§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Mr. Richard Wood (Bridlington)
I beg to move,That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Development Areas Order 1966 (S.I., 1966. No. 1032, dated 12th August 1966, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th August, be annulled.I want to make clear that the Prayer tonight has no sinister intent. It is certainly not my purpose, in a fit of pique, to ask for the removal of privileges accorded by this Order to the constituencies of many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, including incidentally, a large part of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr. Michael Shaw) and a part of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Mr. Bryan). Both of my hon. Friends have joined me in putting this Prayer on the Order Paper.
I should explain that my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby was particularly anxious to take part in this debate and would certainly have done so had it not been for the arrogance of the Minister of Power in compelling Standing Committee D to sit night after night in an attempt to force through the Iron and Steel Bill. It is, therefore, impossible for my hon. Friend to be with us and to put the important interests of his constituents. My purpose is to complain, once again, of the exclusion of Bridlington from these privileges and to beg the right hon. Gentleman to withdraw this Order, and immediately replace it with another including the Bridlington area in its Schedule.
The right hon. Gentleman will understand that under our procedure it is only by apparently attacking the more fortunate that I can attempt to win justice for Bridlington. During my last attempt to do this, on the Report stage of the Industrial Development Bill on 19th July, I said:The question that my constituents are justifiably asking is: why discriminate against Bridlington."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 19th July. 1966; Vol. 732, c. 538.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. With all respect to the right hon. Gentleman, he cannot amend this Order. He can discuss areas specified in it but he cannot ask for others to be inserted.
§ Mr. Wood
I appreciate that. I was suggesting to the right hon. Gentleman powerful reasons, in my opinion, for withdrawing this Order and bringing forward another in its place including Bridlington, whose claim I urged on 19th July, and whose claim, I think, I would be in order in urging again tonight. I do not know whether you found any fault in my quoting from an earlier speech, Sir.
§ Mr. Speaker
With all due respect, I am finding fault with the whole of the right hon. Gentleman's argument at the moment. We cannot, on an Order, discuss things that are not in the Order. The right hon. Gentleman can talk about development areas which are in the Order, but he cannot suggest those that ought to be in.
§ Mr. Wood
The point I have been trying to make, which, I think, is a perfectly good one, is that this Order should not be approved by the House because of certain deficiencies which it has. It includes some areas and not others. I hope that I will be in order in continuing my argument on that basis. I think that the Order is deficient because the places mentioned in the Schedule to the Order are not the right places that should be mentioned.
§ Mr. Speaker
This is extraordinarily difficult. The right hon. Gentleman must know that I grieve to have to call him to order again and again, but we are praying against a Statutory Instrument. The right hon. Gentleman can object against a Statutory Instrument, but he cannot suggest amendments to it.
§ Mr. Wood
I will not suggest any amendment, Sir. I will merely point out my reasons for thinking that this Statutory Instrument is the wrong instrument for the right hon. Gentleman to have introduced.
The boundary situation which has been created by the Order which we are now discussing is, I now realise, more illogical and apparently indefensible than it seemed at the time of the debate on the Industrial Development Bill.
In my opinion—and I hope that I can manage to keep in order—it might have made sense if the whole of the East Riding of Yorkshire, which is part of 1527 the Yorkshire and Humberside region, had been excluded from the Northern development area, and if all the land north of the East Riding boundary, which is part of the Northern region, had been included in the Northern development area.
This, in fact, as the right hon. Gentleman would admit, is not the case under the Order which we are now discussing, because the whole of the Norton Rural District, which is part of the East Riding of Yorkshire and part of the Yorkshire and Humberside region, has been included in the Northern development area. At the same time, a few square miles on the very edge of the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby, who is so unfortunately prevented from being present with us, which comprises certain villages and is part of the Northern area, has been left out of the Schedule which we are now discussing.
The reason for this—as no doubt the right hon. Gentleman will explain—is that the boundaries of employment exchanges have been preferred as guides to the boundaries either of counties or of planning regions; but, as employment exchange boundaries have been chosen, there seems—and here I must see that I tread carefully—a very strong case for including in the Schedule, as it ought to be, certain employment exchanges which are not there. I myself cannot believe that it would be beyond the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman, or, in fact, would establish any awkward precedent to include the employment exchanges which I have in mind, as well as including a small area in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby which is at present excluded from the development area.
During our last discussion on this matter, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade made the hearts of my constituents beat a good deal faster, when he said, in c. 540:There is no subject on which I have meditated more during the past six months than Bridlington."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1966; Vol. 732, c. 540.]I ask the House to note the magnificent generosity of those words. It was not 1528 exports or imports, or the problem of E.F.T.A., or entry into the Common Market, or tariffs, that was mainly exercising the mind of the right hon. Gentleman—it was the problems of Bridlington. This made my constituents feel even more important than ever, and I greatly appreciate the solicitude of the right hon. Gentleman.
I entirely agree that Bridlington is an eminently suitable subject for meditation, and I hope that his long contemplation of the town did not end on 19th July because, apart from the effects of what might more properly be called the un-selective employment tax—that seems a more suitable name for the Chancellor of the Exchequer's abomination last spring—and apart from the removal of the investment grants, which has been bad for my constituents, I mentioned my fears of unemployment and my conviction that Bridlington would increasingly need industrial incentives if the significant progress of the last decade—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)
I hesitate to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman. I can understand his attachment to Bridlington, but there is nothing about Bridlington in the Order.
§ Mr. Wood
No, but I was pointing out that the places that the right hon. Gentleman has chosen to include in the Order are in more fortunate circumstances than is Bridlington, and I should have thought that, as I am praying for annulment of the Order, it was a significant fact for the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you will allow me to continue, as it is very relevant to whether this is the right Schedule to have produced with the Order. My humble opinion is that it is seriously lacking in certain respects.
The President of the Board of Trade was also kind enough to say on 19th July that if he was wrong and… if the unemployment percentage does not continue to fall … it is possible under the Bill to alter the boundaries further in the future.He went on to say:If … unemployment starts markedly to rise again, it will certainly be my intention to review the possibility of including Bridlington."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1966: Vol. 732, c. 541–2.]That statement shows—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I do regret having to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman again, but I am obliged to enforce the rules of order. It really is out of order in discussing this Statutory Instrument to discuss the affairs of Bridlington, because they do not arise on the Order at all.
§ Mr. Wood
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps I have said enough to make my point very clear to the Minister. I had probably said enough before the debate to make it clear. The right hon. Gentleman knows how strongly I feel. I have been able to mention Bridlington once or twice so far. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to give a satisfactory reply and tell us why he has chosen this wholly unsuitable Schedule and not one that would have given me much more pleasure.
§ 10.9 p.m.
Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)
I am very grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) for providing this opportunity to discuss such a very important subject, which is of great concern to very many of my hon. Friends in Scotland. I appreciate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, my right hon. Friend's difficulties in keeping within the rules of order, and perhaps I shall be in a slightly more advantageous position, because in the Schedule I read:The Scottish Development Area, consists of the employment exchange areas of Scotland, except those of Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello.I assume, or I hope, that as those words appear in the Order, I am allowed to discuss that phrase.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Since the noble Lord has referred to me, I must point out that Edinburgh is in precisely the same position as Bridlington. It is true that Edinburgh is mentioned in the first paragraph of the Schedule, but only by way of reference to exclude it from the rest of Scotland. Edinburgh is just as much outside the scope of the Order as is Bridlington. Therefore, it would not be in order to refer to the merits of Edinburgh any more than it would be to refer to the merits of Bridlington.
Earl of Dalkeith
I take the point, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Perhaps, therefore, 1530 I can talk about a little area around Edinburgh and the effect that the Order will have upon a vacuum within it. I should, of course, declare an interest, because I am connected with a company which has development interests in a small part of Edinburgh. I do not apologise for this, because it qualifies me, perhaps, to speak about the subject with some practical experience.
It is not in my nature ever to be aggressive unless I am provoked, but I come very near to being sorely provoked on this occasion. The Government's decision about the formulation of their development areas in Scotland is very strange. It is crazily illogical, monstrously unjust and disgracefully authoritarian. I would like to substantiate all those points. First it is crazily illogical because where is the logic to be found in a scheme whereby, in a huge area of 30,000 square miles stretching from John o'Groats practically to York, there is just one little vacuum or pocket in the middle of it which does not appear to be getting the same treatment?
I know the old old arguments, which I have heard over and over again, about how under a Tory Government we had much more limited development areas. That argument has been thrashed out again and again and we now have to accept the situation that we have this much more greatly extended development area. The fact that the amount of money which is being poured into this bigger area does not appear to be any greater than the amount previously concentrated in a smaller area is beside the point. This, however, has to be the basis of our argument.
It is on that basis that the extreme illogicality of the Government's decision is so glaringly apparent. It is all the more so when one considers the future of Scotland in relation to the Common Market and when one considers the parts in Scotland which will clearly be the most obvious springboards for our access not only to Common Market countries, but also to the E.F.T.A. countries.
There are certain parts of Scotland which come to the minds of all of us in this connection, but which the Order does not cover. No doubt, it was partly with this in view that the previous Tory administration embarked upon a massive 1531 exercise in developing a well-known port on the east coast of Scotland. If this sort of development involving vast sums of the taxpayers' money is to be carried to a logical conclusion, I suggest strongly that everything should be done to try to attract private investment in all ancillary operations such as processing plants, factories and warehouses of various kinds.
The effect of the Order will be precisely the opposite. It will drive them away. These companies will set themselves up in a different area from that which some of us have in mind and in which we should like to see them develop. I am sure that if the right hon. Gentleman had chosen to listen to the various people whom he has consulted in Scotland, he would have realised that there are very sound arguments for making his development area that much more extensive than it is.
The logical type of development which we should all like to see, particularly in our capital city, is the sort of growth industry demanding high capital intensivity and low labour intensivity, and that brings me to my point about it being monstrously unjust, because the trouble which we shall get into is that there are certain parts of the country where development areas will be able to set up similar types of factories as rivals which will syphon off trained labour from areas which do not have the advantage of investment incentives in future.
Only last week, the Secretary of State for Scotland opened a new factory at Glenrothes, in Fife, which is only a few minutes across the Forth Road Bridge from an area where there are other factories whose position will be placed in jeopardy. They have a magnificent record in the face of overseas competition, and now they will be undermined by rival factories only a few miles away from them.
I wish to substantiate my other charge that the decision has been disgracefully authoritarian. Numerous meetings have taken place between the Minister and his officials and various representatives of areas of Scotland who thought that they ought to be included. There has been nothing but obstinate defiance on the 1532 part of the Government to all the reasoning which has been put forward by people of all political complexions.
Why is it that the steamroller of the Government machine is flatly ignoring all the reasons which have been advanced? I think that the population of Scotland would like to know. No reasons of any consequence have been given at all. Speculation is rife, and I would suggest that it is in the Government's own interest to try and clear it up. Is it in order to act as a sop to some other parts of the country where exclusions have been made the order of the day? Is it the action of "Big Brother", who does not like to see the last remaining citadel of anti-Socialism and is trying to take it out on its inhabitants? I wonder what other activities we shall see from the Government in the way of victimising this last bastion of freedom.
Unless the Minister tells us the truth and, better still, reverses his decision, as a London-bound Minister he must recognise that there will be a surge of nationalistic rage at his ill-considered action about the forming of this Order. I must warn him that this is the sort of thing which tends to drive Scots into a kind of U.D.I. frame of mind—[Laughter.] It is all very well for the Minister of State to laugh. We know that he comes from Norfolk—
§ The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Mr. George Willis) rose—
Earl of Dalkeith
I will give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. He comes from Norfolk, and possibly does not appreciate the feeling of nationalism which we all have in our hearts.
§ Mr. Willis
Has the hon. Gentleman forgotten that this was one of the issues at the General Election? It came up at every meeting in Edinburgh, but the Tory vote and his party's majorities went down in Edinburgh.
Earl of Dalkeith
The hon. Gentleman has great skill in persuading people that he will achieve great things. I think that the Government were elected on the basis that they would achieve all kinds of great things, but now people are beginning to find out, and I hope that they will not forget in a hurry.
1533 I wanted to ask what action my various colleagues in Edinburgh have been taking, but Edinburgh, I believe, is a dirty word in this debate.
§ Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker, the House is now in genuine bewilderment. The right hon. Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) was asked to sit down on a number of occasions because he mentioned Bridlington, yet the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) has mentioned Edinburgh several times. He has talked about the capital city, which is another name for precisely the same place. Are we conceding to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North a privilege which we were not prepared to concede to the right hon. Member for Bridlington?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I think that I have been very lenient with the noble Lord. He has endeavoured to skate round the Ruling, so far very successfully, but I think that he has transgressed the bounds of order, and that he ought not to pursue his speech in the way that he has been doing.
Earl of Dalkeith
I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for being so long-suffering.
Many people in Scotland will be profoundly dissatisfied and angry unless they are given some good reasons tonight why the Minister has taken the decision that he has done in drawing up this Order. I assure him that this feeling is genuine. There is nothing synthetic about it. I feel for one very strongly about it.
§ 10.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Gordon Campbell (Moray and Nairn)
I, too, wish to address my remarks to paragraph 1 of the Order, which refers to Scotland.
Under the previous system, which this is to replace, the benefits of grants and loans were available in what were called development districts, which were much smaller areas, but they were the special areas—I speak for Scotland in particular, but I am sure that it was the same in the rest of the United Kingdom—where there was unemployment to a large degree, and where assistance of this kind was specially required. For example, the Highlands and Islands formed a development 1534 district, and so did parts of the north-east of Scotland, which, unfortunately, had high percentages of unemployment from time to time.
Under this new system a very much larger part of the United Kingdom as a whole is to become development area. Indeed, it has been reported, though I have not done the geographical calculations myself, that no less than 55 per cent. of the area of the United Kingdom, more than half, is now to be development area, the technical term "area" having taken the place of the previous technical term "district". Therefore, the financial assistance which is to be available now will be spread more thinly over a much wider area. I believe that it was far more beneficial for Scotland when the benefits were concentrated in the areas where they were most needed.
May I say straight away that this is not a constituency point. I have mentioned the north-east of Scotland, but my constituency was not a development district, being an area which did not suffer high unemployment. It now falls within the new areas, so I say straight away that I am being entirely altruistic in my remarks. This is not a constituency point. I am concerned about Scotland as a whole, and particularly about areas like the Highlands and Islands defined as the seven crofting counties, and those areas in the northeast of Scotland where my constituency is, but which are not so fortunate as my constituency, and, therefore, need the special benefits. But now the Bill has been passed, and has become an Act, and the House has therefore, accepted the widening of the area into a huge development area under the new terminology.
The Order states that almost the whole of Scotland is to become a development area, but there is an incredible small gap in the middle. It is so inexplicable that it can only be some form of deliberate discrimination against the area concerned. I do not know whether you have examined a map showing the United Kingdom with the new development areas marked on it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but in an area covering almost the whole of Scotland and the north-east and north-west of England there suddenly appears a small hole, or gap, in the middle.
1535 Why are these areas set out in this extraordinary shape? Is it that Ministers have been studying the sculptures of Henry Moore and decided that a shape is not complete unless it has a hole in the middle? That is the only explanation I can give for this extraordinary shape in the middle of the development areas in the northern part of the United Kingdom. Perhaps Ministers have been influenced by the avant garde painting in the Harcourt Room? Perhaps they have decided that throwing paint at a map or a wall is one way of marking out development areas. I can think of no other explanation.
I am sure that the earlier system of concentrating financial assistance where it was really needed in the special areas was best, but if the new policy has to be accepted, making about 55 per cent. of the United Kingdom into development areas, I cannot understand why this gap should be left. As my noble Friend has said, no explanation has been given by the Government. I am sure that other Scottish Members will continue to press the Government to explain why they have described this extraordinary shape in the north of the United Kingdom. We appeal to the Minister of State, who has a constituency interest in this matter—
§ Mr. Campbell
Instead of defending it the Minister should educate some of his colleagues on the Front Bench about the affairs of Scotland and the needs of industry and development there. He might also be able to educate them on the geography and economy of Scotland.
§ Mr. Willis
If the hon. Member will refer to what happened at the General Election he will find that I defended this policy then and had a record vote and record majority in Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Campbell
I congratulate the Minister on what he achieved. All I can say is that I respect him personally as a candidate. He obviously did very well, because he defended something utterly illogical. When he was in opposition he made quite a reputation—as I am sure many of my hon. Friends from Scottish constituencies will agree—for presenting logical arguments which 1536 at times, when there was a shortage, almost qualified him as a Law Officer. It was merely the lack of the necessary training and qualifications that prevented this.
The hon. Gentleman's arguments have always been very logical. That is why I appeal to him to try to influence his hon. Friends, despite his success in defending an illogical policy during the General Election. I appeal to him to stop thinking about what happened eight months ago and to start thinking about what will be necessary in the coming months, when the squeeze will bite even more deeply into Scotland and when the area covered by the gap in the map will feel the squeeze as much as any other area.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I do not know whether a Member representing a constituency in the north of England is permitted to participate in this debate, which so far has concentrated on affairs a little to the north of that area. I am provoked to join in the discussion by some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell).
The hon. Gentleman said that, because of the Order, more than half the United Kingdom will be in a development area and that this might mean that the special help to those areas might be diffused too thinly. Half the United Kingdom may be within these areas, but by no means half the population will be. The population and employment factors are essential here. It is essential to remember that Merseyside, the north of England and at least the greater part of Scotland, in spite of having a relatively small proportion of the population, a disproportionately high percentage of unemployment.
The hon. Member also said that we should concentrate the special help which is always available under industrial development orders on those areas within the development areas which are particularly in need. We on this side have always taken the view that, in the north of England, pockets of heavy unemployment within the Northern region should not be isolated, because the nature of the integrated industrial and commercial blocks there made it 1537 impossible to plan the economy effectively en that basis. Therefore, the idea of making the whole of the northern region a development area, which is what the Order will do was always the view which we took on this side of the House about how that area should be developed—
§ Mr. G. Campbell
I agree with the hon. Gentleman, but if the whole of Newcastle had been excluded from that area, it would have been exactly the opposite of that argument.
§ Mr. Rhodes
But I see from the Order that the whole of Newcastle and Walker, which is in the centre of my constituency, is left in, so I am not complaining, but the industrial and economic circumstances in Newcastle and Walker, as the very centre of the Tyneside industrial development, may have justified its being left in, although its unemployment figures were not as high as those of other parts of the region. The parallel argument may not apply to Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello. I do not know, and would not venture an opinion on the matter, as hon. Members opposite will tell me that I do not know what I am talking about. But I do know what I am talking about in relation to Tyneside and particularly in relation to Walker.
The hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith) said that perhaps these areas had been left out because they are the last citadels and last bastions of anti-Socialism in Scotland. If he had read the Order, he would have noticed that, in the northern development area, are included areas which are the last bastions of anti-Socialism in the north of England—Berwick-upon-Tweed, for example, and Hexham, Kendal, Keswick, Malton, Scarborough, Richmond, Thirsk and Windermere. I believe that all these places are represented by Conservative Members of Parliament.
It would, therefore, be illogical, if the hon. Member's point were followed, for this Government to have been so disgraceful as to leave out Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello if they failed also to leave out Berwick-upon-Tweed and Hexham. There may have been particular reasons in the northern region why these last bastions of anti-Socialism were included in the development area, while, for other 1538 reasons, Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello were not included in Scotland.
I would like to hear my right hon. Friend's reason why these were left out; I am sure that it is a very good one.
I think it excellent that the areas in the northern region and the whole of Scotland which I have mentioned have been included in this development area. In that region we have had for many years twice the national average of unemployment. This persisted during the many years when hon. Members opposite were in office, but I am pleased to be able to repeat tonight that the relativity gap between our region and the rest of the country is rapidly closing. Unemployment is increasing all over the country, but it is worth bearing in mind that in the Northern Region while it is hovering around 40,000—which is still too high—it is less than half what it was during 1962 and 1963 when hon. Members opposite were in power.
I suggest that is because the region has been given priority as a complete and comprehensive development area with the lion's share of new factory space since this Government came into power. It is significant that the last time that the northern region and central Scotland had the lion's share of new factory space was precisely between 1945 and 1951 when, again, a Labour Government were in power. Right smack in the middle of this development area, I contested my constituency at the last election supporting the Government's policy of declaring that the whole region should be a development area. I say with all humility that my constituency had the fourth highest swing to the Government in the whole United Kingdom. So this policy was certainly popular.
Earl of Dalkeith
Has the hon. Member ever worked out how long it takes for a factory to be in operation from the moment that it is on the drawing board? If he did so he would find that the great majority of factories in the North-East were started under Conservative Government.
§ Mr. Rhodes
I would be willing to give way to the noble Lord if he were to inform me about something taking place in Scotland, but I think it a little presumptuous of him to tell me about what is going on on Tyneside.
1539 What I said is correct, that the lion's share of new factory space being allocated for the first time, where work has not yet begun, has been allocated by this Government to this area. It is higher than ever before and the last time that this happened was between 1945 and 1951. I do not know the position over new factory building in Scotland, but I can assure the hon. Member that this concerns not only new buildings being completed, but brand new factory space which my right hon. Friends have said should go to the region because they are interested in the region.
Some of the arguments suggesting why these areas were left out are completely illogical. They did not refer to the region to which I have referred.
§ 10.38 p.m.
§ Mr. Anthony Stodart (Edinburgh, West)
I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you will share my view that it is always distressing to see one who, although he is on the other side of the House, is a personal friend and who shares one's views on many subjects, in considerable difficulty and distress. I confess that my heart goes out to the Minister of State, Board of Trade, tonight. So desperate is he that he has had to call to his assistance no less a personage than the Minister of State, Scotland, who is looking even more lugubrious than we often think he does.
I was unhappy when in a certain city in Scotland some months ago I was asked to comment on whether it would be correct to parody a well-known song and to say "The Darling is a Charlie". I must not, I gather, refer to the exclusion of certain areas. All I would say in this connection is that the Minister of State, Board of Trade, must feel slightly disturbed in that behind him is sitting the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) who, on 9th March 1966, gave certain specific assurances, more or less on behalf of the Board of Trade, that certain incentives would be given to a certain area. It must make it rather uncomfortable for the Minister of State to have to explain why those assurances have not been fulfilled.
I ask the Minister of State why he gives his incentives in the development area to 1540 Musselburgh? Is it because Musselburgh happens to be in the constituency of the Minister of State, Scottish Office? That does not appear to be the reason. Why give them not only to Musselburgh but to Dalkeith, Ratho and Newbridge? The Secretary of State for Scotland gave as the reason for the exclusion of certain areas a persistently low level of unemployment and reduced population growth. Why does that bring in Musselburgh, Dalkeith, Ratho and Newbridge? What is there peculiar about the needs of Balerno, lying, as it does, just over the line? What is there, in this instance, different as between one side of the line and the other? Is the unemployment rate higher? The answer is that it is not. and well does the Minister of State know it.
Surely the main objective in doing what the Government are doing is to get greater efficiency in the export trade, which is vital to the economy, and therefore to do away with things like double handling. But, of course, by going back into the hinterland it is inevitable that double handling will have to take place and costs are therefore bound to rise. This is no way to get the necessary competition which is essential if we are to get into the markets of the world.
§ 10.43 p.m.
§ Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
It is fair that I should have the opportunity to reply to the unfair charges levelled at me in his usual unfair way by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart), who masqueraded as a Minister at one time but did very little for Scotland.
I am interested in this Motion, but I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) takes the onus on his broad shoulders of putting it down and allowing it to be used as a vehicle for certain Scottish hon. Members who, having lost power, are playing at politics tonight in order to try to wring a meagre benefit for their party.
What does this Prayer say? We have had all of this talk from Scottish Members opposite, yet there is not a Scottish name in support of the Prayer. Why are you breenging in here, tramping on ground that you did not prepare?
§ Mr. Manuel
I certainly did not include the Chair in my remarks. I was meaning the Scottish Members opposite.
§ Mr. G. Campbell
I distinctly heard the hon. Member use the word "you" followed by some remarks which were certainly uncomplimentary to the Chair.
§ Mr. Stodart
I distinctly heard the hon. Gentleman use the word "breenging," and that is surely a most un-Parliamentary expression.
§ Mr. Manuel
It is a very Scottish word. I do not know if you know what it means—it means barging in. This is what has happened tonight. The hon. Members have not had the courage to put their names to the Prayer. Why do they disagree with the Order? Is it to go out from this House that they are against Scotland being declared a development area and do not want it to receive the 40 per cent. investment grant? They may not want it for Scotland, but we do.
The Prayer asks:That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that the Development Areas Order 1966 (S.I., 1966, No. 1032), dated 12th August, 1966, a copy of which was laid before this House on 17th August, be annulled.
§ Mr. G. Campbell rose—
§ Mr. Manuel
No, you have had your turn. I do not have to depend upon the meagre resources of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Let us go further afield—
§ Mr. Manuel
I have been speaking to the Chair, most effectively, I thought. I want to point out, through the Chair, some facts to the hon. Gentlemen opposite.
1542 I have here the Midland Bank Review for November. Do hon. Gentlemen read the publications sent to them? What does it say about Scotland.
§ Mr. Manuel
When it concerns Scotland, as does this review, it would be advantageous for Scottish Members to read it. I do not want to quote all the help that it will give to the hon. Member for Dumfries (Mr. Monro) and his constituency and how much per head of the population it involves. The review says, under the heading of "Scotland Takes the Strain.":On balance, over the past two years the Scottish economy has made good progress. Output and exports have risen faster than in the United Kingdom as a whole, and more new industries have been attracted to Scotland.Do hon. Gentlemen who have tried to attack my hon. and right hon. Friends for attempting to bring succour and relief to Scotland wish to query this? I want to repudiate the attack that has been made upon them. I call to my aid the review of the Midland Bank. On the centre pages, under the heading "Scotland takes the Strain", it portrays the size of the problem which the Government have undertaken. It talks about the bad housing, the old industry passing away, and about having to start from scratch. These problems have been gone into. Then there is the tribute on the front page: "Scotland Takes the Strain," and she is riding triumphantly ahead under the present Government, and will not be held back by backwoodsmen from Tory areas who do not want industry.
§ Mr. G. Campbell
What the hon. Gentleman has been saying about the last two years is what has been happening under the existing system of investment allowances. The new system has not yet come into action. What has been happening so far is the result of the four and five years of the past system, not the new system.
§ Mr. Manuel
That is the point. All of us know, if we are sincere, that these deep-seated problems have to be cured, and we cannot cure them in the space 1543 of two years. Many things have to be accomplished, including the change-over of heavy industries into light industries. I would have thought that in an order that is securing for Scotland the whole of its area being a development area, which will secure new investment grants, that hon. Members opposite would have supported it and not have repudiated it in the way they have done tonight.
§ 10.52 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. George Darling)
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Wood) began this debate, I do not think that he or I expected it to develop as it has done. I would like to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his perseverance in pursuing, in rather more difficult circumstances than usual, the point he has made so frequently about the way the development areas have been drawn under the new Industrial Development Act. I should also like to congratulate him on the moderation with which he pursues this deep constituency problem. I can assure him that the contemplation of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on this matter did not come to an end in July. In fact, we have given considerable thought to the issue which he has raised, and we shall continue to give thought to it.
I hope I can keep in order by drawing attention to a district that is in the Schedule—namely, Scarborough. The reason why Scarborough is in and a place not far away has been left out is that in Scarborough, unlike the other place which I have not mentioned, the population has been declining. Industrial development has been practically nil for the last six or seven years. Only seven industrial development certificates have been approved in the last six years in Scarborough, and, as far as we can discover, these have produced only about 230 new jobs. The situation in Scarborough under the new criteria that are laid down is not just a matter of unemployment, but also concerns the course of employment, whether or not it is rising rapidly, migration, population trends, regional problems, and so on. Because of this situation, we are quite right, in our view, in putting Scarborough in.
1544 One can argue, as the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West (Mr. Stodart) has argued in relation to certain areas in Scotland, that certain parts of a district around Scarborough come into the development area and certain parts are left out. Without a map I could not follow exactly which places the hon. Member for Edinburgh, West, was referring to, but the principle involved is the same. Some parts have come in or have been left out because, after a great deal of consideration, we thought it right to draw our boundary lines round the employment exchange areas. We said during the passage of the Bill that that was to be the present arrangement; that we thought that it was the best way of drawing the boundaries, but that if experience showed that we were wrong we could change this method, the Board of Trade having discretion to alter boundaries by bringing Orders before this House for that purpose.
The value to be attached to this debate lies in the fact that there is not one member of the Opposition on the Front Bench opposite to support the Prayer, and I will certainly treat the right hon. Gentleman with a great deal more courtesy than his own Front Bench seems to have shown. Hoping still to keep within the rules of order, I will try to say why we have drawn the Schedule in this way.
We have taken into consideration other facts besides unemployment. We have tried to look at industrial development not only for the purpose of dealing with unemployment but in order to get a far better distribution of industry than we have hitherto had. We have, therefore, so designated the development areas as to bring within our wider policies of regional development industrial development on a better national scale.
We have given careful consideration to the choice of areas. These were reviewed during the passage of the Bill. We have listened to representations, and if, for example, we had given to Bridlington the concession that has been asked for, we would have had to give the same sort of concession to a large number of other seaside resorts which are outside the development areas but where equally strong representations have been made and where the situation is similar to that in Bridlington in terms of 1545 unemployment, population trend, and so on.
The answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith), who said that we were treating the matter in an authoritarian manner because we have not, so to speak, given way to the representations made to us by Edinburgh, is that we have had put to us stronger cases than the case presented by Edinburgh. If we had given way to all those representations, the whole plan of industrial development laid down in the Act would have been completely vitiated—
§ Mr. Darling
If the hon. Member will only allow me to develop my speech, I will deal with that matter. I did not interrupt him.
We are asked why there is a hole, so to speak, in the Scottish development area, but there is another place that is not included, and that is the capital of Wales. These two capital cities are very attractive. They are magnets. They attract employment on a very big scale. We have left both of them out for the very good reason that if we were to attract more and more employment into either or both places, we would not give a fair chance to other parts of Scotland and Wales where industrial development is far more urgent and is needed on a much greater scale.
It has been suggested that a Minister who is home-based in London does not know a great deal about what goes on in Scotland. I have paid two visits recently to development areas in Scotland where industrial development is needed as a result of coal mine closures and all the other problems which have to be dealt with. I did not find anybody outside the capital city who objected to what we have done about Edinburgh. In fact, many representatives of local authorities and industrialists thought we had done the right thing, because they wanted to attract industry to their own areas where there was unemployment and where there was a rundown of old-fashioned industries such as coal mining. I do not think, apart from the special constituency cases put 1546 forward by the representatives on one side of the political set-up of the city of Edinburgh, that many people in Scotland dissent from that point of view at all, except for the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell). If the hon. Member would logically examine his arguments, I think he would agree that it is better that we should concentrate our efforts on the places in Scotland which really need these efforts rather than bring in a magnet we do not want to be used, certainly at the present time.
§ Mr. Stodart
When the hon. Gentleman says that I represent only one particular side of the Edinburgh political scene, is not he aware that the representations made to me were made by every section and every political view?
§ Mr. Darling
I am talking about the representations made here tonight in this House. But if the hon. Member on another occasion—I cannot do it here—would like me to describe to him what went on when we received that deputation from the city of Edinburgh, I would be glad to enlighten him. It was a most rewarding experience.
To come back to Bridlington—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The Minister, like all other hon. Members, must observe the rules of order. We really cannot discuss any more either Bridlington or Edinburgh.
§ Mr. Darling
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think you will agree that I was rather led astray, but I am certainly in a little difficulty now in trying to reply to the right hon. Gentleman. However, I think the point I have made will explain why we drew the boundary line where we did.
As for the rest of the development areas, we have had very little criticism except on an issue—I do not know whether this is in order or not—which certainly has got to be looked at in the future, and that is the problem first of all of certain seaside places which have an entirely different employment problem to deal with than the general run of industrial areas where unemployment still persists.
In seaside resorts one has a very high proportion of older people, many of whom have retired there at below the 1547 normal retiring age, who are still available for work and therefore sign on at the employment exchange and are counted as unemployed if they do not get a job. One has also the difficult problem of seasonal unemployment, which means that the industrialist one is trying to attract to an area of this kind in order to provide industrial development may wonder whether he will get the type of work people he wants all the year round or whether they will be attracted to other jobs during the summer season.
These are problems which apply not just to one seaside resort, but all the way round the coast. I am sure that we have to consider this problem and think very carefully of the types of industry which would be best suited to go into areas of this kind.
Later on, when we have got the unemployment problem generally throughout the country under control by getting this better spread of industry, we shall have to come back to one or two of the issues which were raised during the passage of the Bill, particularly the very interesting discussion that we had in Committee about what we then called the "grey" areas, where there is no noticeable unemployment, but where there is no expansion, where industry is standing still, and where the social life of the towns is stagnating—I think that is the right word. These grey areas have to be dealt with not merely in terms of finding employment and industrial development, but in terms of social regeneration as well.
The immediate problem—and this is the problem with which we are trying to deal by bringing forward the Schedule for the development areas in the way that we have--- is still that of unemployment, the under-development of industry, and of getting the right kind of industrial development in the right places.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)
On the question of unemployment, and indeed the "grey" areas, would my right hon. Friend accept that there is great urgency in the need for him to contact his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour about the off the job adult retraining scheme, which was first mooted on the 31st October by the Minister of Labour?
§ Mr. Darling
I am sure that this is germane to the general problem, but I am not sure that it is germane to the Order which we are discussing.
I think that I have said enough to show that we have these matters under review. We have to work to priorities. First, we must deal with the problem of unemployment where it appears. Secondly, we have to deal with the places which are stagnating, and particularly the peculiar employment problems of seaside resorts, but these are matters which can come along after we have made a great deal more progress in dealing with the problems of unemployment, but I take into consideration all the representations which the right hon. Member for Bridlington has made again on behalf of his constituency.
§ Question put and negatived.