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"Support For Business"

Volume 78: debated on Wednesday 1 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what responses he has received following the publication of his advisory booklet, "Support for Business".

Over 200 telephone calls a week about DTI assistance are being received at the new London central inquiry point. Regional inquiry points are also receiving many calls.

In congratulating my hon. Friend on his initiative, may I ask whether he expects the supplementary leaflets to be available when he makes his welcome visit to Bolton during Local Enterprise Week?

We have already produced the leaflet on support for innovation. We hope that shortly we will produce the leaflet on support for investment. I shall certainly try to get it out in time for my visit to Bolton during Local Enterprise Week.

When will the Minister get the Prime Minister to understand that no amount of small, detailed schemes for the alleged support of industry can possibly compensate for the appalling burden of interest rates that are persistently higher than those of all our competitors, except Italy, the overbearing domination in the market of cash-rich, huge companies, which support the Government financially or otherwise, and, above all, the lack of purchasing power among the unemployed and the other millions of poor families in the country?

I think that the hon. Gentleman may have framed his question yesterday before having read this morning's newspapers. The Financial Times of today states:

"Small companies' confidence about general trading prospects improved markedly in the first quarter of this year, says a survey due out today. There is a strong upturn in the number of groups expecting to employ more staff, and a revival in investment plans, the study says."

Would my hon. Friend care to comment on whether there is another thing that businesses need, not least small businesses, which is to be left alone, especially by local government?

Wherever I go on my regional visits, I seem to be given conflicting advice from any audience that I address. On the one hand, there are people who say to me, "Let's have some more money"—or that is what they really mean when one takes off the fancy wrapping. That is the bottom line. That is, of course, taxpayers' money. In seemingly direct contrast to that, I get messages saying, "For goodness' sake, get out of our way, get off our backs and allow us to run our businesses in the way that only we can do." That is why we conducted the burden scrutiny exercise and that is why we published "Burdens on Business", and we hope to carry forward those initiatives to cut out the red tape and to free small business men from being prisoners of their in-trays.