HC Deb 25 February 1963 vol 672 cc881-2
14. Mr. Pentland

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, to what extent Her Majesty's Government have now prepared plans to solve the unemployment problem prevailing in the North-East.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer which the Prime Minister gave last Tuesday to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley).

Mr. Pentland

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that he has been evading every Question which has been put to him from hon. Members on this side of the House? Will he advise his noble Friend that ministerial jargon and "pie-in-the-sky" plans are not good enough for the North-East in the present situation? Will he tell us what quick action is to be taken and what new plans we can expect from the Government to bring new hope to the tens of thousands unemployed in the North -East?

Mr. Freeth

As I have said before, my hon. Friend is presenting conclusions to his colleagues. Any action which it is decided to take will be taken by the Government as a whole[HON MEMBERS: "When?"]—and from time to time announcements will be made by Ministers regarding action which comes within their Departmental responsibility. My noble Friend is not seeking glory in this. Together with his colleagues, he is seeking and will produce, not "pie-in-the-sky", but "pie-in-the-North-East".

Dame Irene Ward

Is my hon. Friend aware that the Mayor of Wallsend is extremely pleased with the visit of my noble Friend to the North-East?

Mr. Freeth

I agree with my hon. Friend. In fact, the impression made by my noble Friend in the North-East has been one of great enthusiasm for his personality, powers and confidence.

Mr. Willey

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that it is a very long time since we have had such a series of wholly unsatisfactory replies?

Mr. Shinwell

The hon. Gentleman has asked that specific proposals be addressed to his noble Friend. Is he aware that only last week hon. Members on this side of the House who represent constituencies in the North-East met his noble Friend and repeated their submissions, and that all his noble Friend was able to say was that he had many difficulties? Can he tell us—does he realise that we have sympathy with him—when his noble Friend will cause his right hon. Friends to make some announcement in the House about the position in the North-East?

Mr. Freeth

I shall not comment on a private meeting between my noble Friend and certain hon. Members. But my recollection of what my noble Friend said on that occasion does not tie in with the statements of the right hon. Gentleman.