§ 1. Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con)
What recent discussions he has had with Her Majesty's Treasury on matching the funds of objective 1 payments.
§ The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Hain)
I have had regular discussions with the Chancellor and the Chief Secretary on the spending review, including objective 1. In both the 2000 and 2002 spending reviews, extra money was made available to Wales, outside the Barnett formula, to provide public spending cover for the structural funds programmes in Wales.
§ Sir Nicholas Winterton
As always, I am warmly grateful to the Secretary of State and Leader of the House for his reply. But can he say whether west Wales and the valleys will receive less European Union structural funding after 2006? Will the United Kingdom Government make up the full difference, or is an EU transitional arrangement expected, with the Government making up the differences?
§ Mr. Hain
I am always warmly grateful for the hon. Gentleman's questions, whatever they may be about and whether or not they are about Wales.
We are still in the process of negotiating the post-2006 position, which is not clear. However, we are determined to secure a very good deal for Wales, and I am confident that that will happen as a result of the negotiations in Brussels by, among others, the Chancellor.
This has been a fantastic boon for west Wales and the valleys. Economic inactivity levels are down by 25,000 and employment is up by 28,000 in the objective 1 area. Business is growing, growth is improving and public expenditure is going in. The funding has been very good news for Wales: it is a once-in-a-generation boost, of which we are taking advantage.
§ Mrs. Betty Williams (Conwy) (Lab)
I am given to understand that the European programmes in Wales have been allocated over £65 million of additional funds as a result of the European Commission's performance reserve. How much of that will be allocated to objective 1 programmes, and does my right hon. Friend have details readily available as to how much will be allocated to north Wales?
§ Mr. Hain
I know that objective 1 funding has been very important in my hon. Friend's part of north-west Wales, and that she has been an energetic advocate of the case. I applaud that. I cannot provide the figures for which she asks, but I shall be happy to write to her.
What is clear is that the money going to my hon. Friend's constituency and to north-west Wales as a whole has been an enormous boost in an area that—at least during the Conservative years—has traditionally had a very rough time economically. That is a tribute to Labour's negotiating skills, and to our achievements.