§ Mr. Jim Murphy
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the timescale for the review of Objective 2 and assisted areas status 
§ Mr. Caborn
My Department has been discussing with the Commission the proposals for the new Objective 2 areas which we submitted on 8 October. We hope that the Commission will approve the areas in principle before Christmas and give formal approval in January.
The four-month timetable for the submission of draft Objective 2 programmes to the Commission starts running from the date on which the map is approved. However, the Regulation allows funding to begin from 1 January 2000 provided that draft programmes are submitted by 30 April.
Discussions are continuing with the Commission on the proposed new Assisted Areas map which we submitted in July. We are seeking early approval of our new Assisted Areas and will formally announce the new map as soon as possible.