HC Deb 13 May 1963 vol 677 cc924-5
8. Mr. W. T. Rodgers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what future role is envisaged for the North-East Development Council; and, in particular, whether he will establish a special and permanent relationship between it and the National Economic Development Council.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The present role of the North-East Development Council is to assist in promoting the economic development of the region, and my noble Friend hopes that it will continue with this task. The National Economic Development Council has been in consultation with the Council on matters concerning the North-East, and this practice will, no doubt, continue in appropriate cases.

Mr. Rodgers

Will the Parliamentary Secretary say whether the Lord President of the Council is really concerned with the long-term future of the area? However much window-dressing his appointment may be, it will be some satisfaction if a permanent solution is found for the problem of regional development. In the light of this fact, will the Minister consider whether the financial resources available to the North-East Development Council and the absence of executive powers make it an effective instrument in the long run to function effectively without a connection with the National Economic Development Council?

Mr. Freeth

In answer to the hon. Gentleman's first point, of course my noble Friend is interested in the long-term future of this region. That is why he is preparing a long and detailed report to make to his colleagues.

With regard to the hon. Gentleman's second point, the future development of The North-East Development Council must depend to some extent upon how it sees its own rôle and the development of it. Certainly my noble Friend will be happy to discuss with that Council at any time any ideas it may have for the development of its present rôle.

Dr. Bray

Would the Parliamentary Secretary clarify what he said about the regional plan which the Lord President of the Council is said to be devising? Does he say definitely that this is not a public document and that the people in the area who have to act in the light of it will not know what they are having to act in the light of?

Mr. Freeth

All I said was that naturally a private and confidential report from one Minister to his colleagues in the Cabinet cannot be published in that form. I take note of what the hon. Gentleman says about wishing to have a document published giving the substance of the Government's decision as to the future of the North-East.

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