HC Deb 20 April 1950 vol 474 cc297-8
13. Brigadier Clarke

asked the President of the Board of Trade what success he has had during the past four years in encouraging industry to go to Portsmouth; and what plans he has for further encouragement in the future, in view of the fact that 5 per cent, of this city is unemployed.

Mr. H. Wilson

Determined efforts have been made by my Department to interest industrialists in Portsmouth and in the past few years three firms new to the area have decided to establish themselves there. A number of other substantial projects are at present under consideration. As my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour and National Service informed the House on 6th April, in reply to a Question by the hon. and gallant Member, a good deal of the rise in unemployment in Portsmouth during the winter was seasonal, and work for some hundreds of people should be provided soon by factories, both for incoming and local firms, still under construction. We fully realise that, as in the development areas, more industry is required in Portsmouth, and we shall continue to do everything in our power to assist industry already there to expand and whenever practicable to steer new industry to the district.

Brigadier Clarke

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the firms which his own Department encouraged to go to Portsmouth are being frustrated by other Government Departments? These three firms want to come but the Minister of Health, the Minister of Works or some other Minister will not give them permission to build or to get on with business. The result is that 5,000 are unemployed. Is this in accordance with the Government's full employment programme?

Mr. Wilson

No, Sir. I am not aware of these facts, nor is the unemployment figure what the hon. and gallant Gentleman quoted. I am aware, however, that thanks to the co-operation of the Cooperative Wholesale Society a factory for them is shortly to be established in Portsmouth. I shall be very surprised if the hon. and gallant Gentleman suggests that we should use compulsion on private business interests to establish themselves in Portsmouth.

Brigadier Clarke

I do not want compulsion.

Mr. Nally

So that the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the House can be properly informed of the relevant comparative figures in relation to Portsmouth, could my right hon. Friend indicate the new industries and what was the general level of unemployment in Portsmouth in the inter-war years?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, if my hon. Friend or the hon. and gallant Gentleman will put down a Question.