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Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many applications for financial assistance have been made to his Department by firms in the Sowerby constituency in 1974, 1975, 1976 and to date in 1977; and what was the overall cost in each of those years.

Assistance under the Industry Act 1972 has been made available as follows for projects located in the Sowerby constituency:and who are parties to any such agreements.

Planning agreements represent a development of practice in some other EEC countries but they have no precise equivalent. Some countries, for example, France, have had a mechanism termed contrats de programme for some years under which Government can discuss with an individual company that company's problems and prospects. These are agreements that companies should be allowed to raise prices in order to finance investment provided that they complied with the objectives on output, investment and exports of a national plan. Belgium introduced similar contracts in 1969 and the parties are the Government, trade unions and the relevant trade associations. Italy has also followed by introducing similar contracts with leading companies as part of its national plan.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry with which items of subject matter for planning agreements outlined in Trade and Industry, 8th August 1975, pages 340–2, most difficulties in negotiation with industry have arisen.

The pages referred to were part of a discussion document on the "Contents of a Planning Agreement" which was issued by my Department and published in full in this issue of Trade and Industry. The discussion document was not intended to be a blueprint for planning agreements. Planning agreement discussions cover a variety of topics which depend on the particular circumstances of the company. One reason for the disappointing lack of progress on planning agreement has been the considerable misunderstanding about what planning agreement discussion and agreements involve.