St. Ives

Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 2001.

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Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I am always delighted to come to Cornwall, but I regret that I have no immediate plans to do so.

Photo of Andrew George Andrew George Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

That is a pity, because we would love to celebrate jointly the memory of succeeding in achieving objective 1 status for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Is the Prime Minister aware that, a year after the start date, not a penny piece of objective 1 money has gone to any capital projects and that local people are increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress, red tape, the complexity, the meddlesome quangos and unnecessary Government intervention? Will he please intervene on our behalf, cut through the nonsense, and give us the money and the power to get on with delivering the sustainable economic development that Cornwall so justly deserves?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

It says here that objective 1 programmes have got off to a good start, which seems rather inconsistent with what the hon. Gentleman has said. As I understand it, the first wave of projects has already been approved and announced, and will total some £7 million. In the end, it is obviously for local partnerships to make programmes work because of the procedures that have to be gone through. Money is coming from the Government and the European Union and it is, of course, important that it should be sensibly spent. The Government are making every effort to encourage local partnerships, but it is up to them to set the pace on the ground.

Photo of Ms Candy Atherton Ms Candy Atherton Labour, Falmouth and Camborne

I too would welcome my right hon. Friend to St. Ives and west Cornwall.

It was, of course, the Labour Government who delivered objective 1 status for Cornwall, and it is the Labour Government who are ensuring that it will succeed. I cannot think of two things that the Liberal Democrats have done for Cornwall; can my right hon. Friend?

Photo of Tony Blair Tony Blair Prime Minister

I congratulate my hon. Friend on being infinitely more on-message than I was a moment ago. Of course, she is absolutely right. We are delighted that we have secured objective 1 status not just for Cornwall but for other parts of the country. That was part of a settlement made in Berlin, which meant that the British rebate was protected and will also mean that, for the first time since we joined the European Union, our contributions over the coming years will be more like those of France, Italy and similar countries. We protected the British national interest, but we also secured a very good deal for Cornwall.