HC Deb 23 June 1982 vol 26 cc290-1
15. Mr. Tilley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he plans further to expand the inner urban programme.

The Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Michael Heseltine)

I announced last December that in 1982–83 urban programme resources would be £270 million, the highest level ever in real terms. Public expenditure plans for 1983–84 are still under consideration.

Mr. Tilley

I welcome the increase that has already taken place. Does the Secretary of State accept that since his announcement evidence in my constituency and elsewhere has shown that youth unemployment is 50 per cent. higher even than last year and that there is a need for a massive increase in next year's inner urban programme to provide not only temporary work but successful schemes to help viable enterprises survive and provide long-term jobs?

Mr. Heseltine

I am not sure that I wholly agree with the solutions advocated by the hon. Gentleman, but he will be aware that his London borough has been invited to bid for part of the £70 million worth of urban development grant. which aims to attract private sector funds at a considerable gearing ratio into the inner cities. I hope that the borough will participate.

Mr. Alton

Does the Secretary of State accept that the partnership committees are a much better way of channelling money into the inner cities than organisations such as urban development corporations, which are about as democratic as the Argentine junta? Does he also accept that far too many agencies are meddling in the affairs of inner cities and that a partnership committee, using the urban programme, is a better way of channelling resources? Will he also consider involving the industrial and commercial communities in their organisation?

Mr. Heseltine

The hon. Gentleman reveals clearly that he has never attended a meeting of a partnership committee.

Mr. Greenway

Does my right hon. Friend agree that urban areas such as the Greater London Council area need every penny that they can get for urban renewal? Is he not disturbed to hear that the chairman of the proposed Greater London enterprise board will cost London ratepayers £72,000 a year and that he is the deputy Labour leader of Wandsworth borough council?

Mr. Heseltine

I do not make such appointments, but the issue is not how much a person is paid but whether he can deliver the results. The matter will be judged by that standard.