§ Mr. David Shaw
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if she will make a statement on the achievements of(a) her policies and (b) her Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if she will publish the performance indicators by which her Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring. 
§ Mr. Paice
The Government recognise the crucial role played by small firms in the UK economy. Effective human resource management is crucial to the success of small firms. The Department funds training and enterprise councils to improve their commitment to developing their people through a range of measures.
The numbers of organisations that have reached the investors in people standard are:
May 1994 May 1995 Firms with less than 200 employees 613 1,394 Firms with less than 50 employees 371 850
Materials are available to help small firms achieve the standard. Over 8,000 organisations with less than 50 employees have made a formal commitment to achieving the standard.990W
The small firms training loans scheme was introduced last year. Some 1,500 loans are forecast this year.
Over three years from April 1995, skills for small businesses will equip 24,000 key workers in small firms to train others in their firms and to help other small firms. In piloting the initiative, more than 50 firms were helped to train key workers.
The competitiveness White Paper "Forging Ahead" outlined a programme of measures to assist the growth and competitiveness of the small firms sector. This includes £5 million for the small firms training challenge. The aim is to involve directly at least 1,000 small firms in exemplary projects. A prospectus will be published shortly, seeking bids from groups of small firms.
The small firms lead body, supported by the Department, has been developing standards and qualifications appropriate to small businesses.
In addition to these specific measures, large numbers of small firms continue to take part in other training initiatives such as modern apprenticeships, youth training and training for work.