§ 5. Mr. Morley
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment where the south-east region is placed in the synthetic index of regional problems in the EEC.
§ Mr. Trippier
The synthetic index of regional problems in the European Community, attached to the Commission's third periodic report, ranks areas of England on a county basis. Counties within the south-east region of England lie between 66th and 127th position on the index.
§ Mr. Morley
It may come as no surprise that because the Government have engineered a north-south divide our northern regions do not favourably compare with others in the index. Will the Minister explain why the so-called prosperous south of England also does not favourably compare in the synthetic index of regional problems? For example, 16 German regions are ahead of the English south-east region, and the highest placed in the index is the Greater London region. Will the Minister explain why that is so? Is our country's economic recovery less good than the Government would have us believe?
§ Mr. Trippier
The hon. Gentleman will welcome, as I do, the fact that his own county ranks high in the order of priorities and will be covered. At the Department, we have strenuously supported the case for that. The index to which the hon. Gentleman referred in his substantive question will not be used after 1 January 1989. It appears that the European Commission accepts that the statistical basis is flawed. No doubt the hon. Gentleman and I can continue this discussion in correspondence or he can visit the Department. However, we maintain that the basis of the index is flawed, and we have pointed that out to the Commission.