HC Deb 01 December 1966 vol 737 cc596-7
8. Mr. Stratton Mills

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will make a statement on the future development of the little national economic development councils.

Mr. M. Stewart

Within its terms of reference, each economic development committee determines its own future programme in the light of the special needs and problems of its industry: but I have recently drawn the attention of chairmen to the current need to give priority generally to questions having a direct impact on improving industrial efficiency and the balance of payments.

Mr. Mills

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the growing frustration among many members of these Committees, the falling off in attendance and, in some cases, the resignations of important members? Would he consider redefining and clarifying the exact scope of the work of the Committees and possibly associating the Chancellor of the Exchequer, by membership, with the main "Neddy" bodies?

Mr. Stewart

The hon. Member is wrong about this. Attendance continues to be extremely high on these bodies. The number of resignations has been very small. The general nature of the work which "Little Neddies" are intended to perform is well known. The application of that to the needs of each industry is a matter for each economic development committee to decide.