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European Regional Development Fund

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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13.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total value of grants made towards projects in Scotland by the European regional development fund since 1975.

Scotland has received grants totalling £74 million from the European regional development fund since its inception in 1975.

Will my hon. Friend agree that this represents a considerable benefit to Scotland, particularly in relation to the development of roads and the infrastructure? Will he also agree that this is yet another example of the many benefits that come to Scotland as a result of our membership of the EEC?

I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend. Scotland has received 25 per cent. of the total regional development fund grants that have been paid to the United Kingdom. The total of grants and loans allocated to Scotland from all EEC sources is now in excess of £600 million.

Does the Minister really mean what he said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) in the Adjournment debate on Monday night when he said that, because of currency fluctuations, we should not, for public expenditure reasons, have long-term borrowing from the European Investment Bank?

That is a slightly different question. I repeat what I said on Monday evening. This is one of the factors under consideration in the review of the activities of the European Investment Bank in the United Kingdom.

Will my hon. Friend agree that the last Government completely failed to make any serious progress on the whole question of ensuring genuine additional funds from the European regional development fund for industrial projects? Will he confirm that this Government will now take that question seriously?

While £74 million seems a lot of income from the EEC, will the Minister try to give us some idea of the percentage of actual work done which this money represents? Will he assure us that the Treasury does not deduct EEC money from the grants given for the total project costs?

The hon. Member must know that we are in line with other countries in the EEC. The amounts received from the regional development fund are more evenly distributed as part of the overall contribution to regional policy. That is what the previous Government did and that is what we are doing.