Skip to main content

Enterprise Zones (North-east)

Volume 526: debated on Thursday 31 March 2011

4. What discussions he has had with the North Eastern local enterprise partnership on the location of proposed enterprise zones; and if he will make a statement. (49967)

Last Thursday, I was in the north-east and met the North Eastern local enterprise partnership. We had a very useful discussion about the way in which enterprise zones will help the growth of the local economy and I was encouraged by the positive response I received.

I am very pleased to hear that the Minister got a positive response—I would expect nothing less of the friendly north-east. The Chancellor said in his Budget statement last Wednesday that there would be an enterprise zone on Tyneside, but the Red Book refers to an enterprise zone in the North Eastern local enterprise partnership, and I am sure the Minister is aware that they are not one and the same. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change told the Sunderland Echo that Sunderland had a really good chance of getting an enterprise zone. Will the Minister confirm that the Chancellor misled the House last week and that a decision has not yet been made on where—

Well, I am glad we cleared that up, Mr Speaker. I can make it very simple for the hon. Lady: we are not going to impose a command and control model. We are working with local enterprise partnerships and we have offered zones where LEPs would like to locate them within their areas. We will discuss this with partnerships in the north-east and elsewhere.

I call Mr Zahawi, on the subject of the north-east from the vantage point of Stratford-on-Avon.

Like the North Eastern local enterprise partnership, Coventry and Warwickshire local enterprise partnership would very much like to talk to the Minister about our proposal for an enterprise zone—

Order. That was a nice try but the hon. Gentleman’s question must specifically relate to the north-east, about which I thought the hon. Gentleman probably had extensive knowledge.

Is not the danger of the Minister’s enterprise zone policy that it enriches landlords and developers by drawing economic activity from one area to another? When considering locations for the north-east, will he focus on the creation of jobs in industrial areas?

We are absolutely committed to doing precisely that. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman is quite so negative; that is not what they are saying in Sunderland and Salford.