§ Mr. Hancock
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many local firms are involved in the Manufacturing Advisory Service in Portsmouth, South. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
The Manufacturing Advisory Service will be formally launched in spring 2002.
In October this year, SEEDA (South East England Development Agency) awarded a three-year contract to the Engineering Employers Federation (EEF) (South) to establish a regional centre for manufacturing excellence (RCME). The RCME will be responsible for delivering the MAS in the south-east, forming a strong partnership with the six Business Links in the south-east region. A full-time MAS professional manufacturing consultant will be attached to each of the Business Links to provide a range of information, advice, diagnostic and manufacturing consultancy support to businesses in the south-east.