§ Mr. Speaker
Before I call the first of the next two orders, perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if I pointed out that those Members who wish to refer to areas others than those which are contained in either of the orders will be out of Order. The two orders apply entirely to the areas which are in the order, and to no others. It will not be in Order to ask that other areas should be included.
§ Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)
Would it not be in Order to point out how much more deserving other areas are than those in the two orders we shall be discussing?
§ Mr. Carmichael (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Will it be in Order, in discussing the places named in these orders, to object if we consider that a Development Area is being too widely extended?
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Harold Wilson)
I beg to move,That the Distribution of Industry (Development Areas) Order, 1949, dated 4th March, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th March, be approved.The occasion of this order, as the House knows, is to review the working of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, Section 7 of which provides that three years after the passing of the Act the Board of Trade should consider whether any area should be added to, or removed from, the Schedule of Development Areas therein listed. As I told the House on 17th September last, and as was more fully discussed in the White Paper on the Distribution of Industry, last October, it was proposed to make minor boundary alterations by adding to the South Wales Development Area and to the Scottish Development Area and to schedule two new areas—Merseyside and parts of the Highlands. The order deals with changes in the South Wales boundaries, and also with Merseyside. So far as South Wales and Monmouthshire are concerned, certain parishes in the Llandilo Rural District, namely, the parishes of Llandybie, 1344 Bettws and Quarter-Bach and the Glynamman ward of the parish of LlandiloFawr Rural are added. The object of including these parishes is to correct a long-standing anomaly, and to bring wholly within the Development Area the industrial parts of the Amman Valley, which forms a single social and economic unit.
The second main purpose of the order is to create a new Development Area, the Merseyside Development Area by adding to the Schedule the county boroughs of Liverpool and Bootle, the urban districts of Litherland and Huyton-with-Roby, the parishes of Netherton, Aintree, Kirkby, Simonswood and Halewood, the country boroughs of Birkenhead and Wallasey and the borough of Bebbington. The Merseyside Development Area comprises approximately 112 square miles and has a present population of some 1,197,000. As required by Section 7 (4) of the Distribution of Industry Act, all local authorities affected by the Order, including the Lancashire County Council, have been consulted and all agree that the area should be scheduled as a welcome aid to the solution of Merseyside's economic and unemployment problems. Their several observations upon the boundaries of the area have been fully considered.
In accordance with past Debates of this kind I should now justify to the House, from the unemployment history of the area, the reasons for this new order. Before the war the Merseyside area suffered consistently and to a very marked extent from unemployment. In 1932 some 109,000 or 28 per cent. of the insured population were out of work. The average unemployment in the years 1932–38 was some 97,000, which is 24 per cent. of the insured population. Of these 83,000 were male workers, representing 29 per cent. of the insured male workers. Unemployment on Merseyside has a special character differing from that of the other Development Areas, because Merseyside is primarily a port and commercial centre rather than an industrial area, and, unlike the other Development Areas, it is not dependent primarily on heavy industries which have gone into a decline. In 1939 manufacturing industries, including those connected with shipping and port industries, accounted for 38 per cent. of the total insured 1345 population. For Great Britain as a whole the comparable figure was 53 per cent. Many of its main manufacturing industries were connected with the port activities and the area was seriously under-industrialised. The pre-war decline in shipping and port activities, adversely affected by the decline in the volume of international trade, and the drop in exports of textiles, was not balanced by the growth of other industries. The number of factories opened between 1933 and mid-1939 was only 39, and that is only three more than the total number of factories closed on Merseyside during that period, 36 factories being, in fact, closed in those six years.
During the war the situation changed very rapidly. Apart from the effects of the call-up to the Armed Forces, the port, during the war, was very active. The munitions factories, particularly the large Royal Ordnance Factories at Kirkby and Fazakerley and the Ministry of Aircraft Production factory at Speke employed many thousands on semi-skilled engineering work. As a result, by the end of the war, unemployment had fallen to a very low level.
In the post-war period steps have been taken to convert the war factories to peace-time production, but employment in them has inevitably fallen below the war-time peak. In addition, the area has suffered badly from war damage. In consequence, as men and women returned from the Forces, the number out of work has risen. By June, 1946, the unemployment figures were 28,700, or 6½ per cent. of the insured population—22,400 males, 7½ per cent. of the insured men workers. Even so this level was about one-third of that of the best pre-war years; a quarter of the average figure in the 'thirties. Taking the hard core—the numbers unemployed for a year or more—these represent today only one-sixth of the figures in 1939—and that was one of the best ever pre-war years—and a much smaller proportion of the hard-core unemployment problem in the slump years.
I should like to say a word about the composition of unemployment there. There is a special feature on Merseyside. As the House knows, female unemployment, especially on the north side of the river, does not present a 1346 serious problem at all. In fact, the Ministry of Labour's forecast, on the basis of the known forward industrial developments, indicates a shortage of 6,000 female workers, whilst a very substantial surplus of male unemployed remains to be catered for.
The problem is made more difficult by the high proportion—more than half of the total—of those out of work who are unskilled, mostly general labourers. In June, 1948, of the 20,200 unemployed men aged over 18 years, 11,100 were classified as labourers or 55 per cent. of the total, including builders' labourers, engineering, shipbuilding and metal trade labourers, general labourers for heavy work, and general labourers for light work.
The majority of the non-labourers were in the building trades or in occupations associated with utility services and port activities. There were unemployed seamen and other ships' crews totalling 1,600. Manufacturing industries accounted for only one-quarter of the total non-labourers unemployed. I should also mention that nearly half of the unemployed males are aged over 40; in June, 1948, they represented 45 per cent. of the total. This is a serious problem, though it is a smaller proportion than that for Great Britain as a whole, the figure for Great Britain as a whole being 55 per cent.
Having referred to the unemployment figures, I would like to say a word about the employment situation on Merseyside. The employment position on Merseyside has changed very considerably since before the war. In mid-1939 the total number of insured persons in employment was 372,700; in mid-1945, the figure was slightly higher at 376,600. In the first year after the war, employment rose by 21,000, and in the following year by 31,000, but from 1947 to 1948 this rate of progress has fallen off to only 4,000 for that period. However, by the middle of 1948 the total numbers in employment were 433,000; that is, some 60,000 more men and women in employment on Merseyside than in 1939. When expressing our concern at the still high level of unemployment, we should not forget that the numbers employed today are not only 60,000 greater than immediately before the war but far higher than those at any time in all recorded history on Merseyside.
§ Mr. Wilson
No, only the area covered by the new order. If we had developments at Ellesmere Port, the figures would be that much better. This increased employment is the result of a number of factors, including increased activity in the Merseyside existing industries and the steps taken by the Government and the Merseyside local authorities to provide special schemes of employment by converting war factories to civilian use and by the post-war factory building programme, and so on. However, as I have said, although unemployment, and especially the hard core problem, is much less than before the war, the problem still remains and it is a matter for grave concern especially to those of us who have the honour to represent Merseyside constituencies in Parliament and know the human and social tragedies—as well as the economic loss—which even this reduced figure represents. I should therefore say a word about what is being done in the way of new factory building. Up to the end of January, 1949, 28 new factory buildings, with a production space of 391,000 square feet, and providing an estimated eventual employment of some 4,000, have been completed on Merseyside since the war.
§ Mr. Collick (Birkenhead, West)
Can the President of the Board of Trade tell us what proportion of those figures applies to Birkenhead?
§ Mr. Wilson
I am sorry that I have not got the figures. My hon. Friend may deal with that when he replies. I must apologise to the House for giving all these figures; to break them up between the two sides of Merseyside would make it even more tedious for the House. A further 31 schemes, with a production area of 1,465,000 square feet and an eventual employment of some 6,000 persons, are under construction and a further 41 new industrial projects, leading to the employment of 5,350 persons, have been approved or have been granted industrial development certificates. This gives a total programme to date of 100 new factory schemes, providing eventual employment for well over 15,000 people, more than half of whom will be men, and only 4,000 of whom are at present 1348 employed. I have not included blitz reinstatements, repairs, renovations and alterations in the figures of factory buildings, nor have I included the fact that nearly five million square feet of Government factory space in the area have been allocated for industrial use.
Turning to what this order will make it possible to do, there is the question of the availability of sites for industrial development. The development plans of the local planning authorities show a fair amount of land available for industrial development; and the Board of Trade have been considering the question of the siting of new industrial building in this area and the scale of development required, and a preliminary survey is being made at the present moment of a number of possible sites with a view to the selection of those most suitable for industrial development and, with Treasury consent, their acquisition. I hope that some part of the future factory building will be on industrial estate lines, in co-operation with and in extension of those trading estates already existing both on the north and south sides of the river which the local authorities have already established at Kirkby, Speke, Fazakerley, Netherton and Bromborough.
Industrial estates are particularly suitable for the establishments of small and medium-sized projects, and although I do not think they will make a major contribution to Merseyside's unemployment problem, which requires the provision of employment for large numbers of unskilled males, they will, especially on the south side of the river, meet some male employment needs and the incidental needs of female employees. There are some major projects, such as the I.C.I. copper project, B.I. Cables and the Kodak projects for the Kirkby Industrial Estates which are already in view. The remaining parts of the future new industrial developments will take place on individual sites and the Board of Trade are already trying to steer suitable industrial projects to the Merseyside area.
As my hon. Friends know, the Liverpool Corporation have already, and have had since 1936, powers to provide many of the special advantages which Development Areas can provide with Government assistance. They have, indeed, done a considerable amount in that direction 1349 already but we all recognise that what they can do is limited to Liverpool only. There are many areas in Merseyside in addition to Liverpool and I do not think any of us can be satisfied that the mere existence or exercise of those powers will solve the problem in that area. I want to stress the fact that the problem is Merseyside and not Liverpool alone. The scheduled area forms a closely knit economic unit, and it is essential that it should be regarded as one whole area within which all industrial development has to be co-ordinated. If one goes any day and watches the flow of the population across the river on the Mersey ferries, one will see the essential economic unity of the whole area. There are some 58,000 workmen's weekly tickets issued from the Cheshire side to Liverpool every week, and 48,000 in the opposite direction. And, of course, there is a large number of black-coated workers from the hon. Gentleman's constituency going a little later in the day.
It is clear that the planning of industrial development should be unified within an area comprising both sides of the river. Where it has been possible to view the problem as a whole—for instance, by the Dock Access Committee—there has been great benefit. The scheduling of the central part of this area as a Development Area, and the extension of the activities of the Industrial Estate Company, should provide one important means of ensuring that the employment needs of the area are treated as a whole.
But although the powers of the Board of Trade are limited to the scheduling under this order and to the establishment of the Estates Company, I am sure it will be generally agreed on Merseyside that this is not enough. The Estates Company will be necessarily limited in its powers and functions. Its main duty will be to build factories for industrialists who can be induced by various means to come to Merseyside. Clearly the needs of the area go far wider than this. I throw this out as a suggestion to all the local authorities in the Greater Mersey area, that parallel with the Estates Company, but closely linked with it, especially in terms of officials, there should be established some joint organisation, a development council or board—call it what you will—both to act on behalf of the whole 1350 area for the attraction of industries to Merseyside, and also to be capable of discussing all matters affecting the economic future of the area as a whole, and ensuring discussion and, where possible, appropriate action on those matters affecting the area.
Membership of such an organisation after its establishment will clearly go beyond the local authorities covered in this scheduling order and should include a number of those bodies on both sides of the Mersey which are not considered suitable locations for industrial building but which, nevertheless, have a real interest in furthering opportunities for the employment of their citizens. I have in mind, for instance, some of the local authority areas within the constituency of the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), not to mention that of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Waterloo (Captain Bullock).
There is at present no single body capable of considering these problems and discussing the various ancillary services and needs—transport, housing, basic services, docks and harbour industries, and so on—and I sincerely hope that the authorities concerned will seriously get together to consider the establishment of some such organisation. I would commend them to study the model of Cumberland, where the Estates Company and the Development Council have worked together for a period of years and between them have, with the help of the Government and private industry, virtually solved what at one time seemed an almost insoluble hard core unemployment problem in that area.
Finally, I want to come to the effects of the order. The scheduling of a Development Area does not provide the Board of Trade with almost unlimited powers over the direction of industry to that area, but it does make it easier to encourage industry to go to a particular area. It works in with the national policy of restricting the continued spread of industry in areas already congested, for which we have adequate powers, of course, under the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, and under the building controls. As we found before the war, when the Liverpool Corporation—though not the other local authorities—had many of the powers of financial attraction, the absence of any national policy of steering industry away from the overcrowded 1351 London and South Eastern areas meant that local powers to attract were of little use, and, as I have said, there were almost as many factories closed as opened on Merseyside during those pre-war years.
But, taken together with our national controls, the machinery provided under this order does provide inducements under the powers given in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, in relation to the Development Areas, to erect factory premises with ancillary services where necessary, to purchase land for that purpose to assist industrialists wishing to build for themselves, to improve the basic services on which the industrial development of the area depends, to promote the reclamation of derelict and bomb-damaged land for industrial use, and to improve amenities. On Merseyside this should make it easier to set up factories providing employment for men, preferably factories requiring a high proportion of unskilled and semi-skilled labour.
The formal act of scheduling will not result in any immediate large-scale industrial development. The process is likely to be a hard and a slow one. Apart from any preliminary site development work that needs to be done, it is not certain that an extension of industrial estate activities or the building of standard factories will do more than lead to the solution of part of the unemployment problem. With the present restrictions on capital development, limiting new construction to projects which either develop our export potential or are valuable import savers, we cannot for the present build advance factories before a suitable tenant is found. So practical results in the building of new factories may depend on whether and what type of projects come forward. Very few new developments are coming forward today providing jobs mainly for men, although we are doing all we can to steer such suitable factories to the Merseyside area.
I should explain to the House that it is proposed that the North Western Industrial Estates Company, which is already responsible for Government factory buildings in the existing South Lancashire Development Area, will undertake similar work on Merseyside. I am in course of reconstructing the board of the Company so as to include 1352 directors, probably forming a majority of the board, who have special knowledge of Merseyside's needs and problems.
§ Mr. Wilson
Not on the board; but it may work through a local committee.
As I have said, this task of solving the unemployment problem of Merseyside is not going to be an easy one or one which, from its very nature, can be rapid of solution. Serious as the problems which still remain in South Wales, the North East Coast and Scotland are, I regard the Merseyside problem as far more difficult, both in its size and in its nature, even than them. An area which has grown up on a largely non-industrial basis, an area which contributed greatly to the development of international trade and commerce, but as trade and commerce declined remained un-industrialised, has suffered both from the lack of skill and industrial services and, indeed, from a wanton neglect by Government and industry alike in the prewar period in the provision of enough factories to employ its population. It was an area which invested heavily in the Victorian and Edwardian prosperity and it contributed to that prosperity, to the welfare of the country, in its ports and shipping services. By its investment and by that contribution it suffered mass unemployment and great social and personal tragedy.
I think all hon. Members on both sides of the House who know Merseyside remember what that unemployment and tragedy was when a third of the men on Merseyside were unemployed and 30 per cent. of the working-class families on Merseyside were on a lower standard of living than that of Seebohm Rowntree's "Human Needs" standard. Those who lived on Merseyside, as I did, during those darkest days, remember what the area suffered, and I am sure all hon. Members representing the area will testify to the great qualities of those people, their courage and heroism and their willingness and great adaptability in learning new trades and new skill such as some people, not knowing them, might have thought they could never develop.
I am sure hon. Members in all parts of the House will wish to see some pledge given, some surety vouchsafed 1353 to the people of Merseyside, that there is hope of a new future for the area, on entirely different lines from the past, an industrial rather than a commercial future. In making this order it is the policy of the Government and of the House to set the people of Merseyside free from the unemployment, poverty and insecurity which too many of them knew in the dark days before the war. This order is to be seen, not as a mere administrative measure, but as a measure of hope and encouragement from this House to the people of Merseyside.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Oliver Lyttelton (Aldershot)
The House may know that I have a particular interest in this subject. The Bill under which this order is to be made was introduced into the House by myself, although it was largely the work of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when in the Coalition Government. I have a particular interest in these subjects. When we hear that employment has increased by 60,000—which I think is the figure the President of the Board of Trade mentioned—it is a source of gratification to everyone but we must realise that the reasons which have lead to this very large increase are extraordinary. We must not get lulled into any sense that we can maintain that increase without constant effort. The general state of demand in the world is entirely abnormal, partly as a result of eight years of non-maintenance. Therefore we regret the necessity which leads to more areas being included as development areas, because this is evidence that the Government consider the unemployment problem to be a very serious and pressing one. Nevertheless, we think this is the right measure to take.
In scheduling a new area, it is most important to control the cost of the factory space put up as much as possible. I would remind the House that long before the Act was introduced into the House my Ministry during the war started the building of factories in development areas. It is most important that the cost should be very closely controlled, otherwise we are creating a bias which has to go out in some way or another. Either the Government have to charge an uneconomic rent for their factory, or the industrialist is put off from going to those scheduled areas by a 1354 higher cost. I am trying not to be overcritical but I think it is true to say that the cost per square foot of the Government-erected factories since the war is pretty high. The capital cost per man employed causes me some anxiety. I therefore ask the President of the Board of Trade to pay particular attention to keeping down the cost of this new development.
As all hon. Members know who are familiar with this problem, the difficulty is to secure new employment either for men or women. In this case it is chiefly for men—
§ Mr. Speaker
We are discussing the order, not the general question of unemployment, and debate must be confined to the order.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
With great respect, I was trying to show that in this particular area, as in others, the same problem arises of trying to promote new employment without taking the labour supplies from existing industries. This remark applies more particularly to the Welsh part of this new order than to Merseyside.
§ Mr. Speaker
It applies more to the Act and to general policy and not to the order. The order is made under the Act, but we cannot discuss the Act.
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Am I not entitled to say that if the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to schedule areas in Wales, he must pay particular attention to promoting the employment of women more than of men in the Welsh valleys? Otherwise an unbalanced employment situation which we do not wish to see might result. That is the point I am making. I am trying to confine myself strictly to the new areas which are to be included under this order. I do not think that the conditions which I have been mentioning apply to the Merseyside project as much as to the Welsh part. It is one of the difficulties which Ministers will always have in adding new schedules—not to create the position of labour being taken away from existing industries into new ones.
Whilst we regret that the Government feel that the unemployment problem is obdurate enough to make this addition to the development areas necessary, 1355 nevertheless, if that is their opinion we must wholeheartedly support the order in this form. I would go a little further and say that I believe that private industry has, all the time, been entirely behind the Government in trying to place new projects in the development areas, and these new areas which are now being scheduled will be no exception. I am quite sure that if the President of the Board of Trade asks for the support of industry in getting as many private projects as possible to go into these areas he will meet with a very ready response.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Moody (Liverpool, Fairfield)
As one of the representatives of Liverpool, the hub of the Merseyside area which it is now proposed to bring under the development order, I would say that we are very thankful and welcome this order making ours a Development Area. This area has been generously endowed by nature. We have the wide, deep, fully tidal, beautiful Mersey, and as the President of the Board of Trade has said, we have a goodly heritage in the history of commerce in this country. When one looks at those who serve the nation in other places, it will be seen that very few areas have made a greater contribution than has the Merseyside area. Now, in spite of what nature has given to us and the heritage handed over to us, we have the appalling spectacle of 23,000 people who are almost wanting bread in the city of Liverpool alone. The most remarkable thing is that this area has been governed predominantly for many years by the party of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and now, in 1949, we find them coming cap in hand to a Labour Minister and saying, "Give us some Socialist planning to get us out of the mess into which we have led Merseyside."
We are thankful that this order, with its power to establish new factories at 1939 rents and its help for those who are prepared to build factories in this area, has been introduced. But we have to recognise that the acid test of whether this order succeeds or not is the way the Development Board functions after it has been set up. Some time ago in Merseyside we hailed with delight the fact that Dunlop had come and provided work for thousands. In their tyre department, dur- 1356 ing the war and immediately afterwards, they produced 2,200 heavy tyres a week. That production is now almost nil. On inquiry we find that the best we are likely to get out of it in the near future is 600 tyres a week, which will mean further unemployment or bringing down the working hours to 35 hours a week.
Something more than this order is required to solve the problem. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it will be difficult. I ask him to look carefully into the area when he comes to administer the order and to ask himself whether the Tories who have run the area for so long have made the best of what they had during their years of office. We have a glorious river, we have many miles of docks, and yet we have never accepted the fact that Liverpool might be a great ship-repairing centre. We have done minor jobs, but we have sent the major jobs of ship repairing outside the Merseyside. The new Development Board will have to look into this question. I think our miles of docking space provide reasonable facilities for major repairs for all kinds of ships, provided we have the equipment. Liverpool should not be just a place at which to load and unload and collect coppers quickly. We should be a great ship-repairing centre. Have we not collected in both wars the cream of shipbuilding craftsmen? One of the tragedies of Liverpool today is that the men who were directed to the city—the young men who have married and wish to settle down there—are becoming unemployed now that the war is over.
We have on Merseyside the finest ship-repairers and craftsmen in the world. Not very many of them are assured of permanent employment. Moreover, the ship-repairing firms have declined to set up joint production committees, and I ask the Minister, in appointing the new board, to look carefully into that point, and to press the desire of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for joint production committees for ship-repairing on a large scale. It may be said that costs are high on Merseyside; if that is so, it may be due to inefficient management. That, again, wants to be looked at.
I suggest to this new board that it should consider making Liverpool a fishing port; with all its great miles of docks and all its facilities, we should not have to go to Fleetwood, or anywhere else 1357 to get our fish. Liverpool, with imagination and initiative, could be a great fishing port. The new Development Board must also look at the over-capitalised Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, which has not yet shown any great initiative in modernisation. It almost breaks one's heart when one goes to Liverpool and sees the way our dockers are lumped together like cattle in overcrowded trains when they go to work.
The social conditions on our docks are such that they do not tend to get the best out of the men. The day when anything would do for the docker is gone, and this board must look into the conditions in which these men get their food and the way in which they have to pass their time on the dockside. The whole trouble is that in the past there has been too little trade union representation on these various boards. I do hope that when this board is set up the Minister will realise that trade unionists are the salt of the earth and that they have the greatest contribution to make to a successful British industry. I hope he will give them full and fair representation on all the committees which he starts. If the Minister will proceed on those lines, the scheme has a chance of working.
There is an urgent call from the people of Liverpool that this scheme should be a success; 23,000 of our people, despite the story of full employment, are as I have said almost wanting bread. Their souls are rotting with unemployment, and they are going down. Good craftsmen are being wasted. I appeal to the Minister to take the workers into his confidence, because they are the backbone of the country. If he does that, he will lay the foundations for making this scheme succeed, and will bring to the whole of Merseyside a new hope and a belief in a brighter and higher standard of life. As the children grow up, they will be glad to know of the day when the Labour Party was able to give them Socialist planning in order to get them out of the mess in which the tottering Tories had left them.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Raikes (Liverpool, Wavertree)
I am not in disagreement with the overall picture painted by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade about unemployment, past and present, on Merseyside. I should like, in the first 1358 instance, to pay a tribute, which I think ought to be paid, to the enlightened policy of the Liverpool Corporation, before ever this order came into operation, in developing as they have developed, the industries of Kirkby, Speke and Fazackerley. I am not going to be tempted by the hon. Member for Fairfield (Mr. Moody) into a political battle. All I would say is that, although planning may be a good thing at times, the success of this order will very largely depend on whether the new Development Area works on a wise and businesslike basis, or, on the other hand, whether it allows itself to drift into mere theoretical Socialist planning. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that no Tory or citizen of Liverpool would come cap in hand to this or any other Government.
I should like to give one bouquet to the President of the Board of Trade. I am glad that the Development Area has not been made too wide. In fact the Merseyside Development Area is now being treated officially as a single economic unit for what is generally known as Merseyside. Had it been wider, it could have created much greater difficulty. As a hon. Member for Merseyside, the main point which I would like to emphasise is that I hope this Board will not limit its conception of unity purely to the question of manufactures. The President of the Board of Trade made reference to the port, and I think I am on non-controversial ground with other hon. Members for Merseyside if I say that the existence of Merseyside as a major centre is due entirely to the port. So far as industry is concerned, it will only continue and last if linked to the trading interests and facilities of the port. Therefore, the unity of interest between the port and industry is absolutely vital if this order to to prove a success.
The recent history of centralised planning has not always been hopeful, and if the new board is to be successful it has got to encourage the production of those goods which are likely to be in demand both at home and abroad. If we are merely guided by economic theories and recent statistics, we may fall into some grave difficulties indeed, because the sellers' market is rapidly becoming a buyers' market. Therefore, it is necessary, if this new Development Area is to work, that those goods should be encouraged and produced which are likely under the new conditions which will arise not only to be produced but also to be sold. In 1359 fact, one could say that sale is even a greater problem than production itself. Fortunately round the port of Liverpool there is a considerable number of local men of a very vast experience in the art of sale, both at home and abroad. I trust that the directors of this new board will take the advice of local business men who have such experience in order to ensure that we produce the goods that can most rapidly find a market when they are produced.
Theoretical planning—"planning" is a very popular word—may very easily go wrong. I will give one example so far as Merseyside is concerned. I submit that it has suffered very gravely from theoretical planning which has led to an economic trade flirtation on the other side of the Iron Curtain, whereas, had we had the full facilities in the course of the last year or two to exchange, say, British steel for Canadian timber at the port of Liverpool, a very great deal more could have been done to the advantage, not only of Merseyside, but of the nation as a whole.
I close as I began with what is really the main point of this scheme. It is the duty of the area to consider all the time how encouragement can be given to the production of those goods which will give the port not only prosperity, but will be sold for a long, continuous period of time. There we want the help of local men with local knowledge. In my view, it is upon this board taking the practical rather than the theoretical side in their planning that the success or failure of this order on Merseyside depends.
§ 10.47 p.m.
§ Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland)
I have listened with pleasure to the few remarks that have been made from the Opposition benches in regard to this order, and I am very pleased to find that there is common agreement in regard to it. Anybody who knows the Merseyside knows very well that during the war it was the salvation of this country. Without any doubt it is true to say that the sacrifice made there saved the nation. It was the port of the West; it furnished the seven seas with its best men. Many who came to the battle found that the necessary goods were always there. The dockside has not only been loyal and true to the nation; it has played its part.
I have looked upon the tragedy of the Merseyside for three-quarters of a cen- 1360 tury. I may not look all that old, but for three-quarters of a century I have lived in the midst of the poverty there, and when I look upon the wonderful business opportunities that one Government after another have missed in the great City of Liverpool, I believe that it would be enough to drive an American mad. Any sane American coming here and looking for a city in which to do great things would have found Liverpool, a port with two tides in 24 hours and one able to deal with shipping to and from all parts of the world. But until this order was brought forward, no businessman had been able to see the possibilities of that port on the western side.
Only 18 months ago, we had to go begging and pleading to the energetic City of Liverpool to see if we could get anybody to undertake that Liverpool should be made a Development Area. We could not arouse enough enthusiasm to make a fly move. The dynamic force there is absolutely dead. Apart from the shipping, there seems to be no initiative, and when the shipping on the Merseyside dies, we shall have a surfeit of unemployed, perhaps 100,000 or 120,000. It appears to me that in the past the idea was to have as many unemployed as possible on the market.
I visualise tonight not a Thomas More's "Utopia," but something that is going to vibrate and put force into the life of that city of ours. I can visualise the life of the city with 99 factories being brought into the area, as is reported, under this order. I can see a live body of men with foresight making Liverpool what it ought to be—and not only Liverpool but the rest of Merseyside. Unfortunately, it is a truism that Liverpool always prospered in war but in peace filled her workhouse. We had the biggest workhouse in the world, and filled it well. One out of every 20 men on the dockside died in the workhouse, and yet we made more millionaires in proportion to the poverty of the people in that city than any other City in the Kingdom barring London. In Liverpool today we do not see poverty. That is not on account of the initiative of the business men of Liverpool; it is because we had a war, paid out money and threw it away because we wanted the labour.
But there is a change coming, and I am glad to see that a Labour Minister 1361 has grasped the opportunity and brought forward a Measure which will make the streets of Liverpool free of unemployed and will give our people, the young and the old, the feeble and the aged, the opportunities they need. These factories can bring them employment. What is to stop them bringing in watch-making, clock-making and other industries the products of which we used to import from Germany and Austria? Then there was Switzerland with watches. We can make watches in Liverpool. We made them 100 years ago, and clocks were made round about Liverpool 200 years ago. All that is required is to give the men something to keep them alive.
The line of docks is not the only asset of the City of Liverpool. Going day by day to the docks reduces men to penury and poverty unless they were able to work inside. But for casual labour now, Liverpool is a closed book. No man out of employment now can go to the dockside and get work. I remember that 30, 40 or 50 years ago, any man out of work went to the docks and if the foreman liked him he was taken on. Like sheep they were driven. But all that has passed. There is a new life for the docker. He is a better trained man and lives a different life. He has something at stake. He has boys going to the secondary school and winning scholarships. Some of the dockers' boys are at the university in Liverpool today.
I want to see the dockside develop with all its great capacity—not only the shipping, but the men and women and children of that city. This Measure will give them initiative. If Liverpool is good enough to have a university and two cathedrals, and to have seen the disappearance of the workhouse, it is good enough to be given, under this Measure, an opportunity of security of tenure for employers of labour who will come along to make goods for the home and foreign markets. The sterling and the gold can all be produced by the workers of Liverpool. I pay my testimony to the wonderful foresight of the Minister and the wonderful stand which he has made. I feel proud not only because he is a Labour man, but also because in this generation in the House of Commons, when the change into the new era in Liverpool is coming about, a man representing a seat in that area has brought into this House a Measure which, in my 1362 humble opinion, will add to the lustre of this great city.
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Collick (Birkenhead, West)
I welcome the decision of the Government to schedule Merseyside as a Development Area and I want, in particular, to thank the President of the Board of Trade for the particularly keen interest and helpfulness which he has displayed in this matter. It seems to me that the case for scheduling Merseyside is overwhelming. As my hon. Friends who have spoken from this side have said already, there are, and have been for a very long time, roughly 25,000 to 30,000 unemployed men and women in this Merseyside area.
I am not proposing tonight to harrow the feelings of the House on what those figures still mean in terms of human wretchedness and in terms of human tragedy. We can gather something of what they mean by the memories that certainly everyone on this side has, and many hon. Members on the other side of the House have, of the terrible times which people in this country endured in the industrial districts in the terrible interwar years. Not only have there been 25,000 to 30,000 unemployed in Merseyside, but I think the second part of the case for scheduling Merseyside is clearly stated in the White Paper on the Distribution of Industry which referred to Merseyside and in which these words are used dealing with the present situation:In fact, male unemployment on Merseyside is still above the postwar peak for the Development Areas and the number of men out of work is still three times the employment for men expected from the whole of the post-war factory-building programme.There is that significant comment that it is a most unfortunate contrast with the Development Areas.
I think the special problems of Merseyside certainly cannot yield to treatment unless the powers in this Distribution of Industry Act and the order which follows from it, and, it may be much else, are actually applied to the treatment of this problem. Let us never forget that as late as 1937, only just before the war, there were on Merseyside alone no fewer that 80,000 unemployed people. Let us recognise this immediately, because I think it needs to be said that, bad as the problem is today, the whole position is overwhelmingly better than it ever was in the inter-war years.
1363 I want tonight particularly to deal with the position of Birkenhead, which the Solicitor-General and myself have the honour to represent in this House. Birkenhead, as the President of the Board of Trade well knows—and I think I can say this in due modesty—has taken the lead in demanding the scheduling of this area. At first, when we were going along urging the Minister to schedule the area, we had not at the time the support of the municipal authority in Liverpool. It is true that the Birkenhead Council have been overwhelmingly keen to have the place scheduled. It is equally true, I am sure, that the people of Birkenhead, and I think many others on Merseyside, are delighted with the decision which the Government have made now to schedule it. But just as the order to schedule is terrifically important with a view to getting the whole area developed, there is a peculiar problem which needs to be dealt with, namely, the pockets of unemployment within the area itself.
The President of the Board of Trade talked about 30 per cent. of the insured population being unemployed on Merseyside before the war; but let hon. Members not forget the peculiar position of some of the areas within the wider Merseyside area that is to be scheduled. Two-thirds of the industrial works in Birkenhead itself are made up of shipbuilding and ship-repairing, and it goes without saying that when shipbuilding or ship-repairing are in a bad way, enormous numbers of the town's population are thrown out of work. At one period in the inter-war days, when we had not the advantage of a Labour Government, there were in Birkenhead as many as 40 per cent. of the whole of the insured population out of work and out of a job.
I need not describe the social tragedy which that means to a town. In Birkenhead the two main industries are, on the one hand, shipbuilding and ship-repairing, and, on the other hand, work at the docks. The anxiety of Birkenhead in connection with this order is particularly this. We have it on the authority of those who speak with the greatest knowledge that the shipbuilding industry, by the orders it already has, is assured of a reasonable degree of full employment, as it were, in these shipbuilding yards for approximately the next three years. But if there is a trade recession and, if 1364 in particular, there is a recession in shipbuilding—and those in the industry who know it best expect it in about that time—then what is to be the position of the workers in that town unless some alternative industry is found and unless factories are built which can offer them employment?
At the moment we are in the unfortunate position in Birkenhead itself of having next to no factories alternative to the shipyards and the docks. My hope—and I am sure the hope of everybody in authority in Birkenhead and everybody who knows Birkenhead—is that, now that the place is to be scheduled, the authority that is to be created under the order will get to work as speedily as they can and find ways and means of having factories built actually in Birkenhead or as near Birkenhead as possible. I stress this because it is quite obvious that if there are sites near to or within the area where unemployment is expected, the simpler and more economic it will be, and anyone who knows Merseyside knows quite well that it would be possible to build factories on the south side of the river which, in fact, would be easier of access to many of the workers working on the north side of the river. This problem of the location of industry in this area is a tremendously important one.
I made an interjection when the President of the Board of Trade was speaking to ask whether he could tell me the area of these factories to which he referred that had so far been built in Birkenhead. I hope that when the Parliamentary Secretary replies he will give us the advantage of the figures, but I am afraid they are small, because the simple fact remains that so far, despite all our pressure in trying to get something done over the past few years, we have been particularly unfortunate, and we rely upon the authority that will arise out of this order to get to work quickly and get on with its job. There is no time to lose.
No one can be complacent about this situation and though we have been thoroughly friendly with everyone over this matter so far, I want to utter a word of warning. According to the most authoritative information, the Trading Estate Company on the North-East Coast, since it has been operating, has been sucessful in finding work for no fewer than 30,000 men. I hope that when this new body exists it will have a record equal to 1365 the Trading Estate Company and will absorb these 30,000 unemployed in Merseyside.
§ Mr. Collick
There is unlimited scope. There may be difficulty, and I will face it quite frankly. The difficulty, it seems to me, is that the maximum power of the President of the Board of Trade under the Act and under this order is to do what is called steering the industry there. What does "steering the industry" there mean? Steering, as I understand it, is exercising a power in a negative fashion. We can, under the Town and Country Planning Act, prevent an industry from going into a particular area. We can now, by the whole process of building licences, prevent an industry from being started in any particular part; but there is no power, as far as I understand, to say definitely that a particular industry is to be established on Merseyside. The most we can do is to steer industry there; in other words, to act with the help of the maximum goodwill of industrialists, and try to get them here.
I am a little anxious about whether the power at the moment is in itself sufficient to do the job that needs to be done. We know how it arises. It was one of the legacies that came out of the Coalition Government, and we know the cause of it. It was the maximum agreement that could be got at that time, and there are difficulties consequent upon that, but we are willing to try this order. We are hoping it will do the job, and I am perfectly certain that everyone on Merseyside will co-operate to that end. But I tell the Government frankly that if in our experience we find, for this reason or that, that this order does not do the job successfully, hon. Members on these benches will not rest content until other ways and means are found of successfully overcoming this problem.
§ 11.10 p.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
A number of controversial points have been raised in this Debate, and it is extremely tempting to try to follow them all. I think, however, that I can obtain agreement from all sides of the House in two matters. The first is that we all pay tribute to the work that has been done by the people of Merseyside during the past 10 years, and that we have a common bond in our loyalty to Merseyside. At all events some hon. Members opposite and myself 1366 are at one on that matter. We are also at one in our desire to eliminate unemployment from Merseyside so far as it is possible.
With regard to the more controversial matters that have been mentioned, I was not sure whether it was a sneer at my constituents or just a comment in passing, but the President did refer to the black-coated workers who came in from my constituency rather later in the day than other people. I have the honour to represent part of the county borough of Birkenhead, part of the county borough of Wallasey, the borough of Bebington, and the urban district of Ellesmere Port, and in those areas there is a large industrial population. I should have thought there were just as many black-coated workers who come in from Ormskirk rather late in the day as come in from the Wirral peninsula.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Edwards)
I am sure my right hon. Friend was not sneering at the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituents. He was just stating a fact—that there was a flow of traffic at various hours. I hope the hon. and learned Member does not impute to my right hon. Friend these rather unworthy motives.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
If the right hon. Gentleman was stating a fact, I have just pointed out that he was not wholly accurate, because I also represent a large number of industrial workers who travel early in the day. I was not making my remark in an unpleasant way, but the right hon. Gentleman did rather suggest a slight sneer, as I thought, against the black-coated worker.
The hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. Logan) talked about there being no initiative on the part of the business community of Merseyside, and suggested that was responsible for a degree of the unemployment. There has been nothing more conducive to taking initiative away from the people of Merseyside than the policy of this Government. Their whole philosophy has been that the merchant, the broker and the trader are parasites. There are now glimmerings of sense beginning to come forth. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is beginning to appreciate the enormous benefit to the country of their operations—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman can go into these questions on this Motion.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I have said all I wanted to say on that point, Sir, but I should have thought it was germane to this matter of unemployment on Merseyside. There is a hard core of unemployment—some 25,000 people. Its existence is significant. This Government, in a period of full employment, with all the benefits of the American Loan and Marshall Aid, would get shortages in supply, and demands for all sorts of goods, have still not been able to deal with this hard core on Merseyside. That shows that it has not all been due to the wicked capitalists in the past, but that there has been a peculiar and difficult problem to deal with.
Little has been said of the part the Liverpool Corporation has sought to play in dealing with this matter. The President of the Board of Trade did say that considerable work had been done by the Corporation under the terms of the Liverpool Corporation Act, 1936, by which the Corporation has power to develop certain trading estates, erect factories, grant building leases, advance money on mortgage—powers similar to those to be taken by the board to be set up under this order. Under the provisions of that Private Act, very vigorous action has been taken. On the Kirkby estate, only taken over on 1st April, 1946, which was before an R.O.F. filling factory, there are now 71 manufacturing concerns in production, employing about 4,000 people. On the Fazackerley estate of 300 acres, 282 acres are already leased for factories, 13 of which are in production, with 10,600 people employed. Three factories are in course of erection, two are just completed and others are awaiting the necessary licences to be granted. With regard to the Speke estate of 310 acres, there 32 firms are in production and 14,000 people are employed. Let us be fair in this matter. There has been very great progress made on these three estates operated by Liverpool Corporation under the terms of their Act.
Nevertheless, I have always taken the view that at all events South Merseyside should be scheduled as a Development Area. As the hon. Member for West Birkenhead (Mr. Collick) and the right 1368 hon. and learned Member for East Birkenhead (Sir F. Soskice) will know, we have on South Merseyside supported this common objective irrespective of party. We have had many meetings about the matter. There has been a Conservative majority on the Birkenhead Council throughout, but all parties have cooperated. I take the view that this order so far as South Merseyside is concerned is at least two years too late, although I appreciate the difficulty of making an order to deal with South Merseyside alone.
I see that the hon. Member for the Scotland Division (Mr. Logan) is uneasy in his seat. I think the comment he was going to make was that Liverpool Corporation were opposed to the idea of a development order, and that made the difficulty. The reason Liverpool Corporation were opposed to the order was that they preferred to continue to be masters in their own house. Other authorities—Bootle and I think Wallasey—were in favour of a Development Area. Certainly on South Merseyside the matter has not been a political issue and we have taken the view that it ought to be a Development Area. The assurance which we received was that in Birkenhead, Wallasey and Bebington we should receive the same treatment as regards materials as a Development Area. The difficulty about that was that it did not include the financial arrangements possible under this order, and therefore that assurance could not be wholly satisfactory.
I agree with the hon. Member for West Birkenhead that the trouble about Birkenhead is that it has been a one-industry town. The hon. Member for Fairfield (Mr. Moody) talked about the lack of ship-repairing facilities on Merseyside. Our whole trouble on the south bank has been anxiety lest the facilities we have should not be fully employed. The hon. Member for West Birkenhead said that unemployment had at one time risen to the figure of 40 per cent., and as some of these controversial points have been made from the other side of the House, I would say that that was the position at the end of the last Labour Government's term of office. Let us have the facts on both sides of this controversy.
I was interested in what the hon. Member said about the possibility of a trade recession in the future, and that he en- 1369 visaged in two or three years the possibility of unemployment increasing in Birkenhead so far as the shipyards and docks are concerned. That would seem to indicate that, in spite of all the wonderful advantages of Socialist planning, it is still possible to have unemployment in certain circumstances.
§ Mr. Collick
I was then quoting on the authority of those at present in control of the shipyards, and who, it will be appreciated, are not of my political persuasion.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
If the hon. Gentleman does not accept that view, well, of course, the rest of his argument to some extent falls to the ground; I say that because he wanted extra factories to take up the unemployment. But we do not want Birkenhead to be a one-industry town; we want to have other forms of industry for Birkenhead, and Wallasey also. But I hope that the Minister will not, if he gets other industries, bring in to Merseyside that type of industry which will not be able to stand up to the sort of recession to which the hon. Gentleman referred. We want, not mushroom concerns, but industries capable of standing up to world conditions and maintaining themselves in changing world conditions. Mushroom concerns will merely accentuate our problems.
With regard to the position as between, for example, Ellesmere Port and Birkenhead and Wallasey, I would point out that Ellesmere Port is a place where very rapid industrial expansion is going on, particularly in the oil refining projects; but it is a place difficult to get at, and although the local authority is pushing forward with housing, there is a lack of accommodation and social amenities in that place. In Birkenhead and Wallasey there are quite highly developed social amenities, and better transport facilities.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not like to interrupt hon. Members, but I do not think they are entitled to go into all these details. The Act under which these orders are made gives certain powers, and I do not think that it is competent to talk of what action the board should take; incidental reference, yes, but not all the detail which the hon. and learned Gentleman is inclined to give.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I was referring, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to two major points 1370 of principle which I think should guide the board.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman is entitled to do that. The question before the House is whether certain areas should be included in the scope of this order. I have not interrupted hon. Members because having given latitude to the one side I always feel the other side is entitled to reply; but I do not think that one can go into details about certain portions of the area presumably within the larger area, although I am not very clear even about that.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
May I point out that there are included in the Order Birkenhead and Wallasey, and the municipal borough of Bebington, and I was urging upon the Minister that, when guiding industries to Birkenhead, Wallasey and Bebington, which, I presume, is the purpose of the order, he should have regard to the situation developing in the neighbouring district of Ellesmere Port.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
It may be competent for the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that, but not to go into great detail.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I will, then, conclude on this matter in about two sentences, and say that I do know of two instances of projects which have gone or are going to Ellesmere Port and which may accentuate the difficulties there; they could quite well have gone to Birkenhead or Wallasey. I am simply asking the Minister to say that these considerations will be borne in mind in order to deal with the situation where there is a hard core of unemployment, where there are better transport facilities and better amenities of one sort or another, rather than to permit the difficulties in Ellesmere Port to be magnified.
I wish, also, to ask the Minister—and I hope that in this I shall be in Order—whether the present trading estates will continue to function as they are at the present time? With regard to the constitution of the board, the President indicated that there would be a board and also a development council. Those people in the portion of the areas covered by this order which I represent have been rather troubled by certain rumours which have gone about that the nominees were 1371 to be purely political nominees and that support of this Government was to be a condition precedent to appointment to these bodies. I cannot believe that it is to be a condition, but as it has been publicly reported in a newspaper, I thought it would be as well if the Parliamentary Secretary could give a categorical denial.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think the constitution of the board can possibly come under the order. The question does not arise in the least here, but there may be other opportunities when it does.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I was simply saying that I should have thought industrial qualifications would be necessary. With regard to the development council, there the situation is different. [An HON. MEMBER: "What newspaper was it?"] It was reported in one of the local newspapers, the "Liverpool Echo," I think it was. It was in a statement of an interview with some representative of the Government.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
All I am asking is that the Minister should contradict it and make clear it is not so. I should like to have some information about the development council. I hope all the constituent elements will be represented on it. The board, I take it, will be a functional body but the development council advisory. All these things are vital to us on Merseyside, and I hope the hon. Gentleman will give us further enlightenment. Subject to these qualifications, and to satisfactory answers on these points, I welcome this order.
§ 11.28 p.m.
§ Mrs. Braddock (Liverpool, Exchange)
I wish, first, officially to give the best wishes of the organised trade union and Labour movements in Liverpool to this order. It has been a long time in coming. There have been rumours that this was going to be done: there have been rumours that it was not; but consistently during the past two years the organised Labour movement in the city has been pressing for a Development Area to be created, in spite of the fact that shortly after the Minister made his announcement there was a broadcast on the B.B.C. Northern News that the people of Liverpool did not want the order because 1372 it would make them undignified. I can assure the Minister that, so far as concerns those people who are in the organised trade union movement, they view with a great deal of satisfaction the fact that the Minister has at last decided, every other method having failed, to schedule Merseyside as a Development Area.
I should like to draw attention to one or two points in the speech made by the President of the Board of Trade. I welcome his suggestion that, because he feels that scheduling Merseyside will not completely meet the situation regarding unemployment and general development, the councils surrounding the Development Area as well as those in the Development Area should come together to discuss unemployment in all its phases. The Minister referred to this matter and suggested that this would be something he would welcome. It is something which I should welcome as well, because I believe, as he does, that there are other factors which have to be considered when dealing with this very hard core of unemployment in Liverpool. Every method has been tried up to now, the City Corporation, with its 1936 Act, which gave it and still gives it almost the same powers as this Development Area will give to Merseyside, has failed to break down that very bad section of unemployment.
For the past three years the figure of unemployment has remained practically the same. It has hovered between 20,000 and 30,000. Sometimes it has been a few more, sometimes a few less. The Corporation itself, in attempting to deal with the position, has had numerous conferences. If paper and reports could have cured unemployment in Liverpool, it should have been cured a dozen times over. I have here the latest report on the Liverpool area. In the considerations which led to this report, various Departments of the Government were represented. There was a lot of talk and many suggestions, every Department and every section passing on the problem to someone else, saying that it was not their own responsibility but that of another Department. Time after time this matter has been discussed, but nothing has been done.
The Minister referred to the fact that the development order will give power to 1373 the board to deal with the question of blitzed sites in relation to industry. That is a very sore point in Liverpool, because trying to deal with these sites has led to all sorts of suggestions. It has been suggested that the whole responsibility is on the War Damage Commission, that it has failed to meet the situation in relation to the payment for damage, and that the fact of the blitzed sites remaining untouched is the responsibility of the War Damage Commission. That has been looked into, but no information has been obtained. All sorts of figures have been suggested in regard to this question of the development of industry in the Liverpool area. Various figures of blitzed sites where there had been industries or houses have been suggested, some of them in the region of between 3,000 and 4,000 separate sites.
I am wondering whether the development council, when it is appointed, and with the powers which it will have, or which the board will have, will have the right to make inquiries about these sites where there may be development of industry, where demolition has taken place and where for three years damaged buildings have been left either tumbling down or boarded up, with nothing being done to them. The situation in Liverpool has reached a stage in which trying to deal with unemployment and to clear up the city, which at the moment is nothing but muddle, mess and muck—and there is more muck than anything else in the central area of Liverpool—and where there are 24,000 men unemployed—
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member must not speak about council matters which do not come under this order.
§ Mrs. Braddock
The council are the people who have been objecting to the order being put into operation. Had it not been for the attitude of the City Council, this development order would have been suggested and put into operation long ago.
§ Mrs. Braddock
I know, Mr. Speaker, that at this late hour it becomes irksome for statements to be made about the situation in Liverpool. I do not want to prolong the discussion, but I think that 1374 when this order is being suggested and is going to cover an area where there is a solid block of unemployment, I ought to ask the Minister what specialised powers are being given to him in this order to clear up the position and to deal with the situation which everyone in the central area of Liverpool knows is one that will require a tremendous amount of work and enthusiasm if it is to be cleared up.
I wanted to say many more things, but owing to the time all I will say, in conclusion, that I can assure the President that if he is able, with this order, to break the back of the unemployment problem in Liverpool, he will receive the support of the people in the city who have been waiting for this order to be put through. On the other hand, if he fails, I can assure him that he will receive the ridicule of those people who have persistently refused to agree to the making of the order and to putting it into operation. I wish the President's project well. He will get as much support as possible from the organised Labour movement in Liverpool and, with the powers he will be given, I am certain that we shall at last be able to see Liverpool solve her unemployment problem.
§ 11.37 p.m.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
I hope to follow the hon. Lady in the objective approach which she has shown to this problem, and not to infuse any party element or controversial matter, because I know how near the basis of this problem is to the hearts of all my colleagues from Merseyside, whatever may be their political label. But perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you will allow me to say, even if you have had rather a spate of Merseyside oratory tonight, that we all think of one who has a special interest in William Brown Street in the centre of Liverpool and who will look with kindness upon those who come from that area, even if they speak rather too much.
I think it is most important that we should have had a declaration from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade that this problem for which he has suggested this solution, the problem of unemployment on Merseyside, is not easy or rapid of solution, and that he has formed the opinion that Merseyside is one of the most difficult areas to deal with in this regard. I think we must all have been struck by his attempt to 1375 break down the problem into its constituent parts and point out to us, on the one hand, the optimistic view that he took with regard to female labour, and, on the other hand, the special problem which he put to us of dealing with the unskilled labour, which he underlined so strongly in his speech.
As has been pointed out in this Debate already, the problem has undoubtedly been accentuated by the historic development of our City and port. When one remembers—and I think it is necessary, to get the problem in perspective, to remember—the vast and rapid increase of shipping on Merseyside, one can understand how that aspect of our commercial life was apt for a long time to overshadow everything else, because with that there came the great improvements in the distributive trades with which we are all familiar. But it has been seen for a long time now that we had to form a second line of defence. We had to industrialise the area, and now we are faced with the extension of that solution in trying to get variety and diversity of industries on Merseyside, which is our only hope of stable employment, and to break down these special difficulties which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned.
I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman recognised the pioneer work that had been done, because I believe this solution will only be sound and satisfactory if it takes up the task where it has been left off by the local authority. I am not questioning, nor does anyone else wish to question, the right hon. Gentleman's view that this should now be dealt with as one area, but it is important to remember the progress that has been made in the northern part of the area in dealing with this special question of industrialisation. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) pointed out the three estates of Kirkby, Fazackerley, and Speke, which were developed under the Liverpool Corporation Act of 1936, and the 28,500 people who are already employed. I do not want to go over what he put before the House, but I want to emphasise the point that if more licences could be obtained we could get more factories going on these sites. This is a matter which I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary will bear in mind and give the consideration it deserves.
1376 I also should like the Parliamentary Secretary to note, because I think it is essential for the solution and fits in with another point made by the hon. Lady for the Exchange Division (Mrs. Braddock), that it is not enough only to have the factories on the site. One has to look at the surrounding necessities which have had to be dealt with in these various sites. At Kirkby one has already the question of 12 miles of roads. One has already new roads being started in order to get frontages more suitable sited and one has, in addition, the problem of transport, not only from other parts of the city but internal transport in the site itself. All these matters are things that must equally receive the attention of the new authority as they have the attention of the corporation. Indeed, the new authority, the board, or the development council, must work hand in hand with the corporation in dealing with these matters.
I will mention another subject which I think is essential. So far, liaison has been well maintained by means of the committee of factory owners, and, again, that is a matter which must continue to advance with the rest of the development. If I might make one other point, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that at Speke, for example, apart from those other surrounding developments which I have mentioned, there is the fact that houses have been built, though not nearly as many as we all should like, on the adjoining housing estate, and I shall put the point to him which I put to the Minister of Labour when we were discussing manpower a short time ago, because it is most relevant to the question of the Development Area that a house which will provide someone with the means of working for an export trade is, I consider, part of the capital investment programme which directly helps our export trade. I do not want to say anything further, except that I think that is an important aspect of the matter which I am sure that those responsible for the new scheme will bear in mind. So much for the question of factory development.
I think it is most important that the Government and the board which will deal with the new area shall collaborate in the ideas of reclamation and increased amenities in the city which are already being put forward and I think generally accepted by all political parties in the 1377 city on the local authority. These are schemes—naturally I cannot go into them in detail—which, if they were dealt with from the aspect of our great needs in Liverpool, would be considerable steps forward on the path which the President of the Board of Trade outlined in his opening remarks.
May I say one word finally about the spirit of the people among whom this change is made? Hon. Gentlemen have criticised certain sections and one knows that in a political assembly such criticism is bound to take place. But I am sure that in their heart of hearts, while they realise as I do, the great difficulties of the past, they feel quite confident that the heart of Merseyside is absolutely sound, irrespective of the occupations which the people who carry this heart follow. It is sound in two ways. It is sound, first, in realising the problems and envisaging the human aspects of the problems which we all want to see assisted. But it is also sound in that it is ready to develop both the old methods and also to understand and develop new methods at the present day. I do not think that in 1949, any more than in 1849 or in 1749, is there any sleepiness or lack of awareness to the great problems which face our community, and while welcoming the course that the Government have taken, at the same time I welcome the opportunities that will be given to our own people on Merseyside to show that these old qualities can be adjusted to modern conditions and secure and maintain the prosperity of our great city and neighbourhood.
§ 11.50 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Edwards)
This order that we have been discussing now for some time has received quite general support and remarkably few detailed points have been put to me, although a number of interesting suggestions have been made. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) referred to the cost of the building of Government factories, and I would not dissent at all from the view that we must try to build these factories as economically as possible, but it is not easy, in distribution of industry policy in relation to the Development Area, to apply a quite simple economic test, and as long as we recognise that there is 1378 nothing more wasteful than unemployed resources, particularly unemployed men and women, we cannot possibly continue the waste indefinitely in the future.
I agree also about the need for a balance between men and women, although I thought the right hon. Gentleman's example was not a happy one. I would not accept the view that the need in South Wales was greater for women than men, as he suggested. Certainly—and I say this to my hon. Friends—we have to remember all the time that we are asking, in this order, for the powers under the Act for the purpose of dealing with a particular problem. The character and composition of the unemployed in Merseyside was explained by my right hon. Friend clearly, and that imposes pretty considerable limitations on what in fact it is desirable to do. That I would ask hon. Members to remember.
The hon. Member for West Birkenhead (Mr. Collick) asked me for certain specific figures. The ones I have for completed factories in this area show that there were some 28 with a total capacity of 400,000 square feet, of which five are in Birkenhead with a capacity of about 45,000 square feet. That, of course, is a relatively small amount, but since he asked for the figures, I thought he had better have them.
I want to correct the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) on one point of importance. He says the purpose of this order is to steer industry to Merseyside. That is not quite right. We have been trying to steer industry to Merseyside ever since the war. The purpose of this order is to give the Government powers, or to bring to the Government the powers under the Act of 1945, in respect of Merseyside, and to enable a lot of things to be done that we have not been able to do previously. It is really that we shall now have more capacity and more inducement to offer to industry to bring industry to Merseyside.
Then I want to clear up a misconception about the various boards to which my hon. Friend the Member for West Birkenhead referred. First of all, with regard to the local authorities in the area, all that my right hon. Friend said was that he thought there ought to be a big "get-together" of the authorities in the area and the adjacent authorities in order 1379 to form a body representative of the people in that area.
§ Mr. Edwards
I thought my right hon. Friend's speech tonight was an invitation to the local authorities on Merseyside to consider the matter among themselves, and I should think one or other of them could take the initiative.
The existing estates will be continued by their present authorities. It is proposed that the existing North-West Industrial Estates, Ltd., which at the present moment covers part of Lancashire, should extend its activities into some parts of the area to be added by the order, and if there is to be Government building in the added parts that that should be done under the auspices of the Industrial Estates Company, and thereafter the management of those particular factories would also be under it. As my right hon. Friend said, it is not intended that there should be direct Government building within Liverpool, because the Liverpool Corporation still have their powers, which are running concurrently with the distribution of industry powers we hope to take by this Order.
I was also asked a question about the people who are to serve on the new estate company. I do not know whether I shall be in Order in answering it, but perhaps I may be permitted to say that the persons to be appointed will be selected on account of their representative and personal capacities, and regardless of their political affiliations. But it should be understood that the fact that a person has supported the Government would not disqualify him from appointment.
§ Mr. Edwards
No. The idea is that the existing estate company should have its constitution changed to take in the new Merseyside area, and that the people serving on it should also be changed to take account of the Merseyside interests. We shall appoint the people who seem the best people in all the circumstances. The hon. Member for the Exchange Division (Mrs. Braddock) and the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby 1380 (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) were particularly interested in the problem of the derelict property and the blitzed areas. All I need say tonight is that we shall have power to deal with this when the order is effective. We had no power before. It may be a good idea—and I am sure my right hon. Friend will consider it—that my right hon. Friend might himself get together a conference of the interested local authorities, Government Departments, and other persons concerned, to consider this problem of the blitzed areas and derelict property. Certainly I should like to put it to him. I think I have dealt with all the points specifically put to me, and since the order is not a matter of controversy I need not detain the House further.
§ 11.59 p.m.
§ Mr. Ungoed-Thomas (Llandaff and Barry)
I am sorry to intervene at this hour, but not one Member from Wales has had the opportunity of saying anything on this order, which includes an important part of South Wales. Only the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Lyttelton) has referred to South Wales, and his remarks were most unfortunate and showed a deplorable ignorance of conditions in South Wales. It is because of his remarks that I feel compelled to get up at this stage. He suggested that this order should be used primarily to provide employment for women in South Wales. We have received from this Government a great deal of employment for women in South Wales and we are exceedingly grateful to the Government for that, but we are terribly concerned about factory employment for men. It is essential for us to have varied employment for men in the basic industries in South Wales.
This order includes areas of Carmarthenshire. This area is part of the anthracite coalfield, in which silicosis is more rampant than perhaps in any other part of the country. The problem of dealing with men rendered unfit in the coalmining industry is exceedingly acute. In order to have prosperity in the South Wales valleys, it is essential to provide the men with employment. This order would be nothing but window-dressing if my right hon. Friend accepted the advice of the right hon. Member for Aldershot and, instead of providing the men with alternative employment, limited that employment to women only.
1381 The purpose of the order is to provide other means of employment for the men of South Wales who are dependent so exclusively upon mining, and to introduce a variety of industry which is not there at the present time. The right hon. Member for Aldershot rather let the Conservative cat out of the bag when he suggested that if alternative employment was provided for men, then there would no longer be the economic obligation to force them into the pits. It would be deplorable if this party were to adopt the policy of the Conservative Party and by economic means force men into particular employments. I hope the Government will completely repudiate any such suggestion. If the right hon. Member for Aldershot comes down to South Wales, he will know exactly what everybody in South Wales thinks of that kind of policy.
In South Wales we are very grateful to the President of the Board of Trade and to this Government for the amount of work they have brought into South Wales. I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for West Birkenhead (Mr. Collick) that the steering powers under this Act can be very effectively used, provided the helmsman is strong enough to use them. I very much welcome this order. The part of South Wales included in the order is one of the most Welsh parts of Wales, where the miners speak Welsh to each other and conduct their meetings in Welsh. To conserve the social life of an area of this kind—and I trust that and not the object outlined by the right hon. Member for Aldershot is the object of this order—is to preserve the variety which contributes so substantially to the strength of the democratic life of this country. I am very glad indeed that my right. hon. Friend has included this area in the order.
§ 12.4 a.m.
§ Mr. Kinley (Bootle)
I apologise for intervening at this late hour and promise to be brief, but Bootle is one of the places included in this order and on behalf of the people and council of Bootle I want to express our great pleasure that the Government have decided to take this step. I do not know whether the Liverpool representatives even yet appreciate the very great difference this order makes to Bootle, Birkenhead and other 1382 areas, as compared with Liverpool. Liverpool has had comparable powers since 1936 under a private Act. It has been alone in possessing these powers. Bootle has had its unemployment just as Liverpool has; but in Bootle we have had no powers such as Liverpool had, nor have we had their resources. So, we have remained helpless until the coming of this order.
It is true that the possession of these powers has not eased Liverpool's unemployment and there is, therefore, no proof that Bootle's unemployment will be dealt with by the coming of this new order. The great difference is that hitherto we have seen Liverpool exercising powers which we had not, and we have realised that we had no right of any kind to expect Liverpool to use those powers in such a way as to provide work for our unemployed. But now we certainly will have the right to look to the Government to do something for Bootle's unemployed under this new order.
I think it should be remembered that some hon. Members on this side of the House have been unfair in their attitude to Liverpool in relation to this order. It is quite true that Liverpool opposed the making of such an order and that other local authorities, including my own, were in favour; but during the discussions between the various local authorities on Merseyside and the Board of Trade, on at least two occasions the leader of the Liverpool City Council, Alderman Shennan, declared that, while his council did not desire this order, nevertheless if the Government decided to make Merseyside a Development Area, it would be accepted. I think it is only fair that that fact should be stated—and it is true because I heard the statement made. What remains now is for us to discover whether the powers which have failed in Liverpool so far, will succeed in the new area under the guidance of the Government, as against Liverpool City Council. That remains to be seen.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That the Distribution of Industry (Development Areas) Order, 1949, dated 4th March, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th March, be approved.
§ 12.8 a.m.
§ The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Woodburn)
I beg to move:That the Distribution of Industry (Development Areas) (Scotland) Order, 1949, dated 4th March 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th March, be approved.Scotland has awaited for some considerable time the introduction of this order, and may have to wait some little time more for the full effects of what we hope to come from this order. It is introduced jointly by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and myself, and its purpose is to add to the Scottish areas in the first Schedule of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, an area in the Highlands bordering on the Firths of Cromarty and Beauly, and parts of Irvine and Linlithgow. The two parts in Irvine and Linlithgow are bringing the towns into the Development Area. The Highlands area is an entirely new Development Area, and the local authorities have, after consultation, all agreed upon the plan. Most of them would probably have liked something more to be done but they have at least agreed to what has been done.
The reasons for this order were announced in Command Paper 7540 issued in October and I need not outline them in detail. This order follows a review of the areas carried out under Section 7 of the Act and had to take place within three years of the passing of the original Act. The effect of this order is to provide that under the Act the Government will be empowered to provide facilities, first, in regard to industrial sites; secondly, in regard to the building of factories—and these can be built at Government expense for lease to firms—thirdly, financial assistance either by grant or loan towards new businesses; fourthly, assistance for the basic services such as roads, housing, water, etc.
I think I ought to make clear that the Government do not at the moment direct industry. Neither do they run private industry. The great sector of normal industry is run by private enterprise and the purpose of this order is not that the Government shall do certain things in the way of establishing new industries, but that they will have the power to provide facilities which we hope will attract new industries to develop in this area. These industries may come from two main sources—they may come from 1384 within the area itself or they may come from outside. So far as I can see the greatest hope is for industries to have some attachment to the fundamental nature of the country itself, industries which are perhaps based on timber or fishing or on agriculture, or perhaps domestic industries which might arise from deer-skins, wool, and products of that kind. I take the view that there ought to be a domestic carpet industry in the Highlands, and I am still hopeful that some such industry may develop there.
On the other hand, I am not unhopeful that some industries may come from elsewhere. There have been one or two prospects of that for some time, although they have taken a good time to get settled. We are not despairing of that even yet, and I hope one of these days one or two industries will become established in this area. In addition, the hydro-electric scheme going on in that part of the country will, by the end of this year, or perhaps later in the following year, be producing considerable quantities of power. Discussions are in progress as to the best way to use the power in the Highlands and the part that may be used for industries there, together with the possibility that some larger industries may seek to make use of electricity. Larger industries tend to produce a large amount of employment and a good deal of thought is being given to the problem of the best kind of industry in which this power can be used for the benefit of the Highlands.
Justification for making the Development Area—and here I propose to deal with its present size, and why it was not made larger or smaller—is on the ground that there may be danger—or there is danger—of considerable unemployment. The figures themselves may not suggest that, compared with Merseyside, the Highlands at the moment show a large percentage of unemployment in that sphere; but there are two important points to be borne in mind in considering unemployment in the Highlands. The first is that unemployment in this area was 18 per cent. before the war. Since the war it has gone down to about 6 per cent. Nevertheless, it is important to realise that the figures of unemployed in the Highlands were never registered in the Highlands, but were registered in the City of Glasgow. In other words, 1385 when people became unemployed in the Highlands they were driven southwards to the great cities and the central belt. Therefore, the mere percentages registered in the Highlands are no indication of the amount of distress caused in the Highlands themselves.
Secondly, there is a great deal of work in the Highlands which comes within the category of self-employment. A great deal of it is domestic industry and those engaged in it are not registered as employed persons. Therefore, these people do not appear in the Highland unemployment figures if they become unemployed. Many of these people in the past, and even in the present, suffer a good deal of distress without that being registered in the form of figures. Therefore, the question of unemployment in the Highlands is not simply one of looking at cold figures but of looking at other factors as well. The population of this area has come down by 25 per cent. in the last 80 years.
But that is not all. Taking those who migrated, the population is something like 40 per cent. down compared with what it would have been had this migration not taken place. Therefore, the depopulation of the Highlands is one of the serious reasons why something should be done to reverse the trend. The Government have decided to place the advantages of the Distribution of Industry Act, with its development orders, at the disposal of this part of the Highlands. At first the area was to be concentrated in the area which seemed most likely to be able to absorb the industries. Clearly it is not possible to take in an area without taking in complete parishes.
This proposed area extends from Glenmoriston in the South to Nairn, past Beulay Firths in the North, and goes into Cannoch towards the West, to Irvine. By doing so, it brings in an area where there is a great amount of potential unemployment. Unemployment does not exist to the extent to which it might in the Highlands because of the great hydro-electric schemes which are employing a large number of men; but carrying out these schemes occupies a large number of men, and when the building work is completed the hydro-electric schemes will employ very few men. Therefore, in a few years' time, there will be in the Highlands a large number of people set free from employment. It is necessary that we 1386 should foresee that, and make preparations to provide in the Highlands some means of retaining these people in the area.
One or two criticisms have been made of a Development Area being made in the Highlands. Some people have suggested that this will draw people from the glens and crofts into the towns which may spring up around Cromarty Firth, and thus be a further cause of depopulating the glens and the Highlands. I reject that suggestion. It is much more likely that they would be drawn from the Highlands permanently if they went into the great industrial belt from which they seldom return. If they can remain in constant touch with their parents and relatives in the crofts, they will, when the crofts become vacant, with the life of the Highlands in their veins, go back to the crofts and keep the Highlands peopled with a thriving population. Moreover, we are satisfied of this because word has come from people in Canada, New Zealand and other parts who see prosperity returning in some parts; they are writing to their relatives wondering whether they can come back to their homeland and develop some prosperity for themselves. They want to be able to live in the Highlands, but until there is security and a livelihood they cannot return.
The area, therefore, had to be limited on the practical ground that there was no point in taking in a larger area than could possibly be provided for industry. The portion that seemed most suitable was the portion round Cromarty Firth running to the Great Glen, including Inverness. That portion is being surveyed and a report will be issued shortly as a result of that economic survey. There are possibilities of industry there, and there seems to be no reason why industries should not develop, but I think it would be wrong for the people of the Highlands to wait until someone else comes in to develop industry. Highlanders have gone to other parts of the world and developed industries. They are not incapable of developing industry and if they see hope, much the best industry will be industry developed on the basis of Highland activity itself, plus whatever assistance is gathered from elsewhere.
Fortunately we have now a Board of Trade office in Inverness which is an encouragement and promise, and that office 1387 is prepared to do everything possible to assist those in that area to develop these industries. No one can pretend it is going to be easy. The people in that far-distant part of the country are handicapped by carriage and transport charges and their distance from markets, but I feel that a great deal is imported into these areas from long distances that could be produced in the districts themselves. I remember being in one part where milk was brought from Edinburgh and eggs from Cumberland. That seems pure nonsense in the Highlands. These things could be remedied by bringing agricultural production on to modern levels in the Highlands, and I am satisfied that the development of the dairy industry north of Inverness could play a great part in improving the position.
I think it will be agreed that this order will give the Government powers to help industries which are prepared to go there, and to provide factories, if we can get people prepared to use them. While generally speaking, the Distribution of Industry Order and restrictions on capital development would restrict such development, unless it were going to provide exports or save imports, in the case of the Highlands the Government would be prepared to look favourably on any undertaking which was prepared to go to this area and help revive the economic life of the Highlands and help us in our greatest problem, which is to provide an opportunity for people to live there with some sort of economic security and not to have to migrate to other parts of the land or other parts of the world.
I, therefore, move this order, not because I can promise it will bring results tomorrow, but because it brings an earnest of hope to the Highlands and will encourage them in the great activity which is taking place there. There is a revival of spirit, a feeling that something can be done and that that part of the country is not going further back, but is now taking a turn to march forward. I am informed that already the population is tending to increase and that prosperity is tending to increase, and I am sure the indefatigable spirit of the people will enable them to march on to better days.
§ 12.26 a.m.
§ Mr. MacLeod (Ross and Cromarty)
I am very pleased to be able to add my 1388 support to this order this evening and I welcome the inclusion of the parishes in the County of Ross and Cromarty which have now been added to the Scottish Development Area. The Secretary of State for Scotland well knows that on several occasions I have stated that it was useless to talk of development of industry in the Highlands without providing some other facilities to the persons of enterprise who are willing to set up their businesses within the Highlands area and unless basic services were provided to allow fair competition with other regions.
In regard to paragraph 2 of the order, I have always argued that the point of special danger of unemployment was far too narrow to be applicable to the Highland areas. After all, as the Secretary of State has just said, it has always been the unfortunate fact that owing to maldistribution of industry in Scotland, our population has been concentrated in those narrow industrial parts, and this has been a great factor in the depopulation of the Highlands. Under the 1945 Act, a large part of the industrial regions of Scotland was scheduled as a Development Area because there was a likelihood, as stated in Section 7 (2), of this special danger of unemployment; but surely one of the methods to alleviate this unhappy state of affairs should have been to try to attract the labour from the congested industrial parts to the North and I hope that this order will go a long way towards achieving this object.
In my own constituency of Ross and Cromarty, through their energetic planning consultants, they are well ahead with their county planning and have published a booklet, "Highlands County Plans." The scheduling of the Inverness-Ross Development Area means, amongst other things, that Scottish industrial estates can do important things in that area. They can build factories to rent and they can set up industrial estates. I hope that the building of factories to rent will encourage local initiative. No longer need the man in the Highlands with big ideas and little capital fear to try out his own ideas on a commercial scale.
The setting-up of industrial estates, each composed of a group of factories to rent, is perhaps of special importance to the Highlands. The Secretary of State 1389 has mentioned hydro-electric development. It is of special importance for this reason. The Highlands are very disappointed in that the price of the hydroelectric power which is produced is much higher than anything visualised by the Cooper Report. So it becomes imperative to find ways of reducing the charge. I have been informed that this would be possible if industrial estates were set up. The estates could buy power in bulk at special low rates and be able to re-sell it to the tenants of factories on the estates at prices below the standard tariff. Therefore, it is important that there should be no loss of time in setting up these industrial estates.
But where are the estates to be? Although, as the Secretary of State remarked, the local authorities approve of this order, I know that the Ross planning authority feels that the whole business of planning and development is being kept too much in Government hands. The Government have been too secretive about it. After all, the Government undertook the survey of the Great Glen, and I believe much of that material in the report which I was under the impression was already completed, has been in the hands of the various Government Departments for some time, but presumably it is upon the recommendations of this report that the new development order is based, and I hope that all information will be given to the local planning authorities.
Our own local planning authority in Ross-shire have been working on this matter for years and I hope they will be taken fully into the Government's confidence. They are asking, for instance, what the Government's intentions are about Invergordon. For long they have pointed out its unique position, with good sites for industry, close to water and electricity supplies, where a deep-water port could be constructed and maintained at low cost. In fact the late Secretary of State for Scotland said there was to be a new town there. I should like to know whether the Development Areas are to be developed along the lines of the plans of the local planning authorities or whether these local planning authorities are to be only a name.
Of course, we have the other side. The opponents of this order have asked, "Why set up this new area in the High- 1390 lands? It will encourage further depopulation of our glens." I agree with the Secretary of State that it is surely better to stop the drift on our own doorstep before it goes, as it has gone in the past, beyond our control. I certainly agree that it would be a mistake to develop the Inverness-Ross area to the detriment of the other areas in the Highlands. I hope the Minister will assure us that this will not be the case.
But the cry in the North has always been the distance from the markets and the exorbitant freight charges which the nationalising of the railways has not improved. I hope, however, that this order will help to improve this position by making these commodities within the areas and creating new markets on our doorstep. I can visualise the Black Isle being a garden in this new industrial area; the West Coast producing fish which will be processed; our Highland glens, with their wonderful summer grazing, producing sheep and cattle which may be put into deep freezing plants in the area; market gardens producing fruit and vegetables which will find a ready sale in this new area. I would like to visualise light industries being set up in new rural communities which will cooperate with the larger industries in the Invergordon area. Nobody wants to see the Highlands made into a Black Country, and I do not think this order will do anything of that kind, although it has been criticised by many people who fear that will be the case. I am hoping that the Highlands will now have a chance to play their part, and I think that, taking the long view of the benefits that will accrue, it will be shown that the Highlands have no mean part to play.
§ 12.36 a.m.
§ Mr. Mathers (Linlithgow)
It was natural and justifiable that the Secretary of State, in introducing this Order, should devote the greater part of his time to discussing the main part of the order, the institution of a new Development Area in the Highlands. I am not going to encroach on the territory of others, because not only are we here very late, but we were here early in what is now yesterday morning, when we started meeting in the Scottish Grand Committee at 10.30 a.m. Now here we are in the "wee sma' 'oors ayont the twal." You will, therefore, have no need to urge me 1391 to be brief, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in the references I make to this order, which does to some extent affect my constituency.
I welcome the fact that the Secretary of State did not attempt to justify the change made in the Development Area in my constituency on the grounds set out in the Act of Parliament, that there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment in the area, and that in those circumstances the board may by order direct that the area shall be added to that scheduled. Rather do I think that the area has been changed to remove an unjustifiable blot, which must represent some result from the efforts I made in 1945, and earlier, to show the absurdity of the rigid line drawn through the centre of the county I represent, and even through the area comprising the Royal and Ancient Burgh which is the county town. That is what is being done in this order: to correct that obvious blunder in delimiting the area in the first instance.
I pointed this out, not only this item that has been corrected, but the fact that there was justification for the inclusion of the whole of the northern part of the county of West Lothian in the Development Area. When I pointed that out at the Board of Trade I was told that the area as drawn could not be defended. The history of this matter is well known. When there was an amending Act in 1945, the Election was coming along and it had to be hurried through, while the handling of the problem was left to a later time. I am sorry that the change was not made earlier. I believe that industry has been lost to West Lothian because of faulty delimitation of the Development Area in the first instance. I am glad of the partial adjustment that has now been made.
The Secretary of State referred to the fact that the registration of unemployed in the Highlands was no criterion of the unemployment which actually existed. I can say the same with regard to the registration of unemployed in my own county, which is partly a Development Area, because by far the greater number of workers in that area find work outside the Development Area—indeed, in the City of Edinburgh. Unemployment registered in West Lothian does not represent the actual unemployment in West Lothian itself, but reflects any 1392 unemployment in Edinburgh, which provides work especially for those outside the heavy industries of coal, shale and steel. I follow that point by saying that the small amount of unemployment at the present time in the northern part of the county, which should also be included within the Development Area, is no justification for denying to that part of the county the benefits and possibilities of help under the Distribution of Industry Act.
I promised to be brief, and I shall try to concentrate my remarks into one or two questions which will enable the Secretary of State to justify the new limitation of the Development Area that is included in this order and provide him also with an opportunity of meeting any criticism that may be made by those who think that the line has not been drawn with sufficient generosity to meet the need that might possibly arise, though I am glad to say at the moment the necessity does not exist. There does seem to be the possibility of considerable changes in employment in the northern part of the county which will require the extension of the provisions of the Act to that part of the county as well. Why is the amendment of the area so limited? Does this limitation mean that there is no need to fear considerable unemployment in the northern part of West Lothian still outside the scheduled area?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Member is not entitled to suggest that other parts of Scotland should be included in this area. That would have no relevance to this order, which includes certain areas.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman was inquiring whether or not there were limitations and, if so, why were there limitations. That would clearly be a question relating to other parts of Scotland not in this order.
§ Mr. Mathers
The question was posed by the Secretary of State himself with regard to the Highlands area; why was it not larger or smaller, and I thought that he seemed to make it possible for me to put my point as I am putting it. But I would ask this question which, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I think you will allow. 1393 If he has confidence in that the area does not need to be extended beyond what is in the order, and if that confidence proves to have been misplaced, how quickly can steps be taken to remedy the position? In the light of circumstances now prevailing, and in the light of the fact that it is contended that this extension should have been greater, I do hope that the Secretary of State will give satisfaction to public opinion on the point of why the northern part of the county is not included.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Member, but it is no argument for or against this particular order either to urge the value of, or ask questions about, some other order.
§ Mr. Mathers
What I am endeavouring to do is to ask the Secretary of State to say why this area is extended and if I ask why it is extended only to the extent by which it is extended I think I may ask why it is limited only to that particular extent.
§ 12.47 a.m.
§ Sir David Robertson (Streatham)
Although the hour is late, I find the Debate is very pleasant and we seem to be a very united band of Scotsmen applauding the efforts of the Secretary of State to improve conditions in Scotland. The Minister is to be congratulated on bringing a Development Area into the Highlands, and I find myself almost in complete agreement with his speech; but I think that he under-estimated the amount of migration from Scotland. My information is that the Highlands population diminished by more than half during the last century, while the population of Britain as a whole more than doubled. The Highlands area, I think, is the most permanently depressed of all our areas in Great Britain.
§ Mr. Woodburn
The information which I have is that 30 years ago it was 400,000 and is now 300,000; and that gave me the 40 per cent. On that basis, if the number who migrated had remained, the total today would have been 500,000.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I should like to compare notes with the right hon. Gentleman; but, one thing we know is that the flow of our very splendid race has been far too great and this timely Measure will do great good.
1394 The second point is that he said that the Highlanders must be prepared to do something for themselves, irrespective of anything which the Government may do. I am sure that hon. Members in all parts of the House will applaud that sentiment, but by concentrating Development Areas in this small part of the large Highlands area, which comprises more than half of the total area of Scotland, he is making it very difficult for other Highlanders to compete with these subsidised factories he is going to produce; the sites he is going to procure without any trouble to the industrialists who are coming in; the buildings he is going to build for them; and the favourable grants, loans and rents he is going to give. These will make it desperately hard for any Highlander in the larger area outwith the Development Area to compete. I feel sure he must have the point in mind. It is the kernel of the problem we are discussing tonight.
It was my hope, before I learned of the Ruling by Mr. Speaker, to deal, in addition to the 36 Highland parishes, with other places where conditions are infinitely worse than in these parishes and where migration is heavier. I have been in the House for 10 years and have not heard the counties of Caithness and Sutherland referred to during that time. I find it hard to stand here unable to say anything about them. It is where I come from and if my remarks cannot he directed to them, I hope hon. Members on all sides will realise that I have these counties very much in mind, but as a very obedient Member of this House, one who is most appreciative of the rules of debate, I shall strictly confine myself to the Ruling that has been given.
The Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. McLeod) referred to the many things which could be done. I entirely agree with him and I am convinced that the once great herring fishing industry could be revived, and that view is confirmed by the Herring Board itself. Quick freezing plants, low temperature cold storage, modern kippering and buckling factories would play an important part in this revival. Many more cattle and sheep could be maintained in the area. I was in Dingwall, one of the 36 parishes, when the farmers were holding an important northern pastoral club meeting. There were farmers from all over the northern area. They wanted to speak to 1395 me about the 2,800,000 idle acres of deer forest. They told me that a large stock of cattle and sheep could be carried there, and they produced account books to prove this had been done a century ago. There were Highland cattle, which are only now seen in oil paintings, though in the past they existed in large numbers. These men are skilled and expert.
They are most anxious to stock the deer forest in the national interest and they can breed stock to the 1,500 ft. level, the highest to which they can be carried in this country. All they ask the Government to do is to build shelter belts and give them security of tenure which is no more than any agriculturists could ask. They also ask that the Government should bear part of the insurance against winter storms. Hon. Members will recollect the great loss that was sustained some years ago in these 36 parishes, as was also sustained in other parts of the country, and these farmers suggest that they should bear 2s. 6d. per cent. and the Government should bear the same amount of the premium. This is a matter which I hope will be granted. Large areas of secondary hill land can be brought to cultivation by the use of prairie busters, mechanical drainage appliances, and by seeding with the right grasses and clovers on lines advocated by Sir George Stapledon.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is really not entitled to go into the detailed matters. The simple proposal of the order is that certain areas shall be included in the schedule. There is nothing in the order which entitles hon. Members to go into great detail or into matters which may or may not hereafter be decided by the Board.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I should be the last person to challenge any Ruling of yours, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but this order is designed to bring prosperity to the Highlands. Before you took the Chair, the Secretary of State for Scotland instanced in his speech some of the things which could be done and which he hoped would be done, but he made it clear that it would be a formidable task. No one realises that more than I do, and I am only attempting to do what I am sure the right hon. Gentleman wishes me to do, and as his colleagues on the Front Bench 1396 would doubtless wish me to do, namely, to deal with matters within my experience which will contribute towards making the scheme successful.
This is a very interesting point which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have raised, because in his speech the right hon. Gentleman talked about this Development Area being dependent for its success upon the introduction of business and commercial undertakings which were complementary to the ancient and primary industries of agriculture, fishing and forestry. I am dealing with the most important ones first, and if I may, I shall come to the newer and lighter industries second. I should like to make the point clear that the labour which will come into these factories must come from the children of farmers, fishermen and foresters, who do not wish to follow the occupations of their fathers even if there is room for them. That has happened all over this country, in the Dominions, in fact throughout the world. Every farmer's boy does not want to be a farmer. Every farmer's girl does not want to be a dairymaid.
The area has been kept agrarian, or a sporting paradise, or both. I should like to meet the selfish people referred to by the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty who refuse to permit any industry to come into this area, even for the purpose of ensuring that people born into that beautiful land will not be compelled to leave it for economic reasons. I feel deeply about this because, as I have said, I come from this part. My father was one of the exiles; so am I. Thousands and thousands have been scattered all over the face of the earth. There are far more Highlanders in Canada than there are in Scotland. There are far more Highlanders in North and South America than there are in Scotland. That is why I am taking part in this Debate tonight, although I have the honour to represent Streatham. Smallholders and crofters can make a great contribution to our timber resources, but industry is required if full employment is to be achieved.
Reference has been made to the Hydro-Electric Board, which is already increasing its generating and distributing facilities. It is interesting to me, because I was one of two hon. Members in a previous Parliament chosen by the Grampian Electric Company to plead their cause in this House. Although we 1397 lost the day, it was a glorious defeat. We were striving then to bring hydroelectric power to the Highlands. We should have preferred it to be through the medium of that company.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Member is getting very far from the order. I hope he will confine himself to the order which is before the House.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I shall; and I apologise for my lapse from grace. I welcomed the Hydro-Electric Board and I believe the schemes for harnessing the waters of the Highlands is a contribution towards the solution of the problems of the Highlands.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have already indicated that the hon. Member is not entitled to indulge in a catalogue of projects which may or may not be appropriate to a Development Area. As I understand him, he indicated that the Secretary of State had given a general indication as to the desirability of introducing industries supplementary to agrarian occupation. That was no doubt in Order, but it is not in Order to go further into details of complementary industries. A general statement is one thing and a detailed catalogue is another.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I certainly shall obey your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but with very great reluctance. There is much more I should like to say, but I shall only point out in conclusion that there is an abundance of work waiting to be done. This order is a step in the right direction and the Distribution of Industry Act created and passed by the Coalition Government is putting the means and the requisite legal power in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman. I am sure it will be used in future. If that is done, I am convinced that the country will reap a rich benefit in maintaining a splendid race of people in the land of their birth, and that the compulsory emigration to which I have referred will come to an end.
§ 1.2 a.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
I am sure the welcome given to this order by everyone who has spoken so far must considerably gratify the Secretary of State, for he has had from this side and from the other side of the House an unsolicited testimonial to the success that has attended the major Act and the 1398 efforts of himself and the Board of Trade in bringing a proper balance of industry to parts of Scotland which have been long, long neglected.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
I think the hon. Member said "The success that has attended." Surely it is the success for which we hope.
§ Mr. Ross
We have hoped for many things in Scotland and have hoped in vain. When the right hon. Gentleman's party was in power, the hopes of the people were hopes deferred and made hearts sick. The heart of Scotland was sick for a very long time. But let us leave that.
I am interested in this order in connection with the benefits which I hope it will confer on the County of Ayr. In paragraph 1 of the order,that part of the Royal Burgh of Irvine within the parish of Dundonald and within the County of Ayris brought within the Development Area. I represent all that portion of the parish of Dundonald, except the part which comes within the Royal Burgh of Irvine. Many of my constituents live in villages and scattered areas and get their livelihood from lie town of Irvine. I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Ayr Burghs (Sir T. Moore), who I regret is not here, will not mind my making this intervention regarding this development of Irvine.
It was regrettable that Irvine under the Act was split in two. One part of the town was taken within the Development Area and the portions south and west, nearer Ayr, were completely left out. In rectifying this absurd anomaly the Secretary of State need fear no objections from Ayrshire or Irvine. Irvine is suffering today from the danger of unemployment and that gives considerable justification for what is being done. Only three weeks ago I had a letter from the town council of Irvine who, for some reason or other, decided to write to me. It is a matter of concern that the prosperity of Irvine during the last war was dependent almost entirely on war production—the I.C.I., Ardeer and Stevenson, and the Royal Ordnance factory.
The Royal Ordnance factory since the end of the war has gradually been whittling away staff until now there are 1399 barely 600 people employed there. By this autumn, another three hundred will be declared redundant and will become unemployed. This factory is to be retained as war potential, but it is no good retaining a factory unless you have available the labour supply, and the labour supply will go unless new industries are brought into Irvine. This is why this order is a timely intervention. The part of Irvine, where the Royal Ordnance factory is situated, is outwith the Development Area and the part of Irvine, where there is scope for industrial development, has hitherto been left out and is now included in the Development Area.
This is the second time that Irvine has been left in this way. It was the same thing after the last war and anyone who has travelled into Irvine from Ayr can remember the crumbling ruins of wartime factories left after the 1914–18 War and the state that Irvine fell into thereafter. I do not need to remind the people who know that part of the country how the town and the townspeople suffered. I welcome the fact that changes are being made this time and that the people will be able to have the hope of new industries being brought into that town. I have always been very angry that Irvine is by no means the loveliest town in Ayrshire. It could have been. It is a town with a beautiful river flowing through it, where a fine harbour exists, but it has been so planned that it shuts out the north-eastern portion altogether from the public. It has been so developed that the whole foreshore has been ruined. The building and the industrial development which could have taken place in Irvine somehow or other has been by-passed.
Irvine has been built with a fine road and fine rail transport. It could have been the industrial capital of Ayrshire. I welcome the opportunity the Government have created for new industries to flow in there, and I can assure anyone who is looking for a site for an industry that they could not find a better place or a finer reservoir of fine labour than in the Royal and Ancient Burgh of Irvine. I applaud the sentiments of the hon. Gentleman who spoke about the Highlands. It was a fine and typically Highland vision and one which I hope this time is going to be realised. I also hope to see the same measure of 1400 prosperity given to the hitherto excluded portion of Ayrshire.
§ 1.10 a.m.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
I hope that in sounding a warning note it will not be thought I am in any way opposing or decrying this order and what it proposes to do. What I want to be sure about—and I am only going to deal with the Highland areas concerned, although in a similar way it refers to the other two as well—is the use of agricultural land. The ever-receding area of agricultural land in this island is a matter which ought to engage the serious attention of every Member of this House. Every year it gets less and less, and here we are dealing with areas north and south of the Firth containing some of the best farming land in Scotland, and certainly some of the best farmers. I do hope that the Secretary of State for Scotland will give his undivided attention to this point. I hope from what he has said that that is the case, namely that the industry it is proposed to instal and encourage in these Highland areas will be suitable for the main industries which are already there, of which farming is the greatest.
Forestry, fishing and agriculture provide the salvation of the Highlands and everything else will be ancillary. It should never be' allowed that industries of a different type should eat further into the invaluable farming land of Scotland. We have had an appalling example of irreparable devastation right over the country by opencast coalmining, which means that land will never be fit in our lifetime for agriculture on any high scale at all.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
Although the hon. Member for Kilmarnock says it is still nonsense, Nature thinks otherwise and is proving it otherwise, but I think that if, like my brother clansman, the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) I continue on this line, I shall be in trouble with the Chair.
I want to emphasise this point once again. These areas are covered with fertile and magnificent farms producing 1401 what is needed more than anything else—milk and food for the people—and it would be a pity if in introducing other industries, a square yard of good agricultural land should be taken where a less valuable one can be found. So often we find that the ground is not chosen because it will do the least damage to agriculture but chosen because it is the most convenient place to build. That should not be the primary interest and when people propose to introduce industry into these areas, agricultural land first and foremost should be safeguarded, and other industries welcomed on less valuable land.
The industries to be introduced into this part of the world, as hon. Members have said, should come primarily from Highlanders themselves and by their efforts. While we welcome industries coming in we should never get into that state of mind, as in the past, of saying, "Someone else will come in and help, so we need not bother." I hope the encouragement from the Secretary of State for Scotland shall always be such that local people will as far as possible put themselves on their feet in setting up industries. When this order goes through, as we all hope, I want to say once again, "Do not let us waste one square yard of precious agriculture land in Scotland" because it will be too late eventually, and we shall find we have not got the food to eat, and all the industries in the world will not help if we get to that stage. I am sure the Secretary of State will agree to that.
§ 1.15 a.m.
§ Mr. McAllister (Rutherglen)
I agree entirely with the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the Secretary of State, that the industries which are introduced to the Highlands should be allied to the indigenous industries. This order is the fulfilment in some degree of the recommendations of the Scottish Committee. Through the Development of Industry Act the Government have largely fulfilled the recommendations of the Barlow Committee, and in the Town and Country Planning Act those of the Uthwatt Committee. But this is one of the most material signs we have had that the policy of bringing industry to rural life is to be implemented. We are glad that the first area chosen for implementing the recommendations of that report should be the Highlands of Scotland.
1402 It is a remarkable thing that, while Scotsmen had to complain before the war of the southward trend of industry and population, since the war we have been able to arrest that drift and start the tide flowing in the opposite direction. We are glad of that. There is a precisely similar problem in the south around London in the pull of population from the rural and more sparsely populated areas to the great centre of population. This order will, I hope, help materially to return population to the Highlands. We want to see the Highlands with more population and more thriving villages, and a more generally thriving countryside, and this order will help that enormously.
I was interested in what the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. McLeod) said, because he related this order to town planning. Town planning comes very much into this question, and if I have any criticism of the administration of the Development Areas it is that, while magnificent Work has been done, too often there has been failure to have regard to the proper co-ordination of housing and industry. I hope when this order is applied to the Highlands we shall see that co-ordination. New factories involve town building. I was interested when the Secretary of State used the words "new towns which may spring up round the Cromarty Firth." I am glad he is thinking in terms of new towns. I hope he will also think in terms of new villages. Small communities of 2,000 or less are as important as new towns. But they must have an integrated life, and I believe that such an integrated social and industrial life will keep the population in the Highlands, and even in the glens. People do not mind travelling a small distance to work, and we have found in other new town development, that not only was there a creation of new employment, but also a great help to the agricultural hinterland of the new town, which was a benefit to the whole countryside.
When the hon. Member for Streatham was speaking I could not help thinking that his heart was in the Highlands and not in Streatham. His speech, with a great deal of which I agreed, was addressed primarily to the electorate of Caithness.
§ Sir D. Robertson
I can assure the hon. Gentleman that he is entirely wrong. My interest in Caithness and Sutherland has been forced upon me, as the Secretary of State is well aware. I intended to retire from this honourable House at the next General Election, but—and I say this in all modesty, though I am compelled to say it in reply to the hon. Member—I believe I may be of some service to the people. If they choose otherwise, I shall be quite happy.
§ Mr. McAllister
I realised that the hon. Gentleman was speaking as a Highlander and as a Highlander whose ancestors had suffered exile from their native heath, which has been the lot of so many Highlanders through so many generations. I think it is a tribute to Scotland that at this hour, so many Scottish members can be found in this House passionately anxious to forward the development and progress of the Highlands.
§ 1.22 a.m.
§ Mr. Rankin (Tradeston)
My interest in this order largely arises from the fact that in my Division there is a considerable Highland population. They are there for the reason given by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister); they were driven from the Highlands through lack of work and through loss of their land and they and their forbears have come to live in the city of Glasgow. They have been good and useful citizens and Glasgow's gain has been the Highlands' loss. Therefore I am glad that my right hon. Friend in this order proposes to try to stop that drift to the south, to stabilise the population in the Highlands and ultimately, as we all hope, to increase it. He proposes to do so by the creation of factories and the provision of facilities for employment. Why stop at the building of factories? If we are in earnest in seeing that the Highlands are rehabilitated, why should we not take control of these factories, and not merely provide facilities and wait until some private enterpriser comes along to promote an industry within the walls of these factories? Why should we not ourselves become the timber manufacturers and fish processers?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
The suggestion the hon. Gentleman is making is not within this order.
§ Mr. Rankin
I am sorry, but I was interested to observe the lesson the members of the Scottish Grand Committee received earlier in the Debate from the Chairman of that Committee, when he tried to show the House how one chairman could get round another. I am afraid I have learned my lesson somewhat badly. I shall need to try it out on my teacher first before I go any further. The only point I was trying to make was that in this order we are taking a partial step in the creation of industry and not the complete step we should take. Having made that point, I want to ask my right hon. Friend this question. We all know that a Highland advisory panel has been appointed to go into problems of this nature, and I should like to know how far this order fits in with the deliberations and decisions which may have been made by the panel.
The third point I want to refer to is one deriving from the subject which I raised on an Adjournment Debate in this House a little over two years ago. It recurred to me tonight. In that Debate I looked forward to the day when we should be required to do some of the things laid down in this order; as a consequence of doing these things, we shall be in need of technicians, teachers, doctors, and people who are skilled in the higher branches of commerce and engineering. As a direct result of these requirements which will be created by this order, my right hon. Friend has reinforced the appeal I made over two years ago for the creation of a fifth university in Inverness. My hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) referred to the fact that we have our visions for the Highlands. It may be that this order brings one of my visions a little nearer to reality.
§ 1.25 a.m.
§ Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)
It seems to me that the order before us rectifies, in regard to Linlithgow and Irvine, mistakes probably made at an earlier date, and that the really important part of the order concerns those parts of the Highlands now included in the Development Areas. It also seems to me that an order of this nature, when it concerns such a large new area as that with which we are concerned, may introduce conflicting sentiments or a feeling of despondency because the area which 1405 has been scheduled thinks of unemployment as being likely to arise there. I think that the Minister has dispelled any need for us to harbour any despondency. He looks on this problem much more as a question of developing the area than as a future area of unemployment.
The other sentiment of high hope is the one which must be uppermost in our minds in considering this order, but I do hope that we shall be warned not to have too many visions. If we want to destroy altogether the benefit of this order it will be by thinking in the clouds and not with our feet on the ground. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman warned us very clearly on that matter. When I interrupted the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) it was merely because I thought he had suggested, I hope wrongly, that something had already occurred whereas we are living in hope that something may come.
§ Commander Galbraith
I understand and agree with the hon. Gentleman. The Secretary of State recited to us, as has been mentioned by other hon. Members, the various facilities which will be put at the disposal of the area. He omitted one which was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson), that of derelict land which could be brought into use under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. That, perhaps, might be one of the most important of the things which could be done under this order in some of the districts mentioned in the order, and no doubt the right hon. Gentleman has that matter in his mind.
A great deal of emphasis has been laid on the fact that the people of the Highlands should try to do something on their own account. No doubt they will take the opportunity to use the facilities which are being offered to them and we only hope they will make good use of them. I differ from my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Perth (Colonel Gomme-Duncan). I should welcome anyone from outside who cared to come into the Highlands. The Highlands have given fully of their best to other parts of the country, and, indeed, to other parts of the world.
§ Colonel Gomme-Duncan
May I interrupt my hon. and gallant Friend a moment to correct a wrong impression? I am not trying to discourage people coming in from outside, but I hope that encouragement will not be given to them so as to prevent those inside from doing their stuff. We do not want them to come in at the expense of our people.
§ Commander Galbraith
I entirely agree with my hon. and gallant Friend, but he enabled me to make a point which I felt was of some little value. We have had a very peaceful and quiet Debate—an extraordinarily peaceful and quiet Debate for a subject connected with Scotland. That is indeed a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman for his introduction of this order. We are all, for once, in complete agreement. We look forward to the hopes of things that may happen, becoming actualities, which can be used for maintaining the population and helping their prosperity to increase. If this measure is successful, I hope there may be other orders dealing with the Highland counties.
§ 1.35 a.m.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Thomas Fraser)
The hon. and gallant Gentleman has said that we have had an extremely quiet and peaceful Debate and that it is unusual to have such a peaceful discussion on Scottish matters. It is not often that we have a peaceful discussion on matters pertaining to the Highlands of Scotland. I do not think there is much I need say in reply to the discussion. It would be mean of me not to acknowledge the tributes paid to my right hon. Friend and, indeed, to the Government for bringing forward this order tonight. The hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. McLeod) said he hoped the Government would not attempt to do too much on their own. Of course, the Government will seek to take the local councils with them in all that they attempt to achieve under the powers of the order. As the Secretary of State said in his opening speech, we have done so up to this point. Indeed, as he said, this order gives the Government power to do certain things; but it does not empower the Government to go so far as to ensure employment or prosperity in the Highlands or in the other areas contained within this order.
The Government will, through the agency of the Scottish Industrial Estates 1407 Company, no doubt, in the course of time—though I cannot say how soon—provide some facilities within those areas, and particularly in the Highland area scheduled under this Order. They will build some factories in the course of time, but how soon that will be done I do not know. None of us can tell. We must exercise considerable caution at present in the expenditure of our resources upon the building of factories. We have to be sure that the factories are going to be employed. As the Secretary of State said, it is desirable that they should be employed in the manufacture of goods for export, or of goods which will save imports.
The right hon. Gentleman also said that the Government would look with some considerable favour upon enterprises which it was proposed to establish in the Highlands because of the certainty of such enterprises creating a stability in the Highlands which would otherwise be absent. They would also favour these enterprises because of the fact, which the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) stressed, that there are many people born in the Highlands and who live there, who are not suited to employment in the indigenous occupations of the Highlands and who, in the absence of a factory and the employment it provides in the Highland area, would go forth in search of employment, and so depopulation would go on.
Perhaps I should make this point regarding employment in the Highlands. Despite the considerable employment in the hydro-electric schemes it is the fact that in some parts of the Highlands, in the area which is being scheduled, although there is far less unemployment than there was, the figure of employment has also gone down. That is not so in any other area of heavy unemployment in the country. So we hope that what will be done under the order will make possible a considerable increase in the course of time in the number of persons employed in the area.
I have been asked whether this order is the result of discussions we have had with the Highlands and Islands Advisory Panel. We have discussed this matter with the panel, and the whole question has been discussed with the Scottish Council for Development and Industry 1408 as well. Both bodies have been most co-operative. They have assisted the Secretary of State for Scotland considerably in getting the good will of everyone in the area. We look forward to their assisting considerably in attracting the new enterprises to this area without which this order will not meet with the result which every hon. Member who has addressed the House wishes.
The hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) asked why we had de-limited the area within his constituency in the way we had. The hon. Member would agree that there is not and ought not to be any danger of considerable unemployment in the part of his constituency to which he referred which abuts the area contained in this order. There are new developments going on nearby and we are hoping these developments will in their own way deal with any danger of unemployment in that area. If it should be necessary to look again at that area, or any other area, the power is given in the Act of 1945 to the Secretary of State and the President of the Board of Trade to amend the Schedule, but we must exercise considerable caution in scheduling new areas.
We do not wish to mislead anyone or the people in any part of the country, and we hope that as a result of our passing this order tonight the people in the areas now included in the Schedule will not expect that new opportunities of employment are going to open up next week or next month. It will take time. It has taken time to deal with the areas included in the Schedule of the 1945 Act, but results have been achieved and it is only as we are able to ease up on what we are doing in those areas already within the Schedule that we can spread ourselves and do some kind of work in other parts of the country. I resume my seat by repeating the acknowledgment and thanks of the Government for the tributes that have been paid tonight and the general welcome which has been given to this order.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
That the Distribution of Industry (Development Areas) (Scotland) Order, 1949, dated 4th March, 1949, a copy of which was laid before this House on 7th March, be approved.