European Regional Development Fund

Oral Answers to Questions — Wales – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th February 1988.

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Dr. Thomas:

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total amount of support which Wales has received from the European regional development fund during each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total value of grants which Wales has received from the European regional development fund in the past 10 years.

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Net commitments to Wales from the European regional development fund in the years 1978–87 amounted to £419·7 million; during the last five years the amount was £276·3 million.

I will circulate annual figures in the Official Report.

Mr. Thomas:

I am sure the Secretary of State will agree that the investment in the European regional development fund has been important to Wales in the years that he has mentioned. Does he agree that it becomes more important as we look to 1992 and beyond, in the context of the single market?

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the views expressed in a report made to the Commission last year that the regional fund should be expanded, particularly to attract private capital investment into regions, to ensure that the objective of the fund — to cope with the problems arising out of the European market—can be met after 1992?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Obviously the fund has had an important role to play, and obviously Wales has a considerable interest in the terms and conditions on which it will be operated. I am anxious that the views of the problems of Wales are fully understood by the Commission when its future plans are decided.

Photo of Mr David Knox Mr David Knox , Staffordshire Moorlands

Can my right hon. Friend assess the consequences for employment of these not inconsiderable grants?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Obviously, they are substantial. Some of them are difficult to measure in employment terms, because they have an indirect effect on employment, but such amounts have had a considerable impact on the improving employment position in Wales.

Photo of Mr Allan Rogers Mr Allan Rogers , Rhondda

As the Secretary of State well knows, the European funds are linked to what was the treaty of Paris in regard to the Coal and Steel Community, and are now subsumed within the European Community. In view of that link, does he believe that south Wales will be badly affected and that colliery closures will result from the recently announced electricity privatisation plans?

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Clwyd North West

Given the growing importance of the European regional development fund in providing employment in Wales, will my right hon. Friend accept that great importance attaches to the composition of Welsh representation in the European Parliament, and that it is vital that we send there people who really intend to make a success of it?

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport East

May I revert to the inadequate reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Rhondda (Mr. Rogers)? Is the Secretary of State making any calculations about how much European support will be necessary if the south Wales coalfield is forced to close down as a result of the implementation of the Government's proposals for the electricity supply industry? How real and how serious is his opposition to the proposals? Is he prepared to lay his job on the line, as was suggested in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph?

Photo of Mr Peter Walker Mr Peter Walker , Worcester

Unlike the hon. Gentleman, I have had the privilege of being a member of Cabinets for most of the past 18 years. If the hon. Gentleman had ever had that privilege, he would understand that he could put forward whatever views he liked, and I am sure that they would be listened to with the enthusiasm and cordiality with which my views are always received.

Following is the information: Net commitment to Wales from the European regional development fund was £17·1 million in 1978, £21·7 million in 1979, £32·5 million in 1980, £24·8 million in 1981, £43·7 million in 1982, £45·1 million in 1983, £63 million in 1984, £54·9 million in 1985, £59·5 million in 1986 and £53·8 million in 1987.