Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-187)



  180. We are trying here to test your resolve in battling with the Commission. Why did the Government not appeal against this decision?
  (Mr Savill) That is a different question. That was in a sense a tactical decision. We received legal advice that the Commission's advice was pretty sound and therefore our chances of overturning it were slim. We were moving on from PIP to the replacement schemes and we did not want to queer the pitch with the Commission for them. Also we were even at that stage thinking that we wanted to put forward a case to the Commission for a complete regeneration framework. If in the meantime we are challenging their argumentation in the Court that is not going to make it a very—

  181. It is not that you are reluctant to challenge it in court, it was a doomed strategy as far as you were concerned?
  (Mr Savill) We thought we would lose and it would irritate the Commission so we did not.

Ms King

  182. Just following that up then. In the predecessor Committee's report —
  (Mr Savill) Yes, I read it.

  183.—One of the witnesses said that there is one half of the Commission anxious to promote regional development and there is another half of the Commission anxious to limit state aids and the two seem to be working against each other. Do you think that is currently the case?
  (Mr Savill) It is true sometimes that communication between different Directorate Generals of the Commission is not as good as I might hope it would be.


  184. While we are dealing with communication between different people, you have got two roles, have you not, in terms of state aids? You are, if you like, the gamekeeper trying to stop other people in other parts of Europe using state aids to protect their industry and at the same time you are working on these schemes for urban regeneration. Do I take it that you spend Monday to Friday lunchtime as the gamekeeper and then you are dealing with the poaching bit on Friday afternoons? Is that a fair assessment of how it is split?
  (Mr Savill) Almost all of our time is spent advising many parts of government and regional bodies how to get United Kingdom schemes through. We spend a very limited time on monitoring other Member States. It would be nice if we could spend more time because we could learn a lot.

  185. Can you tell us a little bit more about this conference and who is going to be there and when and what you expect to come out of this conference?
  (Mr Savill) It is on 21 March. We understand that representatives of as many Member States as can are going to be there. The Commission have been invited. What we hope will come out of it is a general consensus that this is an area where it is worth engaging the Commission to work up one of their dedicated frameworks and to move on to putting forward some formal proposals to them.

  186. There is a programme for it. What is in the programme of sessions?
  (Mr Savill) I do not know.
  (Mr Branton) I do not know. The programme is being organised by DTLR not by us and they are responsible for the programme and the invitations and the agenda.

  187. Presumably you can let us have a copy of that fairly soon?
  (Mr Branton) Yes.

  Chairman: On that note, can I thank you very much for your evidence.

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