§ Mr. Thurnham
To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will be submitting an application for funds from the European Commission programme for areas affected by the decline of the defence industry; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
[holding answer 22 May 1992]: Applications for grants have been submitted under the European Community PERIFRA programme, which is intended, among other objectives, to aid regions facing major structural change because of arms industry conversion to civil production.
PERIFRA is one of a number of programmes in the 1992 European Commuity budget for which there is no underlying legal authority for expenditure. We place considerable importance on ensuring that the requirements of budget discipline apply to all Community spending, in order to protect the interests of taxpayers.
The United Kingdom intends to continue its dialogue with the Commission, Council colleagues and the 131W European Parliament with a view to ensuring that the treaty and budgetary decisions are respected. In the meantime, applications under PERIFRA will proceed.