asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the value of the grants allocated to England from the European regional development fund since its inception.
About £860 million.
Does my hon. Friend agree that those grants bring considerable advantage to Britain? Is he satisfied that the general public are aware of the extent of such assistance from the EC?
I certainly accept tht the grants bring investment into Britain. Between 1979 and 1983, about 109,000 jobs have been associated with the regional development fund. I am always keen to broadcast the schemes available, and my right hon. and learned Friend and I will do precisely that throughout the country.
I welcome the Minister of State to his new responsibility for regional aid, but I point out to him that he inherits a policy that was hacked to pieces by his predecessor. Will he take an early look at the prospects for regional aid in the light of the fact that, whatever we get from the ERDF, we shall still be a massive contributor to the EC budget, and that any help that the Government can give under section 7 of the Industry Act will be far less than was lost to the regions through the reduction in the previous regional policy? Will he review the position and the policy that he has inherited in the light of its results?
I thank the hon. Gentleman for his welcome. We certainly wish to maximise what we gel from the EDRF. However, I am sure he will agree that the most sensible and correct way to proceed is to direct the money available towards the creation of more jobs.