Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 195 - 199)




  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 into questions?
  (Mr Raynsford) I am happy to go straight into questions.

Mrs Ellman

  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 the regions?
  (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.

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