HC Deb 17 December 1985 vol 89 cc137-8W
Sir Peter Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if the proposed European regional development fund non-quota regulations have yet been approved by the Council of Ministers; and if he will make a statement on the implications for the United Kingdom.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The Council of Ministers has today adopted four regulations which complete the second and final set of non-quota measures under the fund.

One of the regulations concerns Ireland and Northern Ireland and the others concern certain areas affected by the decline in the textile, shipbuilding and fishing industries. The United Kingdom already benefits from non-quota aid to textile and shipbuilding areas, and the relevant new regulations extend this aid to certain areas in other member states.

The regulation which concerns Ireland and Northern Ireland extends the geographical scope of EC Regulation 2619/80 so as to include the whole of Northern Ireland except the urban area of Belfast. Activities eligible for aid are also extended so as to include investment aid to small firms, promotion of innovation and the setting up of economic promotion agencies. The new fisheries areas regulation provides in respect of the United Kingdom for aid to the travel-to-work areas of Hull, Grimsby and Blackpool (which includes Fleetwood). Activities in which the fund may participate include redevelopment of fishing ports and industrial and urban sites, investment aids to small firms, promotion of innovation and tourism.

The aid will be available in support of five-year programmes which will have to be prepared and then approved by the EC Commission before the fund contribution can be paid. The detailed arrangements have yet to be worked out.

I welcome this further expected contribution from the fund towards helping regional problems in the United Kingdom.