HC Deb 29 April 1965 vol 711 cc615-6
27. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the imminent closure of Bow-hill Colliery in central West Fife, involving about 1,100 men in loss of employment, he will initiate, as a matter of urgency, the building of an advance factory there.

Mr. Darling

Advance factories already built, under construction or planned by local authorities and the Board of Trade will make available 350,000 sq. ft. of factory space within a 15–mile radius of Bowhill. The needs of the locality will be fully taken into account in considering any future programme of Government advance factories.

Mr. Hamilton

How many jobs does that figure represent? Is my hon. Friend aware that the Coal Board itself has stated that it can re-employ not more than about 320 of these 1,100 men and that, if alternative employment is not found for them, the middle-aged men will get no work at all and the young men will probably move out of the country altogether? Can my hon. Friend say whether there will be a future advance factory programme in the ensuing years?

Mr. Darling

We are aware of the difficulty which will arise when and if the closing of the colliery takes place. I understand that the negotiations now going on between the Coal Board and the union will mean that most of the men will be offered alternative employment by the Board; but, as my hon. Friend rightly says, we will be left with the problem of finding employment for the older men. I cannot tell him how many jobs are likely to arise from the expansion in factories that is now going on or is projected——

Sir C. Osborne

Are there any tenants?

Mr. Darling

—but there has been considerable success in attracting new industry to Fife and we are hoping that this will continue. In any case, we are keeping the matter under review. On the last part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, the programme of advance factories announced in November is now going on and we do not expect to announce another one for a little while.