To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how the Government intend to take forward their policies for towns and cities. 
§ Mr. Prescott
The Environment Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee Report on Housing (Tenth Report Session 1997–98) recommended that there should be an Urban White Paper.
I announced today that I intend to produce a White Paper on Urban Policy next year, which will be the first such paper in 20 years. This will describe the Government's policies to improve the quality of life in our towns and cities. We will look at the combined effect of a wide range of issues, with the aim of enabling communities in our towns and cities to prosper, and to tackle problems such as social exclusion. We will consider policies on, for example, housing, competitiveness, delivery of public services, regional development, planning, transport, community involvement and sustainable development. We will also link in with work being taken forward by other Departments on issues such as education, training and crime reduction—all of which are essential to enabling communities to achieve their full potential.1099W
The Government's proposals to reform local government and to establish Regional Development Agencies will create the framework to implement our policies and achieve prosperity for our communities.
The Urban Task Force, led by Lord Rodgers, and the work undertaken by the Coalfields task force has already started the debate on urban issues. I now intend to broaden it further and engage more groups and organisations.
Of course, vibrant and attractive towns and cities complement thriving rural areas. We will separately be paying special attention to the specific issues affecting rural areas and will be making an announcement on this shortly.