HC Deb 25 November 1958 vol 596 cc211-2
38. Mr. Edward Evans

asked the President of the Board of Trade what considerations he had in mind when excluding the towns of Lowestoft and Beccles, in the area of north-east Suffolk, under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act; and whether, in view of rising unemployment in the area, he will now include these towns in the provisions of the Act.

Mr. J. Rodgers

Unemployment in the Lowestoft and Beccles areas was not and is not high enough for the areas to qualify for assistance under the Act.

Mr. Evans

Was not this decision to exclude Beccles and Lowestoft taken at a time when the incidence of unemployment was much lower than it now is? Is the hon. Gentleman aware how unemployment has developed lately? Is he not aware of the grave anxiety not only that there will be under-employment and redundancy, but about the lack of the introduction of new industries?

Mr. Rodgers

I am aware of the anxiety, but I point out to the hon. Gentleman that the average rates for wholly unemployed during the twelve months ending October were 3.4 per cent. in Lowestoft and 2.9 per cent. in Beccles. If the qualifying level of unemployment is pitched too low, the new legislation will not be an effective means of helping the centres of serious unemployment, which have suffered worse than these two areas.

Mr. Jay

Although those figures may have been the average over twelve months, what is the unemployment percentage in those areas now?

Mr. Rodgers

In October, the rates of unemployment in Lowestoft and Beccles were 4.2 per cent., or 822 people, and 3.1 per cent., or 133 people, respectively. If those temporarily stopped on the day of the count are excluded, the rates were 3.8 per cent. and 2.7 per cent., respectively.