§ Candy Atherton
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, what steps his Department has taken to simplify the application process for accessing funding from UK European Structural Funds programmes; and what discussions his Department has had with UK and European partners on the simplification of the application process for accessing funding from UK Structural Funds Programme. 
§ Alan Johnson
The DTI, in co-ordination with other Government Departments, has been at the forefront of discussion with other Member States and the European Commission on all aspects of simplification of Structural Funds administration. The UK has drafted papers on this issue for consideration by the Structural Funds Management Committees, and as a result of this work, Commissioner Michel Barnier called a meeting of Regional Policy Ministers on 7 October during which the Commission proposals for simplification were discussed. The UK gave its support to these proposals and will be working with the Commission and other Member States on their practical implementation.