HC Deb 17 February 1959 vol 600 cc173-4
7. Mr. Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what were the factors which influenced him in granting permission to British Nylon Spinners to establish their new factory in Gloucester.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

My right hon. Friend's permission is not required for taking over existing premises but, having regard to the firm's needs as known to us, the decision appears to be reasonable.

Mr. Hamilton

Whatever valid or invalid reasons might be given for allowing this firm to go to Gloucester, they were not provided for either in the original Distribution of Industry Act or in last year's Act. If the intention of the Government is to encourage industry to go to areas with high percentages of unemployment, does this not make absolute nonsense of that declared policy?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

No, Sir. The hon. Member knows that the Board of Trade can exercise only negative control over the siting of a factory through the refusal of an I.D.C., and it would be a reversal of policy to start suggesting that we should have compulsory powers of directive.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the President of the Board of Trade not to consider some alternative policy if this means the de- population of parts of the country and turning great areas into distressed areas?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

We have announced a number of measures which, I hope, will make areas where severe unemployment is rife considerably more attractive.

Mr. Philips Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that unemployment in Gloucester has been growing very considerably owing to the closing down of an aircraft factory and that this industry will very substantially relieve the situation and give employment to quite a number of people in my constituency?

Mr. H. Wilson

Without taking sides between these various places, particularly as my constituency put in a bid for this factory, are we to take it from the Answer of the hon. Gentleman that the policy of refusing Industrial Development Certificates, about which the Government trumpeted so much earlier this year when they first turned down the Havant project, has now been dropped and that they are not prepared to use this negative means of steering factories to the places that need them most?