HC Deb 13 November 1958 vol 595 cc549-50
24. Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps he has taken in recent months, under the Distribution of Industry (Financial Provisions) Act and otherwise, to assist industrial development in the Western Isles, in view of the high and persistent unemployment; and if he will make a statement.

Sir D. Eccles

I have included the Western Isles among the places where financial assistance may be given under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, and my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury has told the hon. Member of the applications already received. It has never been easy to find new projects for the area. I hope, however, that the new Act may help.

Mr. MacMillan

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is not likely that he will get applications in this area from large firms for projects able to offer dramatic increases in employment? Therefore, will he give special attention to the small firms, or even to individuals who may be able, by help under the Act, to employ one, two or three more people? If the right hon. Gentleman would keep that in mind and not impose dead average criteria over big industrial areas and outlying areas and islands, it would be a great help.

Sir D. Eccles

I have very much in mind that small firms are the most likely applicants.

Mr. Grimond

Has the right hon. Gentleman given further consideration to the form which is sent out to applicants to complete? It is a most intimidating document which makes them feel that it virtually rules them out. If the right hon. Gentleman could redraft the form to show that small firms are eligible for this help, it would do a good deal to restore confidence in the North.

Sir D. Eccles

We are doing that, and I hope that the result will be satisfactory.