HC Deb 11 January 2000 vol 342 cc142-3
11. Mr. Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield)

If he will make a statement on progress with the implementation of the economic strategy document for the west midlands submitted by Advantage West Midlands. [103262]

The Minister for Local Government and the Regions (Ms Hilary Armstrong)

We have been considering the west midlands regional economic strategy alongside those of the other seven English regional development authorities, and we will be writing to each of the RDAs later this week outlining our formal response. Ministers will also be meeting the RDA chairmen this week to discuss implementing the strategies.

Mr. Burden

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does she agree with me that regional development authorities have a tremendously important role to play both in combating social exclusion and in wealth creation? That is particularly the case in the west midlands, which has not always fitted easily into traditional conceptions of north-south divides but where there are significant areas of deprivation and the need for industrial transformation. Does my right hon. Friend agree that if RDAs are to fulfil their role, they need sufficient resources and the maximum flexibility to employ resources according to locally determined needs and priorities?

Ms Armstrong

The Government's responses to the RDAs this week will demonstrate that in each region there has been a serious attempt to consider the issues of wealth creation and of regeneration that are necessary to tackle both the imbalances within regions—that applies to every region—and between regions. We are determined that we will work with RDAs to enable them to develop strategies and to implement them, working with the range of partners that it is essential that they bring in to ensure that in each region there is a recognised real way forward that will make a significant difference.

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