Draft Financial Assistance for Industry (Increase of Limit) Order 2002

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Mr. Hammond: The Minister is doing a good job of doing away with the Small Business Service himself. Did not Mr. David Irwin decline to have his contract renewed because he saw a substantial part of what he thought was to be the function of the SBS removed from its remit?

Alan Johnson: I can quickly answer that point: I talk to David Irwin every day and he has never put that point to me.

We believe that Government can best support British business by encouraging its competitiveness and by creating a favourable climate in which it can operate. We also recognise—picking up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover—that financial assistance has its part to play in supporting British industry. Assistance schemes must be operated prudently, with a close eye on their objectives and on particular difficulties to be tackled. Schemes should be evaluated and when the circumstances behind them change or their objectives have been achieved, they should be changed or closed down.

Mr. Hammond: Since the Minister has referred to the contribution of the hon. Member for Bolsover, will he take the opportunity to reassure the Committee that he does not see the money under section 8 of the 1982 Act as a resource to be used to take privatised industries back into state control?

Alan Johnson: I do not think that my hon. Friend made that point. Quite clearly, both the Act and the order are specific and focused.

Mr. Skinner: I was just throwing down a bit of corn.

Alan Johnson: And my hon. Friend did so very successfully and entertainingly as always. I hope that I have explained the way in which my right hon. and hon. Friends and I will continue to exercise our powers under section 8, and I hope that the Committee will support the order.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Financial Assistance for Industry (Increase of Limit) Order 2002.

        Committee rose at twenty-five minutes past Five o'clock.

Column Number: 17

The following Members attended the Committee:
Illsley, Mr. Eric (Chairman)
Clapham, Mr.
Cotter, Brian
Hammond, Mr.
Hendry, Mr.
Johnson, Alan
Laxton, Mr.

Column Number: 18

Munn, Ms
Pearson, Mr.
Skinner, Mr.
Taylor, David
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr.
Watkinson, Angela

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Prepared 21 January 2002