HC Deb 13 May 1963 vol 677 cc925-6
9. Mr. W. T. Rodgers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what detailed inquiries he has conducted into the nature and causes of unemployment on Tees-side and longterm trends in industrial development due to technological change in prosperous industries.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The inter-departmental group, which is assisting my noble Friend, is studying the nature and causes of unemployment on Tees-side and the implications for employment prospects there of technological change. When this initial examination is completed, which he hopes will be soon, my noble Friend will consider what further studies are required.

Mr. Rodgers

Has not the Lord President of the Council grasped the fact that important changes have already been announced in employment prospects on Tees-side by Imperial Chemical Industries? In view of this fact, why is it not possible to make provision now for the anticipated reduction of employement over the period of the next five years?

Mr. Freeth

I have read the exchanges which the hon. Gentleman had with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade. Certainly my noble Friend is well aware of the likely consequences of the technological changes in the chemical industry.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my hon. Friend aware that those of us who welcomed the appointment of Lord Hailsham hope that he will not find a few short-term palliatives but will find a long-term remedy, not just for Tees-side, Wearside or Tyneside, but for the whole area, and will take into account the changes which are taking place in industries such as shipbuilding and marine engineering? Will my hon. Friend give a specific undertaking that when the Lord President of the Council prepares his report for submission to the Cabinet there will be a public form of the document to give guidance both to private and nationalised industries so that all may help in reviving the area?

Mr. Freeth

In reply to the first point, my noble Friend is keen to look at the problems of the region as a whole and to draw up a plan which looks at the region as a whole. As to the publication of the document, I cannot give any undertaking today, but I will certainly bring to my noble Friend's attention the demand which has come from both sides of the House that a version of this document shall be made public when the Government have decided their policy thereon.

Mr. Pentland

Is it not a fact that when the hon. Gentleman's noble Friend was explaining the terms of his appointment in another place he made it specifically clear that the Prime Minister had requested him to provide a definite plan for the North-East? Therefore, this definite plan must come before the House of Commons for discussion.

Mr. Freeth

We are really talking about two things. First, we are talking about a detailed report containing proposals which one may call a plan, which my noble Friend will make to his colleagues in the Government. Further than that, there is not my noble Friend's plan but the Government's plan, and I take note of the desire of the House that the Government's plan shall be published.

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