HC Deb 13 May 1963 vol 677 cc928-9
12. Mr. Woof

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what measures he proposes to prevent migration through economic necessity in the North-East.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

In reply to an earlier Question, I mentioned a number of measures taken by the Goverment which are likely to assist the economy of the North-East and so to reduce the incentives to migrate from the Region. Further measures on which the Government decide in the light of my noble Friend's proposals will be announced by the Departmental Ministers concerned.

Mr. Woof

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that, during the past five years, we have lost 30,000 mining jobs in the North-East, and does he realise that there are today 50,000 families in the North-East experiencing real personal difficulty and anxiety? Does he recall that the North-East Development Council advocates the creation of 15,000 jobs each year so that the area may be on a level with the rest of the country? Is not a national plan required to check migration from the North-East to the increasingly congested South?

Mr. Freeth

The essential thing is to remove the incentive to migration; in other words, to try to stimulate activity in the North-East. This is what the decisions already taken by the Government, including the very advantageous financial provisions in the Budget, are designed to do.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the past three months 34 firms have been encouraged to examine the possibilities of development in the North-East? Is not this most promising for the checking of migration? Further, is my hon. Friend aware that a leading London banker, speaking in Newcastle-upon-Tyne two weeks ago, suggested that we should highlight our employment opportunities and expanding prosperity rather than unduly emphasise our problems, because to do the latter gave the wrong impression in other parts of the country?

Mr. Freeth

I believe that if one always talks of the North-East as a place which is attractive for industry to go to one will find it far easier to induce industry to go there. I believe that the free depreciation for plant and machinery and the new increased grants under the Local Employment Bill which have been announced within the past few months will give a substantial incentive to firms to go to the North-East.

Mr. Shinwell

We are not interested in what the hon. Gentleman believes. What we want to know is when we may look for fruitful results in consequence of the Lord President's investigations. On the subject of migration, is the hon. Gentleman aware that ever since the Lord President assumed responsibility for the North-East there has been more migration than ever? How does he intend to stop this?

Mr. Freeth

The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that the measures announced in the Budget and the measures which are to become law if Parliament gives us the Local Employment Bill cannot possibly have had their full measure of success by now.