HL Deb 13 February 1980 vol 405 cc164-5

3.58 p.m.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any action is being taken by the EEC to aid redundant steel workers in the United Kingdom; and whether the EEC has made any suggestions about help with their retraining for other jobs.


My Lords, the European Community is already providing aid to redundant steelworkers in three ways. First, the Iron and Steel Employees Readaptation Benefits Scheme which is jointly funded by the ECSC and the Government provides income support benefits, including a training allowance, for up to two and a half years depending on age. Secondly, reconversion loans are available from the ECSC at favourable rates of interest for job creation programmes in steel redundancy areas. Thirdly, retraining costs also attract a contribution from the EEC Social Fund.

Baroness VICKERS

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that very satisfactory reply. Can he tell me how much money has already been received, and whether any training has taken place?


My Lords, under each of these schemes considerable benefits have been paid. Under the Readaptation Benefits Scheme, for instance, in 1980 so far the Commission has allocated £7.7 million to Shotton workers. Some 100 applications have been successfully submitted since we joined the Community in 1973. In relation to the reconversion loans, we are currently—and have been throughout 1979—receiving some 40 per cent. of the total ECSC budget, and over £100 million worth of loans since the Exchange Risk Cover Scheme was introduced in 1978 have been negotiated. Twenty five million pounds have already been paid. In relation to the training schemes we have currently an application from BSC Industries to the EEC Social Fund for £4 million which the Government have supported.

The Lord Bishop of PETERBOROUGH

My Lords, could the Minister tell the House whether the EEC has made any attempt to offer jobs abroad to the steelworkers in places such as Corby? If they have done so, how many and how effectively have they done it?


My Lords, I do not believe that any Community source has actually offered jobs abroad. Within the Community there is of course freedom of movement of labour today, and a lot of British people are working on the Continent. I have no idea how many redundant steelworkers may have taken their own initiative.