Since 1 April 1982 EIEC has completed 782 small factories and workshop units. Four hundred and seventy-three have been let or sold to new occupiers. A further 106 units are reserved for new tenants who have not yet taken up occupation, and serious inquiries continue at well above the rate of recent years.
Does my hon. Friend agree that that is one of the most effective ways of increasing our national income and of providing better employment prospects? How does the figure compare with previous years? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that everything possible is being done, or should more be done?
I agree that this trend and the progress that is being made are important, because, especially in assisted areas, there was a serious shortage of small workshop units for small businesses. Such units can add greatly to economic activity. The rate of lettings was more than double that of last year, which was itself a record. It shows that the corporation and the Government are justified in concentrating on small workshop units, because that is what the market needs. I should like to see that encouraging progress continue and the private sector involved rather more. Another encouraging aspect is that the corporation is finding that it is now getting a good return on the lettings of those small units.