HC Deb 19 December 1995 vol 268 cc1090-1W
Mr. Dobson

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list all qualitative and quantitative research projects and surveys carried out for his Department into aspects of public attitudes and opinions(a) in general and (b) in relation to specific policy proposals in each of the past three years to December 1995, indicating for each project or survey (i) the date on which the research was commissioned, (ii) the amount which his Department spent, (iii) who carried out the research, (iv) the number of people surveyed or taking part, (v) the location and time scale and (vi) which individuals and organisations have been given access to the findings. [5979]

Mr. Lang

[holding answer 14 December 1995]: Surveys carried out by my Department into aspects of public attitudes and opinions in the three years to December 1995 are given in the table. In the time available, it has not been possible to assimilate information on the date the research was commissioned, the time scale, and on which individuals and organisations have been given access to the findings, nor to distinguish between general and specific policy proposals. The date in the table shows the survey was conducted. Information on the fee paid cannot be disclosed due to commercial confidentially considerations.

background to the directors of ROM-Data Corporation Ltd. before an offer of grant was made to the company in 1991, the subsequent investigation has revealed no documentary evidence that these checks were made.

It would therefore appear that those involved in appraising the case were not aware that Mr. John Dawson, who was involved with the ROM-Data Coroporation Ltd., was a discharged bankrupt even through that information was held by the Insolvency Service.

In addition to the meeting held on 29 October 1993 between a DTI official and Mr. Brad Shepard, a subsequent meeting was held between DTI officials and the company on 2 June 1994 in connection with an application under the small firms loan guarantee scheme, a point which was omitted from the earlier reply on 19 July 1995, Official Report, columns 1561–62.

I regret these errors. Ministers are considering what steps need to be taken to ensure that they do not recur. In general, the record for RSA grants has been good. In 1994–95 offers worth £159 million were made and only £2.4 million of grants paid in earlier years were written off in that year. I would also draw attention to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on 7 December 1995, Official Report, column 334, about the Department's policy in respect of making grants available to companies whose directors have had previous bankruptcies.

The Department's own inquiries into other aspects of its handling of the case are continuing and I will report the outcome to the House further as appropriate.