HC Deb 18 June 1964 vol 696 cc1451-2
1. Mrs. Castle

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development when he will publish his proposals for the development of the North-West.

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

Before publishing proposals for the future development of the North-West, I must await the report of the North-West Regional Study Group which is now at work.

Mrs. Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we in the North-West are tired of waiting for this kind of treatment which is urgently required in the area? Is it not absurd that the South-East Study, for example, should have been given priority over this region? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that the Lancashire and Mersey-side Industrial Development Association, in its latest annual report, points out that the drift of working population from the North-West is still disturbing? What is the good of introducing industries at a later date if the population has left? When can we expect this report?

Mr. Heath

I announced on 2nd March that the Study Group was beginning this work. If the results are to be useful and fruitful, then the Group must be given a sufficient time to complete the study. The study of the South-East was primarily a land use study, which took two years. I hope that we shall be able to complete the North-West Study in considerably less time; but it certainly cannot be done in three months.

Mr. Hiley

Am I right in assuming that my right hon. Friend is taking into account the extreme shortage of labour in large parts of this region? Will he make sure that nothing is done to make that problem worse?

Mr. Heath

This is a very large and important region which has these contrasts of a great shortage of labour in some parts and a surplus in others, and this is one of the aspects of it which must be fully studied.