HC Deb 26 October 1971 vol 823 cc1466-7
24. Mr. Edward Taylor

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to ascertain from the Commission of the European Economic Community whether the present tax incentives and other regional aids operated by Her Majesty's Government will have their approval under Article 93 of the Treaty of Rome, in the event of Great Britain joining the Community.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

A team of officials recently visited Brussels to explore these issues with the Commission. I have no reason to doubt that we shall be able to continue with our present range of regional policies after entry into the Community.

Mr. Taylor

In the event of entry, is it the case that any new regional aids which Parliament decides to introduce would require the approval of the Commission before we could apply them?

Mr. Macmillan

The broad aims of the guidelines for central areas on which the Commission operates are to prevent overbidding for international mobile investment, while continuing to allow the regional aids to be used when needed. These aims are entirely consistent with our own regional policies.

Mr. Maclennan

Will the hon. Gentleman make it plain that the present regional policies, whether or not in conformity with the regulations of the Community, are quite unacceptable and that, none the less, there is firm reason to believe that neither the policies which are presently pursued nor any policies previously pursued by the Labour Government would be ruled out under the proposed new rules?

Mr. Macmillan

As I have said, I have no reason to doubt that we shall be able to continue with our present range of policies or that all the policies which we wish to pursue are or will be compatible when we get into the Community, with whatever changes we may wish to negotiate or set in train.