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Regional Growth Fund

Volume 523: debated on Thursday 17 February 2011

9. What criteria he used to determine appointments to the independent advisory panel for the regional growth fund. (41350)

The selection of panel members was rooted in ensuring that the independent advisory panel is mixed, with a good spread of expertise from around the country, bringing together representatives from major businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises, entrepreneurs, academia and civil society. All members of the panel act in an individual capacity under the chairmanship of Lord Heseltine.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but can he explain why a representative of the New Economics Foundation has been appointed to the panel? That organisation has attacked the merits of economic growth and argued that Burma, Saudi Arabia and Haiti show Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom that achieving long, happy lives without overstretching the planet’s resources is possible. Might it not have been better to appoint someone to oversee the regional growth fund from an organisation that supports growth?

The organisation is there to support growth. The suggestion that my hon. Friend mentions seems seriously dotty, but I have seen other work from the New Economics Foundation, focusing on local communities, which is very good. I can assure him that the advisory panel’s work will be overseen by Lord Heseltine and Sir Ian Wrigglesworth, neither of whom could be said to be shirking on matters of business and entrepreneurship.

Given that the Government have said that they will be the greenest Government ever, can the Secretary of State give an assurance that panel members will include people with expertise on sustainable development and environmental protection, so that there can be a balance with growth and environmental concerns?