§ Mr. Michael Brown
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the current position on aid from the European regional development fund to United Kingdom steel and shipbuilding closure areas.
§ Mr. MacGregor
I am pleased to report that the special programme of Community aid to certain United Kingdom steel closure areas has now been formally approved by the Commission of the European Communities. The programme represents a valuable contribution by the Community towards over-coming the worst effects of the closure of steel works in Strathclyde, Cleveland, Clwyd, Gwent, South and West Glamorgan, and Corby.
It provides 33 million European Currency Units—over £18 million—to be made available over the period 1981–85 to help the development of new employment-creating activities in these areas. Her Majesty's Government had decided that the potential growth of small and medium-sized enterprises is best assured by devoting most of this aid—£14.7 million—towards the improvement of run-down areas and the conversion of disused buildings into suitable new premises which will allow a total expenditure of almost £30 million for this purpose. The enterprises will at the same time be able to benefit from the remaining £3.7 million aid which has been set aside for the provision of consultancy and common services, help on technical innovation and information and on facilitating access to risk capital.
The following table indicates the amounts to be made available to the steel closure areas covered by the programme. The United Kingdom shipbuilding programme is currently awaiting Commission approval.