HC Deb 19 March 1986 vol 94 c279
4. Mr. Franks

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how well English infrastructure projects have fared in 1985 as far as European regional development fund grant is concerned compared to the preceding four years.

Mr. Tracey

I have good news of growth for my hon. Friend. In 1981 the European Commission awarded £66.4 million for English infrastructure projects within the assisted areas; in 1982, £86 million; and in 1983, £97.5 million. 1984 was a record year, with total grant awarded of £182 million, and the level has been maintained with the award of some £185 million for 1985.

Mr. Franks

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that information, which is most intelligent. Will he ensure that the United Kingdom takes full advantage of the provisions for programme funding contained in the European regional development fund?

Mr. Tracey

Yes. The United Kingdom has taken a lead in establishing national programmes of community interest. In England, the Mersey basin programme, with an award of £66.5 million, is now operational. The Shildon programme has received an award of £18 million. We expect to submit further programmes in due course.

Mr. Straw

Will the Under-Secretary of State confirm that the information that he has given is not good news for those parts of the country that are affected? The Government ignore the marginal effects of the European regional development fund by knocking off from the overall total of public expenditure that which they get from the European regional development fund, which means that there is no net benefit to the British economy or to the regions of this country.

Mr. Tracey

It is correct that those grants are additional at national level. Receipts from the European regional development fund are taken into account when public expenditure levels are set each year. Therefore, programmes are higher than they would otherwise be.