HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 cc594-5
42. Mr. Ian Stewart (Eccles)

What progress has been made in ensuring that issues of concern in the English regions are being addressed in Parliament. [66803]

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

I announced on 14 January that a proposal would be put to the Modernisation Committee to revive and adapt the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs. A memorandum setting out the proposal will shortly be sent to the Committee, which I hope will report on it in the near future.

Mr. Stewart

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. When will the Standing Committee meet and how many MPs will be involved? Does the right hon. Lady welcome the introduction of the regional development agencies as a first step towards regional government in the regions of England?

Mrs. Beckett

I hope that the Modernisation Committee will recommend, and that the House will agree, a change in the Standing Orders so that the Committee can be convened later this Session. As to how many Members would serve on it, that is a detail which the Modernisation Committee will have to consider. I share my hon. Friend's view that the regional development agencies are admirable in their own right, and I am conscious of the fact that some people want them to develop.