HC Deb 17 April 1962 vol 658 cc208-9
3 and 4. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what recent action has been taken to introduce more diversified industry in the greater North Staffordshire area; to what extent such plans include use of the former Royal Ordnance factory site at Swynnerton; and if he will make a statement;

(2) what are the prospects for increasing output and exports from industry in North Staffordshire; what recent applications have been made for the extensions of factories within the City of Stoke-on-Trent; and what action has been taken.

Mr. N. Macpherson

No special action is needed to bring new industry to North Staffordshire, where unemployment is lower than in many other places.

The prospects for increasing output and exports, within the limits of the availability of labour are good. There are at present forty-eight projects involving new industrial building in North Staffordshire yet to be completed, and the Board of Trade continues to approve reasonable expansions by firms in the area.

Mr. Ellis Smith

May I point out to the Parliamentary Secretary that the two Questions contain different issues and ought to have been settled differently? However, we will not quibble about that. Is the Minister aware that the city council has for many years placed at the disposal of industry large industrial estates that should be used, and if there are any proposed extensions for any factories in the area, will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that these industrial estates will be used?

Mr. Macpherson

Of course, Stoke-on-Trent is not by any means alone in setting aside an area for industrial development. We shall look at each application strictly on its merits.

Mr. Ellis Smith

What I am asking is whether, if there is a proposed extension to any industrial establishment in the city, the hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that that extension will take place within the city or on one of these industrial estates?

Mr. Macpherson

As far as extensions in the last year are concerned, the record is very considerable. Since 1st January, 1961, out of 24 applications for extensions 21 were approved. But I certainly could not give an undertaking that we would give approval in every case. That would be contrary to our responsibility under the Local Employment Act.