletin will shortly include details of sub-contract opportunities, which will be of particular value to small companies. The success of these measures to encourage a widening of our supplier base is in part reflected by our having placed 67 per cent. of headquarters contracts by value by competition or otherwise by reference to market forces in 1989–90. Details of payments made by the Ministry of Defence to small firms in 1989–90 are not yet available.
In addition, the small firms research initiative aims to encourage small firms to bid for research work. In 1989–90, 36 research contracts were placed with small firms at a total value of £1.3 million.