Business Links

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 5th April 1995.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller , Ellesmere Port and Neston 2:30 pm, 5th April 1995

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on business links in the North West. [16452]

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

Twelve business link outlets are currently open in the north-west. Approval has been granted for a further nine. Assessment panels will consider further proposals in April, June and September. When the regional network is complete, there will be more than 30 outlets.

Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller , Ellesmere Port and Neston

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the statement that there was greater scope for direction at the earlier stages of the scheme, by his Department? If so, what assessment has he made of the damage that that has done to the potential of the scheme in the north-west? More important, what steps has he taken to correct that weakness?

Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade

I explained to the House a few minutes ago that we have tried to preserve a balance between ensuring that quality is consistent across the whole network and ensuring the flexibility that the local partners quite understandably want. I believe that, from all the evidence available to me, we are making good progress in that direction. Recently, I spent a day at a major conference of business link chief executives, and the mood of optimism was extremely encouraging.