Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180-187)|
TUESDAY 26 FEBRUARY 2002
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
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.
182. Just following that up then. In the predecessor
(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
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.