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English Estates

Volume 116: debated on Wednesday 13 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about English Estates' investment plans in the current financial year and the provisional outturn for 1986–87.

I am pleased to announce that in this financial year English Estates should be able substantially to increase its investment in the assisted areas compared with last year. The precise amount to he invested by the corporation will be determined by how much it can generate from factory sales and rents, but the Government will be contributing grant-in-aid of £13 million towards the total. I have told English Estates that on this basis I will require them to generate sufficient resources to fund at least £37 million of investment in the assisted areas. In practice I expect the corporation to exceed this figure and I have given the board permission to invest up to £47 million if it can generate the necessary funds from its own resources. English Estates will need to be satisfied that there is a real demand for this increased investment, that it satisfies its customary value-for-money requirements and that it will not crowd out similar investment that could have been undertaken by the private sector.Last year English Estates invested £33·5 million in the assisted areas, which was £1·5 million more than I had required. The corporation spent a further £2 million on the redevelopment of Chatham dockyard. The momentum of the Chatham development will be maintained in the current year without affecting the programme in the assisted areas, but I expect that the private sector will play an increasing part in funding this project over the next few years.