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Integrated Operations Experiment (Belfast)

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement regarding the progress about financial assistance to be provided by the European Commission towards the integrated operations experiment in Belfast.

The European Commission is now considering the illustrative document which I presented to Commissioner Giolitti in Brussels in May. I hope that the Commission will soon be in a position to make a detailed response. Meanwhile, the Commission has separately proposed a scheme to grant-aid housing in Northern Ireland within the context of the proposed integrated operation. The Commission formally proposed this to the Council on 19 November. The Council is presently considering the draft regulation and the opinions of the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee have been sought. I hope that the Council will be in a position to adopt the regulation early next year. There is at the moment no provision in the Communities' draft 1982 budget to fund any such grant, but I am reasonably confident that the money will be found once the regulation has been adopted.