§ Mrs. Ellman
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the role of the public sector in providing match funding for the Objective 1 Merseyside Programme for(a) the current programme and (b) the programme for 2000–2006. 
§ Ms Beverley Hughes
Merseyside has run a highly successful Objective 1 programme in the current round, and the Government welcome the new Objective 1 programme which will bring in more than £850 million in European funding. This will bring new opportunities to stimulate economic growth and encourage increased investment and jobs.
The position on match funding for the Objective 1 Merseyside Programme has not changed—it will continue to be the responsibility of grant applicants. This principle is an important element in ensuring local ownership and commitment, and helping integration of regional priorities and strategies. In this way, European funding is used alongside money already provided at the national and local level to help revitalise the area and achieve a better quality of life for those who live there.
The Government have provided, and will continue to provide, significant financial support for Merseyside through a wide variety of programmes. These include the Single Regeneration Budget and New Deal for Communities, as well as mainstream programmes such as the Revenue Support Grant for local authorities. Local partnerships can prioritise the use of these resources to fund projects jointly with the Structural Funds, thereby boosting their impact.
Regional partners can also seek to match their European funds with contributions from the voluntary and private sectors, as well as through loans from organisations such as the European Investment Bank.