§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) why the Northern Region received over twice as much as the North-West from the European Regional Development Fund;
(2) why the North-West, which has a higher total of unemployed and a larger population than Wales, received less from the European Regional Development Fund;
(3) why Merseyside, with a higher total of unemployed and larger population than Wales, received less from the European Regional Development Fund;
(4) what criteria were employed for distributing the £17 million allocation of the European Regional Development Fund; and if he is satisfied that these meet regional needs.
Mr. Alan Williams
Various considerations combine to affect the number and value of projects put forward in respect of Merseyside, the rest of the North-West Region and other areas. The European Regional Development Fund contributes only to projects which are eligible under the Fund Regulation. In selecting projects on which to seek a fund contribution, the Government have to bear particularly in mind the requirement of the Fund Regulation that priority be given to projects located in priority areas. This means that projects located in the special development and development areas have a higher priority than those located in the intermediate areas. This broadly reflects the Government's own view of priorities for regional aid. It is also necessary to take account of the other provisions in the regulation, and its interpretation by Community institutions. The choice of projects is also influenced by the investments actually being undertaken in the assisted areas, the range of projects suggested by local and other public authorities as the subject of applications to the fund, the willingness of industrial investors to have their projects 225W used for applications to the fund, and the priorities of the Government's regional policy.
§ Mr. Leadbitter
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the amounts received in each region of the United Kingdom from the European Regional Development Fund, with the unemployment levels, to the latest available date.
Mr. Alan Williams
The European Regional Development Fund aids projects situated only within the assisted areas of Great Britain and in Northern Ireland. Since October 1975 the Commission has agreed to contribute £56.5 million towards the cost of eligible projects in these areas. The division of this £56.5 million and the latest unemployment levels are:
£000 Unemployment level at April 1976 (Per cent.) ENGLAND Northern 12,940 7.1 North-West 6,017 6.6 Yorkshire and Humberside 2,203 5.3 East Midlands assisted areas 297 5.2* West Midlands assisted areas 11 7.2* South-West assisted areas 947 9.2* 22,415 Northern Ireland 11,249 9.2 Scotland 13,387 6.7 Wales 9,452 7.2 United Kingdom 56,503 * As only part of the East Midlands, West Midlands and South-West Regions are assisted areas, and therefore eligible for contributions from the Regional Development Fund, the unemployment levels given relate only to the relevant parts of those regions.