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Regional Growth Fund

Business, Innovation and Skills – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 13th January 2011.

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Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Labour, Gateshead 10:30 am, 13th January 2011

When he expects the independent advisory panel to meet to consider applications to the regional growth fund.

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

I refer the House to the answer that I gave to an earlier, similar question.

Photo of Ian Mearns Ian Mearns Labour, Gateshead

I would like to press the Minister a little further on tourism. The tourism and hospitality industry employs 20,000 people in Gateshead and Newcastle alone, and we collaborate on an awful lot of work. The industry is therefore important for the entire regional economy. However, with the demise of the regional development agency and cessation of our successful "Passionate people, passionate places" advertising campaign, we have a vacuum. You have already agreed this morning to meet Sir Alan Beith. Will you meet me and other interested Members from the Tyneside area to discuss the future of tourism in our region?

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Perhaps, Mr Speaker, we could travel together to the delights of the north-east. I would be only too pleased to ensure that we make a joint effort, working with my colleague, the tourism Minister, on the matter. The north-east has some marvellous places to visit, although, given that I am a born Cornishman, it was a slight distance for me to travel when I was child. Nevertheless, we need to consider that area carefully and I am happy to accede to the hon. Gentleman's request.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Conservative, Nuneaton

I would like to bring to the Minister's attention a proposal by the Motor Industry Research Association, which is based on the border of my constituency and that of my hon. Friend David Tredinnick to build a new technology park. It aims to attract £250 million in investment and directly create 2,000 jobs in the next 10 years, with 200 in place by 2013. MIRA wants to bid for regional growth funding shortly to facilitate that project. Will the Minister agree to meet representatives of MIRA to discuss that exciting proposal for the east and west midlands?

Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Clearly, all applications need to go through the appropriate regional growth fund process, but I am always happy for my Department to receive the information on excellent private projects such as the one to which my hon. Friend referred.