HC Deb 09 December 1959 vol 615 cc637-74
Mr. Cledwyn Hughes (Anglesey)

I beg to move, in page 6, line 20, at the end to insert: Provided that in letting or offering to let premises under this subsection a Management Corporation shall take into account any remoteness or inaccessibility of the place in which such premises are situated and shall so adjust the rent asked as to offset the disadvantages of such remoteness or inaccessibility. This is an eminently reasonable Amendment which I think the Minister will find it very difficult to resist. Some localities, because of their distance from centres of population, are at a disadvantage when they seek to persuade industrialists to settle in their areas. Some equalising factor is therefore needed to place them on the same level of opportunity as localities not so distant from centres of population.

I examined the Bill very carefully to see what might be done to provide these localities with an additional inducement over and above the normal inducements given to all areas with a high level of unemployment. The most practical and effective way of assisting remote areas is by differential factory rents. The chief factor that must be taken into account here is transport costs. Many industries are reluctant to go to remote areas because of the additional expenditure of transporting raw material to the factory and the finished product to the port or centre of distribution. The bulkier the product, the more prohibitive the cost must be. This factor has probably been the greatest single obstacle to the industrial development of peripheral areas in Wales, England and Scotland.

It is fundamental to the success of the Bill that the problem should be tackled and, where possible, overcome. We have had this experience in North Wales and I have had personal experience of it in Anglesey. Industrialists have come to the area and been well satisfied. They know that there is surplus labour there and that it is intelligent and adaptable. They are generally well satisfied with what the area has to offer. But in the final analysis, after considering the possibility of coming to the area, they have decided to go to Derbyshire, Cheshire or Staffordshire, where transport costs are not such a significant factor.

We need to be in a position to offer this additional inducement. There is nothing new in this, as the Committee knows. For the very reasons I have enumerated, Northern Ireland has been able to offer factory space at a rental of as low as 9d. a square foot, which is a very low rental indeed. In the Development Areas since 1951 factories have had their rents assessed by the district valuer at current market values, but for the first five years the tenant firm receives rebates of rent down to about the 1939 rental.

We need an even more favourable formula than that for areas on the periphery if the Bill is to help us. If the Bill is to operate fairly as between one locality and another, indeed if it is to work at all in remote areas, we must be able to offer factories at a very low rental for an initial period, say five years. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will see the force of the argument and accept the Amendment.

Mr. G. Roberts

We are dealing with a problem within a problem. There is the general unemployment problem throughout the whole country, but there is also this incidence of chronic unemployment in what must be called special areas or areas of special difficulty, especially on the perimeter. We have areas like the Scottish Highlands, parts of Cornwall and North-West Wales.

In those areas, the problem is especially large because of their distance from sources of raw material and markets, and freight charges are very heavy. I believe the question of what might be termed postal rate—flat rates, irrespective of distance—will have to be studied by the House in the not-too-distant future. Freight charges are bedevilling the position in quite large areas.

9.30 p.m.

We feel that in absence of that reform this Amendment offers a practical way of reducing the disability of distance from which these outlying areas suffer. The concession of preferential rents under the Distribution of Industry Acts has worked very well. In South Wales, in Durham and in other Development Areas, industries were able to set up precisely because of this inducement of favourable rents, abatement of rents, and the gradual increase of rents over a number of years to an economic level. We hope that this will be done under the present Bill, either administratively or by the insertion of that provision.

I hope that nobody will argue that these remote areas will solve their unemployment problem by emigration. It has been said once or twice that as these areas are too far from marketing centres and sources of raw material they must face a natural economic decline. The fact is that emigration is no solution. There has been massive emigration from North-West Wales over the last quarter of a century but, side by side with that, there has been a tremendous increase in unemployment.

The truth is that the same causes of emigration lie at the root of continuing unemployment among those left behind. For instance, we have lost some 25,000 people from the County of Caernarvon in the last twenty years or so, from a population of 120,000 yet, even after such a considerable emigration, our unemployment stands at 9 per cent. Natural causes, natural processes will not stabilise the population or the economy at what might classically be regarded as a normal level.

The chief cause of emigration and unemployment in these areas is the decline of their stable industry; in Lancashire, cotton; in South Wales, Durham and other parts, coal, and in North-West Wales, slate and granite. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) reminded the House on Second Reading that in North-West Wales at the turn of the century we had slate quarry men while today we have fewer than 3,000—

The Chairman

I find it difficult to relate the hon. Gentleman's argument to the Amendment.

Mr. Roberts

I was adducing certain statistics, Sir Gordon, in relation to outlying areas in order to show that special inducement—preferential rents for new factories should by this Bill be extended to those areas—

The Chairman

The Amendment is concerned with rents.

Mr. Roberts

Because we have these outlying areas where special difficulties obtain, we greatly hope that, in addition to the assistance to local authorities provided by the Bill, there will also be positive direction for the provision of this inducement of preferential rent to incoming industrialists.

Mr. Maudling

I think it might be helpful if I were to put before the Committee the reasons why we do not feel that we can accept this Amendment. There is one immediate reason, and that is that this lays a duty on the management corporations to adjust the rents. The rents will not be fixed by the management corporations. That will be the responsibility of the Board of Trade. Therefore, clearly this Amendment, on that ground alone, would not operate.

In any case, there are substantial reasons which I should like to lay before the Committee; I think we have to some extent rehearsed them already in the course of discussions on earlier Clauses when we were debating rent policy. As I have said before, I accept that the more remote an area is, the more difficult and, therefore, in many cases the more we have to spend by way of inducement to attract a given amount of industry. No doubt, a good deal of that is due to transport costs, although my impression is that transport costs can be exaggerated and we ought to go into that aspect with care. But, whether it is exaggerated or not, clearly the more remote the area the higher the potential costs of operation.

But how can one adjust the rents? I do not think we could possibly operate on the basis of this Amendment to offset the disadvantages of such inaccessibility. I do not see how we could calculate it. It would be difficult to work out how a given remoteness affects the cost of operation.

Mr. G. Roberts

It is not a question of calculation. It is a question of taking it into account.

Mr. Maudling

The point is, how much do we take into account? I am trying to put a sensible argument before the Committee. In practice I do not think this Amendment would be possible to administer. We could not calculate precisely the effects of remoteness in difficult cases, and it would vary very much between one industry and another. The penalty for remoteness is far greater for one industry than for another. It is not therefore a possible criterion for fixing the rents.

We have operated on the only practicable criterion, which is the market value concept. That means that the rents in every area are based on the market rent in that area. That market rent will normally reflect remoteness and inaccessibility and the difficulties of the district concerned. Therefore, as a broad test—I agree not exactly in every case—the more remote an area and the less attractive to industry, the lower the rental which will be assessed as the right rental for a particular factory. We are bringing into effect the element of preference to determine the level of rents in different areas.

Over and above the provision of factory premises, there are also the loans and grants under Clause 4. I should have thought there was a more flexible method of adjusting in individual cases the loans and grants operating under D.A.T.A.C. than is implied in this Amendment. I do not think the suggestion would be workable.

I accept the economic argument here but I think we are dealing with the matter in the best way, and the Amendment would not be operable, first because the criteria are too vague, and secondly for the fundamental reason that it is not the management corporations which fix the rents.

Mr. J. Griffiths

I accept the basic theme developed by my hon. Friends, that from our experience since 1945 of the administration of the Act dealing with the development of industries we have found it very difficult to induce industrialists on the terms offered in the 1944 Act to come to these remote areas.

I am sorry that I was not able to be present last week. I am quoting from memory, but I believe I am right in saying that in the course of the debate on this Bill the Minister referred to a part of the world which I have the privilege to represent in the House. He said that it was very difficult to get industrialists to go beyond Swansea. If I have misquoted him I hope he will correct me. This is West Wales. This is the area which for over a century produced 60 per cent. of the country's tinplate. This is an area in which there is more than 80 per cent. of all the anthracite in this country. It is an area which has contributed richly from its resources, its skill and its talents to the wealth of the nation.

The Minister says that it is difficult to persuade industrialists to go beyond Swansea. It is even more difficult to get them to go to Caernarvonshire where the same problem arises and where there is desperate need. It is the same in Anglesey and the whole of North-West Wales, and, no doubt, the same could be said of Scotland, particularly the Highlands. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] This is a problem of unemployment in areas which suffer special difficulties.

As a result of our experience since 1945 of working the provisions of all the Measures we have had since then we have found that they have not been adequate to deal with the matter. My hon. Friends have advanced their proposal about rents. I accept at once that the wording of the Amendment, perhaps for the reasons which the right hon. Gentleman himself gave, may not be satisfactory and it could be said that it is out of order because, in fact, it will be the Board of Trade and not the management corporation which will fix the rent. The fact of the matter, however, is that in very many places in this country and in many places all over the world, for example in the Colonies, this method as well as other methods is being used to induce industrialists to establish their undertakings in certain special areas. I understand that this is one of the methods being used in Ireland.

I am not at all sure that the proposal in the Amendment would by itself provide an adequate attraction. Nevertheless, we have used this method of differential rents for one purpose under the 1945 Act. I referred to it yesterday in a short intervention that I made when speaking about disabled persons. A recommendation was made by a special committee under the chairmanship of our old friend David Grenfell for the establishment of special factories, financed from industrial development moneys under the then existing law, in order to provide employment for persons disabled by pneumoconiosis. It was felt desirable to lay it down that at least 50 per cent. of persons employed in those factories should be men disabled by pneumoconiosis. For that reason, there was to be a differential rent system. Most of the factories provided under Development Area legislation were factories which, any how, were held on differential rents. They did not command the full commercial rents. This, however, was a special rent differential in that particular case, and to some extent, though not entirely, it succeeded.

As we indicated last night, we may need to have factories specially provided for disabled men. Are we to understand that the President of the Board of Trade rules out of consideration a differential rent system in those circumstances as one of the inducements to establish factories and induce industrialists to go to certain places? I hope very much that the right hon. Gentleman has not completely dismissed from his mind the use of this differential rent method. I presume that it would be feasible and legal under this Bill, just as it was under the 1945 Act. Perhaps we should have that clear right away.

Mr. Maudling

As the right hon. Gentleman suggests, we have the power under this Bill to fix the rents on any basis we like. There is nothing statutory about that. I was merely honestly telling the Committee at once that it is our belief that the right method is to use local market value. We certainly have the power to do otherwise.

Mr. Griffiths

In my view, taking market value really will not do. As I understand it, the right hon. Gentleman is saying that, because of remoteness, local market value would be lower in these places. Let us be quite sure about that. All I can say to him is that our experience leads us to believe, for all manner of reasons, that it is essential to have a differential rent system specially provided for in order to give an extra inducement. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will think again about the Amendment. In its present form it may not be quite in order, but it has been called and we can discuss it and vote upon it.

The problem is there. I confess that I cannot quite understand the argument about remoteness. We have in this small island of ours about 50 million people and a tremendous concentration of activities of all kinds. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) had some figures today showing how great the concentration of industry has become. Really, to talk about remoteness in a little island like ours is not altogether logical. I was glad to hear the President of the Board of Trade say that transport, in his view, is not a very important element. Is that so? I was very pleased to hear him say that transport costs are not a very big factor in deciding the siting of industry.

9.45 p.m.

Mr. Maudling

I said that element could be exaggerated; I did not say it was not important.

Mr. Griffiths

I am glad the President of the Board of Trade says it has been exaggerated. I hope he will talk to his Cabinet colleagues about that. There have been recent decisions about the siting of plant where the only economic factor for choosing one site as against another was the cost of transport. We were told that sixty miles on one side or the other in South Wales made a difference of £1 a ton. We were told by this Government that this was the deciding factor. For all those reasons, I beg the President of the Board of Trade to realise that this is a great problem because, unless this Bill can induce industrialists to establish industries in the remote areas as they are called, the Bill will fail.

It may be that this is not the best method, but I ask the Minister not to dismiss it as one of the possible methods. My own view is that we shall have to think again about transport charges in perhaps a revolutionary way. I speak as one coming from West Wales, which the Minister himself said last week is an area into which it is difficult to induce industrialists to come. I remember that there was a time when it was not too difficult to induce them to come Indeed, I wish some of them had not come. As an old anthracite miner, I can remember industrialists coming from London, taking over the industry at £4 for each £1 share. I wish they had stayed away. The lesson which the hard-working people in the mining and steelplate industries learned was that when there was profit to be made out of their trade there was no difficulty and the area was not too remote. Now they are to be told that the area is too remote and that industrialists will not come there.

We will not take that answer from any Government. This is a very fine area and a very fine community of very fine people who, for over a century, generation after generation, have given service to this country. We demand from this nation, as we have a right to demand, that the area shall be given whatever special provisions are required to enable it to provide men with work and a livelihood at home in their own communities. That is why we shall press this Amendment. If the President of the Board of Trade thinks this is not the best way to achieve the purpose, it is his responsibility to provide a better way. and we hope he will do that.

Mr. Watkins

I want to impress upon the Minister a fact which I do not think he has realised, and that is the seriousness behind the Amendment. I shall try to bring him up-to-date on this matter and shall not go back to 1945.

In the last six months, the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association has been in negotiation with forty-one industrial firms. I have here an analysis of their replies. I will not go through them all, but I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that twelve have decided that the area is too remote from the centres of industry. I venture to suggest that five of the Mid-Wales counties are not so remote from the Midlands as all that: certainly they are not so remote as West Wales or North-West Wales. We are adjacent to the Midlands, yet those firms say we are too remote from the centres of industry. Four of the firms say that they are looking for premises to rent and cannot get them. That is the essential point.

If the words of the Amendment do not satisfy the Minister, we shall be glad to give an assurance that we will not oppose him if he gives himself greater powers in order to provide facilities for industrialists who come to the area, because it is not a fact that it is remote. This district of Mid-Wales is nearer to the Midlands than the remote areas, so I hope the Minister will look at this point. If he cannot do it in this way, he can do something administratively. Let him go to the Regional Controller for Wales, who will give him more up-to-date information on which to make a better reply.

Mr. Bence

I was rather surprised the right hon. Gentleman suggested that it would be impracticable to fix different rents based upon distances from markets, railheads, or centres. Surely that is what commercial property owners have been doing for a hundred years. One could always rent commercial properties which were great distances from railheads and market centres cheaper than one could rent those near the railheads or markets.

The main point is the word "remoteness." We continually use it in the sense of distance. We had this experience during the war. When shadow factories were built throughout the country. we always considered in industry that the term "remoteness" of a factory from a railhead or port was whether the road facilities were bad to the railhead or port. If the roadways were second or third class, or were tortuous, we looked upon the factory as being remote, although it might have been only 40 miles from the railhead. If it were 80 miles from the railhead on a road that was first-class, that was not regarded as remote but as near. Remoteness was regarded in terms of the facility in getting raw material to the factory or the finished product to the railhead or port. This was always discussed by the regional production boards. I remember discussing this question of remoteness many times with Ministers and officials. It was the question of the speed of transport between different points.

We have in a previous Clause made provision for creating basic services for any new industries that may be set up. It is to be presumed that some basic services will be done parallel with the building and establishment of the industry, but some will not be done. I can imagine that roadways or awkward bridges will not be done. There is, however, one thing which the Government can do. That is to assess rents at a very low figure until the completion of basic services which will convert a site from being a remote one to being a near one.

I suppose that by the M.1 Birmingham is about three-quarters of an hour or an hour nearer London than it was previously. So Birmingham is less remote from London than it was. We kill the remoteness by means of the efficiency of modern transport between places. In Scotland, if we had helicopters the remoteness of the Western Isles would be forgotten. They would be brought almost to the mainland. This problem in Scotland is tremendous. Anyone who knows the parts of Scotland where it is suggested that industry might be directed knows that among the great problems are the huge distances, the torturous nature of the roads, and the difficulty and slowness of transport. Surely these factors could be offset by fixing low rents until these services were improved and this sort of remoteness destroyed.

The right hon. Gentleman suggested that road transport cost could very often be exaggerated. There is, in fact—many hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee have experience of these road transpost costs—an important cost factor. If one cannot rely upon a regular daily transport service, one must add the cost of carrying stocks. If one has only a weekly service from a remote area, one must carry stocks for seven days. If one is manufacturing a high-cost product, it represents a very high cost indeed. It is a transport cost. If one is carrying such stock, one may have to carry higher costs of raw materials and higher costs for the finished product.

The Chairman

The hon. Member is getting away from the Amendment, which deals only with rent.

Mr. Bence

I am trying to prove that a reduction in rent is a method by which one can offset many of the costs incurred when industries are placed in areas where services between them and their railheads, ports or markets are expensive. I am demonstrating the high costs which arise in order to justify the Amendment in that the rent factor can be used to compensate for them. Any production engineer engaged in costing knows well that the holding of stocks through lack of transport represents a high cost factor. It is part of the transport cost, and a low rent can offset it. This was done during the war with shadow factories, and I am sure that if it could be then it could be done in peace-time. Commercial property owners have done it for a hundred years. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will find a means of incorporating the idea in the Bill so that the principle may be operated as it was done in respect of factories built in Northern Ireland.

Mr. Hayman

There could be no better example of the importance of the Amendment than that provided by West Cornwall. In West Cornwall we are about 170 miles in a direct line by road from Bristol, but the journey by rail takes nearly six hours. I would emphasise that the nearest source of employment of any size for men in the engineering works at Camborne-Redruth or the ship-repairing docks at Falmouth would be at Bristol or Southampton. Those are the two main ports to which our men look for alternative employment when there is slackness. This week in a Written Answer the Minister of Labour told me that the unemployment figure at Falmouth in November was 9.6 per cent. and at Redruth 6.5 per cent.

The rent method seems to be one of the best ways of inducing employers to set up new industries in our area. If any hon. Member thinks that West Cornwall started industrial life only in this century, I would remind him that we are perhaps the oldest industrial unit in the United Kingdom. From an engineering point of view, we have been a unit for at least two centuries. As has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), remoteness and the cost of transport are very relevant factors.

Mr. T. W. Jones (Merioneth)

The Minister's observations on the Amendment were very disappointing indeed to those of us who represent remote areas. I believe that the Committee will agree that my hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. C. Hughes) made a formidable case for providing some additional inducements for industrialists to go to the remote areas.

Merionethshire has a great deal to offer industrialists in the way of labour. I would point out to the Minister that we have one commodity which is of great value nowadays, and here I am referring to our water resources. The electricity authorities have realised this and are now busy constructing a hydro-electricity scheme which will be unique in Europe. An atomic power station is being constructed at Trawsfynydd. However, as I told the Committee the other evening, when those works are completed, there w ill again be a great measure of unemployment in the county.

10.0 p.m.

I can confirm what has been said about industrialists being put off by the county's remoteness. Industrialists come to the county to build houses for holidays there—as do many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen—they climb our mountains and they fish in our rivers, but they stop short of building their factories in the county. Let us therefore be able to do something to induce them to come to areas such as that which I represent. It is not much to ask the Minister to help us in this way.

Let me give one example of how transport costs have gone against us, even this year. A firm sent representatives to inspect a site at Bala. The representatives were favourably impressed and gave us the impression that they would certainly return to establish a factory. However, when they consulted their accountants, they were advised that transport costs were prohibitive. As a result of that, they had to tell us that they were unable to build a factory in the county. The right hon. Gentleman had questioned whether transport costs counted for anything. That is a case in point and I can give him further details if he wants them. I hope that he will reconsider the Amendment and tell us something more hopeful for the remote areas.

Lady Megan Lloyd George (Carmarthen)

We have had one of the most disappointing answers of a very disappointing debate, but there are one or two points to be made clear. The right hon. Gentleman said that in assessing rents the district valuer took into account certain factors. As I understand it, he takes into account the geographical circumstances and various other factors, some of them mentioned in the Amendment.

If that is the present practice, what is now proposed is not at all different. If the present practice is to continue, we shall be no better off. Rents have not been any lower in Anglesey, Caernarvon-shire or Carmarthenshire than they have been in Flintshire, which is very much nearer to the central markets. The right hon. Gentleman is answering our arguments by saying that he intends to continue a practice which has been totally ineffective up to date.

He said that the costs of transport had been exaggerated. The main reason given by the Government for taking one of the largest enterprises for which the Government have ever given an I.D.C.—in fact, the largest for many years past—and for sending it to an area where there was full employment, instead of to an area where there was unemployment, was the additional costs of transport. Now the right hon. Gentleman says that we are exaggerating transport costs.

Deputation after deputation has come from South-West Wales to urge the Government to assist us, but every time we have received the same answer. We have been told that our transport costs are too high, that the area is inaccessible and remote, as though we lived in the Sahara Desert. I hope the right hon. Gentleman realises that we do not live in the Sahara. We are going to live a jolly sight nearer to him and make his life a misery if he does not meet us on this.

The final test of the Bill will be not only the amount of employment that it will provide, but the amount of employment that it will provide in these remote and inaccessible areas.

Mr. Maudling

I assure the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen (Lady Megan Lloyd George) that she could never make my life a misery, though I am sure she will go on trying to do so.

As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said. the Bill does not tie the Board of Trade to any particular level of rents. In practice, we operate on the district valuer's valuation, as the Select Committee's Report pointed out. The Report said: In assessing current market value rent, the District Valuer uses all the evidence he can obtain including the geographical location of the factory; services and facilities of every kind;… I should have thought that the district valuer in his assessment was already taking into account considerations of remoteness and accessibility, which is what the Amendment requires.

I accept the point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Carmarthen that this has not proved to be enough. I do not accept that the Bill does not prevent us going on on another basis if we are convinced that we ought to. It is not possible to lay on the management corporations a duty to adjust the rent so as to offset the disadvantages of such remoteness when that has been done by the district valuer. It is not practical to ask us to do that. Nor do we accept the suggestion that the management corporations should take over the functions of the district valuer. I have quoted the Report of the Select Committee, with which I entirely agree.

I realise that I have not satisfied the point of view of right hon. and hon. Members opposite, but I have done my best to explain my reasons. I hope that if the Committee does not accept my reasons it will take the necessary action.

Mr. Jay

I do not rise to make the right hon. Gentleman's life a misery at this moment but to put this brief point to him. He told us that the rents were based on the market values of the factories as determined by the district valuer and that that in itself meant that the rents tended to be lower in remote areas. We do not deny that there is something in that, but the whole point of our argument is that this is not enough.

Surely it is reasonable to say that where, in practice, it is proved not to be enough, as may happen in Anglesey, North Wales, and other remote areas, the Government should take into account the point that we are putting forward now. That is perfectly reasonable, and that is what the Amendment says. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it should not be the management corporation but the Board of Trade which should have this obligation laid on it. If one allows for that change the Amendment says very much the same as I have been arguing. It would read: … the Board of Trade shall take into account any remoteness or inaccessibility of the place in which such premises are situated and shall so adjust the rent asked as to offset the disadvantages of such remoteness or inaccessibility. The right hon. Gentleman could argue that he is already doing that to some extent. He should, therefore, accept the Amendment thus adjusted and take on the additional obligation of doing it a bit more energetically.

May I give one example of transportation costs. Last February, I visited a refrigerator factory on the famous industrial estate at Dundee. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has also been there. That firm in Dundee is manufacturing refrigerators which are made out of steel sheet brought all the way from Shotton. Most of the refrigerators are sold in the South, where they are sent by means of sea transport. The interesting point is that the additional costs of the two-way transport were just about offset by concessions on the rent which that firm was enjoying. The concession was just sufficient, but I think it establishes the point that a rent concession—and there are many remoter places than Dundee—may be effective in off-setting the undeniably higher transport costs.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 133, Noes 192.

Division No. 18.] AYES [10.11 p.m
Ainsley, William Blackburn, F. Brown, Thomas (Ince)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Blyton, William Carmichael, James
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Boardman, H. Chetwynd, George
Awbery, Stan Boyden, James Cliffe, Michael
Bacon, Miss Alice Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Brockway, A. Fenner Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Cronin, John
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey) Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hunter, A. E. Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Ross, William
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Deer, George Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Delargy, Hugh Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Dempsey, James Jones, Dan (Burnley) Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Diamond, John Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Sorensen, R. W.
Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter Kelley, Richard Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) King, Dr. Horace Spriggs, Leslie
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lawson, George Steele, Thomas
Evans, Albert Lee, Frederick (Newton) Stewart, Michael (Fulham)
Fernyhough, E. Loughlin, Charles Stonehouse, John
Finch, Harold McCann, John Stones, William
Fitch, Alan McInnes, James Strachey, Rt. Hon. John
Foot, Dingle McKay, John (Wallsend) Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Forman, J. C. Mahon, Simon Swain, Thomas
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mallalieu, E. L. (Bragg) Swingler, Stephen
Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh Manuel, A. C. Sylvester, George
Galpern, Myer Mapp, Charles Symonds, J. B
George, Lady Megan Lloyd Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A. Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Ginsburg, David Mellish, R. J. Thornton, Ernest
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Millan, Bruce Thorpe, Jeremy
Gourlay, Harry Monslow, Walter Wade, Donald
Grey, Charles Morris, John Wainwright, Edwin
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Neal, Harold Warbey, William
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Oram, A. E. Watkins, Tudor
Grimond, J. Padley, W. E. Whitlock, William
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Coins Valley) Paget, R. T. Willey, Frederick
Hamilton, William (West Fife) Parker, John (Dagenham) Williams, Rev. LI. (Abertillery)
Hannan, William Pavitt, Laurence Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Hayman, F. H. Peart, Frederick Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Herbison, Miss Margaret Pentland, Norman Winterbottom, R. E.
Hilton, A. V. Popplewell, Ernest Woof, Robert
Holt, Arthur Proctor, W. T. Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Houghton, Douglas Redhead, E. C.
Howell, Charles A. Reynolds, G. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Short and Mr. Irving.
Agnew, Sir Peter Elliott, R. W. Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Aitken, W. T. Farr, John Jennings, J. C.
Allason, James Fell, Anthony Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Alport, C. J. M. Finlay, Graeme Joseph, Sir Keith
Ashton, Sir Hubert Fisher, Nigel Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Barlow, Sir John Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kerby, Capt. Henry
Batsford, Brian Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.) Gardner, Edward Kershaw, Anthony
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) George, J. C. (Pollok) Kitson, Timothy
Berkeley, Humphry Gibson-Watt, David Langford-Holt, J.
Bidgood, John C. Glover, Douglas Leavey, J. A.
Biggs-Davison, John Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham) Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Bishop, F. P. Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Black. Sir Cyril Godber, J. B. Litchfield, Capt. John
Bossom, Clive Goodhew, Victor Longbottom, Charles
Bourne-Arton, A. Gower, Raymond Longden, Gilbert
Box, Donald Green, Alan Loveys, Walter H.
Boyle, Sir Edward Gurden, Harold Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby
Brains, Bernard Hall, John (Wycombe) Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bryan, Paul Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) MacArthur, Ian
Bullard, Denys Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) McLaren, Martin
Butcher, Sir Herbert Harris, Reader (Heston) Maclean,SirFitzroy(Bute&N.Ayre.)
Butler, Rt.Hn.R.A.(Saffron Walden) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) McMaster, Stanley
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Harvie, Anderson, Miss Madden, Martin
Chichester Clark, R. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maginnis, John E.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Henderson-Stewart, Sir James Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Cleaver, Leonard Hiley, Joseph Marten, Nell
Collard, Richard Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Mathew, Robert (Honiton)
Cooper, A. E. Hirst, Geoffrey Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Cordle, John Hocking, Philip N. Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Mawby, Ray
Critchley, Julian Holland-Martin, Christopher Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.
Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col. O. E. Hollingworth, John Mills, Stratton
Cunningham, Knox Hopkins, Alan Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Curran, Charles Hornby, R. P. Montgomery, Fergus
Currie, G. B. H. Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire) Morrison, John
Deedes, W. F. Howard Hon. G. R. (St. Ives) Nabarro, Gerald
de Ferranti, Basil Hughes-Young, Michael Heave, Airey
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M. Iremonger, T. L. Nicholls, Harmar
du Cann, Edward Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Noble, Michael
Duncan, Sir James Jackson, John Orr-Ewing, C. Ian
Duthie, Sir William James, David Osborn, John (Hallam)
Page, Graham Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey) Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale) Russell, Ronald Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)
Partridge, E. Scott-Hopkins, James Wall, Patrick
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Seymour, Leslie Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Peel, John Skeet, T. H. H. Watts, James
Percival, Ian Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick) Webster, David
Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth Smithers, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pilkington, Capt. Richard Spearman, Sir Alexander Whitelaw, William
Pitt, Miss Edith Stanley, Hon. Richard Williams, Dudley (Exeter)
Pott, Percivall Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.) Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Powell, J. Enoch Stodart, J. A. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.) Storey, S. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Prior, J. M. L. Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Wise, Alfred
Proudfoot, Wilfred Talbot, John E. Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Ramsden, James Tapsell, Peter Woodhouse, C. M.
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.) Woodnutt, Mark
Rees, Hugh Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.) Woollam, John
Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H. Worsley, Marcus
Ridsdale, Julian Tweedsmuir, Lady Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Roots, William Vane, W. M. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard Vaughan-Morgan, J. K. Mr.Brooman-White and Mr. Sharples.
Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)

I beg to move, in page 6, line 34, at end insert: (5) In the exercise of its functions under the foregoing provisions of this section a Manage-merit Corporation shall from time to time consult with the bodies appointed by the Board and known as "Regional Boards for Industry" in England, Scotland or Wales, as the case may be, and a direction may be given under subsection (1) of this section requiring a Management Corporation to consult in relation to any exercise of its functions with any such Regional Board

The Chairman

I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee also to discuss the Amendments in the names of the hon. Members for Workington (Mr. Peart), Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) and the two in the name of the hon. Member for Stoke-on Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith):

In page 6, line 34, at end insert: (5) The Industrial Estates Management Corporation for England shall consult with the Cumberland Development Council in matters affecting Cumberland. In line 34, at end insert: (5) The Industrial Estates Management Corporation for England shall consult with the Staffordshire County Council and the Newcastle-under-Lyme borough and rural district councils, and a direction may be given under subsection (1) of this section requiring the management corporation to consult with these councils. In line 34, at end insert: (5) The Industrial Estates Management Corporation for England shall consult with the Trafford Park Estates, and a direction may be given under subsection (1) of this section requiring the Management Corporation to consult with the Estates Limited. In line 34, at end insert: (5) The Industrial Estates Management Corporation for England shall consult with the Stoke City Industrial Sites Committee, and a direction may be given under subsection (1) of this section requiring the Management Corporation to consult with the Sites Committee.

Mr. Willey

In am sure that will be for the convenience of the Committee.

I think I ought to say at once that I have an interest in this matter. In fact, I am being diminished by this Bill. I am at present a member of the North-Eastern Trading Estate Company, which will be abolished when this Bill becomes law. and it is in the light of my experience on the Board of this trading estate company that I wish to move this Amendment.

I was somewhat encouraged by the gloss which the President of the Board of Trade gave to the Management Corporation. I do not attribute any responsibility for this Bill to the right hon. Gentleman. I realise that this is a Measure which was in the Department awaiting him, but I am sorely disappointed by this part of the Bill. I think it is a Bill which had two major objectives—one to provide a vehicle for the descheduling of some of the areas or parts of areas, and the other to destroy the present structure of the Development Areas. I know quite well that the Department has never been too happy about the powers of the trading estate companies. I think it is a great pity that they are going, and, certainly, speaking for the North-East, I would say that the trading estate company there has played a very real part in the life of the North-East. I am happy to deduce from one thing which the right hon. Gentleman said that we can expect the new Management Corporation to be located at Team Valley. That, at any rate, will be some concession.

Mr. Maudling

I said in the north of England.

Mr. Willey

Obviously, if it is going to the North, it will go to the Team Valley, where there is excellent accommodation. This will be some compensation. One of the reasons why this structure of trading estate companies was so effective was not only because of the siting of the boards in the Development Areas themselves, and not only because of the local membership of the boards. I would have been more heartened if the right hon. Gentleman had paid some tribute to the work which they have done. This is unpaid work by people from both sides of industry and other walks of life in the Development Areas, and it has had a very real impact on the Development Areas themselves, in many other ways than the location of industry.

This has largely been because of the intricate, complex and effective pattern of consultation. There are various bodies in the Development Areas which have been in close contact with the trading estate companies. The right hon. Gentleman himself mentioned the De- velopment Association, but he did not mention the Regional Boards for Industry, which have played their part. The various associations and societies of industrialists, with the trade unions, have all played an effective part not only in assisting the trading estate companies but also in helping in some of the difficult questions of location.

It seems to me that one of the bad consequences of this Bill is that it will put all that on one side. The right hon. Gentleman has been saying, and I accept what he says, that he wants this activity to continue, but it is going to be much less effective once the trading estate companies have been removed. What we are trying to do in the present Amendment, and in the others being considered with it, is to provide for some form of consultation with the Management Corporation. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will seriously look at this, because it has been a very effective and constructive part of Development Area policy.

I know, and I concede this, that it is not a thing which is welcomed within a Department. I know that trading estate companies have been subject to a great deal of irksome interference from the Board of Trade. I have always taken the view, and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will share it, that it would have been far better if the trading estate companies had been given commercial discretion. Certainly, in our own case, we could have given a much better return on the Treasury money advanced to us, but we did not do so badly as it was.

We have a lot to gain from taking advantage of the experience of people in different industries and on both sides of industry. Surely the Government will concede—this is the point of the present Amendment—that the regional boards for industry have, been of great assistance to the Government. They readily seek their advice. What I am proposing in this Amendment is that the Management Corporation should follow the pattern set by the Government and seek the advice of the regional boards. I have suggested the regional boards because upon them are many of the people who have concerned themselves with policy in the Development Areas and the continuity of consultation with such people would be some pledge that the Government were not following a purely bureaucratic course.

I fear very much that this is going to be largely the end of Government building. As the right hon. Gentleman has emphasised time after time, this is going to be no more than an estate management corporation. If we have nothing more than that, it will be a very serious loss. It will be the end of a very successful industrial experiment which brought forward magnificent co-operation within the Development Areas. That will not be replaced, but if the right hon. Gentleman would accept the spirit of this Amendment and provide for consultation plus an obligation on the Management Corporation to consult, that would at any rate mitigate the harm he will otherwise do in destroying a great deal of the voluntary constructive effort which flowed not only during and after the war but before the war when these were Special Areas. This has a long history, and it will be very sad if it is all sacrificed.

Now that he is responsible for the Bill, although I do not blame him for the Bill as drafted, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will accept this plea and provide for some machinery which will ensure that the new Management Corporation will not lose all the advantages we have had in the Development Areas and that he will make it incumbent upon the Corporation to consult some of the effective voices from the Development Areas.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I wish to support the two Amendments whose object is to bring about maximum consultation between the Management Corporation and Trafford Park Estates and the City of Stoke-on-Trent Estates. I want to present evidence to show the correctness of what we are suggesting. Those two industrial estates have nothing for which to thank the Board of Trade. We have not had a penny from the Board of Trade. The City of Stoke-on-Trent has had nothing but discouragement from it

10.30 p.m.

This is a new start, and people who exert voluntary effort and civic effort are worthy of more encouragement from the central Government than they have had up to the present. I look upon the Minister as a big man. He is relatively young. He has got to his present position on merit. He is all right—[HON. MEMBERS "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members should not provoke me too much on that. The Minister has handled pretty big affairs on the Continent. Let us give credit where it is due. I put it in that way because I hope the right hon. Gentleman will handle this Bill in a big way when it becomes an Act of Parliament.

I do not want to reiterate much of what I have said to the Committee already. but I will say that I have sufficient confidence in most of the civil servants to believe that if the right hon. Gentleman does that they will handle the matter in a big way, too, and will make their contribution. If it is approached in that way, then at last my hon. Friends will begin to get some encouragement in the industrial areas.

I refer to Stoke-on-Trent and to Trafford Park Estates in particular. I hope my hon. Friends will forgive me for doing so, but that is my own area which I know so well. Let me repeat that it is really tragic that there are almost 11 million people living within a radius of fifty miles of where I live who have worked to produce a mountain of wealth. For a hundred and fifty years the people of that region have worked to produce mountains of wealth and it is time the people there got the benefits of a Bill like this.

That is why we are asking for maximum co-operation between the local authorities, our city and Trafford Park, in particular, and the Ministry, so that if the right hon. Gentleman administers the Bill in the way we hope he will. they, too, will get some benefit from the Bill. It may be that the Bill will not be applied to the area to the extent we think is justified. We hope it will be fully applied to the area, but if it is not, if we cannot have the maximum co-operation in the application of the Bill, we say we ought to have the maximum consultation to see what can be done, and to see that all that can be done within the limits of the possibilities is done.

Trafford Park Estates is the most efficient industrial trading estate in the world. It was the first in the world. I remember when it was a beautiful wood. nearly as nice as where the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) lives. I have seen where he lives. People like to see and to be shown monuments. I was taken to see where the hon. Gentleman lives. I will give myself away. If the hon. Member wants to know who took me, it was the wife of my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles). I was delighted. It was a place of beauty. Trafford Park used to he like that. I have seen it completely changed. I shall not say why, because I do not want to become involved in all that story and argument. However, I have seen it completely changed until now it is a great industrial area employing at least 60,000 people. It has the great Ship Canal on one side and the Bridgewater Canal on the other. It has some of the finest sidings in the country and some of the greatest concerns, and yet there are miles and miles of land still capable of development.

The reason I am making this point is that in our area we have 68,000 unemployed. The fact is hidden behind the facade of percentages, which hides the dark human tragedy. Because of the density of population, no one gives much attention to that number of unemployed. That is why I ask the Minister to see that there should be the maximum cooperation. There is no one more friendly with those who come from Scotland and Wales than I, and I derive great satisfaction when I think of my friendships with them, but at the same time we have to think of those on our own doorstep.

Where I was employed there are 20,000. One does not live there in marble halls, and to get on there one does it by merit, like the right hon. Gentleman. They do an enormous amount of research there, some of the finest research in the world. The Americans claim to have harnessed the nucleus in the atom. It was done at Trafford Park, Rugby. and Manchester University. The reason why the Americans claim that is because it became too serious a matter to carry on experiments and investigations there during the nightly bombardment of our industrial areas in the war. Everything that was developed there was taken to America, and the Americans accumulated all the information, with the results that we all know.

Before the war, £150,000 was spent in one establishment alone on research work, which was more than most districts were spending in a year. As a result of all this scientific development, we were in the forefront of world engineering, but after development was perfected the factory was removed to Motherwell where 2,000 people are employed. I understand that co-operation between unions and management there is as good as it can be. Through the influence of Lord Chandos, other firms are going to Northern Ireland. But in spite of this research and engineering development and the benefit of accumulated skills of generations of our people, we are seeing factories removed to all parts of the country whilst 68,000 people in the area I represent are unemployed.

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

And others are on short time.

Mr. Ellis Smith

This is why we are asking that there should be the maximum consultation between the responsible authorities, the President of the Board of Trade, and Trafford Park Estates.

The finest pottery in the world is produced in Stoke-on-Trent. It is universally admired, yet we are losing exports to the Japanese who are getting into the American market to a very great extent. I do not think that the Americans are playing the game with us, but it would be out of order for me to pursue that point now. About 100 American firms have come into this country and are established in some of the Development Areas. They have obtained sites in Scotland and are running some of the most beautiful factories in the country. I have not seen them, but I have read about them in the Board of Trade Journal. It is a pleasure to see that happening, but we want to modernise factories in Stoke-on-Trent, and we receive no support or encouragement.

Wedgwood's have modernised theirs at great risk. They have put an enormous amount of capital into it. They are very public-spirited people. They inherited great wealth and they have great enterprise. The new factory is in a lovely environment where there are trees, shrubs, flowers and clean air. The result is that output has gone up. This shows what a business proposition it is to apply the policy which we on this side of the Committee are advocating. None of us can do justice to our contribution to life unless we enjoy good health. A man cannot be as vigorous as he ought to be if he has to live in the areas in which some of us live.

Mr. Gerald Nabarro (Kidderminster)

The hon. Member is looking very healthy.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I will not pursue that remark.

The Wedgwood factory is a concrete example of the correctness of the views I am expressing. Two large industrial estates have been laid out in Stoke-on-Trent. The city has the finest possible town clerk. He is one of the most conscientious men I have ever worked with. The city has done everything possible behind the scenes to get the Board of Trade to influence industrial concerns to come into the area. They have met with no success.

It is for these reasons and others that we are asking that these Amendments should be considered. If they are considered sympathetically I have no doubt that my hon. Friend will act accordingly, but I want an undertaking from the President of the Board of Trade that when the Bill becomes an Act there will be the maximum consultation and cooperation between the Corporation and the authorities for which I have been speaking.

Mr. J. B. Symonds (Whitehaven)

I heard the President of the Board of Trade say yesterday that we must have a new conception in dealing with the problem of unemployment. Of course, the unemployed man only knows that a job is the most essential factor in his life. I feel that it is the Government's duty to see that a job is provided for him. The unemployed man in Cumberland has confidence in the men who provided a large number of jobs in that area.

An industrial company formed in 1934 has done valuable work in the Cumberland area. It knows the area and it has retained the beautiful spots such as Keswick. which is in the part of the country from which my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) comes. By its research and its work it has been able to bring industry to the important parts of Cumberland. Its work was so successful that in 1936 when we had dole queues and excessive unemployment, the Cumberland Development Board was able to bring industry to the right places in the area to relieve that situation.

Is it fair that this Board should have to go? Is the Minister so sure and so confident—we know the power which under the Bill it is assumed that he will wield—that he and the five representatives who will be appointed for England will be the people with the necessary ability and knowledge to deal with an area like Cumberland? Surely the Minister is going to take advice and assistance from such men as Lord Adams, who has spent a lifetime in bringing industry into the Cumberland area. Is that sort of assistance going to be ignored by the right hon. Gentleman?

Are these five persons who are to constitute the Corporation going to sit somewhere in the North? I hope they will sit in Cumberland. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said that he worked on the board of the Team Valley Trading Estate. I hope that these people will remain in Cumberland itself. Will they be able to visit other parts of the country and inspect the sites to make sure that they are suitable for industry to occupy and for the right type of men and women to be employed in? Or will they be responsible only for the renting of factories and the collecting of those rents? Who is going to do this work? Will it be the ordinary civil servant or is the Minister going to be all-powerful? Will not the Minister consult the various industrial corporations in the country? Is it the Minister's new conception of dealing with unemployment that he should bring all these unemployed together and transfer them and industry elsewhere, leaving other areas without the right to attract new industries to see that men and women are given jobs?

In Cumberland there are more than 3,000 men and women out of work—3.2 per cent. Is it the intention that the good work which the West Cumberland Development Company has done over the years shall not be continued? The men who have been responsible for this company have great know. ledge and experience in bringing industry to the area. Is all that to be wasted? Is the Minister prepared to consult Lord Adams and the company and to make them part of the machinery of the Bill? I ask him to consult the West Cumberland Development Company and to take advantage of its knowledge in order that he will be able to attract industry into this beautiful area of Cumberland, instead of leaving 3,000 men and women out of work. I assure him that the company could give him valuable help in solving the problem.

10.45 p.m.

Mr. Stephen Swingler (Newcastle-under-Lyme)

I want to make a plea to the Committee and the President of the Board of Trade on behalf of the smaller areas. Frankly, I would not do so had the Government yesterday been willing to accept the Amendment which we submitted seeking to retain some form of Parliamentary control over the list of localities to which the Bill will apply. We are compelled to make this plea because, if the Bill is passed in its present form, we do not know, as representatives of areas afflicted with unemployment, what other chance we shall have of making the case.

Quite rightly, my hon. Friends from areas of high unemployment have kept the spotlight throughout the proceedings on those larger districts in Scotland and Wales which are severely afflicted, and all of us on this side of the Committee have full sympathy with them, but I want to draw attention to the position of smaller areas of high unemployment and to the grave danger that unless some provision is inserted into the Bill these smaller areas may be totally neglected.

We all remember the terrible human tragedy of the distressed areas between the wars. I remember the terrible human tragedy of certain areas of high unemployment between the wars which were never scheduled as distressed areas because they were not recognised as being big enough. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent. South (Mr. Ellis Smith) knows, when I first went to Staffordshire twenty-three years ago I went to a district which for five years had had 80 per cent. unemployment. It continued to have about 80 per cent. of unemployment until the war broke out. Only the outbreak of the Second World War brought back any prospects of employment for the men who had been thrown out of work in Kidsgrove in North Staffordshire when the pit closed in the 1930 depression.

This was a small urban district. It was reckoned to be too small to be scheduled as a distressed area. I remember in 1937 and 1938 taking round a petition to be submitted to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South and other Members for North Staffordshire, on which we collected about 4,000 signatures, pleading that this little urban district should be scheduled as a distressed area, pleading for recognition of the desperate human tragedy that existed and of the contempt with which society was dealing with this area in which the men had no prospect year after year of finding any jobs.

It is right that in the consideration of this Bill we should give first priority to the large areas in which a very high rate of joblessness exists. But let us not forget some much smaller areas dotted about all over the country in which high unemployment exists amongst workers upon whose tragedy the spotlight is very rarely cast and whose interests may very easily be overlooked by the Industrial Management Corporation unless some direction is given to it to deal with that problem.

It may be reckoned by the Board of Trade that perhaps Newcastle-under-Lyme does not rate as an area of high unemployment according to the definition in this Bill, although in the last few years unemployment has been 4 per cent. in January, 1957, 3.6 per cent. in January, 1958, 5.6 last January and is expected to be rather higher this coming January. But within these figures for these areas in North Staffordshire there are contained smaller districts in which there has been a hard core of unemployment. There is a hard core of men who have been without jobs and who will certainly not get jobs unless Government action is taken to provide jobs. As many of my hon. Friends know, in many coalmining districts there is a core of disabled workers who exist year after year without much hope, with prolonged unemployment, and who know that unless special action is taken by the Government or by some public body to provide them with some special form of employment they have very little chance of having the dignity of possessing jobs once again.

I know it is thought that Remploy deals with the situation affecting large numbers of these men, but that is not true. Remploy does a good job for the very severely disabled, but on a very small scale. It touches only the fringes of the problem. We all know, especially those of us from coalmining districts and other areas in which there are certain kinds of industrial diseases and accidents, that this hard core exists and that it does not change much from year to year.

Sometimes in a small village in a remote area there is a high rate of unemployment on which the spotlight is never cast. It is not noticed much by anybody, and it is more than likely to be overlooked by the Industrial Management Corporation. Moreover, it is precisely in this kind of district, such as North Staffordshire, that there is also the economic insecurity arising from dependence on one or two industries or types of industrial employment. There may be extreme dependence upon coal mining and the prospect of work being available in coal mining. In some areas, such as those to which my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South referred, there is dependence on the pottery industry, which has been subject to very many fluctuations during the last few years. In other places, there may be dependence upon employment in the Royal Ordnance factories.

In North Staffordshire, we have had experience of the disruption of employment and the sudden increase in unemployment which can arise from changes in the Government's defence programme. An ordnance factory has been closed. without any action being taken to provide new employment in its place. In Redway Green. near Crewe, there is another very large ordnance factory which provides employment now for many hundreds of workers in North Staffordshire, and there, too, the same thing might occur as occurred at the Royal Ordnance factory at Swynnerton. I referred yesterday to the effects of Government action in reimposing Purchase Tax upon pottery, in raising interest rates and creating unemployment in the building trade. Government action in many respects has created a growing toll of unemployment in the very areas where unemployment is imminent and the threat is ever-present. There is great apprehension felt by the workers in all these industries, especially when they hear that a pit is to close. Many hundreds, or, indeed, thousands, have left the pottery industry during the last few years. For those whose employment depends on armament manufacture, there is constant insecurity. Let us suppose that, suddenly, there is total disarmament; what will happen to them?

We ask the President of the Board of Trade to give specific instructions to the management corporations to consult with the public bodies and representatives not only of those well-known localities which have high unemployment but also of the small areas which, equally, have comparatively high unemployment, areas in which there is a hard core of disabled unemployed, areas in which there is a dependence upon one particular industry which causes a constant threat to the livelihood of the workers there. The management corporations should be specifically told to consult with people in such areas so that the workers shall not be left in the state of neglect and contempt in which they languished in days past.

Mr. Frederick Peart (Workington)

I reinforce the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds). The Amendment to which he spoke is designed to provide that the Management Corporation for England shall consult with the Cumberland Development Council in all matters affecting Cumberland. I imagine that there will be no controversy about this, and the Minister will give a favourable answer. Although I regret to see that there are not very many hon. Members opposite present in the Chamber at this late hour—I can understand their shyness about this Bill and their indifference—I feel sure that those who are here will readily support this Amendment which creates large regional boards for England, for Scotland and for Wales.

11.0 p.m.

Under this Bill, the West Cumberland Industrial Company Limited is to go out. It is listed in the second Schedule. So in my own county there is a vacuum. There is to be created a large corporation, a large bureaucracy. It is a terrible shame that we are to have this type of administration. I criticised it on Second Reading, and I will oppose it throughout the Bill.

To counteract this wrong tendency in our national policy, we believe there should be adequate consultation with local representatives. That is all we are asking. Under the present administration, the West Cumberland Industrial Company Limited does consult the Cumberland Development Council, and I think that is reasonable.

Although the Minister may disagree because I fundamentally criticise his Bill, I think hon. Members opposite and the Minister must agree that in the actions of a large corporation there should be adequate consultation. So we ask in our Amendment that in any matter affecting Cumberland, particularly the West Cumberland Development Area, there should be proper consultation. It may well be that the Minister will argue that we need not have this in legislation. I hope he will. I am certain that my hon. Friends will not press the Amendment if we can get the assurance that the Corporation to be set up will consult local people.

Our area has been a very successful Development Area. Local initiative has been created, and we are, in a sense, a success story. I would hone that the Minister will give us a favourable reply. because the Cumberland Development Council is a body which has been closely linked with the West Cumberland Industrial Development Company. It is comprised of local authorities, local industrialists and people concerned with industrial expansion. They have conducted industrial surveys in conjunction with the University of Durham and other bodies of that kind.

I hope the Minister will not be negative. Even if he is not able to accept all the details of the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaver (Mr. Symonds), I hope he will be able to accept the spirit of it. I am pretty certain that other hon. Members will believe it is right in a large Bill of this kind, where we are creating a large organisation and giving it powers to develop industry and, we hope, conquer unemployment in particular areas, that this Corporation should consult on matters affecting the area. I hope the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), who has just come in, will support me on this. I know he favours local initiative.

Mr. Nabarro

Individual initiative.

Mr. Peart

Yes, of course, like Lord Adams, who has been mentioned by my hon. Friends, and like prominent local people who, through their individual initiative, are anxious to work for the common good of the area. I am glad that the hon. Member for Kidderminster supports me in this.

That is all I am asking for. I will not labour it. I assure the Minister that here we have common agreement. Let us have a good answer for Cumberland, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will willingly withdraw his Amendment and accept the spirit of the Minister's reply.

Mr. Maudling

I have been asked by several hon. Members to accept the spirit of the Amendments. I am sure that I can do so. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) perhaps went a little way beyond the purpose of the Amendments, which is limited to the matter of consultation, and delivered a back-hander at the whole set-up which had already been settled under Clause 8.

The hon. Member expressed regret that I had not paid a tribute to the companies. But I did so very deliberately on Second Reading. I will repeat what I said: I think that we can say with confidence that the existing companies have done a very good job. I should like to pay a tribute to the work done by all concerned, including particularly those who have given of their efforts and work freely to the companies."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959: Vol. 613, c. 47.] I do not exclude the hon. Member himself. He is right in reminding me of the very good work that the companies have been doing.

I think that the principle that there should be close consultation in these matters is, clearly, a sound one, and I am very much of the view that the Management Corporations should consult the local bodies on matters where it will be useful to do so. But there is a certain misconception here in the minds of hon. Members as to the functions of the Management Corporations. They will not have the job of bringing industry into the area—something to which the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) referred—as I said on Clause 8.

Mr. Peart

Who will have that job?

Mr. Maudling

The Board of Trade. The function of the Corporations is fairly strictly management of the Board of Trade properties. It is the supreme responsibility of the Board of Trade under the Bill to bring industry into the areas. I will certainly undertake that my regional controllers and all concerned in the Board of Trade will not only be instructed to obtain advice but will seek at all times to obtain the advice of people like Lord Adams, who understand these things so well. We shall, of course, be consulting the regional boards because our regional controllers are members of them. So there is a perfectly clear tie-up.

The point is that the Board of Trade is responsible for policy. I know that what the hon. Members for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) and Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) and others are concerned about is policy. What is done about bringing people into the areas and to make sure that the people who decide policy are fully aware of the real needs of the areas is the responsibility of the Board of Trade.

I will give an undertaking that in the case of all these development councils and the local authorities my officers will have full consultation with the people concerned. We want the benefit of their advice. I think that is accepting the spirit of the Amendments. To accept the letter of the Amendments would be a misconception of the functions of the Management Corporations. To lay on them a formal duty of consultation with these bodies would not serve any useful purpose. I hope that with that explanation I shall be able to persuade the Committee to agree with me.

Mr. Wiley

I am sure that the Committee is greatly obliged for the response of the right hon. Gentleman. If I said that he did not pay any tribute to the companies, I was certainly exagerrating. I was aware of what he had said, but I am also aware what a courteous Minister he is and I did not think that the tribute he paid was sufficiently warm.

I do not want to return to the discussion we have had about the functions of the new Management Corporations, but I think that we are getting a different attitude now from the Government and it is unwelcome. While I say that, it is comforting to get an assurance that there will be an encouragement of consultation. I will pay a tribute to the right hon. Gentleman's regional officers, who have always been very willing and have encouraged local consultation. It is some consolation to know that the right hon. Gentleman will encourage consultation at the regional level through his regional officers.

I do not expect any undertaking from the right hon. Gentleman, but I hope that he will look back again at the issue raised by the Amendment. Will the right hon. Gentleman study the precedents of the new towns legislation, with which my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) intended to deal? Although we hope that it will not be the case, the characteristics of a Development Area may remain in a certain area and there might then be a very good argument for setting up a local committee to advise the board within the limited functions which it will exercise. I do not invite the right hon. Gentleman to give any undertaking about that. I know that he will study the matter. With the assurance which the right hon. Gentleman has given, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Clause stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Watkins

Subsection (7, b) provides that the Management Corporation will now act as agents for the Development Commissioners. On 30th July, 1958, the then President of the Board of Trade announced that the Development Commission would make grants towards easing the problems of depopulation in Wales and Scotland. Wonder whether those facilities will still be available under the new Management Corporations.

If so, who will be responsible to Parliament and to hon. Members seeking information about the work of the Development Commissioners? Every year I have been able to question the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the amount of money paid out by the Development Commissioners in Wales. I hope that that facility will remain.

I should like the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that the Development Commissioners will be allowed to carry on their work as they have been doing. Their becoming agents may represent an improvement for Wales. The industrial estates organisation has been responsible for this kind of work in Wales in the past, and there has often been delay in dealing with applications for assistance.

When the Development Commissioners are considering grants, I hope they will consult the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association.

Mr. Maudling

I assure the hon. Member that the Bill does not vary the powers or functions of the Development Commission, or Parliamentary responsibility there for. It is merely that as a matter of practice the corporation can act as the Commission's agent.

I undertake that the body he mentioned will be included in my general undertaking about consultations.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.