§ 4.3 p.m.
The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (Abertillery)
I beg to move to leave out from "That" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:this House calls upon the Government to use far more vigorously the powers under the Distribution of Industry Acts to bring new industry and employment to the Development Areas; to restrain excessive development in congested areas; and to schedule additional districts as Development Areas where high unemployment exists.I do not apologise for returning in our debates to this question of the Development Areas and to the working of the Distribution of Industry Acts in the areas. The reason is very simple. On this side of the House we derive the larger part of our political strength from the Development Areas and we have by far the larger representation of those areas on our side of the House. With the very best will in the world—and I am not withholding from any hon. Member on the Conservative benches the maximum good will in these affairs—hon. Members opposite, in the very nature of things, cannot be as intimately connected with or as concerned in the problems of the Development Areas as we are.
Perhaps the House will allow me very briefly to recapitulate the background story. I do not think that it would be too great an exaggeration to say that in the 1930s we almost reached that most deplorable of all conditions, two nations living in the same land, the employed and the unemployed. The unemployment figures in some areas were almost too fantastic to believe. In one area in my constituency, in 1922, the unemployment figure was over 92 per cent.
Whatever else the war did or did not do, at least it welded us together once 1443 again as one nation. Towards the latter part of the war, everything was pointing to a new orientation in the thinking of politicians on both sides of the House and in both parties. In 1939, the Report of the very important Royal Commission on the Distribution of the Industrial Population was published. Its chairman was Sir Montague Barlow, and today the Report is known as the Barlow Report.
That Report graphically drew the attention of the minds of thinking people to the complete unbalance in the industrial distribution of our land. It referred to the undesirability of these crazy conurbations, these absurd concentrations of industry in one or two areas, particularly in the Greater London and the Midlands areas. Not a single sociologist since then has to my knowledge ever disputed the thesis on which that Report was based. All of us surely agree by this time that it is completely unnatural for us to have these concentrations in a civilised society.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) has described the chaotic conditions which prevail today in the way of housing and traffic communications in these large congested areas. The traffic problem in London is nightmarish, and what traffic conditions in these great concentrated industrial centres will be like in twenty years' time does not bear thinking about.
As a result, possibly, of that Report and the remembrance of what took place in the 1930s, in 1944 the Coalition Government produced a White Paper on Employment Policy. The major recommendations of that White Paper were incorporated in the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. The great architect of that Act was, of course, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton).
I doubt whether any Act of Parliament has done more to make the lives of the ordinary people happier. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North said that directly or indirectly about half a million jobs were created, which would not otherwise have existed, as result of our general distribution of industry policy. The total of that in terms of human happiness is incalculable. Communities which were practically dead were rehabilitated in a few years. Today, many of those communities are communities in which we take great pride.
1444 It fell to the lot of the Labour Government to begin the work of implementing the very strong powers which were vested in that Act. It is my firm conviction that the Labour Government at that time proved tremendously successful in implementing the main proposals of that Act. The results were gratifying to all concerned. The comparison of the Conservative Administration during the last seven years with the record of the Labour Administration is one which causes us very great concern.
I want to quote some figures, and, remembering our last debate on this subject, I can promise hon. Members on the Conservative Benches that I will not be selective in my choosing of statistics to prove my case. I shall give the total record which is available to all those who desire to look for it.
During the seven years 1945–51, 30 per cent. of all factory floor space for which approval was secured was in the Development Areas. The corresponding figure for the seven years 1952–58 is only 18½ per cent. I will next give the year-by-year percentages of factory building approvals in the Development Areas. I ask the House to bear in mind that, in the earlier post-war years, we had in the Development Areas about 15 per cent. of the industrial population of the country. Today, because of the additions to the scheduled Development Areas, we have between 18 and 20 per cent.
In 1945, the percentage of factory building approvals in the Development Areas was 62 per cent.; in 1946, 43 per cent.; in 1947, 53 per cent.; in 1948, 46 per cent.; in 1949, 15 per cent.; in 1950, 18 per cent.; and in 1951, 25 per cent. Those are the figures for the period under the Labour Administration.
During the period under the Conservative Administration, the percentages were:in 1952, 22 per cent.; in 1953, 18 per cent.; in 1954, 18 per cent.; in 1955, 16 per cent.; in 1956, 19 per cent.; in 1957, 22 per cent.; and in 1958, 18 per cent. Admittedly, there are two years under the Labour Administration which are not particularly good years, but the total record of the Labour Administration is very much better than the record of the Conservative Administration.
In the period from July, 1945, until September, 1951, 12½ per cent. of all 1445 approvals for factory floor space were in London and the South-East. Between September, 1951, and December, 1958, the figure had risen to 18½ per cent. This is the Distribution of Industry Act working in reverse. In contrast, the Welsh share in the same period fell by nearly a half, from 9 per cent. to just over 4½ per cent. The Northern share declined from nearly 10 per cent. to just over 6 per cent. The Scottish share declined from just under 10 per cent. to just under 7 per cent.
With the greatest respect to the Minister of Labour, who, when we last debated this subject, gave us what I very sincerely regard as one of the most masterly Parliamentary performances I have witnessed in the House, this record is a defiant contradiction of the purpose of the Distribution of Industry Act. It cannot be explained away, as he sought to do, by reference to the need for factory space to be given to the various service industries now catering for London's insatiable maw, nor by reference to that wonderful alibi word, "extension", a word often quoted by Conservative apologists in debates about the distribution of industry. The £60 million project of Colvilles steel company in Scotland, largely set up by Government finance, is euphemistically called "extension". I hasten to assure my Scottish friends that I do not oppose that particular "extension" in the context of present-day circumstances in Scotland.
The great achievements that were being attained in the Development Areas have been retarded more than necessary by the elastic interpretation which the Board of Trade has given to the word "extension". Out of its own mouth, it stands condemned in this respect. In the Economic Survey of 1959 the Board of Trade says that in future it will have a more stringent application. If it is to be more stringent, it must have been less stringent in the past. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in our last debate, said that his Department was now examining more critically applications from the Home Counties and the more congested industrial centres. If he admits that it is intended to be much more critical, there must be the inevitable implication that the Department has been less critical than it intends to be in the future. It is because it has been less critical in the past that we have the disparity 1446 is factory building as between the Home Counties and the Development Areas.
We declare that the intentions behind the Distribution of Industry Act will not be realised until the long-standing disparity between the unemployment figures for the Development Areas and the unemployment figures for the country as a whole has disappeared, until, indeed, there are no more stubborn pockets of unemployment left in this battle for social and economic justice. Even in 1932, the worst year ever for unemployment, whereas the unemployment figure for the whole country was 19 per cent., in the areas the nomenclature of which has changed from derelict areas to depressed areas to distressed areas to special areas and, now, to Development Areas, the unemployment percentage was exactly double, namely, 38 per cent.
We still have this accursed disparity today. In April, the unemployment percentages in the Development Areas were as follows: West Cumberland, 6.2 per cent.; Scottish Development Areas, 5.3 per cent.: Merseyside, 4.6 per cent.: South Wales, 4.5 per cent.; the North-East, 3.5 per cent.; Wrexham, 3.8 per cent.: South Lancashire, 3.8 per cent.; and North-East Lancashire, 3.2 per cent. In the non-Development Areas, such as London and the South-East, we have the low figure of 1.5 per cent. In the North Midlands, it is 1.7 per cent. In the Midlands area, it is 1.9 per cent. The percentage for all Development Areas is 4.5 and the percentage for Great Britain is 2.4.
We on this side cannot accept that the Government have succeeded in steering industrial development away from congested areas into the Development Areas. They certainly have not succeeded in solving the problem of the high incidence of unemployment in the Development Areas. Furthermore, long-term unemployment among men is slightly higher in the Development Areas than it is in Great Britain as a whole. It is especially severe in the Wrexham area, where 53 per cent. of all men aged 18 and over who are unemployed have been out of work for over six months. The figure for the South Lancashire area is 36 per cent.
My Amendmentcalls upon the Government to use far more vigorously the powers under the Distribution of Industry Acts to bring new industry and employment to the Development Areas.1447 It would be well for us to remind ourselves once again of those powers. I recently read the Second Reading debate on the 1945 Act. A number of Labour back bench Members said in the debate on the Second Reading of that Measure that it should have assumed even greater powers, even power to direct industry. However, the debate took place during wartime, when direction was accepted as right and proper in the midst of the exigencies of a war for survival.
The Labour Party in office and in opposition has never asked for powers to direct industry. We believe that the great task involved in the implementation of the Act could be done by persuasion, by incentives of various sorts and, as a result of the Town and Country Planning Act, 1947, by the negative control of either issuing or refusing to issue industrial development certificates to industrialists who wished to erect new factories or to extend existing factories of more than 5,000 square feet.
Let us see how the Conservative record stands up to the provisions of the Act. Section 1 gives power to the Board of Trade to build in Development Areas factories and ancillary buildings, to acquire land, either compulsorily or by agreement, and to prepare sites on which industrial establishments can be erected —in other words, to build more and better modern factories with a better balance between light and heavy industries. Will the Government tell us whether their record is good enough in view of the consistently high rates of unemployment in the Development Areas during the last three years?
I know that there are signs of improvement. No one welcomes that more sincerely than I do. As one who knows the area well, I can assure the Government that the Pressed Steel factory, in the Swansea area, the Crawley Mining Machinery factory, in my home town, Llanelly, and the other factories in Ammanford, Pontardulais, and Gorseinon will be a godsend to those hard-hit areas. But so much more needs to be done if South Wales is to be anything like what the architect of this great Act, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland, intended the South Wales Development Area and other Development Areas to be. Much more needs to 1448 be done before we who represent these areas are satisfied that they are in a condition which we should like.
South Wales is not as prosperous as the Lord Chancellor, when addressing the annual meeting of the Welsh Conservative Council the other day, and the President of the Board of Trade, writing in the Western Mail Industrial Supplement, recently suggested.
Let us consider some of the eastern parts of South Wales, particularly the mining townships in the upper reaches of the Rhondda, Llyfni, Sirhowy, Rhymney and Western Valleys. In recent months in some of these areas there has been a welcome, but not very appreciable, fall in unemployment, but there has been little intake into the manufacturing industries. Activity appears to have increased mainly in building and civil engineering and other outdoor work. We still have a hard core of disabled workers. Since the end of the war never has the problem of school-leavers without jobs assumed such serious proportions. We are very apprehensive about the future, when the so-called "bulge" will take on a most formidable aspect.
Between 9th February and 9th March this year the unemployment figures for Wales decreased by 1,356. from 45,209 to 43,853. I believe that they decreased further in the succeeding month. In the South Wales Development Area, however, the unemployment figures for that same period did not decrease, but increased by 198. We who represent these areas are becoming very perturbed about the situation. No one seriously disputes that our people have the skill and adaptability. Why waste this skill and energy? Why cannot they be utilised? Why cannot we use this productive capacity? It would be much better than paying unemployment benefit to men who are becoming embittered and more despondent week after week.
The parent Act empowers the Board of Trade, with the consent of the Treasury, to make loans to non-profit making trading and industrial estate companies. We have some very fine trading estates in South Wales, such as Bridgend, Fforest-fach, Hirwaun and, the showpiece of them all, Treforest. A case can now be made out for another in North Monmouthshire. We have been promised a Tops of the 1449 Valleys road from the Midlands to Swansea. In view of that, a trading estate would be a tremendous boon in North Monmouthshire, which consists of Tredegar, Rhymney, Ebbw Vale, Brynmawr, Blaina, Nant-y-Glo, Abertillery, Newbridge and Blackwood.
Why cannot Section 3 of the Act be implemented? Under this Section the Minister is granted power to make special grants on loans, with Treasury consent, towards the cost of improving basic services, such as water supply, sewerage schemes, roads, heating and transport facilities, without imposing extra charges on local rates. The notorious Circular No. 54/52 put a stop to many schemes which were being propounded in the Development Areas. By 1954, 51 schemes, costing £12 million, had been turned down. all in the sacred name of economy.
When Conservatives start thinking of economy measures, unemployment figures immediately begin to rise. When they think of restrictions and recessions they do not use those words. They call them, euphemistically, adjustments. The Government have made too many adjustments in the working of the Distribution of Industry Acts in the last few years. We want more implementation.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) succinctly put it in a debate, the Distribution of Industry Act proclaims social reconstruction as well as industrial reconstruction. We want the basic services to match up to the average basic services of the nation. And why not? Those of us who live in Development Areas know how pathetically we lag behind other areas in this perfectly justifiable endeavour. Our local authorities, so poverty-stricken before the war, started the post-war programme far behind more fortunate places outside the Development Areas. The record of the Government in this matter is a poor one. Even now they have yielded only to the extent of allowing some water and sewerage schemes in parts of the Development Areas; and there must be an exceptional reason even for these schemes before they can be implemented.
The Government have failed miserably to carry out the provisions in Section 5 of the Act, dealing with derelict land in Development Areas. The Board of Trade has the power to acquire such land compulsorily, or by agreement, to provide 1450 industrial sites and open spaces. The Ministry of Housing and Local Government issued a helpful and valuable circular some years ago called, Reclamation of Derelict Land ". I am not sure whether the Board of Trade has heard about it yet. But it is a very good pamphlet, which I recommend officials at the Board of Trade to read.
We have certainly paid a high price in our Development Areas as a result of the spoilation and desecration that has followed the unbridled industrialisation of the past. No wonder a novel I read recently, which dealt with the industrialisation of Northern Monmouthshire in the last century, bore the title "The Rape of the Fair Country ". About 4,000 acres in Monmouthshire alone are derelict land in the form of coal tips, slag heaps and industrial waste of all kinds. With all the powers that there are in the Act, and with unemployed labour available, could not the Government do more—they certainly could not have done less—to level these tips and slag heaps and so provide industrial sites, open spaces and playing fields? We have little cause to thank this Government for playing fields in the valleys of South Wales. What playing fields we have had during these last years we owe to C.I.S.W.0.—the Coal Industry and Social Welfare Organisation.
How can we hope to attract new industries? How can we expect industrialists, Who are seeking new areas in which to expand, to look favourably on these excrescences, these hideous memorials to man's greed and stupidity in the past? I speak feelingly. Where I live, every living-room of our house faces an ugly colliery tip. Nature has been very beneficent and has mollified some of the harshness by allowing the growth of shrubs and trees to occur in patches.
But why could not these eyesores be levelled by the exercise of the powers contained in the Act, so that youngsters, like my own rugby-crazy lad, could have playing fields of their own instead of, as now happens, being chased regularly from the Newbridge Rugby Club pitch by a very irate caretaker-groundsman? It is the only available pitch.
We must have sites available for new factories. We must have the amenities which key workers and technicians coming in from other areas are accustomed to, and demand in the places 1451 where they and their families are to live. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North that there should be a much bolder willingness on the part of the Government to add to the existing scheduled areas.
The power is there in Section 6 of the Act. It has been done. In 1946, Wrexham and South Lancashire were added to the list. In 1949, Merseyside and part of the Scottish Highlands were added. In 1953, North-East Lancashire was added. What has happened since then in areas such as North-West Wales, Anglesey and Caernarvon, and other areas in England and Scotland, where there have been persistently high unemployment figures and no immediate prospect of respite or improvement?
It is true that no area has been removed from the Schedule. So far as I know, there is no inclination on the part of hon. Members on either side of the House to do so. But I am not too sure that a case cannot be made out for removing a town like Newport, with its huge strip mill project, from the South Wales Development Area; or Port Talbot, or possibly Neath. I cannot see why these three successful industrial towns should not be removed from the schedule of Development Areas. Other hon. Members will advocate the claims of their areas in their constituencies to be included in the schedule.
Why do we speak like this? Why do we speak with such concern about the Development Areas? Are there any electoral reasons? Believe me, those are the least of our worries in South Wales and the other Development Areas. We speak feelingly, not claiming any greater virtue or sagacity than hon. Members opposite, because most of us live in these areas. I have seen some remarkable triumphs of the human spirit in these wonderful communities, triumphs over poverty and hardship, and sometimes over terrible tragedies in the way of pit disasters. The things of the mind are held in great respect in the cotton towns of Lancashire, and in the Highlands of Scotland, and in the mining valleys and townships of South Wales. They are great areas, they are wonderful areas, and we are very concerned about them.
We see the cotton industry languishing and contracting at an alarming rate, and 1452 I can see a very dark question mark poised over many a colliery pit top, and it worries me. It is a very foreboding question mark. During our last debate on the coal industry the Paymaster-General said that there will be no more pit closures this year; that the stocking of coal can be allowed without let or hindrance and that expanding production will deal with the situation. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is right. With all my heart I hope he is right, and that the problem can be dealt with in that way. But if the right hon. Gentleman is wrong, then, obviously, we cannot allow coal to be stocked ad infinitum. Then for how long will it be stocked? Well, the suspicious politician in me whispers —if he is wrong, heaven forgive him—that it will be until after the General Election.
If the Conservative Party wins the next General Election we can then expect the closures, and they will be brutal closures; and they will involve not hundreds, but thousands.
The Rev. Ll. Williams
—I would tell him that 60 per cent. of the working population of my constituency are miners. I confess here and now that when I think of those thousands of miners and their families I find it very difficult to steer the true course between the Scylla of alarm and the Charybdis of optimism.
It is very difficult to know what is to happen, but if the storm does break on the valleys of South Wales in the next five, ten or twenty years only one thing will prevent the repetition of that unforgivable story of the 1930s, and that is the implementation now of the Distribution of Industry Act. Clear the sites now, get the trading estates there now, have diversification of employment there now.
It is because I speak with that agony of hope and fear clashing the one against the other that I put my final sentence very pointedly to the Minister. If the Government can convince us that they are 1453 genuinely and vigorously implementing the tremendous powers in the Distribution of Industry Act, I shall say, "All credit to them," but if they cannot do that to our satisfaction, then we must divide the House.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Dr. J. Dickson Mabon (Greenock)
I beg to second the Amendment.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (The Rev. LI. Williams), who has put so fair and formidable a presentation of our case in terms of such natural eloquence. I am glad to see so many Ministers here, and we shall, I hope, have a considered reply to our arguments.
I am particularly glad to see the Minister of Labour here. There is a point on which I dissent from my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery, and that is on his comment on the last speech which the Minister of Labour made in a debate on unemployment, which naturally concerned the Development Areas. I thought that it did him great discredit. I once heard it said that a demagogue was defined as an orator whose speech you did not like. That may well be the description of the Minister's talent last time.
There are, I suggest, many opponents of the Development Areas. They are not very outspoken, but now and then they do appear; now and then they come to the surface. It is worth while checking up one or two of them in a debate like this just to show that, in fact, they do still linger on. One, I am sad 10 say, is found in the editorial rooms of the Manchester Guardian.
Some time ago that paper attacked the Government, as it often does—and I applaud it for doing so, but on this occasion it attacked them on the wrong snore—deploring the Government's decision not to allow an industrial development certificate to British Nylon Spinners for a factory at Havant, near Portsmouth. This was surely one of the very few outstanding occasions when this Government did something helpful under the Distribution of Industry Act. It caused so much trouble that we had criticisms in the big Tory newspapers as well as in the Manchester Guardian. That Liberal newspaper deplored the decision as interfering with the natural evolution 1454 of commerce. It was thus falling back on the old laissez faire attitude to the capitalist system, and thus found that decision quite wrong.
In our last debate the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Shepherd) let loose the following thoughts, which are reminiscent of the Manchester Guardian in following out this line. He said:‥I believe that we can too readily accept the need for unlimited aid for these areas rather than say that if we cannot run industries efficiently in those areas people must move to areas where those industries can be run efficiently."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th May, 1959; Vol. 602, c. 479.]The hon. Gentleman was speaking about the Development Areas, and the argument there was the one we well know, that we should have a natural flow of industry and of labour, with labour moving about and finding its houses where it can and going to industry, rather than we should bring work to the workers.
Perhaps the hon. Member for Cheadle ought not to be classed as an opponent of the Development Areas; perhaps he ought to be classed as a reluctant supporter. He certainly ought not to be blamed for his attitude because he was only reflecting that of the present Government, particularly in 1956.
In 1956, the Government virtually murdered the Distribution of Industry Act. It was then that they started this process of slackness and loss of vigour, as it has been emphasised by my hon. Friend for Abertillery, in the issuing of I.D.C. certificates, curtailing money for Government-sponsored factories, and so on. All that happened to such an extent that even Lord Bilsland, who is well known in Scotland as being "non political"—which usually means Conservative in these matters, although I will for the present exempt him from that condemnation —and who is head of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), and who has advised both Governments in this connection, said in a debate in another place that this was the end of the effectiveness of the Development Areas programme.
I come now to the speech on 18th March of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. I wondered whether he was misreading his figures, or whether, perhaps, HANSARD recorded them wrongly, but it was really a quite astonishing use 1455 of the figures to reflect on the nature of the Government's own endeavours compared with the Labour Government's endeavours. The comparison is on the basis of the hon. Gentleman's own figures, as given in his statement in that debate. He said that the Labour Government provided £37 million to finance Government factories in 1945 to 1948 and that the average was £4 6 million thereafter in each of the years 1949, 1950 and 1951. I make the total £50 8 million as having been spent, estimated on the hon. Gentleman's own figures, on Government-financed factories.
Yet the hon. Gentleman, in the next sentence, confessed that the average spent under the Conservatives has been £4 million per year for seven years, which is, of course, only £28 million, a very poor performance. These are his own figures. I am choosing the Minister's own figures. I am not adopting a sample we could get from the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is always suspect in housing debates. I am choosing the figures of the Parliamentary Secretary, his own figures, which show that the Conservatives have done half as much in this respect as did the Labour Government in their difficult days of office.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Surely the Conservatives have not done even half as well. Has my hon. Friend considered the effect of the depreciation of the value of the £?
§ Dr. Dickson Mabon
My hon. Friend is not being fair to me. He has anticipated most of my speech.
If we take the Parliamentary Secretary's figures, they mean that just over £7 million a year was spent by the Labour Government. The Parliamentary Secretary, in his next breath in that speech, said that the proposed expenditure in 1959 would be £6.9 million. So if we discount what my hon. Friend has suggested, the fall in the value of money and the rise in the prices of building materials and labour for the construction of these factories, we have after this long interval, and on the Minister's own figures, this difference.
I think that this is wholly inadequate repentance, and I hope that if the Minister of Labour is willing to stay on a little longer to hear my speech I will perform 1456 a service for him, a service which he failed to do in his last speech, and I will try to complete the picture for him, if he will forgive my impertinence. However, I want to touch on one or two small matters before I do that, lest he may think that I am doing him an injustice.
My hon. Friend has drawn a comparison, in terms of an argument based on square footage, of what was done by the Labour Party and the Conservative Party over the last sixteen years or so. There is one further matter which is worthy of consideration. Although, in theory, many of the areas have not been descheduled, in practice they have been. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) said in his very admirable report on unemployment, which received such scathing comments from the Parliamentary Secretary and dubious praise from the Minister of Labour, this was administrative descheduling.
I am not grinding my own constituency axe, because Greenock is one of the areas which has not been descheduled in this way. But how ludicrous it is that while as a D. A. T. A. C. area, mentioned so often in Board of Trade announcements, it is receiving the maximum promise of assistance from the present Government, I can look across the Clyde to Dunbartonshire, which has a high rate of unemployment and which does not enjoy the kind of promises offered to my constituency by the Government.
A great many of the workers in Greenock travel to Dunbartonshire to work. It is not unnatural that in a great area like the Clyde Valley people find their jobs in widely separated localities. It is ridiculous, in that case, that within that wide area there should be areas which have greater priority than others in the matter of bringing in jobs. The Government have created an Orwellian situation in these areas. They have made some towns and districts more equal than others. Greenock, North Lanark and Dundee, and even North Ayrshire, are on this priority list. Mind you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, your constituency and mine have received the same assistance from the Government. In essence they have virtually received precious little but promises. While, in North Ayrshire, there has been a promise of D. A. T. A. C. assistance, there is no similar application of 1457 assistance to Central Ayrshire, where the unemployment percentage is high.
Why is it that D. A. T. A. C. works in this way? Diagnosis is made on a basis of persistently high unemployment. In medical terms one would say that the diagnosis is based on persistent chronic symptoms of a high unemployment rate and then treatment by D. A. T. A. C. is applied. But while the D. A. T. A. C. treatment is rarely curative it is certainly never preventative. There is no intelligent anticipation by the Government of areas of high unemployment. Why should areas suddenly receive maximum publicity and Government attention after the event has occurred? Why not make an intelligent assay of what is likely to happen and find out what industries are contracting and whether work can be brought in before the unemployment rates rise so substantially?
In Scotland, as my hon. Friend the Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) discovered recently, 4,000 people have been discharged from Ministry of Supply jobs during the last year. I remember that in 1957, in the constituency of the Secretary of State for Scotland and in my constituency, 800 Royal Ordnance factory workers were dismissed in a period of two months. No wonder that unemployment rates have gone up in these years and have remained so high. Why did not the Government anticipate all this? Surely they must have known what was going on in their own Ministry of Supply factories and what steps were to be taken to sack these men. Could they not have taken steps to bring factories into the areas in time to take up this unemployment?
This argument applies on a far larger scale than that concerned with Government Departments. Where are the jobs to come from in the coalfields of Wales, Durham and Scotland where the mining industry is now contracting? If we take the thesis expounded by the Manchester Guardian, supported by the hon. Member for Cheadle, with the secret connivance of the Government, it appears that the party opposite wants industry to find its own natural place and not be induced to go to certain areas, and if industries die then the towns and the communities must die with them. If that is not the case, the Government should be intelligently anticipating the contracting of the 1458 coal mining industry, of cotton in Lancashire, of shale oil production in the Lothians, and of the jute industry in Dundee and of the small fishing communities in the north-east of Scotland, in Fifeshire and elsewhere.
Has the Parliamentary Secretary ever read the excellent Cairncross Report on Scotland? It is admittedly full of high praise for the Labour Government which the right hon. Gentleman would not like. It was published in 1952. It contains many excellent recommendations which have not been implemented and which the Minister might wall consider, particularly in relation to the small fishing ports where many men are losing their jobs.
If I may, I should like to score up the speech of the Minister of Labour for him. He will recall that he said that the Leader of the Opposition on one occasion had offered him a five-point economic plan and that he had scored for himself four-and-a-half points. He promised in his last speech to score his pointage on the Jay report. He did not do so. I should like to do the scoring for the right hon. Gentleman. Is the ban on building after 31st October to continue? Are projects which cannot be completed by 31st October to be banned by the Government? As far as we know, they are, and no contrary announcement has been made so far. Therefore, on the right hon. Gentleman's political bridge card the score should be none for that.
On the right hon. Gentleman's own argument, the Government are putting forward three and the Opposition are putting forward six proposals for advance factories. But the Opposition does not say that —they add the word "elsewhere". It must surely be obvious that if the Opposition had the levers of power, of government and of information which Ministers possess, it would be in a position to put forward a larger number of proposals for advance factories. But granting the Minister's argument for the moment that we offer six and he offers three, his score is one-half point.
On the question of industrial development certificates, if we can accept the right hon. Gentleman's dialectical dissertation as to when a factory is not a factory and when an extension is not an extension, we might give him a quarter of a point. The Government have done very little in the matter of Section 3 1459 grants to local authorities. If we bear in mind the various considerations which apply to Scottish local authorities, I think that we can fairly give the right hon. Gentleman no points on that score.
There is a great deal to be done in the provision of roads, in filling the Monckton Canal, in Coatbridge—an ideal example of this type of work--and on derelict sites. There is a problem in my own constituency. The local authority has shown five Ministers, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North, different sites in Greenock. We know where the larger and smaller factories should be established. The question is who acquires the sites. Is it the local authority? Must the town council fork out £20,000 and more to buy sites, or are the Government willing to buy the sites and ask the local authority to provide some of the amenities? This matter has not been made clear as an act of policy, and on this score the right hon. Gentleman is awarded no points.
We had a concession on Board of Trade rents in February on which we might give the right hon. Gentleman a quarter of a point, though these rents may well be a disincentive to those contemplating coming to these areas. On the opening of Board of Trade offices he gets no points; Government contracts, a quarter of a point; phased development, no points; new scheduled areas, no points; D. A. T. A. C. loans to local authorities, no points; the question of Northern Ireland, a quarter point—total score out of 12 points, one and a half points.
I do not think that the Minister of Labour can argue that that comes anywhere near meeting the requirements of what is called the Jay report. The Parliamentary Secretary called it a thing of shreds and patches, or, at any rate, he used an abusive phrase. It would be much better if that report could be looked at again and the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary took a lesson from the Opposition Front Bench on how to run the distribution of industries and how Development Areas should be expanded.
I am very pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery made such an excellent speech, and I am very delighted that I am able to support it. I hope that tonight hon. Members who represent other areas will be able, in graphic terms, 1460 to explain their own position and show that the Government can do a lot to anticipate the contraction of industry and the need for new jobs. I believe that that kind of flexible approach is the only kind for the mid-twentieth century when we no longer have to argue about large-scale unemployment of 20 per cent. or 40 per cent. being inevitable. We are, however, much concerned with this marginal unemployment, and I hope that the Minister will reply reasonably tonight.