asked the Secretary of State for Employment what research he has undertaken to assess the effect that legislation passed in the previous three years has had on new employment among small firms.
My Department and the Manpower Services Commission have jointly commissioned a study of the effect of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Acts 1974 and 1976, the Redundancy Payments Act and the Employment Protection Act upon companies' employment practices and policies. It is hoped that the results of this study will be available by the middle of next year.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware how pleased I am with that reply? Will the study aim to answer the question that is particularly relevant to the inner cities—namely, whether the Employment Protection Act is having a dragging effect on the ability of small firms to take on new labour?
Yes, I have said that it will be examining the effect of the Employment Protection Act and other legislation on small companies. I rather doubt whether it has had the effect that the hon. Gentleman is suggesting. I know of no evidence to support the point of view that he has put forward.