HL Deb 28 February 1985 vol 460 cc1016-7

3.17 p.m.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a third time. —(The Earl of Caithness.)

Lord Ross of Marnock

My Lords, this is an important matter for the Highland Region, and I do not think that anyone would wish to delay to any great extent the passing of the Order Confirmation Bill. However, there is one matter that concerns me. The Highland Region requires all the financial help that it can get. I should like to know just exactly what the Government plan to do about it. At the front of the Bill we have a Financial Memorandum which says that: The Highland Regional Council intend to apply for grant under the Fisheries Act 1955 to the Secretary of State". Can we by any chance be told how much the region will receive? I ask because the cost over the whole period is £3,952,000.

The other interesting point—and this is the real matter about which I am concerned—is what will happen in respect of grant from the EEC. Your Lordships will remember that about four or five days ago the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, asked a Question about EEC regional funds. I believe that it was my noble friend Lord Glenamara who asked the Minister whether anything coming from the regional funds would be in addition to what was given by the Government. The Minister gave a very short and definite answer: it was, "Yes". That being so, let me read the next part of this Financial Memorandum. It states: The Council would also intend to apply for grant to be financed out of the EEC Regional Development Fund for which the normal grant rate is currently 30 per cent.". Then I come to the important point: If that application is acceded to it is understood that any grant under section 2 of the Act of 1955 would be reduced accordingly". Therefore, we receive one answer from the Minister one day saying that it is additional money, and then we are told here by the Government—because the Secretary of State for Scotland is sponsoring this Bill—that if we get anything from the Regional Development Fund the Government grant will be reduced accordingly. Therefore, it is not additional money.

It may be unfair to ask the present Minister who has been handed this Bill to reply to it, but would he undertake for some Minister to tell us once and for all whether the funds we are getting from the EEC are additional, or are they just being used by the Government instead of the normal grant that they would pay under the various Acts?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have the necessary information to hand, but I confirm to the House that I shall write to the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, on the detailed points that he has raised. As the House will be aware, an application for grant cannot be submitted until the Bill has been enacted by Parliament, and for that reason I am unable to give the details that he requests.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

My Lords, I should be grateful if the Minister would not write only to my noble friend Lord Ross but would publish this in the Library so that we all know about it.

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I would remind the noble Lord, although I am sure he does not need reminding, that all the letters are automatically put in the Library. I think that that is the agreed procedure.

On Question, Bill read a third time, and passed.