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Regional Planning and Development

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Meriden of 28 April 2009, Official Report, column 1276W, on regional planning and development, on what date the regional industrial development boards were established; how much funding his Department has allocated to each such brand for 2009-10; and what the remit and function of each such board is. (279992)

The seven Regional Industrial Development Boards are non-statutory non- departmental public bodies. The first four Boards were established following the passage of the Industry Act 1972 and were the Northern Industrial Development Board, the North West Industrial Development Board, the Yorkshire and Humberside Industrial Development Board and the South West Industrial Development Board. The West Midlands Board was established in 1984 following that year's Regional Policy Review. The London and South East and East of England Boards were established following the 1993 Review of the Assisted Areas.

When Corby became a development area in 1979, the Yorkshire and Humberside Development Board became a joint board with the East Midlands. The Northern Industrial Development Board became the North East Industrial Development Board in 1982 when Cumbria ceased to be part of the Department of Trade and Industry’s northern region.

None of the boards are allocated budgets as none entail public expenditure apart from the remuneration of travel and subsistence costs of members.

The role of the boards is to advise the regional development agencies on individual company applications for regional assistance between £250,000 and £1.99 million, except the East of England Board, which advises on applications between £100,000 and £1.99 million.

During 2008-09 we conducted a review of the boards in consultation with the Cabinet Office to ensure that their governance arrangements remained relevant in view of the significant changes to the way in which support for business in the regions is handled since they were established, particularly the creation of regional development agencies and the delegation to them of responsibility of operating business support schemes previously undertaken by the Government office network. This review concluded that the appropriate way forward would be to replace the boards with advisory investment panels, to be appointed and supported entirely by the regional development agencies. It is expected that the agencies will appoint new advisory panels to replace the boards over the course of 2009-10.