Examination of Witness (Questions 200
TUESDAY 4 DECEMBER 2001
200. When you say that the DTI have the lead
role, how does that react with DTLR's responsibility on funding?
(Mr Raynsford) There are different funding streams
which go into the regions from different government departments,
in the same way that there are different funding streams that
go into local government from the Department of Education and
Skills, the Department of Health and other government departments
as well as DTLR and we work together to ensure an appropriate
201. What assessment have you made on the progress
of regional assemblies and regional chambers as they are at the
moment? Who is responsible for making that assessment?
(Mr Raynsford) The current framework, as you know,
was set up during the last parliament and it was felt right that,
in the absence of directly elected regional assemblies, there
should be chambers, which are sometimes called assemblies, which
should have a monitoring role in relation to regional development
agencies and that is the framework which currently exists. We
will be publishing, as I have already mentioned, a White Paper
setting out our proposals for allowing those regions which wish
202. Could you answer the question. Who at this
moment is responsible for assessing the progress of the regional
chambers as they exist now?
(Mr Raynsford) We are overall responsible for the
policy in relation to
203. Who is assessing the progress of those
(Mr Raynsford) The chambers have only recently come
into existence. We have been responsible for giving them a
204. Two yearswho is responsible for
assessing their progress?
(Mr Raynsford) We have been responsible for providing
initial funding for the regions
205. No, who is responsible for assessing the
(Mr Raynsford) We are assessing their progress.
206. So you are responsible for assessing the
progress of the chambers?
(Mr Raynsford) Indeed but, as I pointed out earlier,
there are issues relating to regional development which will also
be the concern of other government departments and I would expect,
very obviously, the DTI to take a particular interest in relation
to economic development problems.
207. So the Deputy Prime Minister calls all
these ministers together in special groups and says, "Because
we have joint responsibility, this is how we are going to proceed"?
(Mr Raynsford) The Deputy Prime Minister has overall
responsibility for the development of the new policy framework.
208. And he has done that?
(Mr Raynsford) He is doing this.
209. And he calls them together, all of them
across the board, in order to assess what is happening?
(Mr Raynsford) The Deputy Prime Minister obviously
operates in the way that he chooses to operate.
210. In other words he has not.
(Mr Raynsford) I have met regularly with the Deputy
Prime Minister to discuss the way that we are handling our approach
to the regions.
211. That is not what I asked.
(Mr Raynsford) I honestly do not think that I am in
a position to answer that question.
212. On the question of assessing, can you tell
us which ones are doing well and which ones you are disappointed
(Mr Raynsford) As I said in response to the question,
these are very early stages. We have just made awards of £0.5
million to each of the chambers or assemblies to enable them to
set up appropriate machinery to monitor the work of the RDAs,
to liaise with other bodies in the region and to enable them to
fulfill their functions. It would be premature for me to give
a snapshot judgment on the performance of bodies that are only
in a very, very early stage of their development.
213. Does that mean that nobody has actually
made an assessment of their progress to date?
(Mr Raynsford) As I was saying, I think it would be
premature to try and produce an over-definitive view of the performance
of bodies which are just coming into existence.
214. Has any assessment been made as to the
progress of those chambers to date?
(Mr Raynsford) We have looked at the work that they
are doing and we have assessed that in the course of preparing
the grants that we have issued to those bodies, but I would not
pretend for a moment that that was a rigorous and definitive assessment
for the reasons I have explained.
Sir Paul Beresford
215. Is that the only source of finance? What
is the total annual cost?
(Mr Raynsford) I would have to seek further advice
on the detailed total annual cost but the main source of funding
is from our department, yes.
216. Is that possible?
(Mr Raynsford) Of course. I will write to you.
217. When will the White Paper on elected assemblies
(Mr Raynsford) As I have already said, we hope to
publish early in the new year.
218. Can you define "early" a little
(Mr Raynsford) I cannot.
219. Could you tell us what will be in that
(Mr Raynsford) I can certainly outline the broad thrust
of the White Paper. It will give effect to our Manifesto commitment
to allow those regions which express, through a referendum, a
wish to have an elected regional assembly the opportunity to do
so, so it will clearly set out the way in which the approach to
that referendum takes place. In other words, what triggers it
and how the referendum will be conducted. It will then go on to
spell out the type of body, how it would be elected, the electoral
system, the representation on the body, and the total numbers
and arrangements for involving social and economic partners. It
would also obviously define the powers and remit and the funding