HC Deb 16 December 1952 vol 509 cc1182-5
26.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the total number of factories completed in England in the years 1950, 1951 and 1952 to date; and the number of these which were erected in Lancashire.

As the answer contains a table of figures, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Really, I have asked for three figures, and three other figures: six in all. They are very important to Lancashire. Will the hon. and learned Gentleman tell us how many factories have been built in England in 1950, 1951 and 1952, and how many of those were built in Lancashire? He can do that in six words.

It was precisely because I knew these matters were of interest to the hon. Member that I put in the table many figures which, I thought, he would like to have. Perhaps—

I want six now.

I feel it would be quite unfair to other hon. Members—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—if I were not to use the method of issuing a table in answering the Question, for that method is used, and used rightly, to give all sorts of details, but this may, I hope, help the hon. Member. The proportion of new building in Lancashire to that in the rest of the country has been in 1951, and so far in 1952, over 18 per cent., and Lancashire contains 14 per cent. of the insured population.

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman not aware that he could have given us those figures in half a minute

 NEW FACTORIES AND EXTENSION TO EXISTING FACTORIES COMPLETED IN 1950, 1951 AND 1952 (Projects exceeding 5,000 square feet) England Lancashire Period Number Area Number Area Projects completed in Lancashire as a percentage of factory building in England (by area) Million square feet Million square feet Per cent. 1950 845 19.7 125 2.6 13.5 1951 937 17.6 133 3.2 18.2 1952 to 30th September 626 10.4 94 1.8 18.1 Total: 1st January, 1950 to 30th September, 1952 2,408 47.7 352 7.6 16.0

NOTE: The figures given are subject to amendment in the light of information received after 30th November, 1952.

30.

asked the President of the Board of Trade the number of new factory buildings under construction in the Development Areas at the latest available date; and the number on the corresponding date last year.

The information is only available for buildings over 5,000 sq. ft. The total number of these under construction in the Development Areas instead of spending four valuable minutes of the time of the House saying he would not give them? Is he really so ashamed of the figures that he will not give them? Or is it his desire to treat the House with contempt? Does he know that by refusing to give those figures we all know he is seeking to delay discussion of them over the Christmas Recess?

There is not the slightest foundation for a single one of the allegations, and I am quite certain that when the hon. Member has studied the table he will, with his usual generosity, thank me for giving figures that, I know, he wishes to have.

On a point of order. If it appears to be the opinion of this House that the information sought for in this Question is sufficiently important to warrant extra time being spent upon it, have we any right, Mr. Speaker, to insist that the Minister should give those figures?

There is no right.

(both new factories and extensions) was 270 at the 31st October, 1952, and 314 a year earlier, but the area under construction was nearly 4 million sq. ft. more this year than last.

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, as far as the Development Area with which I am concerned is affected, we are very disappointed at the lack of progress in new building schemes? Will he break down the figures into new factories and extensions, because we are convinced in the North-East that we should have more new factories, and we are not getting them?

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman also tell us why he can give figures to one of his hon. Friends and refuse them to me?

On a point of order. Is the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) in order in asking that question when you, Mr. Speaker, have not called him?

The hon. Member rather anticipated my decision to call him.

I would assure the hon. Member that if I had had a table giving him only three or two figures I certainly should have given it in an oral answer.

36.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will introduce legislation giving powers to make financial assistance in connection with the erection of factories in areas outside Development Areas where unemployment is being aggravated by lack of modern factory space.

I can hold out no prospect of legislation on the lines suggested.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that there is growing unemployment in many export industries in Lancashire; that in the county borough of Oldham unemployment has gone up from 180 in November last, half of whom were disabled, to over 3,000; that one of the difficulties is the complete absence of modern factories; and that unless and until Her Majesty's Government introduce the necessary powers there will be the same drift from the north to the south that we had to face in the years of Tory misrule before the war?

The suggestion in the Question is really a suggestion for a major change in the Distribution of Industry Acts. I cannot hold out hope of legislation on those lines.