HC Deb 17 February 1959 vol 600 cc175-6
13. Mr. Boardman

asked the President of the Board of Trade what assistance has been given under the Distribution of Industry Act to the towns of Leigh, Atherton, and Tyldesley; and if he will state the area of factory space provided, and the number of people for whom employment has been provided.

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

The Board of Trade has no powers to build factories in Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley, since they are not in a Development Area. The level of unemployment in this district is, I am glad to say, not above the national average. My right hon. Friend would not, therefore, be justified in including these towns on the list of places for which financial assistance is available under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act.

Mr. Boardman

Is the Minister aware that when these towns applied for inclusion in the Schedule the reply of his Department was that the two major industries of cotton and coal were far too important to the national economy to risk any industrial counter-attractions? In view of the fact that cotton is contracting rapidly and coal is showing the same trend, will the hon. Gentleman review the Act?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

We shall welcome new industries into the area, but it does not qualify.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the hon. Gentleman recall that the 1945 Act specifically required the President of the Board of Trade to schedule not only areas where there is high unemployment but where there are prospects of unemployment? Does the Board of Trade always wait for unemployment to develop before it starts to get industries into an area, knowing that it takes twelve to eighteen months to get a factory established?

Mr. Vaughan-Morgan

No, Sir. The point is that the new measures we are applying are designed to help places where unemployment is at its worst.