HC Deb 18 June 1964 vol 696 cc1460-2
12. Commander Kerans

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development how many firms have set up industries in The Hartlepools since the Act of 1960 and other subsequent Government measures, to the latest convenient date; how much additional labour these measures have provided for men and women; and how many applications are now under consideration.

Mr. Heath

Between 1st April, 1960, and the 31st May, 1964, three new projects have started up in The Hartlepools. Assistance has been offered to five other new projects and assistance to seven more is still under consideration. Altogether, projects receiving assistance or offers of assistance under the Local Employment Acts during this period are estimated to represent additional jobs for 1,800 men and 600 women. Twenty-four applications for financial assistance are at present under consideration.

Commander Kerans

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that this shows a considerable improvement, due to the measures which the Government have taken since 1960? Can my right hon. Friend say whether there is any possibility of the car industry coming to The Hartlepools, where land and port facilities are available?

Mr. Heath

I agree that great progress is being made. I announced in April the building of an advance factory also in The Hartlepools. I have no information about the motor car industry.

Mr. Popplewell

Can the right hon. Gentleman say offhand how many firms have closed during this period? From his visits to the North-East, and from the visits of the Economic Secretary to that area, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the number of firms going up there is not compensating the number of firms closing down? There is still a tremendous deficiency. Is the right hon. Gentleman doing anything to expedite the matter, and to ensure that in The Hartlepools and in other parts of the North-East this leeway is taken up and that we shall get a sufficient number of firms to take up the slack caused by a number of firms closing down and thus leaving people unemployed?

Mr. Heath

I cannot give a detailed answer to that question. If the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question, I shall give him the information. There is a later Question by him about one specific instance.

Mr. Hocking

To enable the House to assess the effectiveness of the policy of transferring work from areas such as the Midlands, can my right hon. Friend say what effect the setting up of this new factory in The Hartlepools has had on the unemployment figures?

Mr. Heath

I cannot give the exact figures for any particular period. If my hon. Friend puts down a Question, I shall give him the comparison.

Mr. Shinwell

In the absence of information from the right hon. Gentleman, may I ask him whether he is aware that the figures are well known to us on this side of the House, particularly those in the neighbourhood of The Hartlepools? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that they have the highest rate of unemployment in the country, apart from Northern Ireland? Has the right hon. Gentleman no concern for these constituencies in the North-East which are represented by Tory Members? Does not it worry him that they are all going to be thrown out at the next election?

Mr. Heath

I think that the Answer which I have given to the House, which the right hon. Gentleman has heard, shows the amount which has been done in The Hartlepools, as well as in the whole of the North-East, during this period.