HC Deb 16 July 1964 vol 698 cc1499-521

Again considered in Committee.

[Sir ROBERT GRIMSTON in the Chair.]

Question again proposed,

That a reduced sum, not exceeding £4,947,000, be granted to Her Majesty for the said service.

6.34 p.m.

Mr. Edward Short (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central)

First, I apologise for having been absent from the Chamber during the speeches of my hon. Friends the Members for Consett (Mr. Stones) and Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) and the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams). I had to go out to a meeting, but I have a full report of what they said.

Secondly, I should like to say how shocked I was at the speech of my own Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery), who said that there had been a transformation in the North-East since last year. Is that correct?

Mr. Montgomery indicated assent.

Mr. Short

But there was a Conservative Government last year, and they had then been in office for 12 years. If anything has been transformed, it has been transformed by something that they have allowed to grow up over the 12 years. I have rarely heard a more sycophantic speech than the one I heard from the hon. Member, and I am shocked by what he said.

To get it out of the way, I should like to say a word about the speech of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton). I very much agree with the main point that he made. It is a tremendous tragedy that our rural areas are becoming depopulated. This is a problem not only for the North-East but for the whole country, and it is a great tragedy. However, the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed did not mention the effect of the Beeching proposals on the rural areas. I should have thought that those proposals were doing more than anything else to accelerate the rate of depopulation, and the present Government have some responsibility for the accelerated rate of depopulation.

This is the last debate on the North-East before the General Election. In October the 33 constituencies in the North-East will pass judgment on the Government. So it is as well to bear in mind and put on the record that the Government have been in office for 13 years, or will have been when the General Election comes round, and the issue in the North-East in the General Election will be not what has happened in the few months of 1964 but what has happened since 1951. The issue is not just this year, when unemployment has been brought down to 38,000, but 1963, when the average monthly unemployment was 65,000, or 1962, when it was 49,000, and every other dismal year back to 1951 when the Tory Government have played ducks and drakes with the lives and livelihood of the people of the North-East.

The unemployment situation in the North-East has gone up and down and up and down for 13 years. The North-East has been like a yo-yo on the finger of successive Chancellors of the Exchequer. The 80,000 figure in the winter of 1962–63 was the dire result of the savage credit squeeze of the two Budgets of the present Leader of the House. The drop this year to 38,000 has been due to two factors—the "let it rip" Budget of the present Chancellor coupled with changes in the Local Employment Act which we advocated—they are all on record—from the date of the First Reading.

We in the North-East have been the plaything, the toy, of Tory economics over the last 13 years, and what will be on trial at the General Election in the North-East will not be just 1964 but 1951–1964, 13 years of Tory rule. They have starved us for three or four years throughout the 13 years and then gorged us for the year before the General Election. But in October the whole of the record will be on trial, and not just this year.

The Government today are rather like the man who always bought his shoes two sizes too small because he liked the feeling when he took them off. They have squeezed the breath out of us, and now they claim credit for trying to revive us just before the General Election. But even in describing the present employment situation the Government are less than frank. I read a speech recently by a gentleman called Mr. Mackintosh, who, I understand, is the civil servant who takes the chair at the North-East Development Group. As he is a civil servant I will not attack him, but if he makes speeches so lacking in objectivity as that one was, he can expect to be dealt with in future as any other politician is dealt with.

The present unemployment figure in the North-East is 37,700, which represents more than twice the national percentage. This includes 28,000 adult workers, and almost all these people who are unemployed are wholly unemployed, not temporarily stopped. This figure has gone down 3,900 since May. I am quoting the June figures. The Ministry of Labour's normal May to June seasonal decrease is 2,400, so the actual decrease—we must assume that it is the very best of which the Government are capable—is 1,500 in the last month over the normal seasonal decrease, not a decrease of 3,900. This has been achieved only because there has been a net loss by migration of about 1,000. Net migration, which the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) confused with the growth in population, is running at the rate of 12,000 a year. This is 2,000 higher than the average rate for 1951–61.

We have heard a great deal in the debate about the pipeline. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East talked a great deal about it. If we had all the jobs which we have heard talked about in the House of Commons as being in the pineline over the last 10 years, we should now be importing labour from Italy and all over the place. At some time, if ever one of my hon. Friends gets any spare time, it might be an interesting exercise to do some research on this to see how many jobs we have had promised in the pipeline since 1951 and how many we have in fact had. The important thing to the man or woman out of work is not the never-never-land of the pipeline. The important thing to the man out of work is the number of vacancies on the books of the employment exchange. He goes there every week to sign on. I believe that this is perhaps the best way of examining the problem.

The number of unfilled vacancies shown by the Ministry of Labour for the Northern Region is the lowest in Great Britain. On 10th June the number was 9,700. In spite of a normal seasonal increase in jobs available of 2,400—this is the Government's own estimate—between May and June the number of unfilled vacancies rose by only 1,200. We are also next to the lowest in the country—I think that Wales was the lowest—in the number of vacancies filled. In the five weeks up to 10th June the number was 11,000.

Therefore, the position is this. For every vacancy in the North-East there are four unemployed people—girls and boys, men and women. There are 10 unemployed men for every single vacancy in the North-East. What sort of tranformation is that? I see that the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East has gone. In towns like The Hartlepools and in districts like Seaton Delaval, Bishop Auckland, Shildon and Crook there are 13 or 14 men unemployed for every vacancy on the books.

My hon. Friends the Members for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) and Consett spoke about school leavers. What will the ratio be when nearly 20,000 school leavers leave school at the end of this month? What a success story after 13 years of Tory rule, when there are places in the North-East with 13 men unemployed for every vacancy. What a cheek the Conservative Party has to plaster the North-East with their vulgar posters. I counted eight of them in my constituency saying, "Life is better with the Conservatives"—and this is an area where there are 10 unemployed men for every vacancy. On Tyneside, where there are 10,000 unemployed, is life "better with the Conservatives"?

On the ratio of unemployed to vacancies, there is another figure which puts the Government's claim to have transformed the North-East into correct perspective. I have said that there are 9,700 unfilled vacancies and 38,000 out of work and that the number of unfilled vacancies has increased by 1,200 since May. The Ministry of Labour's own estimate of the normal seasonal increase in unfilled vacancies for the same period is 1,000. Therefore, the true increase in the number of unfilled vacancies in this month is 200, not 1,200, because the normal seasonal increase is 1,000.

An examination of the Ministry of Labour's own figures for March to June shows that the number of actual vacancies is 1,400 less than the Government's own estimate of the seasonal increase. Whatever the Government may be achieving in the North-East is being done only because of a net loss by migration of 1,000 each month. The hon. and gallant Member for The Hartle-pools (Commander Kerans) talked about the tragedy of the drain of skill from the North-East. It is indeed a tragedy, because most of this skill is never recovered. These people settle elsewhere. The simple truth is that the increased industrial activity which the Government have stimulated under the pressure of an imminent General Election—we are glad that there is increased industrial activity—is inadequate to meet even the most pressing short-term needs of the North-East, let alone being adequate to change the industrial pattern of the North-East.

The Government have been in office 13 years and in no single year in those 13 years has the number of new jobs provided reached the number of redundancies in existing industry. Even now, with all the ballyhoo of the North-East Development Group—my goodness, there is some ballyhoo about the North-East Development Group—the Government have not a clue about the size or real nature of the North-East's problem. There has been no scientific analysis or measurement of what has happened or what will happen in this region. The Hailsham investigation was a lost opportunity. It could have analysed the changes in the North-East. It could have forecast with a fairly high degree of accuracy what the region needs over, say, the next 20 years. Instead, the Hailsham Report turned out to be a mediocre catalogue of facts which were already known. For example, there was no estimate of the changes in even the major industries. There was no estimate—it is difficult to believe this—of the changes in the coal industry.

The Government are like a doctor who is too inept or is incapable of diagnosing the malady of his patient, in this case the North-East. They seize the first half a dozen medicine bottles they can find and ram them all down the throat of the patient, hoping that one of them will cure him. If ever the need for careful, systematic economic planning was demonstrated, it is in the North-East. We have had Government by expedient for the last 13 years, and their dealings with the North-East have been no exception.

It has been a characteristic of this debate that it has been very wide-ranging. This in itself is indicative of the Government's haphazard approach, because the solution to the North-East, while it is primarily industrial, is not entirely industrial. The problem in the North-East is also one of the social and physical environment of the area. It involves hospitals, schools and colleges, recreational facilities and communications. Indeed, it involves the whole social matrix of the North-East.

We hear a great deal—there was a good deal in the Hailsham Report and the right hon. Gentleman has said a good deal—about the quality of life in the North-East. I do not believe that the quality of life in the North-East is low, poor, meagre, or anything of that sort. In many respects, I believe that it is infinitely better than in the South-East. If the imbalance of Britain is to be corrected, apparently we must make the quality of life in the North of England considerably better than that in the South-East, to counteract the other advantages which the South-East has.

It is possible—my hon. Friends have done it—to quote many examples of things which ought to be put right at once. If they were in the South-East, they would be put right at once. In saying this, we are not denigrating the North-East. We are proud of it and we believe that it is one of the most attractive regions in the United Kingdom. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that when we criticise the Government's handling of the area we are, for some strange reason, denigrating the North-East and attempting to prevent industrialists from going there. I wish to make it clear that we are today criticising the Government and not the area.

I have with me a copy of the Northern Echo, one of the leading and more objective newspapers of the North-East. In today's issue appears the headline, "A.1 Scandal"—and the hon. and gallant Member for The Hartlepools dealt with the difficulties of communications in the area. The Newcastle General Hospital's development plans have been savagely cut and the surgery practice there is in a dangerously antiquated condition. I am merely repeating what the consultants at the hospital have said.

A city like Newcastle, with almost 300,000 inhabitants, is incapable of dealing adequately with major thoracic injuries and patients must be taken miles for treatment. The North-East is the only major area without a college of advanced technology. The Government have refused to give university status to Sunderland College or to Rutherford College of Advanced Technology in Newcastle. Tees-side has no institution of university status, although these things should have been provided long ago.

All the North-East local education authorities have woefully inadequate school building programmes. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) gave figures of some of the building programmes and the way they have been slashed by the Government and I have given a few more examples of the Government's all-round neglect of the North-East. I could go on giving examples all night. Those I have given are just a few taken at random.

The Government have centralised in a block of offices in Newcastle a group of civil servants who call themselves the North-East Development Group, and I make no complaint about that. It is a good idea to have them under one roof so that their activities may be better co-ordinated. However, an important point is emerging—that this is a high-powered body of civil servants which is becoming more and more important on the local government scene in the area.

The difference between the North-East Development Group and other local government bodies is that this one is not answerable or accountable to any other body in the North-East. There is a growing feeling in the area that this group of public servants, excellent men though they are, should be answerable to some body of people which is representative of all major aspects of life in the region. I repeat that bringing them together is a good idea. I am merely pointing out that the group appears to be developing in a rather unwholesome: way. [Interruption.] This anonymous group, possessing great powers, in interfering more and more in local government affairs, yet is answerable to no one there and is unknown even to hon. Members who represent the area. This is a departure from the best principles of local government.

The development of the North-East will succeed only if all the organisations and bodies in the area associate in its development. The activities of this group has led to a feeling that things are being organised in such a way—[Interruption.]—that local authorities and even individuals are becoming more and more divorced from developments taking place in the area and planning for the future. The Labour Government, which will take office next October—[Interruption.]—will set up a regional council to plan the development of the region and supervise the implementation of that plan. In that way the area will have a planned development within the context of a national plan.

The Opposition chose this subject for debate for two reasons: first, to express the view, which I have done, that Government action, though welcome but belated, has been inadequate to meet the size of the problem, and, secondly, to give hon. Members a chance to reaffirm their faith in the future of the North-East. I believe that the North-East is one of the most stimulating, healthy, happy regions in which to live and work—

Mr. Speir

Why does not the hon. Member live there, then?

Mr. Short

—but it is suffering from the after-effects of the Industrial Revolution. Like so many of his hon. Friends, the hon. Member for Hexham knows nothing about good manners.

Mr. Speir rose

Mr. Short

I will not give way.

Mr. Geoffrey Hirst (Shipley)

Is that good manners?

Mr. Speir

The hon. Member lives in the Lake District.

Mr. Short

The last time I gave way to the hon. Member for Hexham he abused the privilege by indulging in a very unpleasant, scurrilous personal attack and I will never again give way to him.

Mr. Hirst

The hon. Member is frightened to give way to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Short

As I was saying, the North-East is a stimulating, healthy and happy region in which to live and work. Unfortunately, it suffers from the aftereffects of the Industrial Revolution, and those effects can be effectively erased only by a Government who believe in economic planning. This Government are quite incapable of facing up to the problems of the North-East. Those problems will never be solved until this Government are turned out lock, stock and barrel and we have a Labour Government in their place.

6.57 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development and President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Edward Heath)

Like my hon. Friends, I welcome this debate. In opening it, the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) made absolutely plain its purpose—though not quite the same purpose as the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) described. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North said that it was a kind of pre-election campaign. In the 14 years I have been in the House of Commons I cannot recollect a more blatant example of electioneering than the sort of speeches we have been hearing this afternoon.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Willey

On a point of order. Unfortunately, you have not been present throughout the whole debate, Sir Robert, but at the moment the Secretary of State is purporting to be quoting words I used. That is not so and he has deliberately distorted what I said. Is there any way in which I can claim the protection of the Chair?

The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Robert Grimston)

That is not a point of order for me.

Mr. Heath

Nevertheless, the whole Committee has heard what the hon. Gentleman said. The whole atmosphere of his speech was that of a challenge—[Interruption.]—and I can assure him that we are delighted to meet that challenge. I could not understand why the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends wanted to raise this subject on a Supply Day. Having been often to the North-East and knowing what the people are saying there and what views they hold, I could not understand it, except that now I see that hon. Members opposite are still trying to perpetuate this myth of the declining, decadent North-East. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame."] It is true. Hon. Members opposite pretend to say that they welcome the developments going on there, that they welcome industrialists going to the area, and so on, but then they pick on every single example where something is not already perfect and complain about it. That is exactly what the hon. Member for Sunderland, North did. There was not a word about the achievements of the North-East—[Interruption.]—and not a single constructive suggestion has come from the benches opposite. We get that familiar concluding sentence to the effect that results can only be got by a Government believing in and capable of making a national economic plan. That is what we have had on every occasion, but no elaboration at all of what is meant—and not a single constructive idea.

We welcome it, of course, because in the North-East at the moment we are seeing considerable success. The hon. Gentleman knows that, and if he does not acknowledge it let him look at the speech of the Chairman of the North-East Development Council at its last meeting—

Mr. Shinwell

In my constituency?

Mr. Heath

Yes, certainly.

Mr. Shinwell

I challenge the right hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] Why will he not give way? Is he afraid of me?

The Deputy-Chairman

If the Minister does not give way, the right hon. Gentleman, who has been in the House a very long time, knows the Rules as well as I do.

Mr. Heath

No one can dispute that the North-East has kept its vigour. Let us agree to take the view of the Chairman of the North-East Development Council, when he said that there had been a tremendous improvement in the public morale of the North-East. There was a new confidence throughout the region, and he felt that all could feel justifiably optimistic about the future.

The hon. Gentleman then went on to make an attack on the North-East Development Group, and the civil servants v/ho form it. I want to repudiate straight away what he said. When this programme was put into action, I was urged to set up the most powerful machine possible in the North-East in order to achieve results. What we have is a group of civil servants who are responsible to the Government, and the Government are responsible to this House, and that is how the machine works.

There is no question of these civil servants interfering with the powers of the local authorities. They are working extremely closely with the local authorities, and very successfully, and the local authorities welcome it. For the hon. Gentleman to suggest that people throughout the North-East are feeling that they have no say in their own affairs, which are run by faceless civil servants, is absolute nonsense and should be absolutely repudiated. In any case, I have presided over one of their meetings myself, and I resent what the hon. Gentleman said about them.

Hon. Members have raised a good many points in this debate and I will, in the brief time available, try to reply to as many as I can, though I recognise that hon. Members for London constituencies also want to carry on with the next debate.

When I first went to the North-East I was asked, "This is a long-term programme—what about immediate results? We may see results through the growth of the infra-structure—what about the present?" We now see that through an expanding economy unemployment has been reduced to 3 per cent., and we are determined to bring it lower. That is a matter for general recognition and welcome, not for the constant looking back of the hon. Gentleman. One thing that is characteristic of the North-East is that it is no longer looking back; it is looking forward, and rightly so.

When the hon. Gentleman is talking about the achievements of the North-East and comparing figures, let him and his friends also bear in mind the number of jobs that have been lost because of structural change in the economy, and the decline of the coal industry, and of ship repairing and ship building. If we look at the figures for coal mining alone, we find that manpower in four years has fallen by 23,000. That one simple fact means that 23,000 new jobs, from new industries, from new plants have to be found. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That is the criterion against which progress must be judged, and it is the one thing that is never mentioned by the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.

When we look at the present position in regard to industrial certificates we see this continuing and very welcome increase. From 1st April, 1963, to 30th June, 1964, 217 industrial development certificates were issued for 7 million sq. ft. of factory space, with jobs for an estimated 15,000 male workers. Of these industrial development certificates, 29 are for units new to the area with 2½ million sq. ft. of factory space. Surely this is a matter for congratulation for the North-East. The movement of industry in this country is not dictated by the Government or by anyone else. It is brought about by the expansion of industry itself and, in a free economy, that will always be so.

The other interesting figure is the monthly average of male jobs from industrial development certificates issued. It is an increasing average. From April to September, 1963, there were 532 jobs per month; October to December, 1963, 1,111—

Mr. Short

In the pipeline.

Mr. Heath

—and January to June, 1964, 1,467. The hon. Gentleman keeps on shouting "In the pipeline". Does he not want jobs in the pipeline? His is a fantastic attitude when we can all see how much industrial development is going on in the North-East. It is because the North-East recognises this that it is so buoyant today.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, North asked me in particular—as did my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Kerans)—about Fords. When firms are looking for sites we retain this information as confidential. We do not give any information about any particular firm or the area in which it is looking, because we believe that only in this way can firms make what they believe to be the best choice of site. Therefore, I cannot tell hon. Members what plans any particular firm may have.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, North said that he wanted massive investment in the North-East. It is worth recollecting that from April, 1960, to June, 1964, £20.9 million went into the North-East alone from the inducements of the Local Employment Acts. That is 18 per cent. of the total for Great Britain—

Mr. Willey

Public money.

Mr. Heath

Yes, public money. I thought that the hon. Member wanted to use public money for everything—

Mr. Shinwell

What is the unemployment figure?

Mr. Heath

With a population of 7½ per cent. of the total the North-East is getting 18 per cent. of the public investment going into this form of industrial inducement. I should have thought that that was sufficient demonstration of the importance of the North-East.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about Sunderland. In those four years, Sunderland alone has had £3.27 million, which is 16 per cent. of what the North-East has had as a whole. I hope that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends from the North-East—and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) also—realise what proportion Sunderland has had of this investment in the North-East.

The hon. Member asked me about the advance factory in Sunderland. Again, I cannot give him confidential information, but I think that we do expect some thing positive and hopeful in the near future, and we will, of course, make any announcement as soon as it is possible to do so—

Mr. Shinwell

Give us the unemployment figures.

Mr. Heath

Education was the other main point raised by the hon. Member for Sunderland, North. The North-East has 7 per cent. of the total school population. In 1963–64 it got 9 per cent. of the total school programme and in 1964–65 is getting 12 per cent. of the total school programme. This, again, bears witness to the amount of the investment in education that the North-East is getting. The hon. Gentleman said that the amount of training provided is still not enough. He must recognise that the priority that the North-East and Scotland are getting must be at the expense of other regions of the country, and it is only right that this balance should be maintained.

The hon. Member also asked about training schemes. As he knows, the two existing centres at Felling and Tursdale are being extended and a new training centre is being created at Billingham. As these places are taken up, so we can review the need where more training is required. My noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton) emphasised quite properly the problems of depopulation in Berwickshire. I have already put in hand exactly the sort of study for which he asked. It is being done by the Interdepartmental Steering Group on Regional Development. The studies cover areas affected on the Borders, in Wales and in Lincolnshire and the Group will also be able to take account of the area mentioned by my noble Friend.

The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) emphasised certain problems. The North-East Development Group at my request will have a discussion in Newcastle next Thursday with members of the North-West Durham Joint Industrial Committee about these problems, and there will be a general discussion of industrial problems in the area.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South raised important questions with which I can deal now only briefly. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Local Government will be able to give Sunderland a decision quite shortly on housing. I hope that that will be encouraging to Sunderland. The draft procedures have now been carried through in relation to the new town of Washington and it is thought that this will be able to get on the way very quickly. I have already mentioned education as it affects Sunderland.

We have looked carefully at plans for a new port, but in the plans which my hon. Friend put before us the scale of expansion cost is so great that I do not believe that we would be justified in carrying out the even more detailed examination for which he has asked. I have dealt with the question of retraining facilities, and I agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of emphasising overseas the possibilities of the North-East.

This is done for the United States by the British Industrial Development Office in New York, and in various embassies we have been emphasising to European countries the great advantages of the North-East and other development districts. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools raised the question of Middleton St. George airfield.

Mr. Shinwell

What about the unemployment figures in The Hartlepools?

Mr. Heath

I fully recognise what my hon. and gallant Friend said about the unemployment position there. As he emphasised, it has been greatly improved, but there is still much to be done and when I was last there I was able to tell my hon. and gallant Friend of the expansion of a new firm going into The Hartlepools and that we had decided to build another advance factory there. This is practical, constructive action for The Hartlepools.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government realises the importance of obtaining an early decision about the shopping centre, and this he will endeavour to obtain. My hon. and gallant Friend asked about B.O.T.A.C. This is a general point and I am satisfied that B.O.T.A.C. is not responsible for delays in the very great majority of cases. Applications are often held up by the attempt of a firm to obtain the information required. This is not something for which B.O.T.A.C. is blameworthy, but we are trying to reduce delays as far as we possibly can.

Mr. Ainsley

The right hon. Gentleman has been trying since 1960.

Mr. Heath

As for the airport, we made an offer to Middleton St. George which I believe was a reasonable one. It was that we would make £250,000 available for the development of these communications provided that the two airports of Woolsington and Middleton St. George can be operated together. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation is convinced that this is the most sensible and practical way of operating the two main airports in the North-East. I therefore very much hope that the local authorities which are considering this will soon be able to reach a decision.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) asked me about clearing derelict land. He said that we had no information and no clue to what was going on. I can give him detailed information about this. He will recall that in April last year we decided to increase the grant from 50 per cent. to 85 per cent. for the treatment of derelict land under Section 5 of the Local Employment Act. The position now is that 59 applications covering 1,110 acres have been given final or preliminary approval, and 28 applications covering 144 acres are under consideration. In addition, local authorities in the North-East have submitted programmes of projected schemes covering at least 1,039 acres and we are pressing ahead with the investigation of those sites.

We think that when the applications are submitted and examined a substantial proportion will be of the kind eligible for grant. In order to give information to the hon. Member I shall circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT details of the numbers and acreages of schemes already approved or put forward in each local authority area in the North-East.

We are immensely encouraged by the way in which local authorities have responded to the higher rate of grant. If applications come forward on the scale which these preliminary figures indicate this will mean that an average of 700 acres of derelict land in the North-East will be improved or reclaimed each year. Never before has a programme on this scale been undertaken in the North-East. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and I believe that still greater efforts are needed to break the back of the problem and we shall require further co-operation from the local authorities. I am sure that we shall get it.

The North-East Development Group, containing representatives of my right hon. Friend's Department and the Regional Controller of the Board of Trade will be discussing shortly ways and means whereby we can step up this drive on dereliction. The discussion will be with the planning authorities in the region on which will fall the task of preparing and carrying out suitable schemes of the kind which the Local Employment Act covers. All of us who are tremendously keen on clearing away the remnants of industrial dereliction in the North-East will make every effort to clear this waste land.

In reply to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) the undertaking about employment in paragraphs 41 and 42 of the White Paper will be adhered to completely. I shall not enter into discussion about any precise figure of unemployment. The one given is only a guide for development districts. The hon. Member will find that the figures for individual development districts are lower than those which he mentioned. We have given a very full undertaking for the North-East and Central Scotland. This should give those areas full confidence in the future and in the inducements to people to go there.

The hon. Member did not answer my question about what he wants me to do about industrial development certificates for oil refineries. This is a fundamental matter. The hon. Member says that he welcomes them, but since Shell announced the first one he has been critical of them in questions to me. We want the refineries to go to the North- East and the petro-chemical industries to go round them. We realise that they are capital-intensive but—

Dr. Bray

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Heath


Mr. Shinwell

Why did not the right hon. Gentleman give way to me?

Dr. Bray

I said that what the Secretary of State could do was to carry on to the next stage and follow the implications of this development, which I wholeheartedly welcome, but he shows no sign of doing that. What does the right hon. Gentleman anticipate the continuing employment to be in coalmining in Durham in the next few years?

Mr. Heath

It is not a question of the refineries going there. They serve the North-East and the whole of the North and, indeed, part of the Midlands markets. One cannot tie up an industrial development certificate for a refinery with particular collieries in Durham or the North-East. We want refineries to supply the whole market and the Coal Board to retain economic pits to the greatest extent possible. This is our intention.

As to the general situation in the North-East, I have tried to cover the wide field very quickly. I now want to say a word about the South-East Plan. I do not believe hon. Members opposite are right in saying that the South-East Plan is damaging the North-East. I have constantly said that there are at least five safeguards which the North-East and Central Scotland have got. The first is that the South-East will not be making its demands for capital investment until the 1970s. What is more, Scotland and the North-East have got their undertakings about their priorities in capital investment—18 per cent. for 13 per cent. of the population.

Secondly, there is no intention of relaxing the industrial development certificate policy. As far as the Midlands and the South-East are concerned, it will remain as tough as ever. I have been at pains to emphasise to industrialists that this is so, and my Department constantly emphasises it.

Thirdly, the public investment programme priority will give these two areas an advantage which the South-East will not have because it has no investment priority.

Fourthly, the two areas will have the continuity of development district status which I have been discussing; and fifthly, almost 60 per cent. of employment required in the South-East will come from services and not from manufacturing industry which we are persuading to go into the North-East and Central Scotland. I hope hon. Members will cease to harp upon the South-East and will concentrate

on the advantages which the North-East has got.

To sum up, I believe that we are now seeing continued and excellent progress in the North-East. What is more, I believe that the people there know it and feel it. Those of us who have visited the North-East, even in the nine months in which I have held this office, can feel the change which has taken place in the whole area and in the attitude of the population. There is now a realisation of the possibilities in the North-East and the way in which they are being seized by industrialists.

Our task now is to do everything possible to encourage that, to refrain from saying things which may deter progress, and then to see the results at which we are all aiming in the North-East as a whole.

Question put, That a reduced sum, not exceeding £4,947,000, be granted to Her Majesty for the said service.

The Committee divided: Ayes 159, Noes 220.

Division No. 135.] AYES [7.23 p.m
Abse, Leo Foley, Maurice Lubbock, Eric
Ainsley, William Foot, Dingle (Ipswich) Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Foot, Michael (Ebbw vale) McCann, J.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Forman, J. C. MacColl, James
Bacon, Miss Alice Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mclnnes, James
Beaney, Alan Ginsburg, David Mackenzie, Gregor
Bence, Cyril Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mackie, John (Enfield, East)
Benn, Anthony Wedgwood Griffiths Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) MacPherson, Malcolm
Bennett, J. (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Griffiths, W. (Exchange) Mason, Roy
Benson, Sir George Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.) Mayhew, Christopher
Boston, T. G. Hamilton, William (West Fife) Mellish, R. J.
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G. Hannan, William Mendelson, J. J.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. H. W. (Leics, S. W.) Hayman, F. H. Millan, Bruce
Boyden, James Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis) Milne, Edward
Bradley, Tom Herbison, Miss Margaret Mitchison, G. R.
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hilton, A. V. Moody, A. S.
Brockway, A. Fenner Holman, Percy Morris, Charles (Openshaw)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Holt, Arthur Moyle, Arthur
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Howell, Charies A. (Perry Barr) Mulley, Frederick
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Howie, W. Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Callaghan, James Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Carmichael, Neil Hunter, A. E. Oliver, G. H.
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Hynd, H. (Accrington) O'Malley, B. K.
Collick, Percy Hynd, John (Attercliffe) Owen, Will
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Padley, W. E.
Crosland, Anthony Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)
Grossman, R. H. S. Janner, Sir Barnett Pargiter, G. A.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Pavitt, Laurence
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Roy (Stechford) Peart, Frederick
Darling, George Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pentland, Norman
Davles, Harold (Leek) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, R. E.
Deer, George Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.) Probert, Arthur
Dempsey, James Kelley, Richard Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Diamond, John King, Dr. Horace Randall, Harry
Dodds, Norman Lawson, George Rankin, John
Doig, Peter Ledger, Ron Reid, William
Driberg, Tom Lee, Frederick (Newton) Reynolds, G. W.
Duffy, A. E. P. (Colne Valley) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Rhodes, H.
Ede, Rt. Hon. C. Lever, Harold (Cheetham) Robertson, John (Paisley)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.) Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)
Evans, Albert Lipton, Marcus Rodgers, W. T. (Stockton)
Fernyhough, E. Loughlin, Charles Rogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)
Ross, William Stewart, Michael (Fulham) Whitlock, William
Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E. Stonehouse, John Wilkins, W. A.
Short, Edward Stones, William Willey, Frederick
Silkin, John Taverne, D. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Silverman, Julius (Aston) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield) Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Skeffington, Arthur Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline) Winterbottom, R. E.
Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.) Thornton, Ernest Woof, Robert
Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield) Wainwright, Edwin Wyatt, Woodrow
Small, William Warbey, William Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Snow, Julian Weitzman, David
Sorensen, R. W. Wells, William (Walsall, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Steele, Thomas White, Mrs. Eirene Mr. Redhead and Mr. Grey.
Allason, James Giles, Rear-Admiral Morgan Marlowe, Anthony
Amery, Rt. Hon. Julian Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest
Arbuthnot, Sir John Goodhart, Philip Marshall, Sir Douglas
Ashton, Sir Herbert Coodhew, Victor Marten, Neil
Atkins, Humphrey Grant-Ferris, R. Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham) Green, Alan Maude, Angus (Stratford-on-Avon)
Barber, Rt. Hon. Anthony Gresham Cooke, R. Mawby, Ray
Barter, John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Batsford, Brian Gurden, Harold Mills, Stratton
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough) Miscampbell, Norman
Bell, Ronald Harris, Frederick (Croydon, N. W.) Montgomery, Fergus
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Harris, Reader (Heston) More, Jasper (Ludlow)
Berkeley, Humphry Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Morgan, William
Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Bidgood, John C. Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd) Morrison, John (Salisbury)
Biffen, John Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Hastings, Stephen Noble, Rt. Hon. Michael
Bishop, Sir Patrick Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Black, Sir Cyril Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Hendon, North)
Bourne-Arton, A. Henderson, Sir John (Cathcart) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Box, Donald Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Page, John (Harrow, West)
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Hirst, Geoffrey Page, Graham (Crosby)
Braine, Bernard Hobson, Rt. Hon. Sir John Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)
Brewis, John Holland, Philip Partridge, E.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt. -Col. Sir Walter Hollingworth, John Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry Howard, John (Southampton, Test) Pike, Miss Mervyn
Brown, Alan (Tottenham) Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John Pitt, Dame Edith
Buck, Antony Hughes-Young, Michael Pounder, Rafton
Butcher, Sir Herbert Hulbert, Sir Norman Price, David (Eastleigh)
Campbell, Gordon Hutchison, Michael Clark Prior, J. M. L.
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Iremonger, T, L. Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir Otho
Carr, Rt. Hon. Robert (Mitcham) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Proudfoot, Wilfred
Chataway, Christopher James, David Pym, Francis
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Jennings, J. C. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Johnson, Eric (Blackley) Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Cleaver, Leonard Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Rees, Hugh (Swansea, W.)
Cole, Norman Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green) Ridley, Hon. Nicholas
Cooper, A. E. Joseph, Rt. Hon. Sir Keith Rippon, Rt. Hon. Geoffrey
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Kaberry, Sir Donald Roots, William
Cordeaux, Lt. -Col. J. K. Kerans, Cdr. J. S. Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Cordle, John Kerr, Sir Hamilton Scott-Hopkins, James
Corfield, F. V. Kershaw, Anthony Sharples, Richard
Coulson, Michael Kimball, Marcus Shepherd, William
Craddock, sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Kirk, Peter Skeet, T. H. H.
Crawley, Aidan Lagden, Godfrey Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Critchley, Julian Lambton, Viscount Spearman, Sir Alexander
Crowder, F. P. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Speir, Rupert
Cunningham, Sir Knox Leather, Sir Edwin Stainton, Keith
Curran, Charles Leavey, J. A. Stanley, Hon. Richard
Currie, G. B. H. Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Stevens, Geoffrey
Dalkeith, Earl of
Dance, James Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Stodart, J. A.
Digby, simon wingfield Lilley, F. J. p. Storey, Sir Samuel
Doughty, Charles Lindsay, Sir Martin Studholme, Sir Henry
Drayson, G. B. Linstead, Sir Hugh Tapsell, Peter
du Cann, Edward Litchfield, Capt. John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Duncan, Sir James Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral) Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)
Eden, Sir John Longden, Gilbert Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)
Emery, Peter Loveys, Walter H. Teeling, Sir William
Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn Lucas, Sir Jocelyn Temple, John M.
Errington, Sir Eric Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Farr, John McAdden, Sir Stephen Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)
Fisher, Nigel MacArthur, Ian Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles McLaren, Martin Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Forrest, George MacLeod, Sir John (Ross & Cromarty) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) McMaster, Stanley R. Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Freeth, Denzil Maddan, Martin Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D. Maginnis, John E. Turner, Colin
Gardner, Edward Maitland, Sir John Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Gibson-Watt, David Markham, Major Sir Frank Tweedsmuir, Lady
van straubenzee, W. R. Wells, John (Maidstone) woollam, John
Walker, Peter Williams, Sir Rolf Dudley (Exeter) Worsley, Marcus
Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Sir Derek Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Wall, Patrick Wise, A. R. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ward, Dame Irene Wolrige-Cordon, Patrick Mr. Peel and Mr. R. W. Elliott.

Original Question again proposed.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.