§ 2.55 p.m.
§ Baroness Lane-Fox
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 what has been the benefit to the United Kingdom from disbursements from the European Social Fund since the United Kingdom's accession to the latest convenient date.
My Lords, in the years 1973 to 1982 the United Kingdom was allocated grants totalling £964 million from the European Social Fund, including £258 million in 1982. Grants from the European Social Fund have made a substantial, and very welcome, contribution to training and employment schemes in this country, especially for young people.
§ Baroness Lane-Fox
My Lords, may I thank my noble friend the Minister for his reply? In view of the sometimes surprising mixture of successful applicants for grants compared with other, at least equally worthy, bodies which are probably too hard-pressed to discover the right application formula, would it be acceptable to make more widely known the correct method of application for these grants?
My Lords, if anyone was in any doubt about how to apply, I am sure that if he were to get in touch with the Department of Employment he would be so instructed.
Lord Paget of Northampton
My Lords, can the noble Earl tell us what percentage we get out from what we put in?
My Lords, I may tell the noble Lord that the social fund itself is 7 to 8 per cent. of the European budget—
My Lords, if the noble Lord will be good enough to contain himself, I shall try to answer his question. As I said, the social fund is 7 to 8 per cent. of the European budget. Our average share of that fund since accession has been 23.8 per cent., and our share in 1982 was close on 30 per cent. If the noble Lord will be good enough to work out the figures from those statistics, which he can probably do in his head, he will come to the answer.
§ Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos
My Lords, can the noble Earl give an assurance that where those grants are made—and, of course, where they are made they are welcome, although the percentage is low in view of our unemployment figures—the Government themselves do not reduce their grants in the same area by a similar amount?
My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, I do not think that these grants are small. As I 1286 said, the United Kingdom received 30 per cent., which is a very substantial amount—
My Lords, I said that 30 per cent. of the social fund is given by the European Community to the United Kingdom. But I tell the noble Lord that, in our public estimates, the allocation of the contribution from the social fund is taken into account in arriving at the figures, and had it not been for the social fund the figures for public allocation would have been bound to be lower. Therefore, the grants have been a direct contribution to the additional amount which is spent on training, and such schemes.