To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals he has to encourage a higher level of research and development expenditure by industry in the United Kingdom regions.
The Government have created the right climate to enable industry to invest more in research and development in all parts of the United Kingdom. Within my Department's enterprise initiative, particular attention is given to the needs of the regions. In the assisted areas and urban programme areas support of up to two thirds of the cost of consultancy projects is available rather than half elsewhere. We have also introduced a special scheme—regional enterprise grants—firms in the development areas, with fewer than 25 employees, to finance their innovation projects and have expended SMART (Small Firms Merit Award for Research and Technology), reserving 20 awards for the urban programme areas.