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Industrial Development

Volume 35: debated on Wednesday 19 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has decided upon the amount of grant to be made to the North of England development council, the North-West industrial development association, the Yorkshire and Humberside development association and the Devon and Cornwall development bureau after present arrangements expire in March.

Each of the chairmen of the four English regional development organisations accepted my invitation to a meeting to discuss the offer of continued grant which I outlined on 24 June, 1982. Officials have also had meetings with the directors and staff of the RDOs, and with local authorities and new town development corporations in some of the regions represented by the RDOs.Following those meetings, each RDO has now put forward proposals, supported by outline programmes of promotional activities, in respect of 1983–84. In the light of those proposals and programmes, and of the discussions on them that have taken place, I have now written again to the four chairmen, offering them grant in aid as follows.The North of England development council, along with all of the local authorities and the two new town development corporations in the north-east region, have satisfied me that they are capable of mounting a realistic and effectively co-ordinated programme of events on behalf of the region as a whole, which will be incremental to the effort on behalf of the United Kingdom as a whole. I have therefore offered a grant in aid to NEDC, for 1983–84, of up to £850,000, under the second, more substantial, of the two options I set out in my letter last June. I have made it clear to the chairman of NEDC that, although there will be no formal requirement to match this grant pound for pound by local authority contributions, we expect the local authorities in the region to continue to contribute to the NEDC's budget at, or above, the level of this year's contribution, in line with the budget proposals which NEDC themselves have put forward.I am not at this stage nominating any sum of money beyond the first year. I shall want to see how effective in practice is the co-operation promised by the local authorities and new towns in the region. The NEDC's programme will be carefully monitored, and a decision taken on the grant for the two succeeding years, based on our experience of this year's arrangements and performance.

Because of the significant change in the scale of the grant, and the relaxation of the matching requirements, I am reviewing the conditions which attach to payment of the grant. Once agreement has been reached with NEDC on the details of these conditions, I shall place a copy of them in the Library of the House.

Although I am not offering to the other three organisations such substantial increase in grant, or relaxation of the pound for pound matching requirement, it is fair to say that each of them has made progress towards achieving, within its region, a better co-ordinated promotional programme.

Of the three, only the North-West industrial development association put forward a claim under the second, higher, option. I have not, however, been able to satisfy myself that the requisite degree of commitment to a fully and effectively co-ordinated regional programme by all the local authorities and new towns in the north west has yet been demonstrated to justify the higher option. To NWIDA and to the Yorkshire and Humberside development association and the Devon and Cornwall development bureau, I am offering a considerable increase in grant-in-aid compared with the current year. But I am retaining, for 1983–84 at least, the requirement that this grant must be matched, pound for pound by the local authorities in the region. On this basis, the maximum grant for each of the next three years would be:

1983–84

1984–85

1985–86

£

£

£

NWIDA260,000280,000300,000
YHDA163,000170,000177,000
DCDB110,000115,000120,000

However I have told each of the chairmen of these three organisations that their acceptance of the suggested increase and the matching arrangements for 1983–84 does not mean that they are tied to that option for the whole of the three-year period. I am ready to consider the prospect for a more substantial grant, and relaxation of the matching requirement, for any of the regional organisations which can put forward a realistic programme at a higher level of activity and can demonstrate that it has the full co-operation of all of the local authorities and new towns in the region for a single, effective, overseas promotional effort on behalf of that region.

Because the basic requirement to match the DoI contribution remains unchanged for these three organisations, the other conditions attaching to the grants will also be little changed. As soon as the details have been agreed with NWIDA, YHDA and DCDB I shall place copies of those conditions in the Library of the House.

The question of English regional representation overseas, particularly in the USA, to which I referred in my previous reply, remains to be discussed further with each of the four organisations. All four are, however, now regularly represented on the committee of overseas promotion, which co-ordinates their work with that of the corresponding agencies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and of the "Invest in Britian" bureau and the diplomatic service posts overseas.