HC Deb 27 July 1999 vol 336 cc354-5W
Mr. Leslie

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what progress he has made in designating regional chambers. [93698]

Mr. Caborn

I am pleased to announce that we have today issued a direction to Yorkshire Forward—the development agency for the Yorkshire and the Humber region—designating the Regional Chamber for Yorkshire and Humberside as its regional chamber.

Regional chambers provide a mechanism through which the Regional Development Agencies can take account of regional views and account for their activities. We expect that each RDA will have regard to the chamber's view in preparing its strategy, consult the chamber on its corporate plan and give an account of its performance to the chamber. Working together through the regional chambers local authorities, business and other partners can provide a focused voice for their region.

There is now a designated regional chamber in each of the English regions outside London. This marks the completion of another stage of the Government's regional agenda. The full list of regional chambers (some of which call themselves regional assemblies) and development agencies is as follows:

Mr. Raynsford

Good progress continues to be made. The Head of Transition, Dr. Robert Chilton, is assembling a team of people with backgrounds in local government, the civil service, other parts of the public sector, and the private sector. They are developing plans to ensure that the Mayor and Assembly can get off to a good start, with suitable administrative and financial support in place. The team moved into their temporary accommodation in Romney House, Westminster last week. I hope to issue shortly a consultation document about the initial organisation of the Greater London Authority.

Mr. Alan Keen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what plans he has for a publicity campaign leading up to the elections for the Mayor and Assembly in London. [93799]

Mr. Raynsford

At the proposed elections on 4 May 2000, for the first Mayor and Assembly for London, the people of London will be facing a different and more complicated ballot than normal. For the first time, they will have a first and second choice when voting for the Mayor. They will also vote for a constituency Assembly Member and for a party in the pan-London ballot which is the basis for electing the 'top-up' Assembly Members. The Government have decided therefore to run an information campaign to ensure that eligible Londoners know how the voting system will work at these very important elections for the future of their city.

As the Greater London Authority is a new form of governance, there will also be information available about the duties and responsibilities of the new Mayor and Assembly. This will be an information campaign and will in no way compete with any political campaigns candidates may run.

No expenditure will be committed on the campaign until the Greater London Authority Bill receives Royal Assent.