HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc197-200
Q2. Mr. Jay

asked the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have now taken decisions on the recommendation of the Lord President of the Council for expanding employment on the North-East Coast.

Q9. Mr. Milne

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the decisions of Her Majesty's Government following the visits paid by the Lord President of the Council to the North-East; and what new proposals he has for reducing the rising unemployment in the region.

Q13. Mr. Bottomley

asked the Prime Minister if he will arrange for the full report of the Lord President of the Council on his visit to the North-East to be published.

Q14. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister what decisions Her Majesty's Government have taken on the recommendations from the Lord President of the Council to alleviate the unemployment position in the North-East; and whether any will require legislation.

The Prime Minister

My noble Friend's recommendations are being examined urgently. It would not be appropriate to publish his report on his recent visit to the North-East or to disclose the nature of any advice or recommendations made by individual members of the Government to their colleagues.

A number of decisions to alleviate unemployment in the North-East have already been announced and further decisions will be announced shortly. All these measures are, of course, being reinforced by steps taken to strengthen the national economy generally.

Mr. Jay

As it is now two months since the noble Lord was appointed to the job and as this is not exactly a new problem, is it not rather disappointing that so far we have apparently not had any action? Can we expect a further statement from the Prime Minister?

The Prime Minister

Decisions already announced include the programme of seven advanced factories in the region, an increase of £1,400,000 in the region's road investment programme, the speedy putting in hand of additional construction schemes by local authorities, of £140,000; hospital boards, £400,000; Board of Trade, £364,000 and the Ministry of Public Works and Building, £35,000. In addition, there are the placing of the contract for the third Admiralty tanker and the invitation to tender for the second fleet replenishment ship and also, as was asked, the designation of Tees-side as a development district.

Mr. Milne

Is the Prime Minister aware that every time he answers Questions of this nature in that way he increases the suspicions of the North-East about the Government's intentions? Is he also aware that Lord Hailsham said that he would announce his proposals at at public meeting in the North-East but that we now find that he intends to do so at a 30s.-a-head luncheon? Is this the best way of indicating to the people of the North-East that the Government mean business in this matter?

The Prime Minister

I think that the people on the North-East Coast will receive a great degree of satisfaction both from what has been announced and what will be decided.

Mr. Bottomley

Why cannot the report be published? Would not the Prime Minister agree that if the report were published local authorities, trade unions, and industrialists would know what was required of them and be better able to assist?

The Prime Minister

When my noble Friend came back he made a number of proposals to his colleagues, all of which are being examined. Some will be acceptable, and some will have to be further worked on, and it would be impossible to carry on government if recommendations of this kind from one colleague to the rest of the Cabinet were to be made public.

Mr. Shinwell

Would the right hon. Gentleman say whether any one of the projects he has mentioned in his reply to my right hon. Friend have been started? If not, when do the Government intend to commence operations?

The Prime Minister

They are being started, or authorised by local authorities to be started. They have to make their plans and operate on the grants given to them. Finally, the designation of Tees-side as a devolpment district was asked for, and has been made.

Mr. R. W. Elliot

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is general appreciation in the north-east of England of the way in which the Lord President of the Council has grasped both the long-term and short-term problems of the area? Is my right hon. Friend further aware that the only critics of the appointment in the North-East are Labour Members of Parliament and a public relations firm appointed by the Labour Party to present Labour Party policy?

The Prime Minister

I am certain that my hon. Friend is right, that my noble Friend's appointment and the work he has already done have been well received by the people on the North-East Coast.

Mr. G. Brown

So that we may get the full value of the Prime Minister's earlier answer, would he say, from the list of works which he read out, how many of the decisions were in fact before the visit of the Lord President to the North-East Coast, and which, if any, have arisen from it?

The Prime Minister

I would ask for notice to go into the special points, but I was asked to give the broad policy which is being pursued. The long-term question must be more carefully examined, and the short-term question must, of course, partly arise from his visit and partly from what happened before it. The last one, the designation of Tees-side, was certainly the result of his visit.