§ 1. Mr. Pentland
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to put into effect his plans to strengthen the economic structure of the north-east region.
§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
I would refer the hon. Member to the Answers given by my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, on 22nd January and 7th February in reply to Questions about the responsibilities of my noble Friend the Lord President of the Council.
§ Mr. Pentland
But would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the action which the Government are now taking is really a rescue operation in an attempt to ease the immediate unemployment problem in the North-East? As the right hon. 1088 Gentleman has this morning had consultations with the Prime Minister and Lord Hailsham, can he tell us what further action is contemplated by the Government for the North-East following Lord Hailsham's report on his visit to the region?
§ Mr. Maudling
I think that we have done a good deal already, and our plans will unfold stage by stage.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is an appreciation in the area that any economic structure which is altered should be altered carefully, in that we have a major problem of major industries contracting? Is he further aware of the success thus far of his noble Friend the Lord President of the Council? Is my right hon. Friend also aware how well his noble Friend has been received in the area, and does he appreciate that, practically without exception, his appointment has been well and truly welcomed?
§ Mr. Popplewell
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that people in the North-East welcome anything that the Government might do, but is he also aware that they look on Lord Hailsham's visit merely as something which might be postponing action by the Government? All the information that Lord Hailsham can possibly collect is already in the Government's archives. Representatives and deputations from this side of the House met the right hon. Gentleman when he was President of the Board of Trade and put to him all the information that Lord Hailsham is able to collect. Is he aware that the North-East looks for some definite action instead of just propaganda?
§ Mr. Maudling
I assure the hon. Gentleman that anyone in the North-East who looks on my noble Friend's visit in that light totally under-estimates my noble Friend's capacities.