HC Deb 17 February 1993 vol 219 cc304-5
2. Mr. Knox

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what is the total value of grants allocated to England from the European regional development fund since its inception.

The President of the Board of Trade and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

The total value of ERDF grants allocated to England since 1975 is approximately £3,900 million at 1993 prices.

Mr. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend agree that those grants make an important contribution to strengthening the British economy? Is he satisfied that the public are aware of the scale of those grants?

Mr. Heseltine

I agree with my hon. Friend that those grants provide important help to many parts of the country. I hope that the public are aware of them. The Government consistently represent Britain's case in achieving the maximum amount of grants to help the areas that need them.

Mr. Jim Cunningham

What proportion of those grants is used to assist British industry with the development of technology? Many of our competitors receive Government assistance and various forms of grant to help them to develop their technologies and industry. I am sure that the Secretary of State will also bear in mind the fact that, in manufacturing, development costs represent a high proportion of overall costs.

Mr. Heseltine

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that one has to be extremely careful about following the logic of that suggestion, because other countries may be using the grants to subsidise or support their companies. That would put our companies at a significant disadvantage.

Mr. Mans

What action has my right hon. Friend's Department taken in relation to the ERDF or any other funds that might be available from Europe or from the British Government to help the survival of Leyland DAF in Lancashire?

Mr. Heseltine

My hon. Friend will realise that these grants apply to specific regions. We make representations to ensure that Britain maximises its entitlement. The case of Leyland DAF is still under close attention by my Department. We are watching and assisting—wherever appropriate—the actions of the receiver.