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We have received two proposals for establishing local enterprise partnerships in the north-east-one to cover the Tees Valley, which was cleared to proceed last October, and a second that was received recently for one to cover the remaining local authority areas. I can tell the House today that the second proposal meets the Government's expectations, and we are today writing to the partners to confirm that. This means that just 16 weeks after we sought applications, there is complete coverage in the north-east.
I welcome that announcement and thank the Minister for that information. The Business Secretary controversially abolished our regional development agency, One NorthEast, and the Government parties have cut funding for regional development by two thirds. I welcome the good news for my area, but there are concerns among Opposition Members that in the transition period between the RDAs going out and the LEPs coming in, there will be a problem or a vacuum, and we will not be able to encourage investment or secure the regeneration jobs that we require.
Let me assure the hon. Gentleman that we are working very closely both with the outgoing RDA teams, to whom I am grateful for their co-operation and collaboration, and with the incoming local enterprise partnerships. There might be stumbles along the way, because this is a complex path, but I am determined to ensure that we do our best to encourage growth and remove the barriers to growth, especially in the north-east.
I warmly welcome the Government's announcement today that there will be an LEP for the whole north-east apart from Teesside, which already has one, but will the Minister discuss with the Minister responsible for tourism and heritage the transitional problems facing the tourism industry? Its promotional work, uniquely in the north-east, was directly operated by the RDA, One NorthEast, and the business-led alternative will need some transitional help.
Given my right hon. Friend's expertise in the area, I would be happy to talk not only to the Minister but to my right hon. Friend himself, in order to ensure that we get the balance right. There is a good opportunity before us, and managing the transition needs a little care and patience, so I shall be happy to work with my right hon. Friend.
My area, in Lancashire, still does not have a local enterprise partnership. Does not that process just confirm that the Secretary of State is still losing the plot on business and growth in England's regions? On
That was a very stretched literary metaphor, if I may say so. [ Interruption. ] No, in spite of the question, the reality is that the Government are working very closely in that area, and as we have demonstrated in the north-east, we are making good progress. I work closely with my colleagues in the Department for Communities and Local Government, as I do with other Ministers, and I am sorry that Opposition Front Benchers have nothing positive to say on this subject.