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Small Businesses (Cardiff, North)

Volume 481: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2008

7. What recent discussions he has had with the Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on helping small businesses in Cardiff, North constituency. (227713)

I have regular discussions with Welsh Assembly Government Ministers on a range of topics. Numerous initiatives are in place in Wales to support small businesses, including in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that response. Is he aware that Whitchurch in my constituency is one of the two places chosen by BT to pilot its super-fast broadband system? Does he agree that that will be a huge boost to local small businesses, giving increased access in a more effective way?

Yes, I do, and I welcome that news from my hon. Friend. It is one of only two pilots in the whole of the United Kingdom. On Friday, the Government will launch our digital inclusion action plan, which tries to meet the needs of 17 million people who are not actually connected to the internet. I welcome that announcement and the work of my hon. Friend.

The Government say that they want to help small businesses, but many are unable to access Government contracts, so 10-day payment will be irrelevant to them. If the Government are serious about helping small businesses in Wales, the Secretary of State might advise Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to repay overpayment of corporation tax more quickly.

Certainly, prompt payment is important. I talked this morning to the Minister for Finance and Public Service Delivery in Cardiff, who assures me that all public bodies in Wales will now work towards the aim of paying their bills within 10 days. That includes local authorities and health authorities, as well as other public bodies.