§ Mr. Blizzard
To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations she has received regarding the eligibility for Objective 5b funding of projects involving the private sector. 
§ Mrs. Roche
[holding answer 18 May 1998]: Rules were published by the Department in May 1995 allowing private sector involvement in European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) infrastructure projects. These rules remain in place. We have not received any representations about them.
Officials within the Department and Government Offices regularly discuss the eligibility of individual private sector projects and their compliance with the relevant Objective 5b programme. Of particular importance in these discussions is the European Commission requirement that public sector contributions to programmes are not replaced by private sector funds. Failure to achieve the expected level of public sector contributions is likely to lead to reduced payments of Structural Funds grant by the Commission. Private sector projects will not therefore be able to be supported if they replace necessary public sector contributions.