HC Deb 23 June 1959 vol 607 cc1004-6
14. Mr. Willey

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what applications have been received, and what financial assistance has been made available, under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, in order to reduce unemployment in Sunderland.

Mr. Amory

No firm and eligible application has been received for assistance in Sunderland.

Mr. Willey

While recognising the disappointing nature of the reply, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is satisfied that there is enough knowledge about this position among firms who might take advantage of it? Can we not follow a more vigorous policy in trying to persuade industrialists in this matter?

Mr. Amory

That point has been discussed. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has raised it before, but we have had some discussion on it recently. We have been taking further action to ensure that the existence of these grants is known. I cannot feel that the right hon. Gentleman is quite right in saying that this result is disappointing, in the sense that only three preliminary inquiries have been received. One of them was withdrawn. In the other two cases further information is awaited. In so far as any applications have been made, the situation has been dealt with.

32. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary to the Treasury how many applications for Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee's help have been received by the Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committees from firms in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire; and how many of these would assist the depopulation problem of Douglas.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. F. J. Erroll)

One firm and eligible application for assistance under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, has been received from an undertaking in the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. I have ho information as to the effect, if any, that an offer of assistance in this case might have on depopulation in another locality.

Mr. Maitland

Can my hon. Friend say how long it takes in processing these applications? Will he do his best to hasten forward that now before the Committee?

Mr. Erroll

It might appear to be misleading to give an average figure, but in general it takes about two to three months, depending on the nature of the application. We are taking such steps as are possible to improve the rate of progress.

33. Mr. Patrick Maitland

asked the Secretary to the Treasury to what extent the Development Areas Treasury Ad visory Committee is, in principle, willing to consider an application for financial help from any firm proposing to establish itself at Douglas, Douglas West and Douglas Water, in the county of Lanark, provided that this would create local employment capable of easing the situation within the Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee area as hitherto defined, irrespective of whether its expected employees would be residents in the Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee area.

Mr. Erroll

The Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee can consider applications for assistance under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, only if, among other things, the Board of Trade are satisfied that the purpose for which the assistance is required is likely to reduce the rate of unemployment in a place of high and persistent unemployment. I suggest that my hon. Friend should pursue with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade whether the case he has in mind is likely to meet this statutory requirement.

Mr. Maitland

Will my hon. Friend support me in approaching the Board of Trade on a matter of this sort with a view to obtaining rapid clearance, certainly much quicker than the two or three months which my hon. Friend has mentioned? May I thank my hon. Friend for a very forthcoming reply?

Mr. Erroll

The average of two or three months relates to the whole period. The period which the Board of Trade requires to satisfy itself on unemployment matters is much shorter. I know that the Board of Trade is as anxious as is the Treasury to do its part of the work quickly. If my hon. Friend wishes to approach the Board of Trade again, I think he will be able to do so without my assistance.