HC Deb 25 February 1963 vol 672 cc875-7
1 and 4. Mr. Grey

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council (1) what conclusions the Lord President has reached as a result of his recent tour of the North-East; and what action he contemplates both in the short- and long-term; and

(2) whether, following the further visit of the Lord President to the North-East, he has made a re-assessment of the needs of the North-East; what these are; and what plans he now has in mind to see that they are met.

2. Mr. Milne

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what measures the Lord President proposes to recommend towards providing a solution to the unemployment problems of northeast England.

5. Mr. Ainsley

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what plans the Lord President has for solving the unemployment position now prevailing in the North-East.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Science (Mr. Denzil Freeth)

My noble Friend has put certain conclusions to his colleagues and in due course, as his investigations proceed, will put further conclusions to them. Any action which the Government may then take, whether now or later, will be announced by the Ministers concerned.

Mr. Grey

Is that not a shallow answer which in actual fact means nothing at all? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that at the moment in the North-East the unemployment figure is more than 7 per cent., which is more than the figure for any other part of the country? Does this not demand immediate action? Will he ask the Lord President of the Council to demand that the President of the Board of Trade, the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the Minister of Transport get on with the task of creating jobs for people in the North-East and, if they will not do so, that they should be given the sack?

Mr. Freeth

My noble Friend is not a dictator but a member of the Cabinet. He has perfect confidence in his colleagues.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say if his noble Friend intends to come to an early conclusion on this matter? Is he aware that his noble Friend has been operating in this context for some considerable time and it is desirable that we should have an early reply to the submissions made to him? Could we have an early indication of his conclusions announced to the House?

Mr. Freeth

My noble Friend has made his report to his colleagues and, as conclusions are reached by the Government as a whole, the responsible Ministers will make the appropriate announcements.

Dame Irene Ward

While fully realising that matters of great moment and importance to the North-East must take some time to come to fruition, may I ask that when various Ministers make announcements they will be made in such a way that the North-East will realise the connection between my noble Friend and the Departmental Ministers responsible, in view of the fact that this is tremendously important?

Mr. Freeth

I shall certainly report the suggestion of my hon. Friend to my noble Friend.

Mr. Willey

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that I was asking for action twelve months ago? This situation was forseeable, but we have been seriously prejudiced in the North-East because of the inactivity of the Government.

Mr. Freeth

If the hon. Member looks at the figures for unemployment a year ago, he will see that they were by no means as serious as they are now.