HC Deb 29 April 1965 vol 711 cc617-8
29. Mr. Tilney

asked the President of the Board of Trade what are his plans to stimulate office development on Merseyside and to endeavour to move both private enterprise and Government offices from London to Merseyside.

Mr. Darling

In administering the proposed control of office development, the Board of Trade will certainly take account of the employment needs of development districts such as Merseyside.

Mr. Tilney

Would the hon. Gentleman make it clear to industry that even though their tactical headquarters must be in London it is often more economic and efficient to have their base headquarters in the provinces, including Merseyside?

Mr. Darling

Yes, Sir, and this was made perfectly clear in Committee on the Bill. The point was raised repeatedly.

Mr. A. J. Irvine

Will my hon. Friend take into account the fact that for a long period of time there have been movements of office activity away from Liverpool and that this is a source of great anxiety? Will he take account also of the fact that the latest instance of the choice of Manchester over Liverpool for office development has been offered by the Claims Branch of British Railways? Having regard to the interest of his right hon. Friend's Department in the distribution of enterprise, will my hon. Friend draw the attention of the Minister of Transport to the anxiety to which that kind of thing gives rise?

Mr. Darling

There are difficulties involved here, because until the comprehensive studies now being made into the location of office employment and how it might be guided have been completed we cannot take all the action that I am sure hon. Members who represent development districts would like us to take. I will draw my hon. and learned Friend's second point to the notice of my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Heffer

Will my hon. Friend make it decisively clear that the trend which was taking place under the previous Government will be reversed and that we will get more offices into Merseyside?

Mr. Darling

That is why we introduced the Control of Office and Industrial Development Bill.