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EU Structural Funds: Least Developed Regions — [Siobhain McDonagh in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:30 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 2:30 pm, 26th June 2019

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered replacement of EU structural funds for least developed regions.

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair, Ms McDonagh. I am grateful that this issue has been selected for debate. I thank colleagues across parties and regions for supporting the application, particularly Sarah Newton, my right hon. Friend Ann Clwyd, who is not currently in her place, and my hon. Friend Anna Turley.

The application for this debate followed a report by the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions that crystallised concern that our regions should not lose out as a result of the decision made in the 2016 referendum. I intend to speak relatively briefly because I want to give plenty of opportunity to colleagues from across the regions to make their points. I have only one question for the Minister, but I will come to it at the end.

The CPMR report estimated that if the UK had remained in the European Union, we would have been entitled to €13 billion, or £11 billion, of support from EU structural funds—primarily the European regional development fund and the European social fund—during the next period, from 2021 to 2027. However, five regions would be set to receive a bigger share of that funding based on our position as having some of the poorest areas in Europe. Those areas are defined as “least developed regions” because our GDP falls below 75% of the European average. Clearly, that is not something that we should be proud of and it needs to be addressed.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, and west Wales and the valleys both already receive funding for that category.