HC Deb 13 April 1999 vol 329 c14
10. Mr. Stephen Hepburn (Jarrow)

When the regional chamber in the north-east will be officially established. [78825]

The Minister for the Regions, Regeneration and Planning (Mr. Richard Caborn)

We are considering proposals from the north-east regional chamber for designation as the regional chamber for the north-east under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998. I hope to make an announcement shortly.

Mr. Hepburn

I thank the Minister for that helpful reply, but is he aware that business people and some council leaders in the north-east see themselves at a distinct disadvantage compared with their Scottish counterparts, who will possibly have the advantage of a Scottish Parliament to champion their cause in terms of job creation and economic prosperity? How will the establishment of a regional chamber in the north-ea0st alleviate those concerns?

Mr. Caborn

I am sure that my hon. Friend knows that, only 10 days ago, we set up the regional development agencies; they are now in operation. As I have said, the regional chambers will be designated. As part of our total devolution package, we are managing that change very carefully and with the consent of the people. I have no doubt that, some time in the future, the north-east, like every other region, will have the opportunity to decide whether it wants a directly elected regional assembly. That will be done with the consent of the people in the various regions. Indeed, we have managed the devolution package for the United Kingdom in that way.

Forward to