§ Mr. McCusker
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the money promised or paid to the gas undertakings belonging to Newry and Mourne District Council and Strabane District Council will take the form of a loan; and if he will indicate the conditions attached.
§ Mr. Concannon
The financial assistance offered takes the form of a loan in neither instance.
The terms of the offer to Newry and the Mourne District Council were given in replies to the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) on 18th June 1976—[Vol. 913, c. 291]—and 13th December 1976—[Vol. 922, c. 557]—Following an announcement by Strabane District Council that, in the absence of financial assistance, its gas undertaking would have to close down, a detailed examination of the undertaking's financial position was carried out, after which £44,000 of the EEC RDF allocation was offered on several conditions, principally that the council took steps to appoint a qualified gas manager or to engage another undertaking to manage the gas department and that it gave a public assurance that the gas department would not be closed for at least a year and thereafter only after consultation with Government. Since some of the conditions have still to be complied with the £44,000 has not yet been paid.