HC Deb 09 March 1999 vol 327 cc163-4
7. Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling)

What assessment he has made of progress in establishing a regional chamber in the east midlands. [73418]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Mr. Alan Meale)

I am currently considering the east midlands chamber's application for designation under the Regional Development Agencies Act 1998 and hope to be able to make an announcement soon.

Mr. Coaker

I thank the Minister for that reply. Although I welcome the new regional structures that the Government have put in place, will my hon. Friend ensure that the new bodies address the economic and social needs of small pockets of deprivation, such as Netherfield in my constituency, as such areas are often missed out when economic regeneration is discussed?

Mr. Meale

I thank my hon. Friend and pay tribute to his sterling work over a number of years, particularly in his constituency of Gedling. However, single regeneration budget SRB5 is not yet ready to be announced—when it is, it will be discussed on the Floor of the House. I note that the borough of Gedling, in partnership with Nottingham city, submitted a successful bid in single regeneration budget round 3 and that Netherfield was included in the proposals. I am sure that people have noticed that and want to build there.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard (South-West Norfolk)

Will the Minister explain to the House the principle that has resulted in the east midlands regional development agency having no representative from the county of Lincolnshire? Is it that Lincolnshire is the largest county in the region or that it is the most rural, or perhaps that it is Conservative controlled? Does he intend to apply the same principle to the establishment of the east midlands regional chamber?

Mr. Meale

If the right hon. Lady were to do some simple mathematics, she would realise that when a body comprises four representatives from an entire region, it is impossible to have a representative from every single council. The best people for the job have been chosen to represent fully the region.