§ 12. Ms Southworth
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps she is taking to support the development of small businesses. 
§ Mr. Ingram
LEDU (Local Enterprise Development Unit) is the Government Agency with responsibility for small business development in Northern Ireland. LEDU assists small businesses in Northern Ireland to become more competitive, by providing information, guidance and financial support.
With the 1998 Budget the Government made provision for considerable reductions on the regulatory and fiscal burdens on small firms, including the United Kingdom wide University Challenge Fund.
A major economic strategy aimed at promoting enterprise and encouraging investment throughout Northern Ireland was also announced by the Chancellor during May 1998.