§ 34. Mr. Bill O'Brien
If she will move to provide for an additional Sub-Committee of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee to consider regional affairs; and if she will make a statement. 
§ Mrs. Ann Taylor
The Select Committee has already been given the power to appoint two Sub-Committees. It is up to the Committee to decide how to choose inquiries within its terms of reference.
§ Mr. O'Brien
I thank my right hon. Friend for that response, and I congratulate her on the way in which the Select Committees were established so soon after the general election. I raise the issue of a Sub-Committee for the regions because much importance is attached to the development of the regions. I believe that we should reach a statutory agreement on the way that we approach the regions question. We should be able to take specific evidence to a Sub-Committee regarding the Government's progress in implementing and introducing regional agencies. Against that background, I ask my colleague to consider the matter, which is important to people in the regions.
§ Mrs. Taylor
My hon. Friend is aware that the Committee has two Sub-Committees, because it was formed by the merger of two previous Select Committees. I do not deny what he says about the importance of the regions, and there will be legislation on the topic later in this Session. However, I remind him—he is a member of the Transport Sub-Committee—that either of the Sub-Committees or the Committee itself could have an inquiry into any aspect of regional development that was relevant to the policy of that Department, so the Committee is not excluded from the kind of investigation that he thinks may be necessary.
§ Mr. Simon Hughes
Will the right hon. Lady look seriously at the way in which we can hold regional offices of Government to account? The Government have a proposal for regional government in London, to take place from 2000, which is very welcome, but not as yet in any other regions of England. Civil servants have no direct accountability to anybody, although across all Departments they wield great power. Will the right hon. Lady allow time for thinking through the implications of the question asked by the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. O'Brien), as that would be widely welcomed by English Members?
§ Mrs. Taylor
I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, and I would not close my mind to considering alternative ways of making people accountable. However, I emphasise again that the Select Committee in question could examine that as a topic and could make recommendations if it considered that appropriate.