Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire) (Con): Why in a relatively small country such as England, where we already have well established counties and districts that people relate to, are the Government persisting in developing an unwanted, remote and undemocratic regional tier which people do not relate to?
John Healey: Quite simply, if matters are left at local authority level, there will be concern about equity across regions. As well as that, some projects and priorities need to reach beyond local authority boundaries to foster strategic development in terms of jobs, homes or infrastructure. That is the simple answer, and I hope that he will accept the relevance and importance of some regional level functions. I hope that he will also accept that that is combined with a clear expectation and requirement for RDAs to devolve the funding to local authorities and sub-regions wherever possible and, by doing that, to reinforce the hand of local authorities to play, for the first time, a greater role in shaping the economy and prospects for their people in their area in the future.