HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc15-6
22. Mr. Peter Mills

asked the Minister of Labour how many men and women have left service employment in North Devon to enter the manufacturing industries either in North Devon or further afield.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I regret that the information is not available.

Mr. Mills

May I tell the hon. Lady that there is virtually none? Would not she agree that this makes nonsense of the Selective Employment Tax and its effects in these regional areas? Will she do something immediately to rectify this situation, possibly by some form of differential?

Mrs. Williams

The hon. Gentleman will realise that North Devon has for a long time had little manufacturing industry, in spite of efforts made by the previous Government also. It is, however, the case that North Devon is now part of a development area, and as such is receiving additional privileges compared with areas which are not development areas.

Mr. Thorpe

Is the hon. Lady aware that in the Ilfracombe area, which depends on tourism, and where the S.E.T. has had its hardest effect, unemployment is now 10.2 per cent. of the employed population? Is the hon. Lady aware that this is 2.6 per cent. higher than last year? Is she further aware that the one chance of getting 400 men employed in an advance factory is being blocked by the Ministry of Transport because of an access problem? Will the hon. Lady look into that?

Mrs. Williams

I am aware that an advance factory is expected to go into production shortly, but that there are obstacles. We shall do what we can to look into it.

Dr. David Owen

Can my hon. Friend give an assurance that the kind of information sought in the Question will be acquired so that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer has to make up his mind about whether to apply the S.E.T. on a regional basis he will have some proper evidence on which to work?

Mrs. Williams

The figures to show changes as between one industry and another are available on the mid-year counts of the National Insurance cards, but they are not available yet.