HC Deb 22 February 1989 vol 147 cc989-90
8. Mr. Wilshire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many applications for city grants his Department has received to date.

20. Mr. Andrew Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what level of funding his Department has made available to date for city grants.

Mr. Trippier

Since city grant was launched on 3 May 1988, my Department has received 86 applications, of which 31 have been approved, with a total grant requirement of £25 million.

Mr. Wilshire

The interest shown so far is proof that the Government are operating a good scheme and keeping their promises. Does my hon. Friend agree that action and achievements are the best test of success? If so, can he give the House any good news about the number of jobs created by the scheme? Also, does he have any evidence that Labour local authorities are behaving in their usual way, by whingeing and whining, rather than taking every opportunity to do all they can to help?

Mr. Trippier

Approved city grant projects will provide more than 500 homes and nearly 5,000 jobs, and will bring about 115 acres of land back into use. Labour authorities are improving, albeit slowly, but, in respect of economic development a number of them still suffer from delusions of adequacy. It is clear that they could play more of a proactive role with the private sector. Although they do not have to make a contribution, as they once did under urban development grant, I have made it abundantly clear that we shall not consider a city grant application until it receives planning permission.

Mr. Mitchell

Is my hon. Friend aware that businesses in Nottingham, where many of my constituents work, have been extremely successful in winning city grants, with less than £5 million of public money dragging in behind it more than £13 million of private money? That underlines the success of the city grant scheme and clearly demonstrates that Nottingham remains an attractive area for inward investment.

Mr. Trippier

I could not agree more. I have been overwhelmed by the number of applications that I have received from the private sector in Nottingham and the surrounding area. That success should be carefully considered by other areas that have not been so successful in securing city grants, and have not recognised that, as the private sector can now apply direct to the Department of the Environment, bureaucracy has been cut to a minimum.