HC Deb 17 February 1997 vol 290 c615
10. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the allocation of European Union structural funds in Wales during the current financial year. [14450]

Mr. Hague

During the current financial year, around £115 million has been committed to projects approved or conditionally approved under the European Union structural fund programmes that operate in Wales.

Mr. Jones

Does the Secretary of State agree that Wales, compared with, say, Ireland, fared badly in the negotiations for structural funds for the period 1994–99? Does he agree with my assessment that the Government's failure to provide a proper settlement for Wales has cost us about £1 billion in funds in that five-year period? Is that not the clearest example of Wales's lack of clout in Brussels? What we need is a Parliament with a real voice in Europe. Does the Secretary of State accept that, given such a clear example, the people of Wales will vote in increasing numbers for a party that is dedicated to ensuring that we have that proper Parliament? Nothing will stop us, not even the yapping noises from the Prime Minister's poodles on the Government Front Bench.

Mr. Hague

No direct comparisons can be made with Ireland, which is an objective 1 area. To obtain objective 1 status, an area must comply with the strict socio-economic criteria that are set by the European Union. If it is the aspiration of the hon. Gentleman's party to reduce Wales to meeting the criteria for objective 1 status, it is a pretty pitiful ambition.