HC Deb 26 July 1989 vol 157 cc1011-2
6. Mr. Pike

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to increase funding resources available for the inner area programme above the inflation rate.

The Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities (Mr. David Hunt)

Future resource allocations for local authorities preparing an inner area programme will depend on the outcome of the public expenditure discussions now under way.

Mr. Pike

I congratulate the Minister on his new post. Will he confirm that dealing with areas of urban deprivation is still a Government priority and that adequate resources will be available to deal with that problem? Will he also categorically state that there are no plans to remove from the inner area programme any area currently receiving help from that programme?

Mr. David Hunt

I agree with the hon. Gentleman's first two propositions. With regard to the cities involved in the inner area programme, I have received a number of representations from right hon. and hon. Members for further inclusions in the programme. I can therefore give no categorical assurance about future numbers involved. I pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman's constituency of Burnley, where the IAP strategy is clearly presented and soundly based. That is why so much increased funding has been made available to Burnley.

Mr. O'Brien

It is a fact beyond dispute that since the "Action for Cities" statement was made little has been achieved by the Government. Even the £34 million allocated for city grant has proved abysmal and is less than a quarter of that requested to meet demand. Will the new Minister pursue the argument in favour of the inner area programme and urban regeneration and seek to convince his colleagues the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister that it is important that resources should be made available to meet the demand for inner city and urban regeneration?

Mr. Hunt

I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman would like to say all that again, as he not only got his facts wrong, but he got most of the statistics wrong as well. The urban programme was the first major public spending programme targeted solely on inner cities. It has been a tremendous success. The latest expenditure plans show that substantial increased resources are available. Within urban block expenditure there are more resources for the urban development corporations and city grant, because these items are much more successful in attracting private sector investment to inner cities.