§ 4. Mr. Heseltine
asked the Secretary of State for Industry why there has been a delay in the joint studies between the European Commission and his Department.
§ Mr. Heseltine
I am glad that the Secretary of State has been able to deny the rumours that have been spread about this subject. Will he reassure the House by saying how many studies have been undertaken in partnership with the European Commission, and at what cost?
§ Mr. Benn
I am not denying rumours; I am stating plainly to the House that the Press reports that appeared were false. That is not denying a rumour; that is making a clear answer to a published statement. Three studies were under consideration. One was the proposal in respect of Professor George's project, on which I made a public statement in Wales in July and later in the House, when I made absolutely clear that if a study of this order had to be considered largely to benefit the Labour movement in South Wales it would be sensible to get its views on how the study might be undertaken. It was nothing to do with the fact that the European Commission was in partnership but it was to do with the sponsorship of the study. The study connected with steel has been held up 920 because the steel review is not completed. The third study is the responsibility of the Department of Employment, but I understand that an application for a joint EEC sponsor has already been made. Those are the three studies to which the hon. Gentleman referred.
§ Mr. Benn
My right hon. Friend knows very well, and I confirm, that under Articles 92 to 94 of the Treaty of Rome the Commission has powers over all State aids and, hence, regional aids. Therefore, in this respect I find myself required to consult the Commission, and the power rests with it on all these matters.