HL Deb 20 October 1988 vol 500 cc1351-2WA
Lord Swinfen

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made by the Rural Development Commission in encouraging and diversifying rural enterprise.

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (The Earl of Caithness)

The Rural Development Commission came into being on 1st April 1988 through the merger of the Development Commission with its main agency, the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas. The annual report of the two constituent bodies for 1987–88 has been published today, and I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

We are grateful to Lord Vinson and his fellow commissioners for the efforts which they have devoted to fostering the economic and social development of rural areas, which have led to the recognition of the important part that small-scale industry must play in maintaining economic activity in rural areas. There has been a considerable increase in prosperity in many rural development areas. We welcome the commission's intention to review its objectives in the light of changed conditions in order to maximise the stimulus it provides for rural enterprise. We shall also take full account of advice given by the commission about other problems of rural areas and possible approaches to resolving them.

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