Oral Answers to Questions — Environmental Research (European Community Grants)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th May 1975.

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Photo of Mr Tim Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes 12:00 am, 7th May 1975

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what environmental research grants from EECs sources would be jeopardised by United Kingdom withdrawal from the Community.

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

The EEC is contributing half the cost of United Kingdom work under the First Environment Programme—1974–75—valued at about £800,000, most of which is being done by British universities. Nearly all the United Kingdom contracts are already signed, and none stipulates continued British membership of the Community as a condition for completion of EEC payments.

Photo of Mr Tim Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes

I welcome some of the figures which the Minister has given. Is he aware, however, that when the Government are being forced to reduce expenditure on so many fronts, grants from European Community become more imporant than ever before? Is he also aware that it is only through our continued membership of the EEC that we shall be able to influence not only our own environment but the environment of Europe which increasingly impinges upon the environment of our island?

Photo of Mr Denis Howell Mr Denis Howell , Birmingham Small Heath

I am well aware that the European Ministers take conservation and research into these matters very seriously. As a long-standing supporter of Europe, I know that to be the case. But I do not think that friends of our continued membership in Europe are necessarily doing us a great service by taking up all these small matters when great national issues have to be debated in the referendum campaign.