Orders of the Day — European Communities

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:17 pm on 31st July 1980.

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Photo of Mr Julius Silverman Mr Julius Silverman , Birmingham, Erdington 6:17 pm, 31st July 1980

I concede that. When one completely wipes out all tariffs, one is bound to get more exports to the Community, and more will come in from the Community to us. But the balance is totally against us. That is the point. This deficit is something that the Government must take seriously. If they desire to remain in the Common Market, this matter must be negotiated and it is no less important than the matter of convergence about which we have arrived at a conclusion.

I wish to deal with convergence. I have spoken about it before. Not all of us thought that it was an entirely satisfactory agreement, but there is one aspect on which the Minister can give us more information today. Leaving aside the financial mechanism to which the Minister has referred, there is also the question of the supplementary measures for assistance which consists of about two-thirds or more of the total deal. My own calculation is that this would involve projects amounting to about £750 million, allowing for the fact that the Government will have to put in at least 30 per cent. of their own money.

Can the Government give more information about the sort of projects that have been prepared, what their contribution is likely to be under the agreement, whether any have been submitted to the Commission, and where they will be? As the representative of a West Midlands constituency, I have a constituency interest. I understand from the Commission document and from the Government supplementary memorandum that the project will be confined to the assisted areas except in special cases or in the case of coal. There are areas outside the present boundaries of the assisted areas which also require urgent assistance. There have been complaints from the West Midlands about the fact that no assistance goes there at all. In my constituency—and it is just one constituency—there has been declared, within the last 18 months, the prospect of no fewer than 10,000 redundancies. That is just one constituency in the once-prosperous West Midlands. Yet, except in special cases, no assistance will come to these areas at all. I have mentioned just a few issues that strike me about the Community and which cause many of us grave concern. I expect the Minister to comment on them.