§ 16. Mr. David Hunt
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money has been allocated within the partnership schemes in each of the last two financial years for economic development in the areas in which the schemes operate.
§ Mr. King
In 1979–80 about £21 million was allocated under the urban programme to schemes specifically aimed at economic development in partnership areas, and for 1980–81 the figure was about £32 million. Many other partnership schemes also made a contribution to the economic regeneration of their areas. I aim to shift the balance further towards this type of activity.
§ Mr. Steen
Does it make sense to pump public money through partnership schemes to service industries in the inner areas and, at the same time, to pump even more public money—through rate abatement—into enterprise zones for shops and warehouses in areas in which private enterprise has failed in the past? Should not enterprise zones be confined to manufacturing industries?
§ Mr. King
That point was much debated during discussion on the Local Government, Planning and Land 399 Bill. We judged that the enterprise zone experiment should involve the minimum of restraint. Apart from certain limited controls on hypermarkets and on excessive concentrations of retailing, we proposed to make no restraints.
§ Mr. Dixon
When does the Minister intend to review the partnership and programme schemes? Is it not time that South Tyneside, which has a high rate of unemployment, was uprated? Given that public expenditure cuts are hitting all local authorities, is it not time that that authority was uprated from a programme to a partnership authority, and that more public money was pumped into the area?
§ Mr. King
My noble Friend Lord Bellwin, the Under-Secretary of State, reviewed all the programme and partnership authorities. Our difficulty was whether we could justify adding new districts and authorities to the list. We decided to stick to the list that had been adopted by the Labour Government. That is the right policy to follow.
§ Mr. William Shelton
Does my right hon. Friend agree that Lambeth is one of the two inner London boroughs to receive funds from the inner city partnership? Does not that show the Government's awareness of Lambeth's needs?
§ Mr. Allan Roberts
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the partnership areas economic development is in decline? Is not he further aware that £32 million is a mere palliative compared with the massive public expenditure cuts, in rate support grant and the cut in the amount of help given to industry because of the Government's belittling of areas with development area status? Do we not need a complete change in the Government's economic and industrial policies if we are to help partnership areas?
§ Mr. King
We need a genuine sense of partnership between the local authority—of whatever political persuasion—and the private sector. Chambers of commerce, local industry, trade unions, voluntary agencies and everyone else should play their part. The hon. Gentleman's attempt to draw comparisons and to spread dissension is singularly unhelpful.