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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 2:50 pm on 26th June 2019.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 2:50 pm, 26th June 2019

I am glad to have the opportunity to speak in this interesting and important debate. The six Cornish MPs went to the Treasury some time ago to set out why it was so important to address the issue properly. It is absolutely right that when we get the consultation, we use the expertise available to make sure it is done correctly.

I want to be clear that in Cornwall and on Scilly we are looking not for a handout, but for a hand up. The aim of European funding is to reduce inequalities between communities and reduce disparities in regional levels of development, with particular regard to those that have increased deprivation, rural and island areas, areas affected by industrial transition and regions that suffer from severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps. Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly fit perfectly with those aims. There is no reason not to see ourselves as benefiting from funding.

The seven least developed areas have set some priorities. The most sensible one, I think, is for an ambitious regional policy for England and Wales that recognises the need for a specific mechanism for the regions that are furthest behind. We want a protected allocation of funds to such regions that will allow a genuine rebalancing of the UK economy. I have heard nothing from the Treasury or the Minister to suggest that is not their intention.