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Business: Government Assistance

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment he has made of the merits of providing for Government aid to industries in need of restructuring or short-term financial assistance; and what discussions he has had with the Trades Union Congress on this matter. (143152)

[holding answer 19 June 2007]: We are spending money to support industry but we only do so where the intervention will be effective in securing a sustainable future for the company. Where there are no such prospects the intervention usually distorts competition, prevents the emergence of new companies and inhibits innovation.

Support for business is available through a range of measures: Selective finance for industry (SFI), DTI business support and the R and D tax credit. Government will consider support where it helps enhance UK competitiveness and productivity.

Support for industry must be compatible with the EU rules on state aid. These increasingly favour aid for small, growth businesses and aid for research, innovation and environmental enhancement, rather than aid for companies in difficulty. The Government support this.

The Secretary of State last met the TUC to discuss state aid and support for industry champions at the TUC conference in September 2006.