HC Deb 22 July 1997 vol 298 cc524-5W
Mr. Barry Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what innovations he will make it his policy to assist small businesses; [7861]

(2) what discussions he has had with the Welsh Development Agency to ensure improved services for new and small businesses. [7862]

Mr. Hain

We are committed to developing Business Connect, ensuring that it is able to respond more effectively to the needs of the small business sector. Specific initiatives will include: introducing new measures to tackle late payment; enhancing support for high technology start-ups; and better regulation. We also hope that small firms in Wales will take advantage of UK-wide initiatives like the university for industry. The Welsh Development Agency is a key player in Business Connect and will have a vital role in our efforts to support the development of the small firms sector. I met the North Wales Federation of Businesses in St. Asaph in May to discuss these and related matters.

Mr. Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is his latest estimate of the number of small businesses in Wales. [7860]

Mr. Hain

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave him on 3 June 1997,Official Report, column 128.