HC Deb 07 March 2000 vol 345 cc861-2
15. Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West)

If he will make a statement on his plans for regional government. [112187]

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

We are committed to moving to directly elected regional government in England where there is a demand for it expressed in a referendum.

Mr. Brady

Now that the Government's initiative for regional government in London has descended into utter farce, is it not time for them to abandon their other experiments in regional government, realising that they are expensive and unwanted? Would not the proper way of giving the regions a strong voice be for Members to speak out for the interests of their regions, rather than wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on unnecessary bureaucracy?

Ms Armstrong

The true centralising features of the Opposition are coming out. We know that there are significant differences between regions, and that regions express their differences in very different ways. Far from regional government being hugely unpopular, many Conservative councillors and normally Conservative-supporting business people are involved in both regional development agencies and regional assemblies. If the hon. Gentleman is not aware of that, perhaps he would like to meet some of those people, and try to explain the Tory centralising policy of abolishing RDAs and abandoning the regions yet again.

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