HC Deb 19 July 1995 vol 263 cc1663-4
19. Ms Church

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to issue regional guidance for the second round of bidding for the single regeneration budget. [33392]

Sir Paul Beresford

The bidding guidance for the second round of the single regeneration budget challenge fund was issued on 12 April 1995.

Ms Church

I thank the Minister for his answer. I am sure that he will agree that there is an urgent need for regeneration funding in Dagenham and other parts of east London. Will he ensure that the guidelines provide clear criteria so that local authorities do not waste vital resources in the bidding process and, of equal importance, that the criteria provide for long-term regeneration rather than short-term expediency?

Sir Paul Beresford

As the hon. Lady is aware, her area has been successful in the past, so it will learn from that. I understand that it is making bids again, so obviously it has accepted the positiveness of that approach. One of the advantages of the SRB is its flexibility. It is horses for courses, so we must have sufficient flexibility to allow some really innovative ideas to come forward. I do not want to be restrictive in any way.

Mr. Jacques Arnold

I congratulate my hon. Friend and his colleagues on the development of the single regeneration budget. My only objection to that budget is the fact that, so far, no bid has been successful in Gravesham. The problem that my hon. Friends encounter in Gravesham is that the Labour local council has been pretty incompetent in putting together its bids. May I ask my hon. Friend to consider the bid for east Gravesend and give every encouragement to the Labour council to get a bid into proper order, so that we get the developments there that we have always needed, and that the Conservative Government would like to bring about?

Sir Paul Beresford

We should encourage the hon. Gentleman, with his expertise, to use the expertise of the private sector in his area and to help that council to get it together—or get it together without, necessarily, the local authority.

Mr. Vaz

Will the Minister accept that the first round of bidding under the SRB began as a lottery and ended in farce? Why do the Government consistently refuse to publish a clearly defined regional regeneration statement concerning the Government's policy? Does the Minister accept that such action will save the enormous amount of time, effort and resources that are currently being spent on the part of those who bid? Or is the truth of the matter that the Government simply have no regional regeneration policy?

Sir Paul Beresford

The hon. Gentleman has constant tunnel vision on matters such as that. He appears to believe that the local authorities have the only way of doing things. The local authorities have failed, and the SRB is so broad that it allows for bright ideas, innovation and success.

If the hon. Gentleman feels that the first round was a failure, he should consider the results, and the fact that we are building on the approach that was previously adopted. The success of the approach is the reason why we have had so many strong bids this time. The competition is stronger, and the bids are better, this time, and they will improve, step on step, throughout the years.