Select Committee on Trade and Industry Annxes to the Report

Follow-up Questions


An indication of the outcome of the consideration given to the production of something similar to Small Firms in Britain would be helpful

  The Government's policies for small businesses will be included in a proposed joint DTI and DfEE White Paper on industrial and skills policy to be published in the New Year. The Government recognises the value of a publication such as Small Firms in Britain and will ask the Small Business Service to produce an Annual Report setting out the Government's policies and measures for supporting SMEs in the United Kingdom.


It would be helpful to have an updated evaluation of the coherence of EU programmes for SMEs, including the integration of EICs with Business Links, and the results of work since the UK presidency on SME policy within Europe

  The UK is well placed to influence SME policy at the European level. We have many aims in common with the Commission and with other Member States regarding SMEs, and we are regarded as being among the leaders in many areas eg promoting entrepreneurship, benchmarking, application of ISO standard, equity funding.

  We recognise the importance of ensuring that SMEs have full access to those EU programmes which can benefit them. Information and advice about the support that is available is provided through Business Links.

  In December 2000, agreement was reached on the Multiannual Programme for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, and in particular for SMEs (2001-2005).

  There is greater coherence because the new Multi annual Programme (MAP) no longer includes the small scale projects and programmes which were part of previous programmes. Instead, it will focus on the development of enterprise policy through the identification and exchange of best practice. There willalso be a significnat injection of funds that will go to improve the financial environment for SMEs. As far as individual programmes are concerned, the MAP will now concentrate on the Euro Info Centre Network, where the objective will be to ensure the successful provision and co-ordination of business support networks.

  We have been working closely with the Commission and their Euro Info Centres to ensure that UK SMEs are able to gain maximum benefit from the range of EU programmes available, from Structural Funds to business support services. The Euro Info Centres are an integral part of the business support provided by the Small Business Service through its Business Links, and its new Gateway portal which includes a call centre and a website The Commission programme of Concerted Actions forums, continues the drive to share best practice. In October next year Cardiff will host a forum to discuss top class business support.

  This year has seen important progress being made for small firms and entrepreneurship in the EU. The Euorpean Council at Lisbon agreed far-reaching principles on economic reform and set itself a new strategic goal to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world in the next 10 years. This was rapidly followed by the adoption of the European Charter for Small Enterprises which makes clear commitments to action that will help provide the best possible environment for small business and entrepreneurship. The effectiveness of the Charter is underwritten by an obligation to evaluate and monitor progress each year. The European Commission is now publishing its report on the implementation of BEST (Business Environment Simplification Task Force) across the Member States and the Commission. This report will help identify areas for possible action for the new Multiannual Programme for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, which itself provides the means for very positive action for the benefit of small business and entrepreneurship.

Aspects of Defence Procurement and Industrial Policy, Eighth Report of Session 1997-98, HC 675: Government Response, Eighth Special Report, HC 1131

  1.  The Defence and Trade and Industry Committees decided to follow up on their joint inquiry into defence procurement and industrial policy conducted in 1995-96, in view of developments in the intervening years, in particular the declared intention of the major European governments to restructure their defence industries, and the emergence of a handful of US firms as a result of mergers and takeovers. The Committees heard two sessions of oral evidence in April 1998 and reported in July 1998.

  2.  The Government reply was received in October 1998. It gave the Report a general welcome, including its emphasis on preservation of existing procurement links with the USA and its stress on the urgency of completing restructuring of the European defence industries. In July 1998 six European nations signed a Letter of Intent and gave the impetus for the eventual formation of a European Aerospace and Defence Company (EADS).

  3.  The matter remains of interest to both Committees, and some aspects of the 1998 Report have been pursued in the context of the "Quadripartite" Committee's work on strategic export controls.

Impact on Industry of the Proposed Climate Change Levy, Ninth Report of Session 1998-99, HC 678: Government Response, Eleventh Special Report, HC 834

  1.  The inquiry was undertaken in June and July 1999 in response to industry's concerns at the potential impact of the Climate Change Levy proposed in the 1999 Budget and thereafter the subject of a formal consultation process. The Report was published on 19 July 1999. It was tagged as relevant on an Opposition debate in July 1999, and widely referred to. The response was received on 6 October 1999. The Committee reported further on the subject in its February 2000 Report on the November 1999 Pre-Budget Statement, in which the Government's outline conclusions on the Levy were set out.

  2.  The Committee expressed general support for actions required to meet the Kyoto and national targets for reductions in CO2 emissions, its acceptance that all sectors of the economy should contribute, and its rejection of the argument that regulation alone would prove sufficient. It warned however that "without appropriate modifications and exemptions the Levy could prove a blunt instrument", and made a number of specific or general recommendations.

  3.  As reflected in the Committee's Report of 1999-2000 (see below), the November 1999 Pre-Budget Statement went a long way to meet the concerns expressed by the Committee, in particular the reduced rate of Levy and overall take: the introduction of tax incentives for energy efficiency: the exemptions for Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and new renewable sources. The Committee's Report refers to those areas where the November 1999 proposals continue to cause concern.

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