Examination of Witness (Questions 195
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2001
195. Could I welcome you to the second part
of our sessions on the departmental estimates. I must apologise
to you that, at about 11.30, I have to leave because of a hospital
appointment, so Gwyneth Dunwoody will take over at that point.
Would you identify yourself for the record, please.
(Mr Raynsford) I am Nick Raynsford, Minister
for Local Government and the Regions in the Department of Transport
Local Government and the Regions and the only Minister who was
serving in the old DETR whose annual report you are considering.
196. Is there anything else that you want to
say by way of introduction or are you happy for us to go straight
(Mr Raynsford) I am happy to go straight into questions.
197. Which government department and which minister
is really responsible for the regions?
(Mr Raynsford) The framework for developing regional
policy places the overall responsibility with the Deputy Prime
Minister and he is working in very close co-operation with our
department in order to produce a White Paper which we intend to
publish in the early part of next year and that will be presented
to Parliament by the Deputy Prime Minister with the full support
of the Secretary for Transport Local Government and the Regions.
198. Before we come on to ask questions about
that, would you answer the question that I put to you which is,
who is actually responsible for the regions? Before we have the
White Paper there are still regions, so who is actually in charge
of what happens to the regions or is there nobody?
(Mr Raynsford) Inevitably there are different perspectives
throughout government, but we accept a collective responsibility
in terms of the development of regional policy and that is the
framework that I have already outlined.
199. When you talk of collective responsibility
for regional development, you are not pointing to any individual
or any department. Is there anybody in government who is responsible
for looking at issues like disparity between regions, how regional
policy, or lack of it, is affecting services or the welfare of
different regions? Is there anybody who actually has a remit for
(Mr Raynsford) As I said in response to the earlier
question, there are different perspectives. On your specific point
about regional economic disparities, the DTI would obviously take
a lead role. They have responsibility currently for regional development
agencies which used to lie with our department but, as Minister
for the Regions, I clearly have a very real interest in issues
such as the one you have discussed, and the wider framework of
regional governance, both now and the future pattern of regional
governance which we will propose in our forthcoming White Paper.