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20 Jun 2005 : Column 839W—continued

Population Distribution

Mr. Walker: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what measures he is taking to encourage population growth away from the east and south-east of England; and if he will make a statement. [3215]

Yvette Cooper: The Government are committed to helping those who wish to live and work in the region where they were born and brought up to do so. That is why it is looking at how it can secure sustainable growth and affordable housing in the wider south-east. Constraining growth in the more prosperous regions would not necessarily benefit other regions. Investment displaced from the wider south-east might well go abroad, or simply not happen.
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Nevertheless the Government do have a range of initiatives in place to encourage growth in other regions. For example, work is under way to implement the proposals that emerged from the Lyons Review of Public Sector Relocation, which reviewed the scope for relocating public sector jobs out of London and the south-east. Departments have confirmed 20,000 jobs for dispersal from London and the south, which should be completed by 2010.

The Government have a PSA target to improve the economic performance of all the English regions by 2008 and over the long-term reduce the persistent gap in growth rates between the regions, demonstrating progress by 2006. Furthermore, the Government are actively supporting the Regional Development Agencies and their partners in the north, Midlands and south-west in developing inter-regional growth strategies to achieve economic growth in their regions. For example, the Northern Way Growth Strategy which was published in September 2004.

Regional Bodies

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the address is of the offices of each (a) regional chamber, (b) regional housing board and (c) regional observatory. [4512]

Yvette Cooper: The information is as follows.

(a) Regional chambers

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(b) Regional housing boards

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(c) Regional observatory

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will list the powers and responsibilities of the regional housing boards. [4277]

Yvette Cooper: Regional Housing Boards meet at the request of Ministers. They are not statutory bodies and therefore have no powers. Each one has been given responsibility for producing its region's Housing Strategy and for making recommendations to Ministers on how resources for housing capital investment should be targeted.
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Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the timetable for the Government's plans to merge the regional housing boards with regional planning bodies. [4280]

Yvette Cooper: We are considering a number of points of detail and will be making an announcement soon.

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