§ 25. Mr. Trimble
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what response he has received from the European Commission with regard to his representations on the Republic of Ireland's market development fund.
§ Mr. Needham
As a result of representations made to the European Commission a number of important changes were made to the initial proposal so as to minimise the potential impact on United Kingdom businesses. The scheme is confined to companies employing fewer than 250 people and whose turnover does not exceed 20 mecu. Companies which are more than one quarter owned by one or more larger companies are ineligible. The aid is limited for a maximum of six months and will end in March 1993. The scheme can also be suspended if the average rate of sterling against the Irish pound closes below parity within any working week. I understand the Commission has ruled out any extension.