HC Deb 21 October 1991 vol 196 c393W
Mr. Atkinson

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the Soviet Union.

Mr. Howard

I visited St. Petersburg and Moscow from 29 September to 2 October to explore the scope for providing assistance from the know-how fund in the development of small business and enterprise in the Soviet Union. During my visit I was able to reach agreement with the Government of the Russian Republic, with the St. Petersburg city council and with the Pervomaiskii district council in Moscow for the establishment of small firms advisory centres. with know-how fund support, in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In the case of two of the centres to be established, there will also be a British private sector partner; International Computers Limited (ICL) in the case of St. Petersburg and Trade Advisory Service of Glasgow in respect of Pervomaiskii.

I also discussed in both St. Petersburg and Moscow other areas in which United Kingdom assistance might be provided, including the establishment of employment services. As a result of these discussions a team from our employment service, led by its director for Scotland, is likely to visit the Soviet Union shortly to explore further the scope for practical assistance and cooperation.

During my visit I was also able to visit both a number of small businesses operating in the Soviet Union and also a number of ventures involving British interests, including that being set up by Littlewood's in St. Petersburg. I was also able to hold discussions on a wide range of issues with leading figures in the newly emerging political and economic structures in the Soviet Union. These included discussions with representatives of a number of independent trade unions.