Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1000-1009)|
WEDNESDAY 30 APRIL 2003
MP AND MR
1000. They are going to work in Hartlepool,
are they, while they do the review?
(Ruth Kelly)Within a clear analytical framework
but ultimately it is for each department to fit the relocation
plans into their working strategies so there must be value-for-money
benefits. Of course, there have been very successful examples
in the past.
1001. Other than relocation, within the spending
review, decisions have taken into account regional aspects?
(Ruth Kelly) Absolutely, and one of the issues that
I have raised earlier today is the fact that we have been talking
to RDAs themselves about what they would like within the regions,
and they submitted a formal budget proposal looking at different
areas. On enterprise, for example, they said that there ought
to be a clearer enterprise focus on schools and tertiary education
and the Chancellor responded in the budget by providing money
for enterprise advisers working in schools. They also looked at
red tape, about innovation, and why SMEs and so forth came directly
1002. But that affects all regions?
(Ruth Kelly) And, of course, the single-pot funding
was increased in the case of more local discretion, so I think
it is a combination of working with national policy but also giving
local players the power to respond to local circumstances.
1003. There are a number of floor targets that
the government has for performance of government services and
public services and in modern regional policy to the United Kingdom
a number of those are described as having explicit or implicit
regional dimensions. Do you think there is an important regional
dimension to floor targets?
(Mr Leslie) Certainly I think in terms of making sure
that we have a baseline, whether it is to do with prosperity as
we seek in this particular target or whether it is to do with
quality of life, nature of affordable housing and so forth, all
those issues we have to look at in the sense that there is an
expectation that people have, and in a policy sense we have to
make sure we inform those decisions we take with the fact that
people will have those expectations with what are the minimum
standards they want to see.
1004. The DPM assures us he had informal sanctions
in ensuring these departments did meet those PSA targets. What
are the roles of your two departments in enforcing those targets?
(Mr Leslie) I think the government is not what it
used to be; I have not been a minister for very long but I read
that there used to be quite rigid departmental boundaries across
Whitehall. Those have been broken down quite considerably and
in a genuine sense, not just through the collective decision making
round-up that we have in Cabinet Committees and so forth but also
in the day-to-day exchanges that go on between civil servants,
and in the whole new spending review public service agreement
processes we have set out, we want to look at policy themes and
not just stick to rigid
1005. So joined-up government is a long-term
(Mr Leslie) We always have to work on it and make
sure we do not suffer from departmentalitis too severely, and
we have been cured of a lot of that in recent years.
1006. What account do you think your housing
and planning policies in ODPM take of this PSA target to reduce
disparities? How sensitive are they?
(Mr Leslie) In terms of town and country planning
there have been changes that obviously the Planning Bill is making
towards the creation of regional spatial strategies so that there
is a greater level of framework and creation at a regional level.
Those are not going to be drivers of economic growth in and of
themselves because they have plans, but what they do contribute
is a foundation, a basis, on which stable secure decisions can
be made about investment. For example, if a company wishes to
invest in a particular region, then because we have that greater
level of information and decision-making about which zones, which
areas, are more susceptible to industrial development, for example,
because we have those frameworks in place we believe that is a
better foundation on which growth can occur.
1007. What about the recently published sustainable
communities document? Does that not inevitably mean that more
public funding is going to be spent on propping up the already
overheating economies down here in the south east and London?
(Mr Leslie) I do not think so. Bear in mind that this
PSA has two strands to it. Firstly, whilst we have been concentrating
a lot on reducing the differential rates of growth between over
and under performing regions, it also includes the target that
we want every single region including the south east and London
to improve and enhance their performance or prosperity, and that
means we do have a responsibility to invest and support those
areas where there are specifically acute problems for perhaps
undersupply of housing for public sector key workers and so forth
and I think we have a responsibility to deliver on that agenda.
I do not think that that expenditure is solely about those parts
of the country. In other parts of England where there have been
perhaps market failures, where house prices have fallen because
there is an over-supply of housing, by renewing those markets
and pursuing a policy and spending money on bolstering those housing
markets we can create an environment where greater investment
1008. That sounds all right but we are talking
about £606 million for a sustainable community for the South
East and we are talking about tuppence for most of the market
(Mr Leslie) No, It is not quite tuppence.
1009. Thruppence then.
(Mr Leslie) I think it is probably somewhere in the
region of 852 million now, that is slightly more than a couple
of pennies. I do recognise there are different rates of expenditure
to reflect the different issues facing each individual region.
Chairman: On that note we better complete the
proceedings of the Committee. We have about five or six questions
we have not asked you, I am sure we can send them to you and you
can send us written answers. Can I thank you very much.