§ Mr. Alton
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received about the Liverpool-based Business Grants Advisory Group; what steps he will take, through business links and local authorities, to ensure that companies, and small business in particular, are aware that the information sold by the Business Grants Advisory Group is available free of charge from Government agencies; whether his Department will initiate inquires into this practice; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Page
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has received no representations about the Business Grants Advisory Group (Liverpool) Ltd.
The wide range of free or low-cost services to business offered by business links and local authorities is widely publicised, and includes advice on finding grants and soft funding. Private sector consultancies also offer this advice. The Department will always investigate well-founded complaints, but cannot interfere with legitimate business activity. Businesses are free to choose which advisory services they will use.
Government office for Merseyside has written to Liverpool city council and to all business links and chambers on Merseyside and in the north-west asking them to advise businesses of the availability of free advice on grants and funding through business links. The Association of British Chambers of Commerce has advised all chambers to remind their members that free advice in this field is readily available, and Merseyside chamber has done this.