§ Mr. Mallon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to introduce measures to assist customs clearance agents(a) to prepare for the social impact of and (b) to cope with the economic consequences of the removal of tax barriers within the EC on 1 January 1993.
§ Mr. Atkins
European social fund assistance is being used by the Training and Employment Agency and others to finance activities aimed at the retaining or redeployment of those employed in small and medium-sized enterprises threatened with redundancies. There is also scope for some assistance within the existing INTERREG programme which was specifically designed to help border regions deal with the advent of the single market. In addition, assistance may become available as a result of recent proposals by the European Commission on the redeployment of customs agents, but it will be some time before final details are known.
Official in the Department of Economic Development, including the Training and Employment Agency, can offer detailed advice about existing initiatives and have been in contact with customs clearance agents' representatives.