HC Deb 27 May 1954 vol 528 cc595-7
26. Mr. Grey

asked the President of the Board of Trade the policy of Her Majesty's Government regarding the future of the Development Areas.

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

The policy of Her Majesty's Government is to continue to strengthen and diversify the industrial structure of the Development Areas. My right hon. Friend has now completed his examination of these areas and does not consider that he would be justified at present in proposing to remove any of them from the schedule to the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945.

Mr. Grey

While thanking the Parliamentary Secretary for that reply, may I inform him that the statement will give the greatest confidence in the Development Areas because there has been a lot of uncertainty about what the future will be.

Mr. Dalton

While welcoming the statement about there being no intention in the mind of the Government to remove any areas from the Schedule, may I ask if the hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that in nearly every Development Area unemployment still remains obstinately above the national average? Will he therefore continue vigorously to use the powers conferred on him by the Distribution of Industry Act?

Mr. Strauss

The right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong in his facts. At present the national average is 1.5 per cent., but in the North-East Lancashire Development Area the proportion of unemployed is . of 1 per cent.

Mr. Dalton

What is the proportion in Durham, in South Wales and industrial Scotland?

Mr. Strauss

If the right hon. Gentleman will put down a Question to which such an answer is relevant, I shall give him all the figures. I was merely pointing out that the statement contained in his first supplementary question was wrong. The policy pursued by Her Majesty's Government was stated in my answer to the Question.

Mr. Hamilton

While agreeing that Development Areas are important, may I ask whether the Parliamentary Secretary would agree that the developing of mining areas, as distinct from the Development Areas, is just as important, and that attention should be paid to them?

Mr. Strauss

The hon. Member will appreciate that that is quite a different question, though I think I know what he has in mind.

Mr. Fort

May I ask if my right hon. Friend is proposing to publish a report on the Development Areas after his recent consideration of how they are working?

Mr. Strauss

There has been no decision on that matter.