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Volume 523: debated on Thursday 17 February 2011

The Government have actively encouraged enterprise, including doubling the amount of small business rate relief for one year, launching the new enterprise allowance, and initiating a new programme in universities, Enterprising Academics. With support and practical input from my entrepreneurs group, I am developing further measures to support entrepreneurship around employment regulation and start-ups.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. I welcome, as do my constituents, the new enterprise allowance—in fact, my constituents have been asking me about that for the long-term unemployed. A recent graduate from Slaithwaite also asked me whether we might extend the scheme to recent graduates, to take advantage of their skills, especially if they have studied business or engineering.

That is an excellent suggestion, which we will pursue. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the new enterprise allowance is being trialled in Liverpool, and will give people who would otherwise face long periods of unemployment the opportunity to start their own businesses with financial support, mentoring and access to loans. It is a very good scheme, which I want to encourage and expand.

How will the Secretary of State respond to the wonderful report on creative clusters in our country launched yesterday by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts? The report shows again that 6% of new businesses create 50% of new jobs, but that most of the clusters are in London and the south-east. As he is stripping the capacity to do anything about that in Yorkshire, which is performing at a low level, what will he do about it?

As it happens, under the growth review that Ministers are conducting, yesterday we reviewed the creative industry sector to which the hon. Gentleman refers. The sector has serious problems of access to finance, because of a lack of tangible security, and issues around copyright protection. We are pursuing both those issues, and if we can crack them it will help creative industries across the country.