HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc189-91
22. Mr. Swingler

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works, in view of the high rate of unemployment in many parts of the country, what action is being taken by his Department to expand programmes of public works.

Mr. Rippon

As the Ministry primarily concerned with the capacity of the construction industries, we have been associated with the policy already announced by the Government of increasing building programmes generally and in areas of high unemployment. These increases consist primarily of £70 million of comparatively quick-moving investment which, as far as practicable, has been steered to areas of unemployment. Public authorities in areas of high general unemployment have also been authorised to put in hand schemes costing up to £15,000 amounting to an additional £6 million of work which can be carried out quickly. In concert with other Ministries, we have taken action where appropriate to bring forward our own building projects.

Mr. Swingler

In view of the direct responsibility his Department has, can the right hon. Gentleman say, in the light of the last figure of unemployment given to this House, how many jobs his Department has actually succeeded in creating in the areas of high unemployment faced with this challenge?

Mr. Rippon

We may be able to do that statistical exercise in due course. We have tried to select projects which offer the maximum potentialities for providing employment in particular areas according to the nature of the unemployment that exists.

Dame Irene Ward

While fully supporting the ideas behind my right hon. Friend's announcement, I am slightly tired of generalities. Could he please put in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement showing in which areas of high unemployment all these projects lie in order that we may judge whether his plan is a success or not?

Mr. Rippon

I should have thought that £76 million is a nice bit of generality by any standard. I will see how far it is possible to produce a list of projects and circulate it in some appropriate way.

Mr. Millan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that local authorities would be more able to carry out these works for relieving unemployment if the Government grants were more generous? Will he consult his right hon. Friends about that?

Mr. Rippon

I take the point and will consult as far as possible.