Local Enterprise Companies

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 15th May 1991.

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Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon 12:00 am, 15th May 1991

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the progress of the local enterprise companies.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

Progress in establishing the local enterprise companies in Scotland has been most encouraging. All are now fully operational, having signed operating contracts with Scottish Enterprise or Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Photo of Mr Simon Coombs Mr Simon Coombs , Swindon

Can my hon. Friend tell the House whether the problem exists in Scotland, as it does in England, whereby a number of such new organisations are in danger of reinventing the wheel—that is to say, all tackling the same problems in different ways? Can my hon. Friend suggest to those organisations how they can ensure that best practice in the various tasks that they undertake is shared among them all?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I cannot comment on whether English organisations are reinventing the wheel, but the Scottish system is different from that in England because it offers true integration of training and economic development functions, which works extremely well. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise give general guidance to local enterprise companies. I have been impressed—as I am sure that all right hon. and hon. Members have been—by the determination to ensure that the new system works effectively for the people of Scotland.

Photo of Mr Ernie Ross Mr Ernie Ross , Dundee West

Nevertheless, has the Minister studied the report published today by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which expresses the same misgivings as are held by voluntary organisations in Scotland—that local enterprise companies and training and enterprise councils are failing to deal adequately with special needs groups? There is particular concern in respect of lost training places. While I am on my feet, may I welcome the recent announcement concerning inward investment for local enterprise companies in my constituency?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his tribute to Tayside Enterprise, whose announcement will be warmly welcomed by everyone on Tayside. As to the hon. Gentleman's specific question, people with special needs are given priority in youth and employment training. As I explained at Scottish Question Time last month, the new arrangements ensure that those with special needs are treated as a real priority.