EEC Social Fund Grants

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th July 1974.

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Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South 12:00 am, 9th July 1974

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list those projects which benefited from the grants received by the United Kingdom under the EEC Social Fund in 1973; and if he will make a statement regarding actual and potential grants in 1974.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

The following schemes in Great Britain received financial assistance from the European Social Fund in 1973: training of unemployed workers in the assisted areas; other Government expenditure on training; transfer of workers from and within the assisted areas; training and resettlement of workers leaving agriculture; training of workers in or leaving textiles; training of disabled persons; industrial rehabilitation of disabled persons. Similar schemes in Northern Ireland also received assistance from the fund.

Applications in respect of these and other schemes of a smaller scale in the field of training and rehabilitation have been submitted for 1974 but as yet no decisions have been made on awards. Further applications may be submitted during the course of the year.

Photo of Mr Peter Blaker Mr Peter Blaker , Blackpool South

Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the sum which the United Kingdom received from the fund in 1973 amounted to £24 million? Is it not also a fact that applications which have been made in respect of this year fall below that figure, despite the fact that the size of the fund for the Community as a whole has been increased? Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Secretary of State has not given any directive that we should go slow in our applications to the fund because of any views that he may hold about the EEC?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

The figure for awards during 1973 was £19·83 million. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman a full list of applications for 1974 because changes were recently made in decisions about schemes qualifying for help for migrants and disabled people. This should extend the area of applications which can be made to the Commission for help from the fund. For instance, I hope that it would include applications for assistance towards the expenses of the Race Relations Board, our race relations advisers, the Community Relations Commission and certain rehabilitation schemes for the disabled.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the benefits from the social and regional funds of the EEC are minimal compared with the huge adverse effect of the common agricultural policy with all its acute social effects as well?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Perhaps I may give a mathematical answer. The amount that we receive from the European Social Fund is very small compared with the payments which are made to the common agricultural fund.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell and Wishaw

Does my hon. Friend agree that these facilities and advantages are almost unknown among workers and trade unionists in Britain? Will he do his utmost to bring to their notice the many advantages that could accrue to them if they made use of the facilities available to them?

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

The payments which come from the European Social Fund are repayments of amounts expended by this Government on schemes conducted in the United Kingdom. It would be claiming too much to say that the European Social Fund made a significant difference to the facilities that we provide in this country. However, it provides a useful contribution in meeting half the costs of the schemes that we undertake.