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Volume 990: debated on Thursday 7 August 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the total amount of Government aid provided for Northern Ireland; and if he can give the comparable figures for Scotland, the Northern and the North-West regions of England.

On a basis similar to that previously used for such calculations, the total subvention to the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund in 1979–80 is estimated at £944 million. Comparable figures for other regions of the United Kingdom are a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, as I mentioned earlier, public expenditure in Northern Ireland per capita is 35 per cent. higher than in the remainder of the United Kingdom as a whole.

I do not think that the answer to the question gave me what I asked. I thought that my hon. Friend might have gone to the Chancellor and got the answer for me. Is my hon. Friend aware that I believe that it is a good thing to give responible Government aid to depressed areas? Would he care to ask the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) whether he would support the same amount of aid going to other areas of the United Kingdom as is given to Northern Ireland?

The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has no doubt heard the second part of my hon. Friend's question and can answer it himself. On the first part of the question, I have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the comparable figures, but they are not readily available.

Following the review of expenditure in Northern Ireland, completed yesterday, will the Minister seek to allocate some of the available funds to the Belfast dock employers so that Belfast dockers can have the same degree of security of employment and be put on the same footing as their counterparts in Great Britain?

I am afraid that I am not able to do so this year. I have had long discussions both with the employers and the dock workers. They are aware of the position. I hope to make some funds available to them next year.