Inner Cities

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 12:59 pm on 25th March 1994.

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Photo of George Mudie George Mudie , Leeds East 12:59 pm, 25th March 1994

The Minister shakes his head. With the greatest respect, the annual report shows that 31 partnership authorities are eligible for city challenge funding. No new authorities will be included this year.

The age of the small scheme is past. Schemes such as a creche to allow single mothers to train, gain employment and keep it and a training scheme to permit unemployed youths to gain skills was dismissed as irrelevant.

City challenge ran for two years. At first, understandably, few authorities were chosen. The scheme has now stopped. The big bang approach to urban poverty bad an even more basic fault. My authority in Leeds participated. It worked on a great scheme in central south Leeds. It spent valuable scarce resources on preparing a bid, but it lost. It was commended by the Minister, but it received no money. It will have no money coming in from the urban programme for some considerable time.

Even if Leeds had succeeded, the scheme was in central south Leeds and was irrelevant to my constituency of Leeds, East. It was irrelevant to the 30 per cent. male unemployed in the Harehills area. It may as well have been in Hong Kong for all the use that it would have been to east Leeds. If the Minister cannot get money to Leeds in the first two or three years, and even if a scheme in south Leeds or central Leeds is given money, what happens to the people in west Leeds and east Leeds? Do they admire the scheme from afar and say how wonderful it is when no help is coming to their communities to help them with their problems?

I must apologise for racing at this speed, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I am aware that several hon. Members want to speak. We have moved into the second phase of urban development, the big bang phase. Sadly—the matter has been mentioned, but only in passing—the beginning of the second phase has meant the ending of the urban programme and section 11 funding. What is sad about that is that when the matter was raised in the House and when I raised it personally at Question Time, in the first instance the Government denied that the funding had been reduced.

Figures from the Department's report were mentioned which were said to show that the Government were spending on the urban programme and section 11 more money in 1993–94 and 1994–95 than in previous years. But those figures and statistics missed out the fact that no new schemes were to be made eligible for inner city money in the programme. The same goes for section 11 money.

The facts and figures of inner-city life mean that if one is black one has much less chance—