HC Deb 21 April 1953 vol 514 cc808-9
43. Mr. Slater

asked the President of the Board of Trade what information he has regarding the redundancy of workmen with well-established firms on the Aycliffe Trading Estate, near Darlington; and what are the causes for such redundancy.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Henry Strauss)

I understand there has been a net fall of about 100 in the number employed on this estate between November, 1952, and March, 1953. The causes include import restrictions abroad and changes in the requirements of the defence programme.

Mr. Slater

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that I have had correspondence from the trade union organisations regarding the fall in employment? I accept his figure as applying to firms such as Lehmann, Archer and Lane, and engineering works such as E.N.V. Engineering Company, Limited, Crow-borough Engineering Company, Limited, and Block and Anderson, Limited, but how many cases of redundancy are taking place in Government sponsored factories?

Mr. Strauss

I think the hon. Member is aware that the figures given in answer to a Question of this kind are obtained by confidential inquiry and it is not usual, nor in the interests of those concerned, to give details in answer to questions of that sort.

Mr. Bottomley

Will the hon. and learned Gentleman agree that if in an area like this—for which the Government have accepted special responsibility—there is unemployment, it is a pretty poor outlook for the future of industry generally?

Mr. Strauss

I think that the question asked by the right hon. Member arises more in connection with the next Question on the Order Paper.

44. Mr. Slater

asked the President of the Board of Trade what efforts are being put forward through his Department to attract new industry to the Aycliffe Trading Estate, near Darlington, to offset the redundancy which has been taking place with particular firms on the estate.

Mr. H. Strauss

The rate of unemployment in the Darlington exchange area, which includes Aycliffe, is at present lower than that of Great Britain as a whole. My right hon. Friend is watching the position and will bear the claims of the Aycliffe Trading Estate in mind in considering the location of any new industrial developments.

Mr. Slater

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that we have a new town known as New Town, Ayecliffe in connection with this estate and that that new town is catering for a growing population right round Darlington and as far west as County Durham and the East Coast of Durham and a lot of people have uprooted themselves in order to be employed on the trading estate? If incentive is not given to firms on the estate, how can people feel that the Government are really interested in the problem of unemployment so far as they are concerned?

Mr. Strauss

The hon. Member is quite right as to the importance of considering the new town, and I can assure him that that consideration is being borne in mind. At the same time I think it relevant to consider the figures of unemployment. On this estate the figure was 1.5 per cent. in March of this year; in the North-East Development Area as a whole it was 2.6 per cent.; in the Development Areas it was 3.4 per cent.; and in Great Britain as a whole it was 1.9 per cent. Therefore, while the Government will certainly bear in mind the interests of this area, it is one of many and not by any means the most unfortunately situated.

Mr. Popplewell

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the trading estate at Ayecliffe was sponsored for a specific purpose—on account of the very heavy employment there has been there for a long time? Is he satisfied that this short-fall has no great significance? Will he see that work is provided in these development areas to keep a fully employed personnel?

Mr. Strauss

I think the points raised by the hon. Member were covered by my answers to this and the previous Question. It is true that certain factors have led to some redundancies in certain of the companies, but as against that others have increased and all the matters to which attention has been drawn are kept in mind by my Department.