§ 4.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Frederick Willey (Sunderland, North)
I beg to move,That a reduced sum, not exceeding £4,947,000, be granted for the said Service.I am not particularly anxious to make a partisan speech. I shall shortly have plenty of opportunity to do that elsewhere, but in a sense it is unavoidable. During the 1959 General Election the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), who was then Minister of Labour and a spokesman for the Government, came to Sunderland and assured my constituents that unemployment was a passing phase. This was an authoritative statement of Government policy, because the then Prime Minister said that the problem of unemployment was confined to particular districts and, again, that it was a passing phase.
What, then, is the position in Sunderland now? We have had this exceptional recovery during the past 12 months, and we have had this pre-election boom, yet unemployment figures are almost identical; in fact they are slightly higher than in 1959. Far from being a passing phase, since 1959 we 1456 have had prolonged periods of substantial unemployment. We are now told not that a rate of unemployment of 5 per cent. is a passing phase but that a rate of 5 per cent. is the best that we can expect from temporary Tory prosperity.
This is not peculiar to Sunderland. It is equally true of far too many other black spots in the northern region. In fact, the unemployment position overall is almost the same as it was in 1959. Not only is this a direct political responsibility; this harsh disparity between the North-East and other parts of Britain is accentuated by the Government's indifference, and made worse still by their almost provocative prejudice. After months and months of procrastination we eventually had the Hailsham plan. This is now exposed as an amateurish, shoddy, inadequate document, which does not even claim to be a plan, and is not a patch on the Government's South-East Study.
It is the difference in character between these two plans that is thoroughly depressing to the people of the North-East. Some of the assumptions of the South-East Study are also depressing—for instance, the continued and increasing migration from the North-East. We know that between the census of 1951 and that of 1961, no fewer than 86,000 people migrated from the North-East coast. This migration is now running at a rate of about 12,000 a year. This is a continual drain on and an impoverishment of the North-East.
More than that, as I have explained in previous debates, it is a blow to the employment prospects of many of those remaining in the North-East, because today they are dependent upon the service, utility, supply and distributive industries. All this aggravates the problems of those who remain employed in the North-East. Over and above this, the North-East has especially suffered from the stop-go policy of the Government. When it has been in the "stop" phase the North-East has taken the brunt of serious unemployment. When it has been in the "go" phase, the "go" has been for too short a period to affect the basic problems of the North-East.
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the best index in 1457 this respect is industrial building—the building of new factories and extensions. I do not know what figures the right hon. Gentleman will produce, but we can examine the latest available Government information, and from it I pick out three factors which are particularly significant for the North-East.
First, we find that the rate of industrial building under construction in the northern region is lower than that of any other region in Britain except Wales. We find that industrial building in the North-East is only a quarter of the industrial building in the South-East.
Secondly, we find that industrial building in the northern region is much less than half of the industrial building under construction in the northern region in 1959. It is running at a rate of 3.8 per cent. of the total industrial building in Britain compared with 7.5 per cent. in 1959.
Thirdly, we find that industrial building completed in the North-East development area alone from 1945 to 1951 was not a mere 3.8 per cent. or 7.5 per cent. of all the industrial building in Great Britain—it was 12 per cent. These figures indicate the progressive deterioration of the position of the North-East. Now we have a good deal of window-dressing and a show of activity, similar to what we have had before on the approach to a General Election. Far more than this is needed if we are to deal with the problem of the North-East Coast.
Approvals alone do not provide work. What we need is continued pressure to translate the approvals into actual development as quickly as possible. I go further, and say that the actual development on the North-East Coast in itself is not sufficient. We have to take complementary action elsewhere. We have to supplement industrial development by the cancellation of vacant premises in the congested areas. We have to regard industrial development on the North-East Coast as part and parcel of national development.
Another thing that is becoming increasingly plain is that when we reach the "go" phase in the stop-go economy we get a relaxation of development. Let me give two recent illustrations. We learned this week about the £20 million truck assembly project for Ford's, which will employ 10,000 men in Scotland. I am 1458 sure that that is very welcome to the people of Scotland. What surprised everyone was the apparent ignorance of the Government about what was happening. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take this occasion to tell us what he has done about this—what measures he has taken to persuade Ford's to go to the North-East. What we lack in the North-East, and have lacked for the past 10 years, is the introduction of a major new industry. What is most disturbing is the unconcern and indifference of the Government in this matter.
Let me e a second illustration. It is almost incredible, but a few years ago Sunderland was taken off the list of development districts. After the strongest political pressure it was put back, and not only was it put back but we got a decision to build an advance factory. That was a welcome decision. The factory is now completed, but it is standing idle. I want the right hon. Gentleman also to take this opportunity to tell us what steps have been taken to obtain a tenant for that factory.
Again, this is not altogether surprising—
§ Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Cleveland) rose—
§ Mr. Willey
No, I will not give way, because I am very anxious that as many hon. Members as possible should be able to speak. I am always willing to give way but, as we started our debate late, it is important that we should get on with it. I know that hon. Gentlemen want to intervene because they may not be optimistic about their chances of an opportunity to speak, but I must not prejudice the chances of others.
I was talking about the advance factory at Sunderland. The position is not surprising, because we have the division of the North-East into different zones. It is true that Sunderland is fortunate in being in the growth zone, but we still have this great industrial town, with substantial unemployment, not recognised by the Government as a centre of expansion. This must affect industrial location. It must be more difficult to persuade industrialists to come to Sunderland if this distinction is made.
Quite apart from all that, however, I am not satisfied that this matter has been 1459 pressed with sufficient vigour and enterprise. Again, this was not altogether surprising. This is not just a simple administrative job, but a promotional job. I am convinced that what is needed is an involvement. All my experience on the North East Trading Estates Company convinced me that behind all the persuasion and inducement there should be the pressure of the possibility of public investment.
There should be public investment, not only in factory building and in the building of trading estates but in production itself. The Government cannot logically claim to be doctrinaire about this—at any rate, not after Wiggins Teape. What is needed is more than the provision of factory space. What is needed is clear acceptance and recognition of the possibility of new industrial projects being launched, either in partnership between private and public enterprise or, in the last resort, by public enterprise itself. The problem in the North-East is a national problem, and there should be a national responsibility for it.
The problem in this part of the country is one of the people, but of the industrial structure. We have great basic industries that are employing a declining number of people. The coalmining industry has thrown up a redundancy of 12,000 since the last General Election. The National Coal Board has done a magnificent job on redeployment, but much more than this has to be done. This is a national responsibility. We must have the problems of West Durham, the Northumberland coalfields and Cleveland tackled as national responsibilities. We have not had this response from the Government, and we get repeated discouragement. In spite of all our pleas we have failed to impress on the Government the importance of building a new coal-fuelled power station in the North-East.
The same is true of shipbuilding. We did not get any response from the Government until very late in the day, when there had been a serious rundown in the industry. Now we have had inexpensive and temporary, though valuable aid for the industry. This is unsatisfactory, though no area has done better with it than the North-East, and 1460 the Wear has done better than any river in the country. But the present aid is only a temporary palliative. The Government pretend that it is more and hope that it will see them through the election, but it will do little more. That is why there is general apprehension in the industry.
The Secretary of State seems very amused about this, but we are very serious about it in Sunderland. We face a position in which in the last two months, two important yards in Sunderland have finally closed—Austin's Wear Dockyard, and Short's. Incidentally I pay tribute to the Short family—here is a family that has run the yard for well over 100 years.
What disturbs the shipbuilding industry is what disturbs the North-East. We get no sense of national responsibility, but we are having to compete with countries where there is that sense of national responsibility for their shipbuilding industries. We got some concern recently about alternative work for the yards, but there has been very little development since. We got some encouragement as to the possibility of industrial building in the yards, but very little done.
What we need in the North-East is massive capital investment, and a simple illustration can be given of the neglect. We always talk about the industrial scars—the obsolete industrial derelict sites. In our last debate on the subject I exposed the pitiful sum devoted to this work. Recently, when I asked how much had been spent on this work, under the 1960 Local Employment Act, I got the reply from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government that the amount was £30,000. In view of the need to tackle the problem, that is a paltry sum to make the appearance of the North-East much more presentable and attractive to incoming industrialists.
It is because of this lack of national effort that we get this distinction in the country, this division between the two nations—those who live in development areas—those who live in the North-East—and the rest of the country. I have already given one distinction—at the height of prosperity, Sunderland has 5 per cent. unemployed—but we get that disparity in every field. For instance, we 1461 are all committed to equality of educational opportunity, but there is no equality of educational opportunity between the North-East and the rest of the country. The proportion of children in the South-East staying on at school after the compulsory school-leaving age is twice that in the North-East. This is the index of educational provision.
We have suffered just as much as other regions from Government cuts in school building. Durham County this year proposed a building programme amounting to £9¼ million; it was cut to £2¼ million. Northumberland proposed an expenditure of nearly £4½ million, and that was cut to just over £1 million. Newcastle proposed to carry out school building to the extent of £1 million—that was cut to £¼ million. Sunderland, as we might expect was more ambitious; we proposed to build schools to the value of £2¼ million, but that was cut to £320,000.
We find this attitude in every aspect of education. We are fortunate in the North-East in having 19 splendid technical colleges, but we have been badly let down by the Government because we are the only region that does not have a college of advanced technology. The North-East Development Council reports that this is not only a present drawback but, for the future, a factor of incalculable harm. We also suffer in industrial training. Again, far from having the benefit of Government assistance, we are prejudiced. We have less assistance than other areas. We have been neglected by the Government.
The report of the Development Council states:The conjunction of a recession and the bulge was particularly savage in its effects in the North-East.In spite of the structural changes in industry I have talked about, we have practically no provision being made for retraining. In fact, in every field, the North-East is prejudiced as compared with the rest of the country. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will tell us about welcome increases in public investment in the North-East, but this is largely accounted for by increased road construction. This results from extending the improvement of the A.1. Surely no one ever thought that the new motorway would stop at Darlington. It is fortunate that we are now getting the 1462 advantage of this capital investment, and improving the road through Durham and Northumberland, but it does not very much affect the position in the North-East as compared with the rest of the country.
I know that the right hon. Gentleman is accustomed to saying that we ought to help ourselves. He often comes to the North-East and I am sure that not only is he welcome there, but that he is always impressed by the way in which the people of the North-East are always anxious to help themselves, and by how desperately we in the North-East try to jerk ourselves up by our bootstraps. I know, also, that the right hon. Gentleman employs the self-protective device of saying that if we reveal our difficulties we prejudice the solution of our problems and discourage incoming industrialists, but we have had to do this repeatedly throughout this Parliament because of the Government's unresponsive ear.
Fortunately, as I have said, we shall have shortly an opportunity of making our voices heard directly. I am sure that the verdict of the North-East will be that of the country—that what we need is a Government with dynamic resolve and purpose to deal at last with the problems of the development areas.
§ Mr. Ruper Speir (Hexham)
Has the hon. Gentleman read Cmnd. 2206? He suggested that there is a net migration from the region, but he will see from paragraph 10 of this White Paper that there has been no fall in the region's total population. Paragraph 113 shows that between now and 1981 a net rise in the population of the whole region is expected from 2,875,000 to 3,300,000.
§ Mr. Willey
I pointed out, which was accurate, that 86,000 left between 1951 and 1961 and that they are leaving at the rate of 12,000 a year now. This is a net migration and these are young people who ought not to be leaving their families, but who should be found work in the North-East where they were brought up.
§ 4.42 p.m.
§ Viscount Lambton (Berwick-upon Tweed)
We have all heard an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), but I should like to take a little further the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir), when he said that the 1463 hon. Member was being a little unfair in the figures which he quoted. I agree that he was. Although he mentioned it in another part of his speech, I do not think that the hon. Member took into consideration the numbers of people withdrawn from the area because of the humane policy carried out by the National Coal Board in employing in other areas men who had been declared redundant. If to the 12,000 miners re-employed in different districts we add their family dependants the figure is not very far from that of the people withdrawn from the area of whom the hon. Member spoke.
Nor can I help saying that I think the hon. Member for Sunderland, North gave a false impression of the feeling in the North-East. I think that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade would be justified in saying in reply that if the hon. Member continues to give an impression like this he will certainly throw cold water on the plans of those who are considering going into the area at this time.
The Conservative Government have put forward long-term plans for the North-East. None of these was put forward by right hon. and hon. Members opposite during their seven years of office after the war. They were perfectly content that the whole prosperity of the North-East should rest upon and the whole source of employment should depend entirely upon local industry. They made no long-term plans to absorb the miners when coal mines, especially in North-West Durham, closed down. The malaise in the North-East as a result of the closing down of coal mines must be ascribed to the fact that the party opposite laid no foundation for future industry during its term of office.
§ Viscount Lambton
No, for the reason given by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North—that many other hon. Members want to take part in the debate.
Those who visit the North-East now will find the contrast between what the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said and the great activity in that area. Sunderland is unrecognisable compared with what it was years ago. Where there was a mass of bad houses there is 1464 now a totally different and promising town. Precisely the same can be said about Darlington, The Hartlepools and Middlesbrough. There is an air of energy and purpose about the North-East which was not there in the past.
I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to a problem which in many ways accentuates the social difficulties facing the whole area, which is an area of reorganisation. The problem is the drift of population from the rural areas into the towns. It is not only a local problem. It applies universally to the whole of England, but I should like to draw attention to the situation in towns like Berwick-upon-Tweed and in the northern limits of eastern England. When my right hon. Friend the present Minister of State for Education and Science was in another place and was in charge of the problems of the North-East I remember his saying that the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed would benefit from the general prosperity of the industrial North-East.
It always seemed to me, considering the distance which separates Berwick-upon-Tweed from the populated areas to the south, that this was a somewhat optimistic assessment, and time has borne this out. The fact is that there still continues to be a drift of population from Berwick and the Northumberland countryside, and also an alarming decrease in the population of the county of Berwickshire despite the efforts made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade and by Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
My hon. Friends and I have tried our best to introduce light industry into the area, but although to a measure there have been successes this depopulation continues, both north and south of the Border and houses which are perfectly fit to live in are becoming tenantless in increasing numbers. This produces the dual problem that there are good houses empty and at the same time increasing queues of people waiting for houses in built-up areas where a housing shortage already exists.
I know that it is essential that we should build as many new houses as possible, but it is expensive and it is a considerable strain on the economy and we ought to consider the fact that the present 1465 policy of drift in the countryside has this dual adverse result. The time has come when there should be an inquiry into the whole question of the depopulation of rural areas and indeed of country towns. I believe that such an inquiry would show that there is a sound economic case for further allocation of light industries to country districts and to small thriving agricultural towns.
I would go as far as to say that if something like this is not done in the next 10 years many country villages and towns which are at the moment thriving communities will cease to exist and will become instead stage towns which appear to be tenanted but in reality are hardly lived in at all. I hope that when the Government turn their further attention to the problems which still continue to face the North-East they will not neglect the question of the depopulation of rural areas especially since that very depopulation increases the strain on the more prosperous built-up areas in the North-East as a whole.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Mr. William Stones (Consett)
I hope the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) will forgive me if I do not follow his argument very closely. I should, however, like to refer to one criticism that he made of the Labour Government in the years between 1945 and 1951. He said that we had made no plan for absorbing the available manpower when the coalmines closed down. I would remind the noble Lord that the six years of the Labour Government followed six years of the most devastating war in history. We changed from a war economy to a peacetime economy without the chaos that followed under Toryism after the First World War.
Many problems have been mentioned today, but the first problem confronting any society, whether it be in the North-East or elsewhere, is the provision of food and protection from the elements. It is necessary for any community to organise its resources and to set up a Government which will ensure at least the provision of these elementary requirements. It follows that members of the community should expect to be provided with the opportunity to work. Any Government must bear this fact 1466 in mind if the total resources of the community are to be utilised to the fullest advantage. I am not saying that we in the North-East have been denied the elementary provisions to which I have referred, but I am saying that the total resources of the North-East in men and material are not being utilised to the full. That is a disadvantage to the North-East and to the nation as a whole.
I have no desire to be guilty of tedious repetition or to bore the Committee with statistics, but I have represented a North-East constituency for years and I have drawn the attention of the Government to the fact that unemployment in the region is high. I agree that it is somewhat lower at the moment, but it is still double the national average, and the reduction in unemployment has resulted from the migration to which my hon. Friend the Member for Sunder land, North (Mr. Willey) has referred. Thousands have left the North-East to work elsewhere in order to enjoy the amenities and comforts that modern society can provide, rather than live on the backs of their friends who are in work, and be satisfied with the bare necessities of life. I understand that there are still 42,000 unemployed in the region and that the number of school leavers this year in the North-East amounts to 4,000. I believe that of those who left school at the end of the last school-leaving term 600 are still without work.
This situation exists despite the much-vaunted Hailsham plan for the North-East. That plan provided for growth zones, to the exclusion of a great part of the North-East. When the plan was introduced, we on this side of the House complained and suggested that there should be a national plan governing the national economy, and that if any region required guidance and greater opportunities it should be treated as a whole and not in part. Whatever benefits may have accrued to the North-East as a result of the Hailsham plan, I am afraid that very little material benefit has been felt outside of the growth zone. In spite of new jobs provided in the North-East in recent years, we are not keeping pace with the demand for employment. Ministers talk of jobs in the pipeline and in prospect, but very often there are serious leaks in the pipeline and the jobs do 1467 not materialise. We are not making real progress.
There are thousands of unemployed miners, engineers and constructional workers—a waste in skill if ever there was one. The situation would have been much worse had migration not occurred. If I may mention my own division, comparing the 1951 census with the 1961 census, there are 6,150 fewer people. The situation is much worse now as a result of the decline in the mining industry in my area. Hundreds have left the district in the last two years.
It seems that the Government are prepared to carry on with the present policy of migration instead of providing alternative employment. There is no development plan for Stanley which is in my constituency. The Ministry takes the view that in the light of the latest Government proposals, it is not possible to establish firm development policies for encouraging new employment in the North-East. Provision has been made by the Government for 3½ million people with 1 million immigrants expected, and many of them are expected from the North-East. Most of the jobs will be in manufacturing industries in the South-East. It seems that the Government's policy is to add to the present difficulty and congestion in these already congested areas. I know that we cannot expect a factory to be put at the end of every street or in every village, but I believe in a greater dispersal of industry in every region. Concentration of industry means greater traffic problems on our already overcrowded roads, aggravated in certain districts by rail closures, and this means that it takes more time for workers to travel to and from their employment at an extra cost.
At the North-East Development Conference, in reply to a question, the Minister said that the plan would provide for the whole of the region including North-West and West Durham. Two or three weeks ago when I asked whether there was any plan for advance factories in my division I was given the answer, "None at all". That was a contradiction of the earlier reply that had been given. When we complain of the disadvantages of being outside a growth zone, the Minister falls back on the fact that we are still regarded as a 1468 development district. Words are not sufficient. We want development. We want new industries and further development.
Up to the present we in the Consett division have had very few new jobs provided. I know that the unemployment figures are down, but this is because of migration, and the situation will certainly worsen when there are further mine closures, whether partial or whole. For the younger people migration from the area is probably not so serious, but for men 50 years of age, probably with chest conditions resulting from many years in the mines, it is very serious to be made redundant. It is not right to expect those people to migrate.
If we are to prevent this situation becoming further aggravated in the North-East, the national economy must be so geared that it can expand constantly and continuously, rather than spasmodically. It is wrong to expect workers in the North-East who have lost their jobs to migrate, and I am sure that most people will agree that work should be provided for them in their area. I have no desire to enter into a wrangle as to which part of the North-East should get the most benefit from the North-East Plan. I wish to see a reasonable level of industrial activity maintained outside the growth zone, particularly in North-West and West Durham.
If we are to avoid the problems of declining industries and automation—and I am sure that automation is necessary for many industries in the North-East—the Government, Tory or Labour, must apply their minds to providing work for redundant workers, not 200 miles away but where they live. To do this the Government must be very firmly instrumental in issuing industrial development certificates. Every effort must be made to encourage industries to go to the North-East, even if this means a greater financial inducement than already provided. When workers are required to leave one industry for another we must extend retraining facilities as far as possible. I know that we are now making progress in regard to technical colleges, and these are essential to enable persons to acquire the necessary skill. If the Government can do 1469 anything at all to assist the Tyneside in the building of a new "Queen" this will be very greatly appreciated.
We have long expected a new power station in the North-East. We are told that Durham coal can be utilised where-ever the power station can be erected. We would feel much more sure of that market if we had the power station built in the North-East. As these things depend largely on steel, our steel industry, which I am glad to say has now recovered to a large degree, would also benefit.
The first requirements in the North-East are industry and employment. We are told how necessary it is that we should improve our lines of communication, roads, etc., where necessary, to make the countryside more attractive to industrialists. This means large expansion, and the authorities outside the growth zone are not quite sure whether large sums of public money expended in such a way would have the return that is expected. At least some guarantee should be given to them that industrial development and fuller employment would result in the not too distant future. The authorities in the growth zones have these guarantees.
I urge the Government to set at rest the minds of the local authorities outside the growth zones by planning not just for the growth zones but for the whole of the Northern region.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Goronwy Roberts)
I understand that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) moved an Amendment to the Motion while the attention of the Chair was temporarily diverted and the Question was not proposed. I will now propose it.
§ The Question is, That a reduced sum, not exceeding £4,947,000, be granted to Her Majesty for the said Service.
§ 5.1 p.m
§ Mr. Paul Williams (Sunderland, South)
I am probably making the first speech that is in order.
The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) was, I think, very reasonable in most of what he said. He might be unreasonable in some of the things that he said, but this we do not take exception to in the slightest. He was a little unreasonable in making com- 1470 Parisons between the Hailsham plan and the plan for the South-East, in that the Hailsham plan is in existence and operating whereas the plan for the South-East is a long-range plan for the future. The real point is that we are now operating on the basis of the Hailsham plan and we can see the results coming from it. He also talked about window-dressing in a pre-election boom. If this is a pre-election boom, let us live in the pre-election period all the time There is no doubt at all that the North-East is recovering, and the question that we are really discussing is whether this recovery can be sustained or not.
In the years since the war, successive Governments have had to face the problems of a period of expansion and hesitation about whether we could pay for the imports we need and then a period of retraction and control of the economy. At last I believe there is a chance of success in making the break-through from these periodic booms and pauses if we can see ourselves through what is bound to be a difficult period in the autumn from the point of view of balance of payments, import costs and recovery in the export market.
There is no reason why we should not, if we can overcome this problem nationally, be able to match up to the problem mentioned by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North, namely, that of the two nations. I accept, with him, that we have this problem of two nations, which needs to be resolved. I believe that we cannot possibly resolve it until we admit that it exists. I think that the Government policy in the Hailsham plan shows that they accept that there are different standards in different parts of the country which need to be evened out.
I was, however, rather interested in that the hon. Gentleman made not one reference to the I.D.C. policy, which has been one of the items at the core of Labour Party attack on the Government in recent years. It may well be that they have taken to heart the words used in the North East Development Council's Third Annual Report, 1963–64, which were as follows:Evidence of a stricter application of I.D.C. control was considerably more convincing this year".There are some escape clauses after that, I concede, but it is the truth that I.D.C. 1471 policy has become more convincing in moving industry away from the crowded South-East into the deserving North-East and other parts of the country. I shall not be provocative enough to make too much of a comparison between the two parties, but I personally believe that persuasion is the right way to get industry to come to the North-East and that direction is wrong. But in the end it is enterprise, and enterprise by business, which will solve the problems of the North-East.
We in the North-East have to welcome change more readily than we do at the moment. The change that is taking place is both in the short and long-term of advantage to the whole region. I quote three categories of examples. In Sunderland, the great firm of Doxfords have produced a new "J" engine which is of great significance in the marine engineering field. Here is an enterprise which is based on the North-East, was conceived in the North-East, and which will come to success in the North-East. It is the sort of story that we in the North-East need to tell repeatedly to restore the self-confidence which is vital for the future success of the whole region.
The second category of enterprise for success which I would quote would be the two firms which have come to Sunlerland in recent months, Hepworth & Grandage and Perdio. Here are two new industries coming to the North-East and providing that spread of industry which is vital for a balanced economy and as an insurance against unemployment.
The third category is the expansion of firms which are already in the area or which have recently come to the area. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North mentioned Short's shipyard. I would mention the other half of the category, Steels' engineering concern which before the war was not the largest of concerns in the Kingdom by any means but which through enterprise, effort and energy with the resources of management and skill of workers has developed into one of the larger engineering concerns in this land. Here is a firm which has been able to expand into a shipyard which was closed. This is the significance of what is happening in the North-East: as older industries either hit a rough patch or go 1472 into decline, there is something new which can come in and fill the vacuum to provide employment and security.
Similarly, one of the new post-war firms, David Brown, which, I suspect, came with a measure of reluctance in the first place, has decided, once having come, to put the whole of its gear cutting division in Sunderland. This is another outward sign of the success of the policy of persuading people to come rather than directing them. There is also the expansion going on in Ericsson Telephones, a member of the Plessey Group. Brian Mills, a mail order firm which is progressing at a great rate of knots both in Sunderland and elsewhere in the country is another example.
Those are three categories of enterprise which show the success of both indigenous industry in the North-East and industry which has come in.
We are primarily reliant, of course, upon our three basic industries, steel, shipbuilding and mining. The three steel plants in the North-East are working at or very nearly capacity. I was most interested to read a report in the financial columns of the Sunday Express only last week:How splendidly the North-East is recovering from its depression. The three steel works there are running at or near capacity, capital industry is picking up, and there is the promise ahead of benefits to come from oil searches going on out to sea. All that is needed now is a strong twist from heavy to light industry.All of us here from the North-East will agree with that.A sheet steel plant, for instance, to serve the motor and consumer trades. I predict that this will come about before long. Overall, Britain's sheet steel output is working at 90 per cent. of capacity, and a new mill will soon be necessary.I am delighted by the next sentence:It is bound to go to the North-East.I put this question to my right hon. Friend: is it bound to come to the North-East, or are we to be plagued, as we were earlier today, with a plethora of questions from Scotland about it? I give notice that, if a development of this kind is to take place, it is our hope that the Prime Minister's weight will be thrown in favour of the North-East this time, not Scotland.
I come now to some specific questions which I have to put to my right hon. 1473 Friend. First, as to housing in the North-East and, more particularly, in Sunderland, it has always seemed to me that a growing town such as Sunderland should have scope to grow at a reasonable rate provided that it does not encroach too far into the green belt or anything like that. Sunderland has had an application in for extra land for housing for some time now, and a lot of us in and around Sunderland are fed up with the long time being taken to decide the issue. The question of land for housing is the sort of matter which should be settled urgently, and I ask my right hon. Friend to find out, if he can, when the Minister of Housing intends to take the only practical decision, that is, to sanction the purchase of land by Sunderland for housing purposes.
Next, a question about Tube Investments in Washington, not the new town. This development has been forecast for many a long month. I understand that Tube Investments may have certain hesitations about coming at the moment, resulting, perhaps, from the marketing of its products not having gone quite according to plan. But if this land is available, it should now be used as land for development by other companies coming into the North-East, for it is an ideal site to provide employment not only for Tyneside, if need be, but for Wearside and even for parts of County Durham.
This leads me, naturally, to ask my right hon. Friend about progress with the new town of Washington. We have had the inquiry. I regard this as an urgent matter for the North-East, in furtherance of the Government's theme of tackling our problems by providing growth points. We should very soon have a decision about the new town and work should go forward quickly.
Next, education. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North, mentioned this, and I mention it again, as we have done in past debates. Sunderland Technical College, with some good reason, feels slighted. The time has not yet arrived for it to be classified as a technological university, because this depends on the U.G.C. and the results of the Robbins Report, but it would be a very great advantage to the whole region to have a further recategorisation—perish the word—of Sunderland Technical College.
1474 I particularly ask my right hon. Friend to consider whether the port facilities of the North-East are adequate. I have put to him a plan submitted to me by a Sunderland man not long ago for a rather grandiose expansion of our port facilities. The current argument is that Tees-port should be able to cope with future needs. But only last week the chairman of the major shipbuilding concern in Sunderland made clear that the future expansion of the capacity of his shipbuilding yard was limited by the scope of the port.
This is a dangerous situation from the point of view of both the port and the shipbuilding industry. In the North-East we have scooped the majority of the orders which have come out of the credit scheme, and Sunderland has scooped the majority in the North-East. Our problem now is that our capacity is limited not by the resource and enterprise of industry but by the natural hazards of too shallow a port entrance. I ask my right hon. Friend, therefore, to look again at the plans which I have submitted to him and the possibility of the port of Sunderland being expanded not only for the improvement of shipping facilities but also to meet the needs of the shipbuilding industry.
I turn next to the question of retraining facilities. In the era into which we are moving, we need more retraining facilities. We need more mobility of labour. Lest the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) should think that I am talking about a flow away from the region, I say at once that I am talking about a cross-movement of population throughout the nation. One of the most dangerous attitudes of mind we can have in this country is that people, by being born in a particular place, are automatically stapled down there for the rest of their life. We must have more mobility of labour, and we must have a greater readiness to change jobs, and this means greater support by the Government in the implications of such a policy. Severance pay, payments for movement from one part of the country to another, maintenance of rates of pay for, perhaps, three months—many such things are needed if we are to have that mobility. Moreover, we should not be reticent about it.
§ Mr. Shinwell
I wanted to refer to the hon. Gentleman's comments about what was said about migration by my hon. Friend the Member for Consett.
§ Mr. Williams
A few moments ago, I was talking about our three basic industries. Steel is at capacity or near capacity. Our shipbuilding industry is effecting a recovery which, one hopes, will be a launching pad to further success. The yards which are closed nearly always lose men to other yards which take them on. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North mentioned Shorts and Austins. Nearly all the men from Shorts were employed elsewhere in the yards and the men from Austins were taken on by another yard, Pickersgill's. This is the sort of thing which is bound to happen in a developing and expanding economy, and I, for one, welcome it. One always regrets the ceasing of activity by old businesses, but if the consequence is to give greater strength to new and expanding businesses, it is, I think, worth while.
I turn now to our other basic industry, mining. As we all admit, this is an industry which went through considerable difficulties in the years after the war, but I think that we all agree on both sides now that it is settling down to about the right size and about the right level of production and with the most welcome aggressive attitude to sales, the only way to secure employment.
Of course, one of our problems in the North-East—basically, this is what we are talking about today—is the problem of employment. This is why I welcome the paragraphs on page 21 of the North-East Development Council's annual report which say:Since March of last year the North East economy has been moving through a period of recovery, and if that recovery is maintained until the autumn, then we should have regained the ground lost since the recession began in 1961. If the recovery keeps on after autumn, then we shall be making real progress and we can even get to a lower level of unemployment than was established in 1956".I think that this is an honest appraisal of the position. We have been through 1476 a difficult period, but we are recovering. Providing this recovery can be sustained, we will achieve a standard of living in the North-East more comparable with that of the rest of the country.
§ Mr. Williams
The point is to keep the recovery going in the right direction. The right hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) must know this perfectly well. This was the object of my opening remarks.
It seems to me that one of the things which the North-East Development Council needs to do is to cast its net a shade wider. We have convinced ourselves in the North-East that we are on the right road. We are convincing the rest of the country that we need to go to the next stage and to sell the advantages of the North-East overseas.
Our three basic industries are in a reasonable situation. Expansion is taking place in the newer and lighter industries which is providing stability for the future. We hope that we can sustain this if the national economy can be kept on the right lines. I should have thought that if we could distil out our own partisan emotions we would have the basis for reasoned optimism for future prosperity in the North-East.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Mr. James Boyden (Bishop Auckland)
I am sure that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) will have an opportunity after October of practising the occupational mobility which he advocates for others.
I was surprised that the hon. Gentleman referred to the Hailsham plan. I do not think that the civil servants who drew up the document were as rash as to call it a plan. There are many words in it which deprecate the precision of a plan. Page 35 states;It is possible now to sketch out very roughly some of the ways in which the regional pattern might develop in keeping with the measures for regional growth, and an indication of these is given in the paragraphs below. It must be emphasised that the figures put forward are all very approximate and are merely attempts to show the possible scale of the trends envisaged. They are neither predictions nor proposals".It seems a great pity that in order to shorten the description of the document it is called a plan, because time and 1477 again the writers of the document dissociate themselves from that description. I agree very much with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that the document is such a childish and amateurish effort that it is not even the putting together of the local authority development plans which have been submitted over the years.
In the last General Election, in my contest, the Conservative opponent had only five points in his election address. One of these was the reduction of unemployment. This promise turned out to be the Local Employment Act, which had this effect in my constituency. Month after month the unemployment figures for the travel to work area went up and up. At the same time, the migration figures to the South-East and London also went remorselessly up and up. Sometimes the figures even went against the seasonal trend.
We can, therefore, thank the Local Employment Act for the fact that anything from 2,000 to 4,000 people in my constituency who should have had jobs have been kept out of work practically from then until the development of the programme which we are talking about today.
If Ministers read anything in HANSARD except their own speeches, they must have known very well the facts of the situation in the North-East and in South-West Durham. This Hailsham gimmick is nothing more or less than an attempt to create pretentious ideas in an effort to save the marginal seats of the hon. Member for Sunderland, South and other hon. Members opposite. It is not a plan but a cross between a personality cult and a circus. Lord Hailsham, as he then was, was the best gimmick, so it was thought, that the Conservative Party had.
The document, even on such things as administration, deprecates its own conditions of performance. Paragraph 127, "Administration", states:Implementing all these plans will take time, and full results will take even longer. It will be necessary to watch progress closely, to keep plans flexible, and to be prepared to adjust policies in the light of changing circumstances. This means a continuing study of the development of the region as a whole".This takes me back to the clichés of Marie Corelli at her height; we only need "every avenue to be explored". to complete the picture. I hope that the right 1478 hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State will refer to that when he winds up.
There is another rather delightful phrase in the document. It says:Most of the North-East enjoys clean rivers".Then it goes on to say that the main exceptions are parts of Tyneside and Tees-side—that is where most of the population live. I should be a little surprised if the Coquet, the Bollihope or the Maize Beck were dirty. It is a blinding thought that the Tyne and Tees and possibly Wear might be dirty.
I remember in my days of local government in Durham the constant battles of local authorities who had defective sewerage schemes to try to get money from the Government for improving them. Only latterly has attention been turned to this matter and is money becoming available.
"Growth zone" is really an advertising phrase for the General Election. It is full of anomalies. Let me deal with Newton Aycliffe. I am not against it, but it is not an economic concept; it is a social concept. When it was started there was a redundant armaments factory there and nothing else. There are no economic factors in favour of Aycliffe. There were no communications when it was started. There was nothing there at all except the idea of houses for people living in bad housing conditions in my constituency. This is a very good idea. I am not criticising it, but it is not a growth point except inasmuch as artificial stimulus is applied to it to build up the factories, which can be applied just as well to St. Helen's Dabbleduck and Barnard Castle, to which Glaxo was induced to go by my predecessor the late Hugh Dalton. One could go on pointing out that there are many growth points which could be developed in West and South West Durham which are retreated from because the Government have a kind of obsession about Aycliffe as a new town.
Bishop Auckland is the commercial capital and transport centre of a fairly considerable area. The anomaly is that Aycliffe is in the growth zone, yet a good deal of its commerce and shopping and a great deal of transport is centred on Bishop Auckland, which is out of the growth zone. Much of the labour force is compelled to travel from Shildon to Aycliffe, but Shildon is not in the growth zone. [Interruption.] I can imagine what 1479 the hon. Gentleman is saying—that naturally my constituency is anxious because it is not in the growth zone, that I am trying to contradict myself by saying that the growth zone is a good thing. Of course it is better than leaving things alone, but it is extremely bad for places outside it. The only consolation we have is the principle of "slop over". The Minister says that we shall benefit in due course from the development in the other areas. If he knew anything about local government in these parts, he would know that already some of the local government activities in my area have been prejudiced by more money being voted for other areas.
Let me give a particular example. We have a very ancient grammar school in Bishop Auckland which has been converted into a joint school for boys and girls. Nothing has been done, apart from the minimum, to make the school a really effective viable unit because the money and attention necessary to do this is going into Aycliffe. We have in an area which is not even a development district, Barnard Castle, only half a grammar school because Barnard Castle is at the bottom of the priority list.
For further anomalies one wants to look at the map, Appendix 3. I think it is Map No. 2. I admit that hon. Members cannot see it very easily, but the cartographer who drew it must have been drunk, because the boundary zigzags in and out and finally ends up in the green fields of Piercebridge. Piercebridge is in the growth zone, but the development of Upper Teesdale, of which Piercebridge is at the end, is much more difficult than the development of Piercepoint.
As hon. Members opposite know full well, the difficulties of these rural areas are very great indeed. I am very sorry to see that the noble Lord the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) is absent, because he echoed a sentiment very much in our minds about rural areas. I have heard Liberal hon. Members and hon. Members on the benches opposite complain about the lack of policy for rural areas. My particular constituency suffers similarly.
I am going to quote not politicians but planning officers, who are usually very netural about politics and I refer to Mr. Ross, the Northumberland planning 1480 officer, who says this about the rural drift and lack of determination to build up these areas:In Northumberland we have 100,000 people north of the River Blyth not getting fair play. They are entirely cut off from assistance.And the county planning officer at Durham, Mr. Atkinson, says this about South-West Durham:Whilst the Government has said that its plans for the South-East will not affect the employment proposals for areas like the North-East the fear must be that in practice the recent strong trend might well become increasingly difficult to control and that a landslide in favour of the South-East is a real possibility. The proposed new cities and expansion of towns will be powerful magnets and the proposed Channel Tunnel will add to these attractions. It was not fanciful to think that many firms anxious to develop in the South-East rather than elsewhere would postpone making commitments which might otherwise have been expected for development in areas like the North-East until they see whether controls are going to be relaxed in the South-East.Hon. and right hon. Members opposite have not convinced the country that the policy of stop-go is off permanently. The building materials industry is an indication of that at the moment. Mr. Atkinson goes on to say:In West Durham, the Government was proposing a static population. It was suggested that travel to work would be possible from these areas to the prosperous growth zones. On this basis I am very doubtful whether the Government is facing the issue squarely enough.We resent bitterly being cast in the rôle of a travel-to-work area, an area from which we have all got to go out, and we resent it particularly when the Government are busy closing the railway lines. As for the road programme, somewhere in the Report it says that roads are basic to the whole concept, and yet the only road we have is the road to get out of Teesdale. When I ask about developing the tourist attractions of Teesdale I am told that the Darlington by-pass will help people to get to other places—no doubt Redcar or Roker. But it will do nothing for Teesdale. When I ask about hotel development, I am told that there are no applications. As I say, we resent very bitterly indeed being cast in the rôle of a travel to work area.
It is not that industry cannot be rehabilitated. During the period of the Labour Government, when Hugh Dalton 1481 was responsible for a good deal of economic administration, good trading estates were built which are today the mainspring of the area. The Government have just discovered that they have not got sufficiently accurate statistics to do much about derelict land. It has taken three years of campaigning to get them to admit that they do not know the figures. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North said, the development of derelict land was practically negligible. The drive to level pit heaps, to clean the rivers and to plant up areas of dereliction, and even to use them for housing, are some of the things that ought to be an absolute must. The Government ought to get their figures right and take a more determined line in conjunction with the local authorities to do this.
A considerable amount of South-West Durham is not as attractive as it was in the past, and this is due to the development done by people who have made their fortunes and departed.
Then there is the plight of the "D" villages, where nothing is being done. This causes great distress to the people concerned with this problem.
I reckon that about 4,000 people in South-West Durham have not been provided with the jobs that they ought to have had over the last four or five years. Assuming that their wages might have been on average £750 a year, I reckon that the Tories have cost South-West Durham something of the order of £3 million a year. I am certain that even some of the Tories in my constituency do not think that that price is worth paying.
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Commander J. S. Kerans (The Hartlepools)
Like other hon. Members, I propose to speak about my constituency. I agree with a lot that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) has said about roads, a matter to which I will refer a little later in my speech. I propose to concentrate on my constituency because we still have 5.1 per cent. of unemployment there. In October, 1959, the figure was 5.9 per cent., and the maximum was 12 per cent. Therefore, we still have the problem of unemployment. When we lost Gray's shipyard in 1951 it was a major disaster for the North-East. 1482 On top of that there is the perennial problem of school leavers. We never quite seem to catch up with that problem, though in recent months the situation has been slightly easier. Some of the school leavers have been absorbed into some of the smaller industries.
The one thing which is vital for The Hartlepools and for the whole of South-East Durham is the question of communications. There is no doubt that we are off the beaten track. The roads are perfectly all right on the A.1, but the bilateral cross roads are not so good and it takes much of one's time to get to one's destination. Until and unless we have these roads we cannot expect industry to come to the area. It is as simple as that. I dare say that a certain amount of work is being done on the A.19 and on the A.689 line via Greatham, but we do not know the starting date of the Greatham bypass.
I put down a Question the other day to ask if any decision had been taken in connection with this matter. I was told that some roads have been passed for the 1965–66 programme. That is not good enough. If we have to wait all that time industry will not come to the area.
Again, there is the question of the railways. There are very few trains direct to my constituency. I think that there are something like two a day either way. That is not good enough for business men who have to change at Darlington and Thornaby. The journey takes two hours, and Thornaby is not a very desirable station on which to spend an hour.
I wish to refer to the future of the Middleton St. George airfield. This, I understand, has been turned over from the Royal Air Force, but apparently there is some wrangling going on about the financial requirements of the Government concerning this airfield. Surely, these difficulties can be ironed out quickly, because once we get a viable airport in the area the business men will come there.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Sir G. Nabarro) for setting up Pitch Fibres Limited on the edge of my constituency, which is shortly going into production. My hon. Friend was the first one to take advantage of the Government's incentive schemes of that type. We also 1483 have in the constituency an industrial development officer who looks after those operations. It is a full-time job. He gets around and entertains business people from London and elsewhere and advertises the area. When I say the area, I do not mean just my constituency but the whole of the south-east area. One cannot, of course, expect to get everything in one small area.
I should like to know from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State whether there has been a speeding-up in dealing with B.O.T.A.C. applications. How long does it now take from the word "go" to issue a B.O.T.A.C. certificate? At one time, it was a lengthy process.
I also have in the centre of my constituency a very large area where, for 13 years, there has been wrangling about where the new shopping centre should be. This is a matter which has been raised in party politics from both sides during all that period and it is high time that a decision was made one way or the other about where the shopping centre is to be located. Representatives of a firm came to the constituency with the idea of taking over a site, and they brought their wives with them. Their wives were so appalled by the lack of shopping facilities that, in the end, they decided not to come. It would be unfair to mention the name of the firm, but this is one instance of which I am aware. Decent shopping facilities are vital to the area as a whole, but we have a long way to go yet. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State can speed up matters with the Ministry of Housing and Local Government so that an early decision will be taken which will make it possible to go ahead.
Another factor which does not help the area very much is some of the I.T.V. and B.B.C. programmes, and some of the Press articles also, which continue to denigrate the Durham area. They pick out the worst and highlight it and they do not show some of the first-class aspects of the area. This has happened on more than one occasion and it continues time and time again.
The possibility was recently mentioned in The Times of a major motor-car industry coming to The Hartlepools or to South-East Durham. I do not know 1484 where the rumour originated; possibly it was from a local committee. A large major industry is just the sort of thing that we want in the constituency. From it, the smaller growth industries could branch out. We have 100 acres of land available and there is a good deal more outside the constituency. There are another 150 acres in the Stockton Rural District. Something like a motor-car industry is just what we want in that part of Durham. I should like to know whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has any idea whether an application has been made or whether such a possibility is likely to come about.
Another unfortunate event in my constituency, following the loss of various contracts and of Gray's shipyard, is that some of the skilled labour has left the area and I regret to say that I do not think it will return. This is part of the migration drain which has been mentioned by hon. Members opposite on more than one occasion today.
I welcome the fact that the South Durham Iron and Steel Co. is doing extremely well. It recently had a £2.6 million order for pipelines in Libya. For the first time since the plant was completed, every section is in full production. I started life working on that site and it is a disappointing thought that some of the most modern machinery did not come into use until the early part of this year. I am happy to say that the company is now working full shifts.
I should like to know from my right hon. Friend wkether he can ensure that the firm of Richardson-Westgarth, heavy engineers, will get further orders from the Central Electricity Generating Board. As my right hon. Friend may recall, the loss of the order for the Wylfa project last year was a serious blow. It was the first time that a Government had broken a contract or had withdrawn the go-ahead when very large sums of money have been involved. There has been mention of a refinery coming to Tees-side. Wherever it comes, it will be welcome, because it will not only provide added employment in building, but its establishment and operation would be for the enhancement of the area.
I should like to know from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State whether improvements can be made to The Hartlepools harbour. It is a first- 1485 class harbour and we have had many promises that coaling staithes will be modernised and rebuilt. We lack sufficient deep-water berths. A heavy timber trade, especially from Russia, is now using the harbour, but until we have first-class port facilities we cannot expect to attract a great deal more trade to the area. The people concerned are doing very well at the moment, but I should like my right hon. Friend to impress upon the Ministry of Transport and other appropriate Departments the need to make an early decision in this connection.
Although progress has been slow, I welcome the outline of the plan for the North-East. We are going ahead slowly, but we still have a long way to go to improve the area. The quicker that decisions can be made, the better for everybody concerned. I welcome the large public investment which the Government have put into the area. We are getting results and things are beginning to look up. The battle is to beat the birthrate and the continual movement of population away from the area. That is the fulcrum of the whole issue.
§ 5.46 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
This may be the last time that the hon. and gallant Member for the Hartlepools (Commander Kerans) speaks for the North-East in the House of Commons, as I understand that he is not seeking re-election for The Hartlepools. I am sure that everyone in the North-East will remember the many times he has barked mightily at the Government. Possibly, his bite might have had rather more effect had it been made from this side of the House.
The figure of migration which the hon. and gallant Member quoted from the Hailsham Report was not, in fact, contrary to what my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) had said. If the hon. and gallant Member refers to paragraph 27, he will see that the Report suggests that 4,000 male workers leave the North-East each year and that the figure might drop to 2,500. What has happened is that the figure of 4,000 has doubled to 8,000 male workers a year leaving the North-East.
There are many other respects in which the serious inequalities between the North-East and the rest of the country 1486 have not been mentioned. There is worry in the North-East that the Government rely simply upon the criteria of employment. If the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade looks at his last Annual Report on the working of the Local Employment Act, he will see it stated at paragraph 4 that the minimum unemployment rate which should be regarded as high was 4.5 per cent. for the purposes of the Local Employment Act and the scheduling of development districts. The Hailsham Report on the North-East states that the removal of a locality from the list of development districtswill require strong evidence of a general and sustained improvement in employment in the region as a whole".Will the Secretary of State define more clearly what he means by that? Does he mean that if unemployment in the area as a whole is likely to remain below 4.5 per cent., we can expect massive de-scheduling of areas in the North-East? This is a great worry in view of the temporary fall in unemployment.
A much more significant criterion of economic activity is the proportion of the population in employment. The figure for the North is only 40 per cent. compared with 52 per cent. in London and the South-East. To bring the activity rate in the North up to the level of the South-East would need an immediate 400,000 jobs, which is absolutely outside the range of anything that the Government have ever considered. The Hailsham Report completely dodges this question of the activity rate. Again, we see that the average income per head in the North is only £240 as compared with £300 in England as a whole—and this was in 1959–60, when the North was relatively prosperous.
My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North has referred to the educational provision. What about the children coming out from school? In Middlesbrough, they leave school tomorrow. Let us compare the position between Middlesbrough and a more or less comparable community in, say, Battersea. In Middlesbrough, 800 boys will be leaving school tomorrow; in Battersea, 960. In Middlesbrough there are already 200 boys unemployed and looking for jobs. In Battersea there are 1487 only 36. The immediate vacancies available for boys in Middlesbrough are only 20 and in Battersea they are 274. It is expected that in Battersea all school leavers will be in jobs by the end of the holidays, the beginning of September. In Middlesbrough it is expected that 500 of the 800 boys will still be looking for jobs at the end of October. This is a scandalous situation, which is typical of the whole of the North-East.
§ Dr. Bray
In considering the prospects for school leavers, I ask the Secretary of State to make inquiries of youth employment officers this week about their views on this matter. The Ministry of Labour is trifling with tiny little training schemes, waiting for the industrial training boards to grind into action, while at the same time it has the cheek to tell employers that they ought not to wait for training boards but should get on with the training and they would find it worth while in the end. Why is not the Ministry of Labour doing it?
The Secretary of State should look to the contribution which he could make to the problem. He would find the Industrial Estates Management Corporation able to play a very useful part in this rôle. In particular, he will find that the new estate at Thornaby is eager to get on with providing training facilities straight away. I feel that this would be a valuable selling point in attracting industrialists to the estate. This is a matter for the Secretary of State for Industry and Trade. Will he look at it himself and not just leave it to the Ministry of Labour, which is not responsible for attracting industrialists to these estates?
The Government may argue that there is a long way to go—I do not think that the Secretary of State will dispute that—but that we are on the way. What is happening? The fall in unemployment in the North-East has been due to the very rapid rate of industrial expansion in the country as a whole over the last few months—a rate of expansion which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has repeatedly said we cannot maintain without running into a balance of payments crisis. I should be happy to go a good deal further than any Government spokes- 1488 man has gone about the North-East; on Tees-side in particular I think that unemployment will fall to a very low level when the present enormous construction boom reaches a peak in 1965 or the beginning of 1966.
In the first quarter of 1964 no less than 25 per cent. by value of the new orders for construction for manufacturing industry for the whole of Great Britain went to the northern region. That is an increase on the published figures, because the Minister of Public Building and Works thought that Wilton was in the South of England. Altogether 25 per cent. of the spending on new construction on industry is going to the North. That might have been expected to produce far more jobs than the Government have announced.
These massive figures for investment are due to the very heavy investment in steel, chemical and oil developments on Tees-side. These developments are most welcome, but the Government are like an innocent child wandering into the strange and fascinating world of big, modern industry, which they have not begun to understand. Look at oil and its impact on coal. A couple of years ago I.C.I. announced a crude distilling plant on Tees-side. Shell then followed with the announcement of a £10 million oil refinery, which in due course it doubled to £20 million, to come on line in April, 1967. At that point I.C.I, and Philips jumped in and announced that they would be building a new refinery on Tees-side to come on the scene one year earlier, at the beginning of 1966. E.N.I., the Italian national oil company, has just announced its interest in building an oil refinery in a develpoment district and I hope that the company will come to Tees-side, too.
The initial output of industrial fuels from these refineries will be 12 million to 15 million tons of coal equivalent a year, and I have yet to hear of a refinery which stuck to its design capacity. The total production of coal from the Durham and Northumberland coalfields is 35 million tons from 100,000 miners. In 1967, 400 oil refinery workers will be producing the fuel which it would take 40,000 coal miners to produce, and this is not at some vague time in the future but within three years of the present. Do the Government expect the 1489 three or four competing oil companies to take life gently in the North-East? What about natural gas in the North Sea? If this is found, there will be a very rapid development. The Secretary of State would realise this if he examined the attitude of the Dutch Government to the development of natural gas there.
We all admire the way in which the union and the National Coal Board between them have managed the rundown of employment in mining in County Durham. Unemployment of miners has been far below the national average for other occupations. But the Government have so far failed in their task of providing alternative employment for younger people who are not needed in coal mining. They have not begun to think about what the problem will be within three years from now. I am satisfied from the verly simple questions which I have asked of Shell, Shell-Mex and B.P., and I.C.I, in the last few days that the Ministry of Power has not made the most elementary inquiries about the impact of these refineries on the economy of the North-East.
§ The Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Edward Heath)
I should be interested to know exactly what are the hon. Member's conclusions. Is he suggesting that no collieries in the North-East should be closed, even though they are uneconomic? Or is he suggesting that all collieries should be closed there and that we should rely on the refineries and natural gas? Or is he asking me to refuse industrial development certificates for these refineries and to keep them out of the North-East in order to keep the collieries open?
§ Dr. Bray
I will certainly do so. I repeat that I wholeheartedly welcome these developments, and I do not think that there is anyone in the House who has done more in these industries than I have. But we must require the complementary activities by the Government to develop new industry on an entirely different scale from that which we have seen so far.
§ Dr. Bray
The hon. Member must be patient. The Government are merely making generalisations about the attraction of secondary industries to these areas without looking at what has happened around oil refining and petro-chemical complexes generally in the world and, in particular, on Tees-side in the past. If the right hon. Gentleman will look at this he will see that there is still a basic problem to be faced.
§ Dr. Bray
Very well. How do we face it? The biggest increase in demand in any sector of the economy in the next few years will be in construction. The pitiful inadequacy of the Government's target of 400,000 houses has been shown, and it is clear that we shall have to make a very large-scale effort indeed to increase the capacity of the house-building industry.
§ Dr. Bray
Yes. The industrialised housing techniques are deliberately designed for the proportion of off-site labour to be much greater than it is today. Off-site labour can be placed where the Government choose to place it, because the Government are the overwhelming customer for house building in this country. Yet the Government are making no deliberate efforts to locate the new industrial capacity, which must come into being to meet the housing needs of the nation, specifically in development districts. There was only that feeble little White Paper on the use of the shipbuilding yards for housing prefabrication, which has been virtually a dead letter from the beginning. The amount of employment involved in building 100,000 houses extra a year is about 100,000 men and this, distributed between the North-East, Scotland and part of Merseyside, would go a very long way to solving the employment problem, which will get worse once the present construction boom falls off.
On this matter, the Government have persistently refused to make the necessary inquiries or the necessary plans for the vigorous action required. Instead, the Government, while all these discussions 1491 are going on, are denying the Post Office Savings Bank to Tees-side, partly for the reason, known right from the beginning—and I freely acknowledge it—that total unemployment is greater in Glasgow than on Tees-side. But the Government do not seem to have considered at any stage that the clerical employment on Tees-side is only 22 per cent. of the whole while in Glasgow it is 28 per cent. because of the much higher number of commercial offices in that area. Surely this consideration might have swayed the Government to relocate major clerical establishments on Tees-side rather than elsewhere.
The other entirely new kind of development which the Government must face—they have not faced it so far—is the expansion of research and higher education. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition has repeatedly said that the new universities should go into areas requiring industrial and economic development. The Government have shilly-shallied on the question ever since the Robbins Report. We were told by the present Secretary of State for Education and Science, when he was in charge of North-East development, that we should await the outcome of the Report. Did he mean that the University Grants Committee would be the body responsible for deciding what must be done about higher education in the regions?
I remind the Government that, on Tees-side, we have the greatest concentration of new, science-based industries in the country, representing the heaviest investment. We are, however, the largest centre of population in the country which has no form of university institution. All the industries in the area—including the South Durham and Dorman Long steel firms, Smiths Docks Ltd., and two major divisions of I.C.I.—are all keen to put their weight behind the establishment of one of the new Robbins "sisters" on Tees-side. Yet all we have is a deafening silence from the Government on this issue.
The question must be faced in the North-East as a whole. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) that Sunderland Technical College must be developed as a college of advanced technology together with a teacher training 1492 college. I would like to see Rutherford College developed too. But we must also have a centre for post-graduate research linked with a wide range of research activities and with a comparable number of graduate students to undergraduates. Technical institutions of an advanced nature and university institutions which will be linked with experimentation in progressive industries are very greatly needed on Tees-side as a whole. Instead, from the Government we get only cheeseparing and vacillation.
That attitude, if they were returned at the General Election, would result in all the brave plans for the North-East becoming a dead letter.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) who made a long speech. I can assure him, having had to listen to it all, that the minutes flew like hours. There is little time left and I must say as much as I can as quickly as I can. It is true that the position in the North-East today is much better than last year. In June and July, 1963, the percentage of unemployment was 4.3 per cent. The latest figure for the North-East is 3 per cent.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
Does not the hon. Gentleman think it fantastic that a Government whose policies were responsible for putting unemployment up, should claim credit when they bring it down, especially when they have not brought it down as much as they put it up?
§ Mr. Montgomery
I live in the hon. Gentleman's constituency and now he knows why I never vote for him. Last year, there were all sorts of factors contributing to high unemployment, including the weather and the uncertainty over the Common Market. I can remember when I was a child going to the pantomime in Newcastle when the highlight was always a transformation scene. We have a transformation scene in the North-East today.
In February, 1963, at the height of the bad weather the unemployment was 6.5 per cent. and, therefore, I believe that the improvement that has been shown in the North-East over the last 1493 18 months is abundantly evident. The recovery itself stems from a number of factors and a certain amount of praise must go to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science. When he was appointed to bring forward the so-called Hailsham plan, hon. Members opposite referred to it as a gimmick. Indeed, today the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) again referred to it as such. It is some gimmick in view of the results, which are there for all to see—that is, if they want to see them.
The help given to the shipbuilding industry by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport must also be taken into consideration because this has certainly benefited the shipyards of the North-East. If the consortium of Swan Hunter and Vickers Armstrong gets the contract for the Q.4, which I hope it will, this will have a tremendous effect upon the shipbuilding industry in the Tyneside area.
It is not only in shipyards that the news is better. Heavy electric products and manufacturers like Parsons and Reyrolles have had their older book position transformed because of orders from the Central Electricity Generating Board.
§ Mr. Montgomery
Who can deny the influx of new industry into the North-East recently and also the expansion of firms already there? I.C.I. is spending more than £45 million on expansion in the Tees-side area. It is spending more, indeed, than at any other time on development. In the last quarter of 1963 the northern region headed all the regions in the total area of sq. ft. to be provided under I.D.C.s. Geographically, recovery in the North-East has started at both ends of the growth zone.
The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland criticised the growth zone because certain parts of the North-East were not 1494 included. But I agree with the view that as the zone becomes more prosperous this prosperity will spread to the areas just outside it. I believe that the North-East is beginning to show signs of the prosperity that we all want in that area. We have a number of component manufacturers settling in the area, which is convenient for the supply to Scotland and the Midlands as well as the Swedish motor car firms. Of course, there are still problems, and no one denies them, but they are very different from those facing us a year ago.
One important problem is that of skilled labour. There is a danger that, with the influx of new industry, there may be a shortage of skilled labour in the North-East and there is, therefore, urgent need for action to be taken for more industrial training. In some cases, firms which have moved to the North-East have had to bring in a nucleus of skilled workers from outside the region. Industrial training is a national problem, but it is particularly vital to the North-East. Much more needs to be done to train workers for the skills which they will need.
I wish to draw the attention of hon. Members opposite to a report this week from the Northern Regional Board for Industry. During the last quarter of this year 76 I.D.C.s were issued for 2,989,430 sq. ft. of production space. This should provide jobs for 8,048 people. I do not think there could be any better tribute to the work which this Government have done than is contained in the leader in yesterday's issue of the Newcastle Journal—
§ Mr. Montgomery
The facts are there—despite the cry of "Ooh!" or "Oh!" from the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), or whatever the noise was that he was making. The point is that this paper is not a biased paper, nor is it a Conservative paper. What is said in this leading article is something which very much needed to be said in this debate.Two items of news yesterday, one from a Government regional office, the other from a firm at Jarrow, confirm that, far from slackening, the pace of industrial development in the North-East is still accelerating. Morganite Resistors, one of the North-East's 1495 most successful newcomers, are to be congratulated on their plans for yet another factory, their fourth. It is only 16 months since they opened a large extension in their Bede Trading Estate premises.That is in the constituency of the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough).Of more general significance, however, are the figures given by the Board of Trade of new developments. The January—March total of 56 development certificates, providing some 6,400 jobs, was the highest recorded since I.D.C.s were introduced in the 1940s. But the latest figures show a tremendous advance even on that, 76 certificates having been issued. The total of 14,500 new jobs arising from developments approved in six months, this year, compares with only 7,000 created during the whole of the financial year 1963–4. At the same time, the advance factory programme is proving its worth, for nine of the 16 approved have already been allocated, while negotiations are in progress for another three.Now I come to the point on which the hon. Member interrupted me.Certainly, there is still no possibility of relaxing efforts to attract new industries. Nevertheless, the Board of Trade figures are an effective answer to sceptics who suggested"—
§ Mr. Fernyhough
On a point of order, Sir William. I very much doubt whether there is a single hon. Member in the Committee who has not read this report. This is a very short debate. Is it necessary to take up six columns of HANSARD with a quotation—
§ Mr. Fernyhough
It is a point of order. The hon. Gentleman is reading a complete editorial which is not new to any hon. Member in the Committee because everyone else has read it.
§ The Chairman
Order. All that I have heard said by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) has been in order.
§ Mr. Montgomery
Thank you, Sir William. If the hon. Member for Jarrow wishes to complain about the length of time taken by speakers, I advise him to check the length of the speeches by hon. Members opposite and he will find that two of his hon. Friends are the chief culprits.Nevertheless, the Board of Trade figures are an effective answer to sceptics who suggested that the thousands of jobs said to be 'in the pipeline' were permanently stuck there. 1496 The jobs are now materialising in abundance and are starting to justify the Government's confidence in the adequacy of its measures.We were told from the benches opposite that all these jobs in the pipeline would never materialise. They are materialising now and that is something about which I think that the people of the North-East should rejoice.
§ Mr. William Ainsley (Durham, North West)
Can the hon. Gentleman tell us where the figures come from? In 1960 we were promised jobs in the pipeline and we were told that there were projects which would bring work to a specific number of workers. There is not one figure from the Board of Trade to prove it.
§ Mr. Montgomery
All that I can say to the hon. Member is that the leading article from which I have quoted refers to 14,500 new jobs arising from developments approved in six months of this year, and that is extremely satisfactory.
I believe that now the North-East is on the right road to prosperity. In the past, I criticised the Government. In December, 1962, along with some of my hon. Friends I refused to vote for the Government because we felt they were not doing sufficient for the North-East. Now I believe that the Government are doing a great deal. Having criticised them in the past, I think that now it is up to me to congratulate the Government on the work which they are doing in the North-East. If hon. Members opposite had any sort of courtesy at all they would adopt exactly the same line. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] They know perfectly well that a great deal has been done in the North-East in the last 18 months.
I do not know why hon. Members opposite are so mealy-mouthed about this or why they are delighted when unemployment figures are high and things are bad. Let them cheer up. The figures for unemployment are down in the North-East. I have always believed that the North-East had a tremendous future. I have always had great faith in the North-East. I believe that there we have the finest workers to be found anywhere in the United Kingdom. I earnestly congratulate the Government on what they have done and I look forward to the next Parliament when we 1497 shall have another Conservative Government to carry on the good work of improving conditions in the North-East.
I wish to ask my right hon. Friend to examine the question of industrial training because I believe this to be absolutely vital, not only to the North- East but other parts of the country as well. The question of getting skilled labour is tremendously important. One of the reasons for the troubles which we have experienced in the North-East is that during the days of the depression in the 1930s many skilled people went from the North-East to other parts of the country and we have not been able to attract them back. I do not want to see that sort of situation arise again. I wish to be assured that there will be adequate facilities in the North-East and that we shall try to ensure—
§ Mr. Proudfoot
My hon. Friend is referring to training. Surely he would identify some of the restrictive practices of the trade unions as imposing a restriction on apprentices—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That always draws noises from hon. Members opposite, but, nevertheless, it is one of the things which we shall have to change and I appeal to my hon. Friend to include a reference to it in his speech.
§ Mr. Montgomery
I agree that restrictive practices are carried out by the trade unions, but I also believe that there have been faults on all sides in industry and that it is up to us to endeavour to get rid of those faults. The question of industrial training is vital, and therefore I hope that my right hon. Friend will say something about it.