Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee

The potential of England's rural economy

Terms of reference and call for evidence

The EFRA Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into the potential of England's rural economy: what could be achieved and the barriers to achieving it. The inquiry will build on the work of the previous EFRA Committee in its inquiry into the Government's Rural Strategy and the draft Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill (Fifth Report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, Session 2004-05, HC 408-I), and take into account the new arrangements for rural policy put in place by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.

In particular, the inquiry will consider:

- Defra's objectives for economic development in rural areas, including the relevant Public Service Agreement (PSA) target, and the funding available to achieve them.

- The role of Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in unlocking the economic potential of rural areas, and the effectiveness of Defra's relationship with RDAs.

- Agricultural and non-agricultural providers of rural employment, for example horticulture, and possible barriers, including the structure of the retail food sector, to their further development.

- The effectiveness of rural proofing arrangements in ensuring that the rural aspects of economic development are properly reflected in national and regional policy, including planning policy.

- The role of Natural England and the Commission for Rural Communities and their effectiveness in taking forward the work of their predecessor bodies.

The Committee welcomes written submissions on these issues. The deadline for receipt of written evidence is Monday 30 October 2006. Further details about the timing of the inquiry, including oral evidence sessions, will be announced in due course.


Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by e-mail to efracom@parliament.uk. The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions must address the terms of reference. They should be as brief as possible, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference, and the document must include an executive summary, ideally no more than one page long.

Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during inquiries. If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the Committee, please contact the Clerk of the Committee to discuss this. Please bear in mind that Committees are not able to investigate individual cases.

Personal information, such as address and contact details, should be provided separately from the body of your submission. You should be aware that there may be circumstances in which the House of Commons will be required to communicate information to third parties on request, in order to comply with its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Submissions should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of the submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.


1. For further details about this inquiry, please contact either Chris Stanton, Clerk of the Committee, on 020 7219 3263, or Jonathan Little, the Committee's Agriculture Specialist, on 020 7219 3279.