HC Deb 11 May 1988 vol 133 cc318-9
18. Mr. Kennedy

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects next to discuss matters relating to the structure of the European regional development fund with other European Community Ministers; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins

The next Foreign Affairs Council, on 24 and 25 May, which my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs will attend, is due to discuss the Commission's proposal for a new framework regulation for all the Community's structural funds, with a view to its adoption.

We shall be concerned to ensure that the European regional development fund continues to make its important contribution to British regional development.

Mr. Kennedy

I thank the Minister for his reply On 24 and 25 May, will he and his Department make every possible effort to ensure that the British Government's representatives at those meetings maintain the pressure that the Euro-MP, Winnie Ewing, the local authorities, the Highlands and Islands Development Board and parliamentary representatives in this House from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland have exerted over the past few months to ensure that our access to and eligibility for support from the ERDF, which is crucial to our part of the country, is retained?

Mr. Atkins

The hon. Gentleman will know that recently I had the pleasure of receiving a delegation from the Highlands and Islands. I was pleased to be able to tell the delegation, as I can now tell the House, that I am happy to follow the lead taken by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland in supporting most strongly the Highlands and Islands bid for its fair share of the ERDF. We shall continue to fight our corner as strongly as we can.

Mr. Cryer

In addition to safeguarding ERDF funds from the Common Market, when the Minister is in communication with the Common Market will he tell it that imports of yarn from Turkey are damaging areas in Yorkshire and Humberside, such as Bradford in my constituency, that they have caused the loss of jobs and short-time working in the textile spinning industry, and that the safeguard clause, which is a pretty weak one, negotiated by this Government should be brought into operation as a matter of urgency?

Mr. Atkins

If the hon. Gentleman had been here earlier this afternoon he would have heard my hon. Friend the Minister for Trade give a definitive answer about a reduction in Turkish yarn imports. Since the hon. Gentleman himself knows as much about the European Parliament as most, I suggest that he takes it up there as well.

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