HC Deb 06 February 1964 vol 688 cc1318-9
15. Mr. Thorpe

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development whether he will publish details of the general directions given by his Department to the Board of Trade Advisory Committee since 1960 pursuant to Section 4(2) of the Local Employment Act, 1960.

Mr. Heath

The only directions which have been given are dated 28th April, 1960. They were published in the OFFICIAL REPORT for 26th February, 1963 in answer to a Question by the hon. Member for Glasgow, Craigton (Mr. Millan). They are also to be found at page 183 of the Seventh Report from the Estimates Committee for the Session 1962–63.

Mr. Thorpe

In view of that Answer, does not the right hon. Gentleman feel that the Board of Trade advisory committees could better discharge their statutory obligations if the Board of Trade gave general directions as to the criteria on which to base their decisions in granting loans for industry to cure unemployment? Does not this account for the extraordinary decisions which some committees have made in turning down applications in respect of schemes to cure unemployment?

Mr. Heath

I do not think so. The Act gives power to give general directions about terms and conditions of any loan or grant—with the assent of the Treasury—and this is what we have done, as the hon. Gentleman will see if he consults the references which I have given. I would not accept that some of the decisions of B.O.T.A.C. have been extraordinary. I have always inquired into particular cases which have come to my notice, and I do not accept his condemnation of B.O.T.A.C.