HC Deb 04 July 1978 vol 953 cc220-1
11. Mr. Dykes

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he next plans to visit Brussels to discuss the workings of the Social Fund with his counterparts in the other member States' Governments.

Mr. John Grant

I represented the Government at the Council of Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs on 29th June, when a new category of Social Fund aid to promote the employment of young people was discussed. I very much regret that, due to the opposition of one delegation, it was not possible to reach agreement then.

Mr. Dykes

I thank the Minister for that reply and I share his regret. Since these are Community funds and not national public spending, would it not be a good idea to put into the Social Fund a much greater amount of money to deal with unemployment problems in the underdeveloped areas of member States, particularly such areas in this country? Will the Government undertake to press that the Social Fund should be made larger in future?

Mr. Grant

We have considered for some time that a sizeable Social Fund is desirable, though many measures, particularly those relating to youth unemployment, are best conducted on a national basis. In general, we are in favour of a sizeable Social Fund and we have pressed for an increase.

Mr. John Evans

Does my hon. Friend agree that one way of increasing the size of the Social Fund would be to transfer to it a substantial amount of the CAP? When he next visits Brussels, will my hon. Friend take up the future of the Community shipbuilding and ship repairing industries and make clear that, in relation to the proposal that 100,000 jobs in those industries should disappear between now and 1981, any restructuring will be subject to consultations between British Shipbuilders and the Government and not with the Commission?

Mr. Grant

The CAP is clearly a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture. I know that shipbuilding is the very active concern of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry.