Clause 89

Part of Localism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:00 pm on 15th February 2011.

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Photo of Greg Clark Greg Clark Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Decentralisation and Cities) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 6:00 pm, 15th February 2011

The hon. Lady does herself a disservice. Her contributions provide life, as do those of the right hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich. He has been invited to be a tricoteur at the guillotining of his own measures, and we can understand how that might induce a sudden dyspepsia from time to time. However, we have had life, and I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman’s presence and his characteristic robustness.

We have managed, despite surface appearances, to reach a degree of mutual understanding about the clauses and amendments before us. Everyone, with the possible exception of the right hon. Gentleman, agrees that regional spatial strategies have had their time. Whether or not they were the wrong approach to begin with, as we think, I do not believe that Front-Bench Members on either side of the Committee think that they should be kept. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington and his hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South signalled that clearly. That view is confirmed by the evidence that we have heard.

We have heard a lot of evidence. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington is right that people had things to say about issues of transition and detail. Adrian Penfold from British Land said:

“There has been a sense that development has been imposed on local people…In many cases…it causes a feeling of imposition on local communities…regional government is often seen as an arm of central Government. So the situation is seen as central Government imposing on local people…The best situations are where we work with local authorities and communities to get around the feelings of imposition, and developments happen.”––[Official Report, Localism Public Bill Committee, 25 January 2011; c. 106, Q179.]

That is the view that we have heard. I cannot recall a single piece of evidence that argued for the retention of regional spatial strategies. My hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central pointed out that some of the foremost opponents of regional spatial strategies are Labour Members. I think the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr Jones) described them as Stalinist in their practice, if not their intent.