HC Deb 01 May 1952 vol 499 cc1636-8
17. Mr. Frederick Willey

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will set up a working party to assist him in his review of the administration of the Development Areas.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I do not consider that that the appointment of a formal working party is necessary, but I have already asked two men of experience and standing, Sir Thomas Phillips, a former Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, and Sir Edward Gillett, an eminent surveyor, to give me their confidential advice in an inquiry which I am now making into the provision and management of factories in Development Areas and the relationship between the Board of Trade and the Industrial Estate Companies, within the framework of the Distribution of Industries Act.

Mr. Willey

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this inquiry will be much welcomed? Will he, however, still pay attention to the suggestion I have made, because I think he will agree that it is rather more than an administrative problem, and that there are other factors which have to be taken into account?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Perhaps I may complete my inquiries first, and then I will certainly bear the suggestion in mind.

Mr. George Chetwynd

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider putting someone from the industrial estate companies and the factory owners concerned on to this investigation so that he can get first-hand information from those people also?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This is not really a committee. I have called in two distinguished men of experience to advise me, but I will see that the type of knowledge to which the hon. Gentleman refers is made use of in pursuing their inquiries.

Mr. Shepherd

When making his inquiries will my right hon. Friend try to find out the reason for the extraordinarily high capital cost in relation to the number of men employed in these areas, which is a serious defect?

Mr. W. A. Burke

Will the inquiries include the Lancashire cotton area?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This inquiry concerns the trading estates.

Mr. James H. Hoy

Will these inquiries affect the Development Areas in Scotland as well?

Mr. A. G. Bottomley

Is the Secretary for Overseas Trade in charge of this, and will the two gentlemen report to him before presenting their report to the President? As the President may know, plans had been made ahead and things ought to be speeded up by now.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I hope that these two gentlemen will report to me on this matter.