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.
RECOMMENDATION 8: BUSINESS
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
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.