HC Deb 15 July 1987 vol 119 cc1128-9
11. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what legislation he proposes to direct investment into the inner cities; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Trippier

I have no plans for legislation to direct investment into inner cities. The creation of urban development corporations, together with urban development grant, urban regeneration grant, derelict land grant, and other grant systems provide effective incentives.

Mr. Adley

I welcome my hon. Friend's measures as far as they go. Does he agree that there is an alignment of ambition and policy simultaneously to generate further private sector investment in inner cities and detract from the attraction of putting private sector investment in areas of over-development, such as in my constituency? Will he have discussions with his colleagues in the Treasury to see whether national taxation policies can be amended to generate further incentives to developers to go into inner cities, and, at the same time, to discourage them from investing in areas of over-development?

Mr. Trippier

The point that my hon. Friend made in the earlier part of his question is fact and not hypothesis. The tax measure that he proposes would be considered by my colleagues in the Treasury. It is important to stress that we share the same objectives—to increase the leverage of public to private sector investment in the inner cities. We start from a very strong position at the moment, because for every pound of taxpayers' money that is invested in the inner cities through our programmes we are attracting four times that figure from the private sector. We must do all that we can to improve that ratio.

Mr. O'Brien

In view of the Minister's reply to the question, will he reconsider the distribution of urban aid to the smaller towns in west Yorkshire, where there is no urban provision whatsoever but where there is a need to arrest the dereliction that is occurring in those small urban areas? Will the Minister review his programme with a view to considering the smaller towns in west Yorkshire?

Mr. Trippier

I am always anxious to review the 57 programme authorities that we have currently identified as being of the highest possible priority. In deciding what areas should be assisted we must look at a synthetic index, which would cover not only such matters as levels of unemployment, dereliction, over-dependence on traditional industries and so on, but many other matters. If the hon. Gentleman wants me to look at a proposal or visit his area, I shall be delighted to respond positively if I can.

Sir George Young

Does my hon. Friend agree that investment in the inner cities would be greatly assisted if high-spending local authorities were rate-capped? Will he confirm that a statement will be made next week on the subject, and is he aware of the mounting anticipation in the London borough of Ealing that it will be included?

Mr. Trippier

I understand that we hope to make such an announcement.