HC Deb 18 June 1964 vol 696 cc1468-70
21. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the North-East; and what further plans he has for the introduction of new industries and expansion of existing industries in the area.

Mr. Heath

With permission, since it is somewhat long, I will circulate a statement in reply to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's Question in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

In the course of my tour, I saw much evidence of the substantial development already under way in the area. Jobs in prospect now number nearly 32,000, compared with less than 18,000 a year ago. In terms of I.D.C.s, 96 were issued in the first five months of this year, involving some 12,000 jobs. Comparative figures for last year were 44 and 2,400.

I am confident that the development of the Government's existing policies for the area will continue to lead to the introduction of new industries and expansion of existing ones. Already I.D.C.s issued this month exceed, in number and prospective employment, the total of I.D.C.s issued for the whole of June last year.

Mr. Shinwell

What is the earthly use of the right hon. Gentleman's talking about jobs in prospect? When are these proposals to be implemented? Will he stop boasting about what he has done in the North-East? Did not even his best friends tell him that over 2,500 miners are still registered on the employment exchanges there; that over 4,000 building construction workers are out of work, besides large numbers of shipbuilding and engineering workers? Will he do something about the people who are still unemployed and stop all his boasting and bragging?

Mr. Heath

Why does not the right hon. Gentleman stop exaggerating the problem and give some acknowledgment of the real progress that is being made in his own constituency, and particularly in Peterlee, as I saw when I visited it? Does not he realise that we shall all say that he has no interest whatever in jobs in prospect for his constituents? He has just said so.

Mr. Montgomery

I am sure that most people will appreciate what my right hon. Friend has said. Does not he agree that it would be better for the areas of higher unemployment if hon. Members opposite would not refer to industrialists as going there with begging bowls?

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the new town of Peterlee, in my constituency. Is he aware that only yesterday I received a letter from the general manager of the Peterlee Corporation asking me to ask a Question in the House of Commons and to approach Ministers, particularly the right hon. Gentleman, because applications and inquiries have sharply fallen, and very little has been done for Peterlee? Is he aware of these facts? Since he has attacked me about my interest in the area, will he resign from his constituency and fight me at the General Election?

Mr. Heath

This is not the picture that I was given when I visited Peterlee. I opened a new factory there and on the day I did so the management announced that already it was going to double its capacity because of its success.

Following is the statement: I visited the North East for the third time on 14th–15th May. On the 14th I formally opened Wellbar House, a new Government building designed to bring together under one roof the regional offices of the Government Departments concerned with implementing the Government's proposals for the North East. At a Press Conference I announced the Government's willingness to offer a grant of £150,000 to a consortium of local authorities towards the conversion of Middleton St. George Airport, to be run in conjunction with Woolsington Airport. On the 15th I gave the opening speech at a Conference on "Investment in Innovation" organised by D.S.I.R. and held at the University of Durham. While in the area I visited a factory at Cramlington, now three-quarters of the way to full production, for which the first sod was cut less than a year ago; drove the first stake at Seaton Delaval for the British subsidiary of an American firm; visited an organ-building firm in Durham; opened, at Newton Aycliffe, the subsidiary of a Swedish firm; and at Peterlee New Town met the Development Corporation, toured the new town, and opened a new factory in the industrial estate. Though the firm began production there only in January, its Chairman that day announced its intention to expand. I had a useful discussion with the Mayors of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool, in the course of which I gave details of three developments of interest to the area; the starting date for the new advance factory; the approval of a 25,000 square feet extension to an existing firm; and the firm prospect of a 75,000 square feet factory for a newcomer.