HC Deb 12 November 1987 vol 122 cc541-2
5. Mr. James Marshall

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make available the evidence on which his decision to withdraw ACE funding from various organisations in Northern Ireland has been taken.

11. Mr. Fatchett

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the main criteria used in deciding whether or not to renew ACE funding to organisations in receipt of such funding.

Mr. Viggers

Subject to the availability of resources, priority is given to projects which provide services for disadvantaged groups, those which may promote permanent employment, and projects in areas where the level of ACE provision is lower than the local incidence of long-term unemployment would warrant. With the exception of a small number of cases where security considerations apply, I am willing to discuss the basis on which a decision to withdraw or not to renew ACE funding has been taken.

Mr. Marshall

I hope that the Minister will accept that no Labour Member wishes to see any Government money get into the hands of any terrorist organisation on either side in the Province, but is he aware of the damage that is done to community relations when ACE funding is withdrawn and no reasons are given? If so, does he agree that, in order to minimise that damage, it would be elementary justice to introduce either a right of appeal against the Government's decisions or an independent review body to look at the decisions?

Mr. Viggers

ACE is a popular scheme and its funding and numbers have increased every year since it was introduced by the Government in 1981. More than 6,000 people are now involved in those places and there is a waiting list of 4,000. However, in a small number of cases there is a dispute about the way in which ACE funding has been withdrawn. For security reasons no details can be given, but each case is dealt with on its merits and a change in the pertinent circumstances can lead to a review of the case.

Mr. Fatchett

As my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) said, I am sure that no hon. Member would wish to see money used for purposes that would damage security, but, if I may pick a comment in the Minister's reply, will he meet representatives of the Twinbrook tenants and community association, from which I understand that funds have been withdrawn? It may not be possible for him to state the reasons for that now, but will he meet representatives?

Mr. Viggers

The terms on which support for ACE groups can sometimes be withdrawn were spelt out in detail by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. in a reply in the House on 27 June 1985. For security reasons it is not advisable for us to give details of the reasons for the withdrawal of ACE funding.

Mr. Kilfedder

Will the Minister encourage voluntary organisations to make full use of the ACE scheme, particularly as many elderly and handicapped people would benefit from the services of some young people in their homes or gardens?

Mr. Viggers

We try hard to ensure that ACE funding goes to those groups that are in the best position to assist the kind of disadvantaged groups that the hon. Gentleman mentioned.

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