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Mr. Prescott: I agree with my hon. Friend. She reminds me of my recent visit to Peckham, where a big building had been knocked down and the resulting space integrated into a new community. I was delighted to read in The Guardian the other day that Peckham library, with its wonderful design and architecture, had received an international award. I am pleased to see the local community and individuals beginning to rule their own lives and make decisions about their community. That is exactly what I want to see developing in other inner-city areas, and the White Paper will ensure that the powers and resources needed are available. In addition, PPG1 will make it clear that the public realm is an essential part of the urban renaissance. The White Paper will assist local authorities to achieve that.

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): I can find no mention in the White Paper and the Deputy Prime Minister's statement of the greatest disaster to overcome urban regeneration--the European Union ruling that gap funding was illegal. Is it not the case that the £250 million a year over five years announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the additional funding previously given to regional development agencies, will not nearly make up for the sums that would otherwise have gone into urban regeneration?

Mr. Prescott: I do not agree. However, any state aid or assistance as defined by the European Community is a serious matter. We have compensated regional development agencies and English Partnerships to deal with the difficulty. Ultimately, we are confident that the resources that we have announced will be able to go into all our proposals.

Mr. Vernon Coaker (Gedling): I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the White Paper. Will he take care to ensure that the urban renaissance takes in the entire urban area? My constituency, which falls outside the city council boundary, often misses out on urban regeneration grants. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that urban renaissance applies to the whole of the urban area and not only to the areas defined by city council boundaries?

Mr. Prescott: My hon. Friend makes an important point about boundaries, and about where urban areas, inner cities and suburbs begin and end. That is a real

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problem and one that is different in every area. We face the problem everywhere, in towns, cities, suburbs, market towns, rural areas and villages. In the main, economic regeneration tends to take place in the centre--usually, the city--but there is an obligation under planning requirements to ensure that all areas share in the prosperity. In PPG1, we shall emphasise that the overall, comprehensive approach is needed in respect of planning and development.

Mr. Andrew Robathan (Blaby): I, too, welcome much of the White Paper, the intentions behind it and its recommendations in respect of inner-city housing. However, how does the right hon. Gentleman reconcile his fine words about the availability of inner-city housing with his continuing and unnecessary beneficial tenancy of an inner-city flat provided by a transport union, which is clearly contrary to paragraph 113 of the ministerial code of conduct?

Mr. Prescott: That is clearly not comparable.

Mr. Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston): Listening to some of the questions put by Opposition Members, one might have thought that nothing had happened in the past three years, even though paragraph 7.6 of the White Paper lists a dozen major initiatives that have an impact on urban areas. The Government should be congratulated on delivering those programmes. However, paragraph 7.3 states that

The initiatives listed demonstrate that the Government have delivered on a cross-departmental, comprehensive basis. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that no rules or regulations stand in the way of local communities acting on an equally cross-departmental basis?

Mr. Prescott: That is an important point. One of the purposes of the White Paper is to bring together all the different initiatives. I could have waited three years, carried out an analysis and then produced the White Paper, but the problems were so clear that we developed different policies relevant to the framework set out in the White Paper. It is fair to say that many of the things mentioned in the White Paper are policies that have already been announced in the House by the Secretaries of State for other Departments. What I have done is ensure that they come together within the White Paper framework. I shall certainly try to ensure that the policy we want to prevail in Government also applies in local authority areas. We want decision making on community and local strategies to involve not only local authorities but all community bodies, including those involved in housing, education, health and so on.

Dr. Alan Whitehead (Southampton, Test): I, too, welcome the White Paper, which represents a considered, rounded approach, in stark contrast to the solutions for simpletons that we have recently been hearing from Opposition Members. Does my right hon. Friend consider that the transport requirements for effective urban regeneration can properly be applied within the

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requirements of transport policy in an urban area generally, as opposed to within a specific local authority area?

Mr. Prescott: That is a detailed and important point. Local transport plans should be relevant to the development of the urban area. However, the essential point, which will also have to be addressed in the rural White Paper, is that people should be able to move between the areas in which they live and work, inside and outside city boundaries. Those whose task it is to follow the advice set out in the White Paper face the important challenge to adopt a comprehensive approach, and we have provided the resources for them to do so. People in Southampton have been considering a solution using light railways, which would not be limited to Southampton's immediate area. Local authorities and local people make their decisions through the local transport plan, but such plans should not be confined to inner-city areas.

Mr. David Lepper (Brighton, Pavilion): As Member of Parliament for one of the areas that have applied for city status, may I tell my right hon. Friend with what eager anticipation we in Brighton and Hove await the announcement to which he referred? Brighton town centre has benefited from having a town centre manager, and I know that my right hon. Friend is aware that the all-party group on town centre management issues, which I have the pleasure to chair, commands considerable cross-party support. What role does he envisage for town centre management schemes in realising the aims of the White Paper? What proposals does the White Paper contain on sustainable funding for town centre management schemes?

Mr. Prescott: My hon. Friend will realise that which areas will be granted city status is a great secret. It is a matter for the Home Office. I do not know what the

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outcome will be and I am not involved in the decision, although I do, of course, read the bids and hear from Members of Parliament who lobby me on the subject. We must wait for the announcement.

With regard to the Association of Town Centre Management, many of its proposals are for the sort of schemes that we endorse in the White Paper. Much can be done in the public realm--for example, by improving transport--to develop our town centres. We have set out such plans, and the various funds available are sustainable. We plan funds for local authorities over a three-year period to enable them to plan ahead. It should be possible to provide the resources to improve our town centres, and I welcome the work done by the association.

Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): I accept the White Paper, but does my right hon. Friend agree that further thought should be given to ways of helping councils such as Burnley, which has 3,500 empty houses in the private sector? Demolition is extremely expensive, and there is little site value once those properties are demolished.

Mr. Prescott: My hon. Friend makes the point that I made to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice). The renewal of private properties is a particularly difficult problem, which my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) has raised with me three or four times. I give him the same response as I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle: I will write to him and consider how we can assist further in dealing with that problem.

Several hon. Members rose--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): Order. I am sure that we shall return to these matters in the future, but now we must move on.

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Orders of the Day

Insolvency Bill [Lords]

As amended in the Standing Committee, considered.

New Clause 1

Prohibition during period of disqualification

'. A person subject to a disqualification order or undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 shall not act as the principal of any trade or business providing services to consumers during the period of disqualification unless so authorised by the Director General of Fair Trading.'.--[Mr. Chope.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

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