§ 6. Mr. Mark Robinson
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how much European regional development fund aid committed to Wales to date has been devoted to (a) infrastructural projects and (b) industrial projects.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
The figures are £140.8 million and £68.8 million respectively under the quota section of the fund. In addition, about £10.5 million in total has been committed to a programme of special measures to improve infrastructure and assistance to small firms in steel areas under the non-quota section of the fund.
§ Mr. Robinson
Does my right hon. Friend agree that these figures demonstrate the value of the ERDF in terms of jobs and employment in Wales? Will he comment on the recent policy document of Plaid Cymru, which suggested that the ERDF had no value to Wales?
§ Mr. Edwards
I agree about the importance of the grants, and the total is even more impressive when one considers the £1,216 million in identifiable grants and loans from all European Community sources. I read the Plaid Cymru policy document and found it naive and astonishing in its proposals. I wondered whether the people employed, for example, at the Dinorwic power station scheme entirely dismissed the valuable aid that that scheme received from the Community.
§ Mr. Barry Jones
If the right hon. Gentleman truly believes in excellent regional infrastructure, why does he not increase the budget of the Welsh Development Agency and particularly of the derelict land sector? If he really believes in regional infrastucture, why is he so laggardly and quiet about the need urgently to start on the second crossing of the Severn? Has he anything yet to say about the feasibility study?
§ Mr. Edwards
It is absurd to say that we are being laggardly on infrastucture, when this Government have carried out the greatest programme of infrastructure improvement ever undertaken in the Principality, including a massive road programme, which apparently Plaid Cymru in its policy document dismisses and does not want.
I understand that the Department of Transport is likely to make a further statement on the Severn bridge feasibility study in the next week or so.
§ Mr. Wigley
In view of the attacks that the Secretary of State feels, for whatever reason, that it is necessary to make this week on Plaid Cymru, will he clarify why only 1 per cent. of the money that comes from the European regional development fund for industrial development in Wales goes to Gwynedd and why the Government persist in refusing to apply the principle of additionality in respect of that money? They take in money from the European Community and subsume it into the Treasury instead of passing it on to Wales.
§ Mr. Edwards
The fact that these substantial sums have been received enables us to spend a great deal more in Wales that we otherwise could. The local authorities who use the funds know that they reduce their borrowing requirements, which is why they welcome them. It is perhaps a pity that over the years the Gwynedd council has 8 not come forward with more schemes of a sort that are likely to receive support. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman should address his questions to that authority.