To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about Her Majesty's Government's support for the Scottish and Glasgow business community and workers to open the markets of the Soviet republics and union to Scottish goods and services.
The Minister will be aware that Glasgow district council is concerned about export credit grants and about the Cabinet's decision possibly to introduce a Bill to privatise the Export Credits Guarantee Department. Are we to have a pathetic apology from the Minister for the state of the Department of Trade and Industry figures which show that in 1979 the total number of insolvencies was 344, but that at the end of 1990 there were 4,756?
Questions on ECGD cover are properly the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who has to draw a balance between providing support for project exports and the cost to the taxpayer of doing so. As for the efforts of Glasgow district council, I reassure the hon. Gentleman that the Government try to ensure that Scotland's efforts are properly co-ordinated. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry is not unwilling to grant consent for international trade promotion activities provided that he is satisfied that the proposals serve Scotland's needs.
Will the Minister assist me in giving advice to a constituent whom I shall be visiting tomorrow? A small business man who paid his value added tax returns four or five days late has been hammered with a £1,200 fine. Is that the type of hounding that we can expect from the Inland Revenue? Does that help the small business community?