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The Government risks losing almost pounds 400m in EU training aid, the leader of the country's 81 Whitehall-backed Training and Enterprise Councils (TEC) has warned.

The Government has apparently argued that if some companies received the European "Objective 4" training cash, their competitors would be disadvantaged. But Sir Gary Johnson points out in a letter to ministers that other member states have taken advantage of their training fund without undermining competition. Stephen Byers, Labour employment spokesman, said the letter revealed that the Government lost pounds 118m because it did not put forward a programme for 1994-96, and he warned that a further pounds 280m would be lost if a 1997-99 programme was not submitted.