§ Mr. Mallon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will give details of the funding arrangements for the interdepartmental committee for rural development;
(2) if he has plans to establish a permanent body responsible for rural development in Northern Ireland;
(3) if he will give details of the composition of the interdepartmental committee for rural development established in Northern Ireland in 1989;
(4) if he will give details of the terms of reference of the interdepartmental committee for rural development established in Northern Ireland in 1989;
(5) if he will give details of the work (a) carried out to date and (b) to be carried out by the interdepartmental committee for rural development established in Northern Ireland in 1989.
§ Mr. Brooke
[holding answer 30 November 1990]: The interdepartmental committee on rural development is chaired by the permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland. Its members are drawn from the six Northern Ireland Government Departments and from other statutory agencies with an interest in rural matters including the Industrial Development Board, the Local Enterprise Development Unit, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.
The Committee's terms of reference are:to continue the work started by the earlier interdepartmental group, maintaining an overview of Government policies and programmes in the most deprived rural areas of Northern Ireland in order to maximise the impact of existing expenditure;to consider appropriate area sensitivity and improved co-ordination at local level in the application of mainline Departmental programmes;to consider and develop appropriate responses to the conclusions put forward by the rural action project and other relevant reports; andto monitor and evaluate measures initiated.
In pursuit of its remit, the committee has held discussions with district councils, the rural action project, promoters of rural development projects and other rural interests. An early decision, following a recommendation from the Committee, was to fund the rural action project for a further year to 31 March 1991. Some £0.25 million has been allocated to the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland in the current financial year to meet these costs and to provide assistance to voluntary bodies engaged in activities designed to identify the needs of, and means of assisting, deprived rural areas. The costs of secretarial support to the Committee and other associated overheads have been borne by the Department from existing resources.22W
The Committee has now completed its work and expects to report in the very near future. It is not possible at this stage to anticipate either the report's recommendations or the decisions which will follow. Although it is not intended to publish the report, decisions flowing from it will be announced as appropriate.