§ Mr. Hume
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement regarding the Helios programme outlining what plans or proposals the Government has for it in respect of Northern Ireland; whether there was any policy consideration behind452W Northern Ireland not being invited to nominate representatives to the relevant European Community advisory committee; and whether arrangements have been made to take account of the views of the relevant agencies in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Needham
[holding answer 16 December 1988]: A working group of officials from all Northern Ireland Departments with an interest in the European Community second action programme for disabled people (the Helios programme) has been established. The group is in turn represented on a national co-ordinating committee which was set up to oversee the United Kingdom's participation in the programme. A vocational rehabilitation project nominated by the Department of Economic Development. has been included in the EC network of local mode projects.
It is a matter for each of the member states in the European Community to field representatives to meetings of EC committees and it would be unrealistic to expect each region of a member state to be represented on the committees. The co-ordinating arrangements that I have described are, however, designed to ensure that Northern Ireland's interests are taken into account by the United Kingdom representatives on the EC advisory committee. Consideration is currently being given to the most appropriate way, to facilitate the involvement of disability organisations thoughout the United Kingdom in the programme.