18. Mr. H. Wilson
asked the President of the Board of Trade when he expects to lay a White Paper showing the action taken in Development Areas since 1948.
§ Mr. H. Strauss
There has been no decision to lay a White Paper on this subject, but my right hon. Friend is considering the matter.
As the Minister has been considering the matter for two years now, will he bear in mind that, when the Distribution of Industry Act was passed in 1945, an undertaking was given to lay a White Paper in three years, which I did, and it was understood that there would be subsequent White Papers laid every three years thereafter?
§ Mr. Strauss
I do not think that was quite the understanding, but let me say that I appreciate the very good reasons why the right hon. Gentleman laid the White Paper in 1948. If he will refer to the Foreword of that White Paper, he will see that the occasion for the laying of that White Paper was expressly said to be the statutory review under Section 7 of the Act three years after the Act came into operation. There has been no subsequent statutory review, nor will there be, under the Act.
But if the first White Paper was laid only three years after the Act, is there not a case for another White Paper, as it is six years since the first White Paper was laid?
§ Mr. Strauss
That question presupposes a general merit in the laying of White Papers. There are many statutes which prescribe annual reports and so forth, but there is nothing like that in this case. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman's desire for a White Paper has been noted and is under consideration.