HC Deb 03 March 1960 vol 618 cc1402-3
18. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will ensure that applications to the Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee, submitted before the appointed day for the Local Employment Bill, will be considered on their merits regardless of the fact that certain Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee areas are now to be excluded from the benefits of that Bill.

Mr. J. Rodgers

My right hon. Friend has no powers to do this, but he understands from his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Committee hopes to deal under the existing legislation with a high proportion of outstanding applications from places not being designated as development districts. It cannot, of course, ensure that investigations into and consideration of all outstanding applications will be completed in the time remaining before the existing powers lapse.

Mrs. Castle

Is not this situation really most unfair and most unsatisfactory? If the President of the Board of Trade can only have examined a proportion of the applications, it must mean that some of equal merit will be disallowed through no fault of the firms concerned. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he still has time to get power to do what I ask while the Bill is going through another place? If an Amendment is moved to the effect outlined in my question, will he give us an assurance that the Board of Trade will accept it?

Mr. Rodgers

The line has to be drawn somewhere, and we decided to draw it on 1st April, as I announced on Third Reading of the Local Employment Bill. We have no powers under existing legislation or under the new Bill to grant an extension of that period. We have to be satisfied that there is going to be high and persistent unemployment if we are to give any public assistance.

Mr. Mitchison

We have just been told that a place can be put on the list overnight. If that is so, surely it can also be removed overnight at short notice? Any difficulty can be got over by putting a case on the list for a short time, since the relevant date is the date of application, not when the Department deals with the matter.

Mr. Rodgers

A good many places are lucky still to have their applications considered. We have to be satisfied that these are areas of high and persistent unemployment.

Mr. Jay

Is it not unreasonable that an application which was made during the time when the place was eligible under existing law should not even have been considered?

Mr. Rodgers

That is not quite so. I said that D.A.T.A.C. would do all in its power to consider as many as possible, if not all, of the outstanding applications.

Forward to