HC Deb 17 February 1993 vol 219 cc308-9
6. Mr. David Shaw

To ask the President of the Board of Trade when he next expects to visit Dover, Deal and south-east Kent to discuss opportunities for trade and industry.

Mr. Sainsbury

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and I both visited east Kent last year. We both look forward to further opportunities to do so.

Mr. Shaw

I thank my right hon. Friends for the tremendous interest that they have shown in Dover and Deal and in the problems faced by the area. I am also grateful for the support given by the Department and the European Commission in allocating moneys to help customs clearance agents and freight forwarders.

May I remind my right hon. Friend of our application for assisted area status? It is especially important, because the decision by all political parties in the House to proceed with the channel tunnel project will lead to tremendous change in my constituency. Some short-term help, along the lines of assisted area status, will be necessary if Dover and Deal are to succeed during that process of change.

Mr. Sainsbury

I assure my hon. Friend that we shall take careful account of the points that he has made, including the one about the short-term implications of the channel tunnel. I hope that he agrees, however, that the tunnel will also bring great opportunities to the area. I am happy to confirm that my Department is currently talking to the British International Freight Association and the east Kent initiative, with the aim of co-ordinating a United Kingdom bid for funds from the customs agent regulations that the European Commission has made available.

Mr. Nicholas Brown

Having arrived in Dover, will the Minister board a ship and travel up to Tyneside? Will he tell the people there what his Department is doing to ensure the survival—

Madam Speaker

Order. Most ingenious; I rather expected that one. Let us move on to question 7.