§ Mr. Cousins
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what reasons underlay his decision to refuse Government bridging loans to support Objective 2 Structural Fund 1994–1996 programmes in the North East of England in the year 1998–99. 
§ Angela Eagle
[holding answer 10 June 1998]We act as the agent of the European Union in paying European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) grants. We make these payments when the money is received from the EU, thus ensuring that the timing of the payments does not have an unfavourable impact on public finances. ERDF grant for the 1994–96 Objective 2 programmes in the North East of England is therefore continuing to be paid from the funds provided by the EC and in accordance with any decision on payment priority taken by the North East Programme Monitoring Committee. However I am aware that the wait for EU funds is causing difficulties and we are looking into ways in which Structural Fund grants can be paid as promptly as possible.