HC Deb 14 July 1975 vol 895 cc1034-5
4. Mr. Horam

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will introduce legislation to establish development agencies, modelled on the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies, for the various English development regions.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

No, the functions of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies will be exercised in England by existing bodies and by the National Enterprise Board.

Mr. Horam

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Is he aware that it will not do for the English development regions to be treated less well than Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Is he also aware that increasingly it is the view of regional planners that a locally situated board, completely independent of Whitehall, is an indispensable weapon for regional regeneration?

Mr. Mackenzie

I cannot accept all that my hon. Friend has said. I do not think that the English regions will lose out. The Government have already made it clear that they expect the National Enterprise Board to pay high regard to regional development needs and to have a powerful presence in the Northern and North-Western Regions. Among other factors of which my hon. Friend will be conscious are the improved workings of the English industrial estates. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has announced that the derelict land clearance area is to be increased and the rate of grant raised to 100 per cent. as the programmes of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies take effect.

Mr. Canavan

I should like to join my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Horam) in urging the establishment of such agencies based on the original versions of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies, not the mutilated versions which the House of Lords, the Tories nd the Scottish National Party seem to want. It is important that such agencies should have a strong public enterprise rôle and not be allowed to degenerate simply into investment banks of public money for private enterprise.

Mr. Mackenzie

I assure my hon. Friend that the Government's view about the roles of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies is still precisely what it was when we presented the Bills to the House of Commons. They will have a very important part to play in Scotland and Wales. That is something which should be welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the House.