Whether she has made a recent assessment of the effectiveness of objective 1 programmes in the UK. 
The DTI and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister are co-financing an evaluation of the added value and costs of EU structural funds in the UK, including in the objective 1 regions. That is expected to be completed before the end of 2003.In addition, as required by the EU regulations, managing authorities and programme secretariats are currently carrying out mid-term evaluations of all structural funds programmes for the current programming period. Those will feed into the mid-term reviews, which will provide a basis for adapting the programming documents if necessary.
I thank the Minister for her reply. She will know that the largest objective 1 programme in the country is in west Wales and the valleys. That programme is proving to be effective for the regeneration of communities and the creation of jobs. Does she agree that there is a strong case to be made for simplifying the grant application process for the structural funds?
I agree with my hon. Friend. I understand that the specific objective 1 programme to which he refers is on target to deliver its important improvements for jobs in west Wales and the areas that it covers. I agree that we need to ensure that while getting the best out of the funds, we eliminate bureaucracy and reduce burdens whenever possible. It was, of course, during the 1999 renegotiations on the current programme of structural funds that the Government were able to push for, and make, improvements to the bureaucracy surrounding the administration of the structural funds. That will certainly have a significant bearing on our current work on improvements for the next tranche.