§ Sir Raymond Gower
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what grants and other forms of assistance are now available from European Economic Community sources to small companies and firms in Wales; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Nicholas Edwards
A wide range of European assistance is available to small companies and firms in Wales.
Grants are available through the European regional development fund to assist small and medium sized enterprises in the steel closure areas of Wales to obtain consultancy and common services, to help finance technical innovation and to facilitate access to risk capital. Grants are available through the European social fund for certain training, retraining, resettlement and job-creation schemes. The European Investment Bank provides loans to assist industrial investment both in assisted and non-assisted areas and European Coal and Steel Community loans are available to firms that create jobs in areas 25W affected by coal and steel closures. ECSC loans are also available to assist companies who wish to switch industrial equipment from oil and/or gas to coal-firing. The European Agricultural guidance and guarantee fund also provides grants for projects which improve the conditions under which agriculture and fish products are processed and marketed including the development of new outlets, the improvement of marketing channels, the rationalisation of methods of production and the better use of byproducts. Another EAGGF scheme provides grants to aid capital investment on fishing vessels and equipment. The same scheme also provides grants for fish farming. Community measures to adjust capacity and to improve productivity in the fisheries sector provide for grants and for the decommisioning and temporary laying up of fishing vessels and aid for joint ventures and exploratory fishing voyages. Some of the loans and grants referred to above are constrained by the amount of assistance that can be given, the geographical area to which they apply, the activities that qualify and the size of company or firm that can be assisted.