HC Deb 05 December 1963 vol 685 cc1351-2
24 and 25. Mr. Boyden

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development (1) if, in view of the fact that Bishop Auckland is the commercial and administrative centre for many neighbouring places already included in the growth area of the North-East plan, he will include the Bishop Auckland district in that growth area;

(2) if, in view of the close proximity of Shildon to the boundary of the growth area of the North-East plan, he will extend the boundary to include the Shildon urban district.

Mr. Heath

No, Sir. As I explained to the House during the debate on regional development earlier this week, the purpose of the growth zone is to concentrate our effort in the area which has the highest potential for rapid expansion and is best placed to generate a regional as well as local growth.

The boundaries of the zone were drawn only after careful consideration and I would not think it right to modify them. Bishop Auckland and Shildon are development districts and continue to be eligible for benefits under the Local Employment Acts and for free depreciation. They should also gain from the general rise in prosperity in the region as a whole which is the object of the Government's plans.

Mr. Boyden

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman see that if there is a lower standard of encouragement for commercial centres, it will discourage private enterprise in the area? Surely that is not the intention of the right hon. Gentleman? In the case of Shildon, does he think it equitable that the town should be asked to provide 700 or 800 acres for a growth zone from which it is excluded?

Mr. Heath

These two areas, as no one knows better than the hon. Gentleman, are both development districts and will continue to receive the same facilities, and business men the same inducements. Therefore, there is no discouragement from that point of view for business men to come there. As the hon. Gentleman knows I am discussing these matters later.

Mr. Bourne-Arton

Will my right hon. Friend note that the various forms of Government assistance already available to development districts have been seized on with such enthusiasm and enterprise by the County Borough of Darlington that the prosperity which will soon be ours will spread into, and no doubt act as a tonic to, the constituency of the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden)?

Mr. Jay

Will not the Minister seriously reconsider his decision to exclude Bishop Auckland and West Auckland from the growth area? As he is himself running a Government industrial estate in West Auckland, how can he deny that this area is suitable for expansion?

Mr. Heath

We debated this at some length yesterday. There is a difference between us about how growth zones should be designated. We made our decision, published it and debated it.

Mr. Boyden

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the Answer, I beg togive notice that I shall attempt to raise the matter on the Adjournment.