To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he will make a statement on the achievements of (a) his policies and (b) his Department in helping small businesses over the last 12 months as against the previous 12 months; and if he will publish the performance indicators by which his Department monitors those achievements and the statistical results of such monitoring.
The Government continue to place a high priority on helping businesses, through improvements to the business climate, through deregulation and through specific programmes of support and assistance.Measures operated by the Department to assist small business include encouragement of small firms to tender for its contracts; each contract also includes a requirement to ensure sub-contractors are paid promptly.The Department monitors both the number and value of its contracts let to small firms. In the first four months of 1993–94, 43 per cent. of contracts were placed with such firms (28 per cent. by value); the corresponding figures for the previous 12 months are 39 per cent. and 29 per cent.