HC Deb 27 May 1976 vol 912 cc620-1
12. Mr. Molyneaux

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the sums received or to be received from the EEC for regional purposes in Northern Ireland have been or will be offset by corresponding reductions in provision for those purposes from United Kingdom funds; and if he will make a statement.

Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. Raymond Carter)

The primary instrument for implementing EEC regional policy is the European Regional Development Fund. Contributions from the fund allow the Government to go ahead with a greater total of regional commitments than could be managed otherwise. Contributions earned by infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland are used to reduce the capital borrowings of the public bodies which have substantial infrastructure responsibilities. These contributions are not offset by any corresponding reduction in the Northern Ireland grant in aid to the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund. Contributions earned by industrial projects are retained by the Government in partial repayment for industrial assistance already provided.

Mr. Molyneaux

In view of the scale of United Kingdom contributions to the EEC, is it not surprising that total net regional grants to the United Kingdom should be so small?

Mr. Carter

I do not think that that point has much relevance to the Question. The hon. Member is now talking about the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland receives a disproportionate amount of regional aid in both EEC and United Kingdom terms.