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Planning Regions (Wessex)

Volume 728: debated on Thursday 12 May 1966

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asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will establish a separate planning region for Wessex following similar boundaries to those of the Wessex hospital region.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that due to post-war developments Wessex is once again becoming a distinctive economic region of the country? Whereas it is no doubt convenient to Whitehall to divide the region between the South-West and the South-East, if regional planning is to make sense on the ground he must create a distinctive region in that part of the country.

I agree that Wessex is now booming, but this is true of many parts of the country, and has been particularly so in the last 18 months. We have to get large planning regions to get the full advantages from regional economic planning and I think we ought to stick to those we have.

Does the hon. Gentleman recall an undertaking given to me by the First Secretary, who said that if the people of the South-West required a separate region he would consider establishing that as a sub-region of the main region? What progress has been made in the matter?

I remember the representations which the hon. Gentleman made, but we are now satisfied that the region we have created is doing a proper job of work. What matters is that the people of the South-West should have improved living conditions, and that is what we are trying to give to them.

Due to the thoroughly unsatisfactory nature of that reply, I shall seek to raise the matter at the earliest opportunity.