HC Deb 15 March 1960 vol 619 cc1097-8
13. Mr. Grey

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he intends to include the Durham Exchange area in the list of places eligible for assistance under the Local Employment Bill.

Mr. J. Rodgers

No, Sir. Unemployment in the Durham Exchange area is not high and it is not expected to rise substantially.

Mr. Grey

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the figures are increasing in Durham and will continue to do so in view of the fact that in the near future there is likely to be the closure of a pit and that two coking plants are also to be closed? In view of this change, could he be more generous and include the Durham Exchange area on the list?

Mr. Rodgers

The February figures show that there has been a decrease of .3 per cent. compared with February last year—from 2.9 per cent. to 2.6 per cent. We are aware of the closures of two collieries and are watching the position very carefully.

Mr. Ainsley

As this exchange area takes in a good part of my constituency and the hon. Gentleman did pay a fleeting visit to a portion of that area, is he-aware of the alarm expressed locally by the people at the closure of by-product plants and pits in the area? Will he reconsider the position?

Mr. Rodgers

We are watching the position. If it appears to us that there is a threat of persistent unemployment —a level at or above 4.5 per cent.—we will immediately take action.