HC Deb 04 December 1995 vol 268 cc9-10
9. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he next intends to represent his Department in the European Union's Council of Ministers to discuss regional affairs.[1864]

Mr. Hague

When I consider that it is appropriate to do so.

Mr. Jones

Is it true that no Secretary of State for Wales has ever visited the Council of Ministers to discuss regional funds for Wales? We have lost out to the tune of about £1 billion owing to our failure to achieve objective 1 status for parts of Wales when such matters were last discussed. Why does the Secretary of State—like successive Secretaries of State—allow the Department of Trade and Industry to take the lead on such issues? Why does he not stand up for Wales's interests rather than allow the DTI to ride roughshod over our interests every time such matters are discussed?

Next time such issues are discussed, will he insist that he, not the President of the Board of Trade, sits at the top table in Brussels—or will we have to wait until there is a Welsh Parliament to be properly represented in Europe?

Mr. Hague

I shall, of course, consider attending meetings where there is a topic of special or exclusive interest to Wales. Ministers at Council meetings represent the whole of the United Kingdom, including Wales. The hon. Gentleman can see that I am not reluctant to go to Brussels and argue the Welsh position or the United Kingdom position. When there was a recent difficulty with the European Commission and £15 million of funds were blocked, I went to Brussels and discussed the matter. Two weeks later, the funds were unblocked. The hon. Gentleman will not find me backward in going to Brussels and arguing our case.