HC Deb 16 March 1998 vol 308 cc940-1
12. Mr. Cranston

If he will make a statement on the Millennium Commission's spending on projects in the west midlands region. [32909]

Mr. Chris Smith

The Millennium Commission has, to date, awarded more than £80.6 million to eight projects at more than 1,000 sites in the west midlands economic planning region, ranging from an offer of up to £50 million in grant to the Millennium Point learning centre in Digbeth, Birmingham, to a number of grants of less than £10,000 to community halls and Church-based projects around the region.

Mr. Cranston

My right hon. Friend will be aware that one of the projects funded is the black country urban forest, although he may not be aware that the commission is also funding the planting of trees in the Dibdale area of my constituency, which is a new, vibrant and growing community. Does he agree that the latter is precisely the sort of project that should be funded, benefiting not only local people now, but future generations?

Mr. Smith

I am pleased to agree with my hon. Friend. The project is, indeed, very worth while and one of quite a number of tree-planting projects that the Millennium Commission has funded. It will help to reverse the devastation of the natural woodland of the region since the industrial revolution. More than 100,000 people are expected to participate actively in the scheme over five years, and more than 1.1 million people living in the catchment area will benefit. That is a very good example of the many projects that the Millennium Commission is funding. I sometimes wish that our friends in the national newspapers would learn that the Millennium Commission is about a lot more than just the excellent millennium experience in Greenwich.