Clause 17 - Commission for Rural Communities

Part of Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:00 am on 23rd June 2005.

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Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity) 9:00 am, 23rd June 2005

The commission will have the power to produce robust evidence to demonstrate whether it is a direct function of rurality that leads to underfunding, whether such underfunding is genuine and whether the element that allows for rural sparsity in the formula that dictates local government funding is sufficient. With that evidence, Members such as the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Atkinson) will be able to come to the House to argue that a watchdog set up by this Government points out the strength of his argument—if the commission produces evidence to support it.

I have argued for the clause on a slightly more impassioned basis than previously and I trust that when the commission is set up it will be even more passionate as a champion of rural England than I was as a champion of its establishment today. I trust that, on this basis, hon. Members will not press their amendments.