§ Mr. Hooson
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what assistance to economic development will henceforth be available in those travel-to-work areas within the area of the Development Board for Rural Wales which are to cease to be assisted areas; and if he will make a statement.214W
§ Mr. Wyn Roberts
In an announcement today my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry is confirming that certain areas in Great Britain will cease to be assisted areas on 1 August next, as planned. Mid Wales, however, suffers from a particularly difficult combination of adverse factors—sparsity of population, difficulties arising from remoteness and poor communications, restricted range of employment opportunities—and the Development Board for Rural Wales is maintained in order to ameliorate them and promote economic development. Assistance will accordingly be made available within the board's area as follows:
The Wales Tourist Board will continue to provide support for tourism through its promotional, marketing and project assistance activities. There will be revised arrangements under which grants under section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 will in future be available in non-assisted areas in Wales. Grants will thus be available throughout the whole of Mid Wales, reflecting the high priority which is placed ors the development of tourism as a means of strengthening the rural economy.
The Development Board for Rural Wales will also continue to carry out its full range of functions in its area, and will be able to offer rent-free periods for advance factories at discretion in the growth areas, special towns and key towns that the board has already, with my endorsement, identified as those on which its efforts should be concentrated. Concessionary loans for small businesses in rural areas will be available under existing guidelines. In addition, discretionary grants will be provided within the DBRW's area under powers contained in the Welsh Development Agency Act 1975 in respect of industrial projects which will create or safeguard jobs in de-scheduled travel-to-work areas. The criteria applied in offering these grants will be identical to those which apply to selective financial assistance in intermediate areas, though the rate of grant will be lower. The precise arrangements will be formalised as soon as possible. Up to £350,000 will be made available for this purpose within the first full year. These measures will enable the board to maintain significant assistance for the promotion of appropriate industrial development in those rural areas which will no longer receive the regional incentives which are available in intermediate areas.
The European Commission is being notified in accordance with our Community obligations.