HC Deb 29 November 1960 vol 631 cc194-5
34. Dame Irene Ward

asked the President of the Board of Trade when he intends to schedule further areas on the north bank of the Tyne under the Local Employment Act.

Mr. N. Macpherson

My right hon. Friend does not consider that high and persistent unemployment exists or is to be expected in these areas. He has no power therefore to list them as development districts. But he will continue to watch the position.

Dame Irene Ward

Can my hon. Friend tell me what has happened to the undertaking that his right hon. Friend gave to the Conservative candidate in the Blyth by-election, that he would be looking into the matter of new industries on the north bank of the Tyne? Will he also inform me whether he is aware that certain coal mines are closing down and that there is an imminent possibility of shipping and shipbuilding declining on the Tyne? When are we to have some action in this matter?

Mr. Macpherson

I understand that my right hon. Friend was asked about the particular constituency of Blyth, and he said he would look into it and, if necessary, schedule Blyth as a development district under the Local Employment Act. That is what the report was. At the moment, all I can say is that in view of the position regarding coal mining and shipbuilding, my right hon. Friend is keeping a very careful watch indeed on those areas and will continue to look into the matter.

Mr. Short

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, because no assistance was forthcoming from his Department, the City of Newcastle-upon-Tyne has just lost a factory which would have employed 600 or 700 men? Is he aware that his right hon. Friend has today sent me a letter absolutely refusing to give any assistance to a new industry which is starting in the area? How long are the Government going to ignore the existence of the North-East in this way?

Mr. Macpherson

The Government are not ignoring the existence of the North-East. In November the unemployment percentage in North Tyne, East Employment Exchange district was 2.9 as against 3.7 at the same period a year ago, and in North Tyne, West 2.5 per cent. in November against 2.6 at the same period last year.

Mr. Jay

Does the hon. Gentleman's answer mean that, as with all the other subjects about which we have heard today, the Government are doing nothing at all?

Mr. Macpherson

The Government are doing their duty under the Local Employment Act.