Whitehall is urged to agree on one England

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Indy Politics
THE PRIME Minister has been asked to put the English regions on the map; one map to be used across Whitehall.

Five of the Government's main economic departments are currently using three different definitions for the regions of England.

Giles Radice, the senior Labour member of the Commons Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee, and Derek Fatchett, Labour's frontbench spokesman on the regions, yesterday put down questions asking John Major to improve co-ordination.

For while Trade and Industry and Employment split Derbyshire and put High Peak in their North-west region, the departments of Transport and Environment left it in Derbyshire and placed it in the East Midlands. But Transport and Environment - unlike Trade, Industry and Employment - also placed Buckinghamshire in their Eastern region, rather than the South-east.

Transport and Environment place Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in the Eastern region. But the Treasury took a different view entirely. As far as it was concerned all four counties were firmly placed in the South-east, while High Peak was again placed in Derbyshire and the East Midlands. Trade and Industry, Employment, Transport and Environment were all agreed that Cumbria was in the North-west. But according to the Treasury's map, Cumbria was part of the North region.

Brussels distributes more than pounds 1bn a year in regional aid to the UK, and the Maastricht treaty creates an EC Committee of the Regions to advise on regional assistance. Mr Fatchett said the Commons was expected to vote tomorrow on the selection process for the UK's 24-strong representation on the committee. But it was still unclear whether England's representatives would be chosen on a regional basis, and how they would be selected.

There could be problems if the Treasury nominated someone from Cumbria to represent the North-east; Trade and Industry chose someone from High Peak to represent the North-west; and Environment picked someone from Buckinghamshire to represent the Eastern region.

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