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DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER - PLEDGE TO THE REGIONS

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Deputy prime minister John Prescott has reaffirmed the government's commitment to make regional development a top p...
Deputy prime minister John Prescott has reaffirmed the government's commitment to make regional development a top priority in its agenda.

Visiting the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber, Mr Prescott said that decentralisation was important not only in the context of devolution in Scotland and Wales but also in the English Regions.

Speaking after his visit Mr Prescott said:

'The government is moving quickly to implement the key commitments it made to the British electorate. These will be reflected in the legislative programme to be announced in the Queen's speech next week.

'They cover education, health, crime, jobs, decentralisation and devolution - all priorities which we pledged to bring forward.

'We are working towards legislation which will provide the mechanisms for stimulating regional development. The fact that I am here today shows my determination to make this work.

'We must adopt a more coherent and integrated approach to regional affairs, to planning development, and to providing the environment, transport, and infrastructure and other needs of our rural and urban communities, with greater regional accountability.

'A key part will be played by de-centralisation - enabling English regions, as a first step through Regional Development Agencies, to set local priorities and seize opportunities. I see our regional government offices playing a key role in helping to take forward this agenda.

'Healthy regional economies mean healthy local communities. We need to remember how important it is for the well being of our society that young people should have the chance of a decent education, decent training and a decent job.

'We must re-establish the connections between economic ambitions and the social context, and those connections must be made at the levels that matter to people. De-centralising decision making and getting effective machinery in place in the regions will enable us to make the right connections.

'Much has already been done by local authorities and others. But much more still needs to be done. We will build on what they have achieved. We are determined to ensure, by legislation and through other means, that our goals for regional development are achieved.'

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