HC Deb 01 February 1971 vol 810 cc1219-20
2. Sir A. Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken to ensure that the interests of Wales are taken care of in discussions about the future of regional development policies in an enlarged European Economic Community, including the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Thomas

I can assure my hon. Friend that the interests of Wales and of the other regions are very much in mind in out negotiations to enter the E.E.C.

Sir A. Meyer

I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Has he noted that the Government's declared policy for regional development does not conflict in any way with the regulations or the practice at present in force in the European Economic Community? Does he agree that there can be very bright prospects indeed for Wales from a development of community financing for regional development?

Mr. Peter Thomas

Yes. The Government believe that their existing policies are not incompatible with the Treaty of Rome. There have been no specific moves by the Six towards a harmonisation of their regional policies. As to the latter part of my hon. Friend's question, I agree that this would indeed be the case. The Government believe that entry could be beneficial for all regions in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Alec Jones

In view of the increase in the number of factory closures in Wales and the decrease in the number of applications for new factories, how does the Secretary of State propose to protect the best interests of Wales in the matter of industrial development, whether Britain is inside or outside the Common Market?

Mr. Peter Thomas

The Question refers to the Common Market. As the hon. Gentleman will appreciate, the Treaty of Rome makes specific provisions for countries to make assistance available for regional development.

Mr. William Edwards

What specific steps have been taken by the Secretary of State's Department to ascertain the problems in agriculture and industry in Wales and how many members of his Department have been to similar parts of Europe to undertake a proper examination, as opposed to giving us loose undertakings about protection?

Mr. Peter Thomas

My Department is fully consulted during these negotiations in all matters which might affect Wales.