HC Deb 17 October 1994 vol 248 cc151-4W
Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if local authorities in objective 2 regions in the United Kingdom will be fully involved in the process of negotiations of EU support for their respective regions; and if he will make a statement;

(2) how the principle of local determination and discretion will be upheld in the current round of negotiations concerning the objective 2 plans and programmes within the United Kingdom;

Mr. Eggar

The negotiations are between the Government and the Commission, but the designated local partners; including local authorities, will be consulted throughout. There is a maximum of local discretion consistent with European law and Government policy, but it is not an overriding principle.

Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade which national measures he intends to co-finance from the European regional development fund and the European social fund under the 1994–96 objective 2 and objective 3 programmes; and what was the level of national support for these measures in each year since 1990–91.

Mr. Eggar

The following national programmes are intended to be supported by the ERDF under objective 2 and the ESF under objectives 2 and 3. Expenditure on them since 1990–91 has been as follows. The ESF has contributed to these programmes; the ERDF has so far contributed only to SPUR.

1990–91 1991–92 1992–3 1993–4
£ million
ERDF: Objective 2
Managing in the 90s 1.8 2.2 3.2 3.7
Small Firms Award for Research and Technology (SMART) 9.4 12.0 12.1 12.9
Support for Products under Research (SPUR) 0.3 5.9 8.7
Teaching Company Scheme 11.2 10.2 10.0 11.5

1990–91 1991–92 1992–3 1993–4
Business Link Innovation and Technology Counsellors
Pump-priming support for Business Links 0.9
Enterprise activities organised by Training and Enterprise Councils (TECs) 32.3
Diagnostic and Consultancy Scheme
ESF: Objectives 2 and 3
Training for work 892.4
Youth Training 823.4 853.2 757.1 766.6
Restart 10.5 10.6 10.9 11.3
Jobplan 32.1
Modern Apprenticeships

Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made with the approval of the objective one plan for Merseyside; and what principles agreed in those negotiations are directly transferable to objective two negotiations relating to(a) measures, (b) working arrangements, (c) use of technical assistance, (d) targeting of resources and (e) other matters.

Mr. Eggar

The Commission adopted single programming documents for the three United Kingdom objective 1 areas, including Merseyside, on 29 July.

Each of the 13 British objective two single programming documents is now being negotiated on the basis of the Government's plan for the area concerned. It is not possible to forecast how many of the points in any of the objective 1 documents may be included also in the objective 2 ones.

Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what arrangements have been made to ensure that structural fund resources are being made available now to national and local agencies under(a) objective 2 and (b) objective 3.

Mr. Eggar

Structural funds grants are made in accordance with the terms of single programming documents —SPDs—or community support frameworks—CSFs—which are adopted by the Commission in agreement with the member state concerned. The previous CSFs, for all member states, expired at the end of 1993; allocations of grants from 1994, and the corresponding payments, are therefore dependent on the adoption of new SPDs or CSFs.

Throughout Europe, the adoption of new SPDs and CSFs has been delayed. The 1994–96 objective three SPD for the United Kingdom was however adopted on 5 August. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has already begun paying first advances of grant to projects approved under its terms.

No 1994–96 objective two SPDs or CSFs have yet been adopted for any member state. Negotiations are due to be concluded next month; project approvals, and the first payments, will proceed after adoption.

Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what level of resource will be made available by the United Kingdom Government for business support measures which will be co-financed by the European structural funds in 1994, 1995 and 1996 in(a) objective two areas and (b) non-objective two areas.

Mr. Eggar

Following are extracts from the financial tables of the United Kingdom objective one single programming documents for 1994–1999:

ERDF Contribution National Public Contribution Central Government Contribution
Million ecu (1994 prices)
Northern Ireland
Aids to industry 37.11 8.84
Incentives for local business development 76.0 172.0
Highlands and Islands
Financial support for development of new ventures and SMEs; capital investment and marketing appropriate to SMEs 23.0 223.0
Financial support for research and development 6.0 26.0
Improve access to business information, financial services and market intelligence 7.0 27.0

For Merseyside and the Highlands and Islands, the Government contribution is not separately specified.

Separate figures for the years 1994, 1995 and 1996 are not available.

The allocations in Objective 2 and 5 (b) areas of the United Kingdom will depend on the terms of the SPDs for these areas, which have not yet been adopted.

1 Including Local Authorities, TECs, Business Links, Merseyside Development Corporation, British Coal Enterprise, Inner City Task Forces

2 Including Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Local Enterprise Companies

Mr. Fatchett

To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the role of the European investment bank and European Coal and Steel Community in policy and regional development; and what arrangements are to be put in hand for their administration within the United Kingdom for the period from 1994 to 1996.

Number of firms (thousands) in the United Kingdom by employment size class
Number of employees
Year 1–2 3–10 11–19 20–49 50–99 over 99 Total
19791 1,099 498 109 46 16 24 1,791
1980–1985 Not Available
19861 1,595 713 84 56 16 17 2,481
1987–1988 Not Available
19892 1,852 825 104 68 23 17 2,888
19902 1,826 804 103 62 21 19 2,834
19912 1,735 761 97 65 20 19 2,697


1 Employment Gazette, February 1992,

2 The NatWest Review of Small Business Trends, Volume 3/Number 1/June 1993.

Mr. Eggar

The roles of the European Investment Bank—EIB—and the European Coal and Steel Community— ECSC—are specified in the treaties of Rome and Paris respectively: see in particular article 130 of the treaty of Rome and article 56 of the treaty of Paris.

Applications for EIB loans can be made at any time; there are no special arrangements for the period 1994–96. The EIB, which has an office in London, deals direct with applications for loans of over £10 million and will provide a list of financial intermediaries who deal with smaller applications.

Applications for ECSC regional loans of more than £6 million should be made to the European Commission, in Luxembourg; applications for smaller loans may be made to Bank of Scotland, Barclays bank, Clydesdale bank, Investors in Industry (3i), Midland bank, Natwest bank, Royal bank of Scotland, TSB Scotland or the Welsh Development Agency. In view of the impending expiry of the treaty of Paris, applications will not be accepted after 31 December 1996.

For the whole European Community the loans are administered, from offices in Luxembourg, by the EIB and the Commission respectively. Both publish annual reports. There is no separate administration in the United Kingdom. However, the Government offices in the English regions are glad to advise intending applicants.