HC Deb 15 May 1985 vol 79 cc308-9
2. Mr. Donald Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he intends to make representations to the EEC for an extension of the integrated development programme in the Western Isles.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. John MacKay)

The European Commission first proposed the IDP and, in the light of progress, it would be for the Commission to propose an extension if it believed one to be warranted. If it did so, the Government would evaluate the proposals carefully.

Mr. Stewart

In view of the satisfactory and widespread take-up of the grant available, does the Scottish Office intend to make its own approach to the EEC for an extension of the programme? In view of the wide take-up, will the hon. Gentleman ensure that there is a proper return on investment by all concerned by saving the agricultural advisory service from the cuts that he intends to make?

Mr. MacKay

I certainly hope that there will be a good return on the investment of £12 million by the Government and £8 million by the EEC for agriculture and fisheries and the additional £36 million from the Government for infrastructure and other activities. The IDP regulations require the Commission to submit a progress report before April 1986 and to make proposals to the Council of Ministers before 1987 as to whether the IDP should be extended. As I have said, we shall consider carefully anything that comes from the Council then.

Dr. Godman

With regard to European Community involvement in Scotland, what is the likelihood of the Government conducting a review in the near future—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the Western Isles.

Dr. Godman

I am referring to the whole of Scotland.

Mr. Speaker

The question relates to the Western Isles. Can the hon. Gentleman get his question into order? If not, I call Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy

In representations about the IDP in relation to the Western Isles, will the Minister bear in mind that the agricultural development programme—or the assisted development programme, as it is also described—covering the Western Isles and other parts of the Highlands and Islands commands broad public support in those areas and also within the Commission and that the Government were committed to it before the last election? Does the lion. Gentleman agree that it is misleading always to say that it is up to the Commission to make proposals when those of us who represents the interests of the Highlands and Islands know — the right hon. Member for Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) will confirm this —that at present there is a more sympathetic ear from the Commission than from the Scottish Office?

Mr. MacKay

On the last part of the question, the hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The Government are fully aware of the disadvantages of the Highlands and Islands. That is why we have injected substantial sums into the Highlands and Islands Development Board and introduced measures such as the recent enhancement of hill subsidies in the Highlands and Islands development area. As we have said before, however, it is for the Commission to come up with proposals for a development programme and we have undertaken that any such proposals will be given careful consideration.

Forward to