HC Deb 09 April 1963 vol 675 cc1083-4
34. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of Government help being given to the North-East and North-West, through the Local Employment Act, and other schemes for making public money available for new factories and to provide well-paid employment; and the equivalent Government spending in the South-West, where opportunities in new industries are few and average weekly earnings lower.

Mr. D. Price

Total assistance, excluding offers declined, of £8.4 million, £18.0 million and £1.6 million has been offered under the Local Employment Act for projects in the development districts in the North-East, on Merseyside, and in the South-West of England, respectively.

Mr. Digby

Is my hon. Friend aware that the South-West also has its needs? Must we have unemployment before we can get the help for local industries that we desire?

Mr. Price

My hon. Friend will see that the sums of money offered under the Local Employment Act bear quite a close statistical relationship to the number of people wholly unemployed in the development districts in the three areas. For instance, in March this year the wholly unemployed in the North-East totalled 43,700, on Merseyside, 38,700 and in the South-West 5,100. With that in mind, the amount of money offered is about right.

Mrs. Castle

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there are many areas in the North-West, such as Blackburn, which have been struggling to attract new industries in order to keep unemployment at bay, and that they are not getting any financial assistance under the new proposals or under the Local Employment Act? Will the hon. Member take steps to spread this help more widely?

Mr. Price

The very concept of this assistance is that development districts should have priority over other areas, although I recognise that some other areas also have their problems and needs. But priority for development districts is implicit in this scheme.