Urban Regeneration — 19 Dec 2000

[Relevant documents: Sixteenth Report from the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, Session 1999-2000, on the Implications of the European Commission Ruling on Gap Funding Schemes for Urban Regeneration in England, HC 714, and the Government's response thereto, Cm. 4923; and The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions: Annual Report 2000, Cm. 4604.]

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That a supplementary sum, not exceeding £81,746,000 be granted to Her Majesty out of the Consolidated Fund, on account, for or towards defraying the charge for the year ending on 31st March 2001 for expenditure by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on payments to the Housing Corporation: Housing Revenue Account Subsidy; grants towards and advice on the renewal of private sector housing; the Estates Renewal Challenge Fund; homelessness, including the Rough Sleepers Unit; housing management; rent and leasehold services; support for the UK construction industry; planning and minerals research and other planning programmes; payments to the Ordnance Survey (Trading Fund); the London Development Agency; Regional Development Agencies; the New Deal for Communities and other help for deprived neighbourhoods; Single Regeneration Budget; Urban Regeneration Agency (English Partnerships); Housing Action Trusts; Estate Action; Groundwork; coalfields regeneration; European Union agency payments including those for ports and railways in Wales; European Regional Development Fund projects not funded by or in advance of receipts; Countryside Agency; Nature Conservancy Council for England; National Parks Grant; bulk pensions transfers; and sundry other grants-in-aid, grants and payments in support of housing, construction, regeneration, regional policy and countryside and wildlife initiatives, including related research, publicity and publications.--[ Mr. Allen. ]

The Commission's decision is perverse and bizarre. The previous Competition Commissioner found the Partnership Investment Programme acceptable, but, on the arrival of Commissioner Monti, an academic with renewed zeal and determination to search for breaches of State Aid rules, the original Commission decision was over-turned.

Moreover, the Commission's view that it is acceptable for the public sector to bear risk using tax payers' money but not the private sector is illogical. We must conclude that the European Commission took its decision casually without regard for the consequences of its action. As witnesses have stated, having made this disastrous decision, the Competition Directorate General now considers that it is our problem, not the Commission's.

It is extraordinary that while the Regional Policy Directorate General of the Commission spends immense sums

sustainable communities . . . where economic prosperity and social justice go hand in hand.

To be successful, plans need to be shaped by local people for local people . . . local people must be fully engaged from the outset.

A good council is one that listens to, leads and builds up local communities--[ Official Report , 16 November 2000; Vol. 356, c. 1086.]

The action plan for neighbourhood renewal due to be published later this year will deal more specifically with the action needed to tackle the problem of deprived areas.

due to be published before the end of the year

On 16 November, the Deputy Prime Minister went even further, and said that

we have set up a neighbourhood renewal fund of £800 million and will shortly be setting out our action plan for neighbourhood renewal.--[ Official Report , 16 November 2000; Vol. 356, c. 1088.]

around 10,000 key workers, particularly teachers, nurses and the police.

The Department's Role in 'Joined-Up' Government,

should introduce new measures to encourage the restoration and use of historic buildings left empty by their owners. These should include revised planning guidance . . . inclusion of heritage issues in regional economic strategies, a review of building regulations and an end to the business rate exemptions on empty listed buildings.

will consider these issues in the light of the forthcoming report from English Heritage on the historic environment.

I find it hard to accept some of the logic in the letter to Peter Lilley MP from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the DETR.

The course suggested in the Minister's letter cannot be appropriate.

any aid granted by a Member State . . . which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between the Member States, be incompatible with the common market.

in so far as it affects trade between the Member States

I am only guided . . . by what other people tell me and other people tell me that we have been ahead of the rest of the European Union in employing public/private partnerships. The tradition in the other Member States of the EU is much more one either of direct development by the public sector or of end users of buildings going

through the whole development process themselves. The firm that finally uses the building buys the land, puts the bricks on the ground and so on.

In Europe, they put much more public sector money into regeneration. They have much more public sector land ownership. The contrast is we have a much greater regeneration need because we industrialised earlier and therefore we have the problems of that industrialisation. Also, we are much better at urban regeneration than they are.

elsewhere in Europe agencies or the equivalent of our local authorities, very often carry out direct development site preparation.

The UK Government is proposing to convene a seminar to which representatives from all the Member States have been invited in order to identify the different approaches which are used to achieve the physical regeneration of derelict or contaminated land across the Community, and the extent to which private sector partners are involved.

What are the implications for urban regeneration programmes? I agree with your analysis about where we have come from and what land we have but what really are the implications?

Jonathon Blackie used the word "disastrous". I would agree. For my part, in my organisation, my colleagues are looking at me and saying, "What do you do now?" It is personally quite a problem.

It has hardly started. What happens in practice is, if we take a scheme to an RDA and say, "This needs some grant", they say, "Unlucky. Bring it back maybe sometime in the future. We are not sure." What we--

say to our people is, "Do not bother yourselves with schemes which you think need grant. Go and do something that looks commercial.

threatens seriously to undermine . . . regeneration in England . . . A body blow for the Urban Renaissance.

It being Ten o'clock, Mr. Speaker proceeded to put forthwith the Questions relating to Estimates which he was directed to put at that hour, pursuant to Standing Order No. 54(4) and (5) (Consideration of Estimates).

The House divided: Ayes 301, Noes 9.

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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 (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con0 9 (+2 tell)06.9%
Lab275 (+2 tell) 0066.6%
LDem19 0040.4%
PC3 0075.0%
SNP1 0016.7%
UUP3 0033.3%
Total:301 9048.9%

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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