§ Sir Michael Grylls
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he has considered the business plans of the English regional development organisations; and what level of financial support he proposes to offer for 1996–97. 
§ Mr. Eggar
I have studied the current performance and future plans of the eight English regional development organisations. I am pleased to say that they continue to make a significant contribution to the work of my Department's Invest in Britain Bureau, to the overall success of the UK in attracting inward investment, and in particular to their regions' performance. In recognition of this, I have today offered £8.68 million of grant for their inward investment promotion activities for 1996–97. I have also made available a total of £531,000 for inward investment promotion activities in the south-east and eastern regions, to be undertaken by the Government offices.
This 4.5 per cent. increase in funding is to enable the UK to remain competitive in promoting its locational advantages in the face of increasing competition for mobile inward investment projects. I have allocated the grant aid as follows.
Regional Development Organisation 1996–97 £000 Northern Development Company (NDC) 1,660 INWARD Ltd (in the north-west) 1,388 Yorkshire and Humberside development agency (YHDA) 1,410 West Midlands development agency (WMDA) 1,128.2 East Midlands Development Company Ltd. (EMDC) 810 Devon and Cornwall Development International (DCDI) 905 London First Centre 1,010 West of England development agency (WEDA) 370 Activities in the south-east and eastern regions 531
Grant is offered on an annual basis according to past performance, ability to absorb additional funding effectively, and for an agreed programme of future activities, with proper regard to value for money. It is Government policy to encourage direct inward investment to the UK because it contributes significantly to economic growth. Inward investment brings benefits both to the country as a whole and more specifically to the assisted areas.