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Mr. Brown: It is true that the Government have scientific advice. They have it from their scientific

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advisers. We carefully checked the advice through the working arrangements within government that will form the new Food Standards Agency--it is not just a matter for my Department, but for the Department of Health as well--and the scientific advice is clear and firm. Again, so that everyone can see what it is, I have placed that advice in the House of Commons Library. I have other scientific and medical advice, but it originates with the hon. Gentleman.

Each and every one of us can choose from where to take one's advice. Where would hon. Members take their advice from? The Conservative party presided over us getting into this mess in the first place. Under the Conservative Government it was Britain that was isolated in Europe. The Commission thought that we were hardly worth doing business with and despaired of us when it tried to help. Every single country was against us. Just to confirm them in the poor view that they had of us, officials from Britain were sent to frustrate each and every measure under discussion in the EU, even measures that would have been to our advantage had they been carried.

That is the sort of policy that is being urged upon the British Government, and I am saying that it would be better to try something different which might actually work. The one thing that I can demonstrate to the House and to the country is that the disastrous policies followed by the Conservative Government demonstrably did not work and, worse than that, the Conservative party has managed to refine things now to get us into even more trouble than we were in then.

Mr. Paterson rose--

Mr. Brown: I have only a few minutes left and I should try to answer some of the points that have been made in the debate.

Let me come straight to some of the complaints made by the hon. Member for Ludlow, although we have had them all before. He referred to the ban on sheep spinal cord. That is an important issue and I make no complaint about his raising it. I am considering the matter, but we have clear advice from SEAC that that is a necessary precautionary measure. The Government collectively think that they cannot go against its advice on the matter, although I want to consider it further.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the integrated pollution controls, again, perfectly properly. Representations are being made within Government about the charging, but I draw the hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that existing farmers would not be paying for pigs until 2003 and for poultry until 2004. Before we get there, I hope that I can have some positive and beneficial influence on the charging regime. I am looking hard at those areas that are within my direct competence, including the Meat Hygiene Service, to see what can properly be done on the charging regime, and I hope to have something to say to the House soon. It would be a fair criticism of me--I notice that the hon. Gentleman did not pick on what would be a fair criticism--to say that I should have said something about this already. My response to that is that, while I do not say something about that, the charges remain at the current level rather than being increased, so that at least should be some comfort to the industry.

I was asked about day-old chicks and welfare rules. No welfare rules apply specifically in those circumstances. There are no new rules on day-old chicks, but if the

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hon. Gentleman wants to pursue that further with me by correspondence I shall be happy for him to do so. I regret that I was not in the Chamber when he referred to a letter that he sent me to which he has not had a reply, but if he would let me have a copy of that I shall ensure that he has a reply tout de suite, as we who negotiate with the French say.

The hon. Gentleman and others asked about the pesticides tax. What I said about that is not incompatible with what has been read out. There are advocates of the tax, although I, famously, am not one. The document says "could" not "would", and the Chancellor did not refer to it in his statement earlier. We want a rational way forward on these matters, not the hysteria that comes from the Opposition.

Debate adjourned.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

Debate to be resumed tomorrow.

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Ordered,


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 12 (House not to sit on certain Fridays),


    That the House shall not sit on the following Fridays:


3rd, 10th and 17th December 1999 and 14th and 21st January, 18th February, 31st March, 16th and 30th June and 14th July 2000.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

Question agreed to.

DELEGATED LEGISLATION

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Ordered,

National Institute for Clinical Excellence



    That the Air Navigation (Fifth Amendment) Order 1999(S.I., 1999, No. 2059) be referred to a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

18 Nov 1999 : Column 232

EU Structural Funds

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.--[Mr. Robert Ainsworth.]

7 pm

Mr. James Cran (Beverley and Holderness): Having asked for this debate, I am well aware that every Member of Parliament, local authority and regional development agency will be making representations to the Government about the exclusion of this, that or the next area for the purposes of European funding. Normally, I would not wish to raise this issue in the House. However, I am moved to do so because a considerable wrong is being perpetrated by the Government through the exclusion from objective 2 funding of Withernsea and Hornsea in east Yorkshire.

The hon. Member for Brigg and Goole (Mr. Cawsey) and I have been co-operating on a non-partisan basis on the issue. I entirely support what he is saying about Goole and he supports what I am saying about Withernsea and Hornsea, simply because they mirror the same circumstances. All we wish is that they be judged on the facts. One is moved to say that, on the basis of the decision taken to exclude those three towns from objective 2 funding, someone somewhere just has not looked at the facts. I wish to outline some of those facts this evening.

The background has surprised me, in the sense that the whole of the Yorkshire coast was put forward for designation, and a map was prepared by the Department of Trade and Industry. I realise that that map, which was prepared in the summer, probably has no status. Nevertheless, the map indicated that the whole of the Yorkshire coast would be proposed and, we hoped, included for objective 2 funding.

Imagine our astonishment when the Government's proposals, which hopefully are not set in concrete, were published. Lo and behold, the Yorkshire coast was, by and large, included, but there were one or two quite artificial blips that excluded Hornsea and Withernsea. I am concerned, the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole is concerned and everyone else is concerned.

The European Commission has indicated to me and to the local authority that it has concerns over the exclusions. It is doubtful whether the Minister or the Government have heard that officially--I understand that. If the Government do not change their mind, the Commission will hopefully make its views known about this matter in the fullness of time.

The regional development agency--a Government creation with which I have to work and about which I have no complaint--has expressed its disappointment. The Minister will be perfectly well aware what the RDA has said in Yorkshire. If she is not, I will provide the letter.

The RDA is concerned, if for no other reason than that its economic strategy for 2000-06 identifies as one ofthe region's great weaknesses what it calls the "peripherality"--I word that I would not use myself--of the East Riding coastal areas. That is merely a recognition that these coastal areas--as is doubtless the case around most of the coast of this country--are in some difficulty, due mainly to the decline of the traditional holiday market.

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Why am I--along with many other people and organisations--concerned about the exclusion? The decisions that have been taken and published are entirely illogical. The Minister will be well aware that Withernsea has an unemployment problem because of the decline in fishing and the traditional seaside holiday trade. In April 1999, unemployment in Withernsea stood at 15 per cent., while the average for Yorkshire and Humberside was less than 6 per cent and for the United Kingdom less than 5 per cent. There is clearly a problem by that measure alone.

There is no doubt, by the Government's own standards, that the town exhibits acute economic and social deprivation. The Government's index of local deprivation shows incontrovertibly that the two Withernsea wards are among the 20 per cent. most deprived wards in the whole country, and there is a ward in Brigg and Goole that is worse even than that.

There is a case to answer that the Government have demonstrably not yet answered, especially when we consider the astonishing fact that the two Withernsea wards are more deprived than any of the 51 wards that the Government proposed for objective 2 status in the north Yorkshire districts of Craven, Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmond and Ryedale. I do not challenge the hon. Members whose constituencies are involved, as they will obviously fight for their constituents, but the Minister must explain why more affluent wards are included for European funding while demonstrably less affluent ones are excluded.

The Government, the European authorities and everyone else have recognised Withernsea's problems in the past. It qualified for rural development grants, regional selective assistance, employment action zones and a health action zone. I pay tribute to the Government for listening, after an enormous amount of lobbying from me and others, and giving the town a single regeneration budget grant. I am grateful for that, but I fear that its exclusion from European funds may make that an extremely pyrrhic victory.

European funding is essential to match domestic funding. Without the European funding, the SRB grant is almost worthless. I am sure that that was not the Government's original intention. I was grateful to be invited by the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole to a meeting with the Minister for Trade, who said that he understood the problems and might be willing to consider them. I hope that the Government are so willing.

The other coastal towns with SRB funding--Scarborough, Filey and Bridlington--have been included in the Government's proposals. Why has not Withernsea? The town has not gone to sleep. There are a lot of hard-working people there who need a little help and a bit of wind in their sails. There is an active partnership and people are looking for regeneration solutions; in my opinion, they have found them. If they are excluded, I fear that considerable damage will be done to those people's confidence. The Holderness Gazette said yesterday that if we do not receive the funding, we shall be back to raising money through tombolas, raffles and coffee mornings. I regret that that is true.

I fear that Hornsea may simply become another Withernsea, another declining former seaside holiday town with no great future. Hornsea has not yet declined as far, but I fear that it will. It suffers all the same

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problems--lack of access, lack of transport and lack of employment opportunities following the loss of fishing and traditional seaside holiday jobs. The town has been recognised in the past for all sorts of funding, and one must ask why it has not been so recognised this time. Any funding from any source will require matched funding. Without European funding, there probably will not be enough money for the town.

Hornsea has an active regeneration organisation that needs some support. I agree with Mr. W. E. Underwood, the president of the Let's Go Hornsea regeneration group, who wrote:


he lists a series of projects that could have been funded--are simply awaiting funding. He goes on:


    "These Schemes are not just improvement schemes, they are essential to the whole Social and Economic structure of Hornsea and its surrounding villages. Without some assistance now we are heading for real problems."

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Underwood. I fear that if Hornsea's potential problems are not recognised, it will go the way of Withernsea.

I should like to offer the Minister a possible solution. She may already have seen it for herself, but I should be glad to make all the necessary information available to her. Mr. Alan Menzies, head of economic development for East Riding council, wrote to the regional director of the Government office for the regions for Yorkshire and the Humber on 17 November. The crux of his letter was the population criteria that the Government must meet.

The current populations of wards in Yorkshire and Humberside are lower than shown in the figures used by the Government in their submission to the European Commission. The Government used figures from the 1991 census. Recently published evidence from the university of Oxford shows that there was a population decline in many proposed wards from 1991 to 1998. North-east Lincolnshire, Kingston upon Hull and Scarborough have had reductions amounting to 10,277 souls. The Minister will quickly see that if those figures are correct, the two wards in Withernsea and the one in Hornsea could be included without breaching European Commission population ceilings. Outward migration from other parts of the region would almost certainly give her the head room that she needs to include those wards.

I know that I have the support of the hon. Member for Brigg and Goole in asking not for a commitment to include those towns for objective 2 status--although if the Minister is prepared to give one this evening I would be delighted--but that, in the light of the deprivation figures that I have outlined, the Minister should reconsider the decisions that have been taken.

Those decisions are illogical and fly in the face of the facts as we understand them, and are therefore wholly wrong. I hope that the Minister will tell me that she will reconsider a decision that I think would cause the two towns to decline in a manner that none of us would want.


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