HC Deb 03 December 1936 vol 318 cc1408-10
16. Mr. BATEY

asked the Minister of Labour whether the report expected by the Commissioner of Special Areas in regard to new industries, and now in the possession of the Government, recommends that the Government should themselves establish new industries or financially assist in the establishment of new industries in the distressed areas?

26. Mr. SEXTON

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is his intention to publish the results of the investigation of the inquiry by an expert firm on the question of possible industrial development in South-West Durham, which investigation was undertaken at the request of Mr. Malcolm Stewart when he was Commissioner for the Special Areas of England and Wales?


I assume that the hon. Member refers to the report made to the Commissioner as a result of the investigation mentioned in paragraph 145 of the third report of the Commissioner for Special Areas, England and Wales. I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) on 16th November.


Does not the Commissioner recommend that the Government should give assistance in starting new industries?


It is not for me but for the Commissioner. If he thinks it necessary, he can embody the substance of any report sent to him in a report to me, and it is then only that the question of publication would arise.


I will raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

28. Mr. LAWSON

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce an amended Special Areas Bill, and whether he can say when it will be introduced?


It is hoped that the proposed Bill to amend the Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act, 1934, will be introduced soon after the House meets in January.


While thanking the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask why he made an important announcement in public last night rather than to the House of Commons, particularly in view of the debates and discussions on this matter in recent days?


It was in the public interest.


Is it not the recognised practice and custom of the House of Commons that Ministers should make statements of that kind in the House of Commons before making them outside?


It is not the invariable rule.


asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the petition presented to this House from the South Wales distressed area was a representative one of all the local public bodies, large industrial concerns, churches, and public men; and will he give some indication of the action he proposes to take in response to the prayer?

The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)

I fully accept the hon. Member's description of the signatories to this petition. Its object is one which was fully debated in this House on 17th November, and I can add nothing to the undertaking which was then given that the Government would again give serious consideration to all the proposals which have been made by the Commissioners for the Special Areas.


Are we likely to have the Government's proposals in regard to this area available to the public and the House of Commons before Christmas?


I cannot say without notice.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many new industries have been established in the Special Area of West Cumberland since the inauguration of the Special Areas Reconstruction Association, Limited; the total amount loaned; and how many additional people have been employed?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

As I indicated to the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. A. Jenkins) on 5th November, the Special Areas Reconstruction Association must consider each individual application on its merits and it would not be in the interests either of the association or of potential borrowers that the benefits received by various areas should be the subject of competitive comparisons. I am informed that the association has under consideration 12 applications for the establishment of new businesses or extensions to existing businesses in the West Cumberland area, but I am not in a position to state the amount of additional employment involved in these applications. I would remind the hon. Member that the association was established for the purpose of assisting small businesses and that the employment capacity of such businesses is necessarily limited.

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