HC Deb 25 April 1961 vol 639 cc223-4
28. Mr. McInnes

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware of the delay in determining the financial assistance that can be given under the provisions of the Local Employment Act; and what proposals he has to eliminate such delays.

Mr. N. Macpherson

There was certainly delay last year while the Advisory Committee was disposing of a considerable backlog of cases submitted under previous legislation. But, once the applicant has submitted up-to-date accounts and other necessary information, cases are now dealt with in about two months.

Mr. McInnes

Not only were delays taking place last year, but even during the present year. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware that all the organisations in Scotland which are engaged in attracting new industries to Scotland are absolutely disgusted at the unwarrantable delays taking place. Will the hon. Gentleman look further into the matter and see that some definite improvement takes place?

Mr. Macpherson

I think that the hon. Member is exaggerating somewhat, to say the least. The main delay which takes place is as a result of the difficulty that some applicants find in preparing the information, getting their statement of accounts, and sending in with an estimate of their business prospects. Once all that is before the Board of Trade Advisory Committee, the delay, as I say, averages about two months.

Mr. Woodnutt

Would my hon. Friend agree that some of the supplementary questions regarding assistance under the Local Employment Act are giving a completely wrong impression in the country? Would he agree that in most constituencies his Department is working extremely well and that they are finding that the Act to be of great benefit to them?

Mr. Macpherson

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend. The fact is that about £14 million of grants and loans have been offered in Scotland under the existing Act.

29. Mr. Willis

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from the Scottish Council, Development and Industry concerning the arrangements for deciding the financial assistance to be given to firms wishing to go to scheduled areas of high un employment under the Local Employment Act, 1960; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. N. Macpherson

None, Sir. The second part of the Question, therefore, does not arise.

Mr. Willis

Will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to consult the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has received representations from the Scottish Council, which claims that hundreds of jobs have been lost in Scotland because of the delays under this Act? Is not this sufficiently important for the Board of Trade to put itself to some bother about the delays, to get the information, and then take some steps about it?

Mr. Macpherson

I do not think that the hon. Member is entirely correct. The comparison that is being made is between the Local Employment Act and assistance which can be offered in Northern Ireland, but the Local Employment Act applies throughout Great Britain. It is the same everywhere. The jobs have not been lost in Scotland because of B.O.T.A.C. delays.

Mr. Jay

Has the Board of Trade asked the Scottish Council if it wishes the Government's new payroll tax to apply to Scotland? If not, will the Board of Trade do so?

Mr. Macpherson

I prefer to await any further announcement my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have to make.