Regional Development Agencies Bill — Acquisition of land — 1 Apr 1998

(2) Any Agency to which the responsibilities for a Council have been transferred shall--

(a) monitor and seek to improve the performance of the Council, and

(b) ensure that the Council contributes to any objectives of the Agency.

(3) If a Secretary of State makes a direction in respect of any Council under subsection (1) he shall either--

(a) make such a direction in respect of all Councils, or

(b) lay before both Houses of Parliament a statement of his reasons for not making a direction in respect of all such Councils.'.-- [Mr. Bennett.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

When I first came to the House I was not enthusiastic about regional government. I have realised over the past few years that the more we move to a global economy, the more important it is to have a regional presence rather than to rely on the cities that dominated in the early part of this century. Regional structures should be democratic, and we should have regionally elected government. I accept that the measure is merely a faltering first step, but it is important to make it clear that I want us to achieve regionally elected government as quickly as possible.

I fear that we will stop at this stage in the process and will never have regionally elected government. I am also worried that, if we stop at this stage, there will be a confusion of regional responsibilities. There will be regional chambers, regional development agencies and regional planning conferences. The TECs will have a regional structure to ensure that they have a co-ordinated policy for their region. There are higher education and further education regional bodies, and regional sports and arts bodies. We cannot continue that proliferation of different regional bodies and we need to try to slim them down and make them all accountable to an elected body as quickly as possible.

Both the Select Committee on Education and Employment and the Select Committee on the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs looked at the role of TECs and it was clear to them that there was no excuse for TECs to be kept separate from the RDAs. The logic was that there should be a funding mechanism, working in an integrated way. When trying to attract new industries and develop existing ones, part of that regional development consists of making sure that the skills are there. Companies are attracted to areas not only by sites and the availability of funds, but by the presence of a skilled labour force. It would be absolutely crazy for TECs to have a different regional strategy from that of RDAs. Both Select Committee reports made it clear that the Government had got it wrong in leaving TECs out of the new structure. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how we are going to progress to a point where responsibility for TECs moves to the RDAs.

7.30 pm

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: No. 7, in page 8, line 39, at end insert 'by statutory instrument.'-- [Mr. Caborn.]

I beg to move amendment No. 32, in page 9, line 35, leave out from 'agreement' to end of line 39.

Mr. Deputy Speaker:

With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 33, in page 9, line 40, leave out 'or (2)'.

Question put, That the amendment be made:--

The House divided: Ayes 114, Noes 289.

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Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con0 114 (+2 tell)071.6%
Lab270 (+2 tell) 0065.2%
LDem20 0043.5%
Total:290 114065.3%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

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no rebellions

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