HC Deb 10 April 1952 vol 498 cc2970-2
36. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will now designate North-East Lancashire as a development area.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am aware of the problems of North-East Lancashire, but I am not satisfied that the course proposed by the hon. Member would be appropriate at the present time.

Mr. Hynd

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that the local planning authorities comprising the Lancashire County Council, the County Borough of Blackburn and the County Borough of Burnley have decided that this is one of the essential steps towards doing something to help the Lancashire textile industry in its present difficulties? Does he also appreciate the advantages in the way of facilities for licences, grants, and so forth, that a simple administrative step like this would give to that district, and will he not look at this proposal again?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I will, of course, look sympathetically at any suggestions put forward to deal with what is a very difficult problem in that area. At the same time we ought to look a little more widely at it—whether it is technically a development area or not—and I would rather concentrate at the moment in trying to get some contracts into that area.

Mr. Richard Fort

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, if he will make that area into a development area, it will make it much easier for industrialists who may be bringing new industries to East Lancashire, which we urgently want, to get the licences, particularly for steel, and they cannot do that as long as that area is in its present indeterminate situation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If my hon. Friend has examples of industrialists who wish to start a new industry in that area, and would like to call my attention to that matter, I shall be happy to discuss it with him. I do not think the question of whether it is a development area or not would stand in the way.

Mr. Tom Brown

Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is not aware that one of his predecessors gave a reply in similar words when we were pleading for South-West Lancashire to be designated as a development area, and that when we brought pressure to bear upon him, he agreed? Is the Minister also aware of the immense success which was the result of the persuasive powers of hon. Members on this side of the House in making South-West Lancashire a development area? I know that the right hon. Gentleman is aware of the position in North-East Lancashire and we are anxious to help him, and one of the ways he can render help to it is by designating it as a development area.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am quite ready to listen to arguments put forward upon this subject and to give them sympathetic consideration. At the same time, what is wanted is not the technical designation of an area as one category or another. What is wanted is work and the bringing of contracts into the area. It is on that rather practical aspect of the matter that I prefer to concentrate at the moment.

Mr. Hynd

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall try to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible date.