HC Deb 07 May 1963 vol 677 cc236-9

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


To ask the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the lack of correspondence between development districts and areas where more industry is required, as revealed by the latest unemployment figures, if he will now schedule the whole of the North-East under the Local Employment Act.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. F. J. Erroll)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will now answer Question No. 74.

No, Sir, not the whole of the North-East. But I have decided to list as development districts the remainder of Tyneside, the Barrow-in-Furness Group and Ulverston; and to restore the White-haven Group to the list.

On Tyneside, Blaydon and the Tyne South-East Group are already listed: the remaining groups are Tyne North-East, Tyne North-West and Tyne South-West.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has recently been reviewing the travel-to-work pattern on Tyneside as a whole, and has decided that the volume of travel between the existing groups makes it unrealistic to continue to produce separate unemployment figures for them. In future, a single figure will be given for the combined area, which will be known as Tyneside.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend accept my very warm thanks and the thanks of the North-East Coast for this new initiative, and kindly convey to the Lord President of the Council Lord Hailsham, the deep appreciation of the North for the battle that he has fought to help us in our troubles?

At the same time, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Tory Members from the North-East are now on the march—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where to?"]—and note that we want a deep-water port on the Tees very much indeed and a great many other things as well? Will he assure us that he will give sympathetic consideration to our further requirements as he has done to the ones we have just put forward and which he has accepted?

Mr. Erroll

I very much appreciate my hon. Friend's thanks and I assure her that the Government as a whole, including the Lord President of the Council, will continue to work for the North-East and will certainly remember her request for a port on Tees-side.

Mr. Shinwell

Why does the right hon. Gentleman take pride in this decision? Is he aware that many districts have been included in development schemes under the Act, but that there has so far been no development? There are no advance factories. In my constituency and elsewhere derelict areas are increasing. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to ascertain the views of people in the North-East will he, instead of listening to his hon. Friend, consult the workers in the North-East, particularly those who are unemployed?

Mr. Erroll

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that I do not take any pride in any unemployment wherever it may exist in the United Kingdom. The purpose in scheduling these areas is to make the greater opportunities under the Local Employment Act and the Budget available to the localities which I have mentioned. I always regret it if there should be certain localities which do not receive so much in the way of new development as others, but every new project started in a development district, whichever one it may be, helps to reduce the total of unemployment, and for that I am glad.

Mr. P. Williams

As a fellow marcher with my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), may I ask my right hon. Friend to note that every single, positive, constructive act performed by the Government to help the North-East is barracked and disliked by the Opposition, because they resent its success?

Does my right hon. Friend believe that, although this step forward is worth while, two further things should be done for the North-East: first, to widen the development districts even further to include areas such as the Team Valley Trading Estate; and, secondly, to put a terminal date on the concessions in the Budget so as to provoke industry to come in as quickly as possible?

Mr. Erroll

Naturally, I agree with what my hon. Friend has said about the Opposition. The Team Valley Estate is now included in the list of districts which I have just announced. As regards any time limit on the inducements in the Budget—they are not concessions—these, obviously, should remain as long as the need for them exists. Of course, as localities become prosperous, so they will, first, be put on the stop list and then be descheduded. Industrialists would be well advised to take advantage of the inducements now so as to get the benefit of them.

Mr. Moody

May I, on behalf of the people of Gateshead and Felling, express to the right hon. Gentleman our appreciation of what he has brought to the development district? Now that we know exactly what our needs are, will he ensure that something is done quickly so that the skills of the North may be used for the benefit of the nation?

Mr. Erroll

I thank the hon. Gentleman very much for what he has said. It will encourage me still further to do all I possibly can.

Mr. Slater

Will the Minister, while accepting the sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) and the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) about the views of the Opposition as regards the North-East, draw the attention of his hon. Friends to what happened last year in the House, when hon. Members from this side who represent the North-East were able to raise a debate on the situation then prevailing there and bring to the attention of the Government the serious plight of our people through lack of industrial facilities?

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the President of the Board of Trade make inquiries, so that he can report to the House on this question? We are told that the Lord President of the Council has been fighting hard all these months. Could we know against whom he has been fighting? Was it, in fact, the President of the Board of Trade?

Mr. Erroll

No. The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that a Conservative Cabinet, if not a Labour Cabinet, work together as a team. It was my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) who suggested that there might be a difference of view. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that she is misinformed. Also, I remember that the right hon. Gentleman found it necessary to resign from his Government.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

I think that we must move on now.

Mr. S. Silverman

Owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the Answer which the President of the Board of Trade has given, I beg to give notice that I shall seek early opportunity to draw attention to its inadequacy.

Mr. Short

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My constituency is very much affected. Would you allow me to ask a question?

Mr. Speaker

No doubt the constituencies of many hon. Members are affected, but there is other business and no Question before the House. I regret that lit is not possible on these occasions to call all hon. Members whose constituencies are affected. I wish that it were, but it is not.

Mr. Ainsley

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Notice has already been given by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman).