HC Deb 13 December 1967 vol 756 cc434-573
Mr. Speaker

Before calling the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) to open the debate, may I announce to the House that I have selected the Amendment in the names of the Prime Minister and other right hon. Gentlemen. This will not cramp the debate in any way.

3.44 p.m.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)

I beg to move,

That this House calls attention with regret to Her Majesty's Government's failure to put forward proposals designed to solve the economic problems of the North-West, and to the resulting lack of confidence in the textile industry and in the areas traditionally associated with it. It is fitting that early in the new Session we should debate the problems of the North-West. I make no complaint about this being done on a Supply day, because it has given me the chance, at the invitation of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, of opening the debate. I am very glad to do so because I was born and bred in the North-West. I earned my living there, for some years I was Recorder of Wigan, a warmhearted and friendly place, and I have represented the Wirral for 22 years. That constituency contains one of the areas of greatest industrial expansion in the whole country, an expansion which has been going on for 20 years. Latterly, as Chairman in this Parliament of the group of Conservative Members from the North-West area, I have been studying the problems of other parts of it.

The North-West has many advantages. It has 6¾ million people, a larger population than Scotland, much larger than that of Wales, and exceeded only by the size of the South-East Region. It contributes one-fifth of our exports. It has the great asset of the character of its people with their industrial skills, the prowess of its football clubs— the top three in the First Division, and sixth and Burnley coming along at tenth — [An HON. MEMBER: "And cricket teams? "] We will be better at cricket later on. It has its remarkable musical endeavour, both old and new, and the staunchness and loyalty of its people.

The region also bears the scars of its history in the 19th century, when parts of Lancashire and Cheshire were making a remarkable contribution to the economic pre-eminence of the country but at great human cost in the harsh days of laissez faire and at considerable physical cost to us now with badly planned towns and slums, with old-fashioned industrial equipment and derelict and semi-derelict areas. None the less, I believe the region to be capable, if allowed, of a dynamic contribution to the future economic strength of the country. That is the area that we are discussing today in terms of the Motion and, later, the Amendment— a restrained and moderate Motion, a complacent and self-satisfied Amendment.

My aim, however, was not to be unduly controversial, but to urge upon the Government a case which, I hope, will be supported by most North-West Members, of all parties. First, the most important point is that some parts of the North-West area which do not have development area status are suffering cruelly. I welcome regional policies, but at present the differentiation is too sharp— for example, between Merseyside and the old cotton and coal towns and the Lancashire coastal towns.

What are those differences? First, there is the regional employment premium, 30s. a week per man. There is the Selective Employment Tax premium of 7s. 6d. I am told that Board of Trade advertisements say: Come to a development area, and you will get £ 97 a year for every man you employ. There may be sense in that if it refers to new employment, but what does not seem to me to make so much sense is that that benefit is given to firms in respect of people already employed. Ford's will get something like £1 million in respect of people employed at Hale-wood. In my constituency, Vauxhall's will get £¾million. Shell will get something like £400,000 without employing a single extra man to earn that money.

Then there are the investment grants: 45 per cent, in a development area as compared with 25 per cent, in a non- development area for new plant and machinery; and 35 per cent, as compared with 25 per cent, for new buildings and extensions to existing buildings.

Furthermore, I understand that the Lancashire colliery towns are to get no benefit from the special arrangements recently announced which will cost something like £135 million. For urban renewal there is the grant of 85 per cent. of cost in development areas and only 50 per cent, in non-development areas. In the development areas, training grants have been doubled from £5 to £10 per week per man for 10 weeks.

Against that background, what chance have the non-development areas of attracting new industry and of persuading industry which is already there to expand? Indeed, it is doubtful in some cases whether the non-development areas will retain such industry as they have. Case after case has been put to me. I will give some examples.

Nairn Williamsons, of Lancaster, has declared certain redundancies. It has said that it will concentrate some of its work and all its expansion in Scotland. Courtaulds is increasing its weaving capacity of man-made fibres, but will do it not where it is in the non-development areas in Lancashire, but at Carlisle and probably Skelmersdale. I am told that Qualitex, of Burnley, which employs about 750 people at Port Mill, is looking for a new place in a development area. Storey's, of Lancaster— another Lancaster firm— says with very great regret that if it comes to a question of its expanding, it will have to do it in a development area. More liberal grantings of industrial development certificates is all very well, but alone they will not enable non-development areas to stand up against these other inducements.

The fact is that some of these older towns are slowly decaying. The Amendment refers to "better prospects", but take Nelson. In October, 1964, there were 172 men and women wholly unemployed, and seven temporarily; in October, 1967, there were 548 wholly unemployed and 681 temporarily. In Colne, in October, 1964, there were 63 wholly out of work and four temporarily unemployed; in October, 1967, there were 291, as compared with 63, and 286, as compared with four.

When I was in Colne recently the headmaster of a school said that the area was sending well above the national average of young people to universities and other places of higher education, but that very few of them came back to work in the area itself.

These are fine communities, very close to beautiful countryside, with a great deal of social infrastructure— to use that revolting word— and churches and schools, roads, sewers, and so on. Have we got our priorities right? Are we providing enough for the redevelopment of existing areas? I think of Burnley as an example of what could be done, for there there has been good development beginning to be done, but when I was there very recently I saw a sort of pall of depression over the town's future prospects.

It is said that we must await the Hunt report. I agree that it is a very important report, and I am certainly not suggesting that development areas should lose all these advantages, and I accept, also, that perhaps before the Hunt report has come in and been considered it is difficult for the right hon. Gentleman to make these other places into development areas. I accept that. Therefore, I would establish at once, first of all, an intermediate range of investment grant of 35 per cent. I would be more selective inside development areas. I would put into the 35 per cent, category the colliery, textile and coastal towns— instead of 25 per cent, grant as at present.

Mr. Joel Barnett (Heywood and Royton)

I am not quite clear what the right hon. and learned Gentleman means. I am following him closely. I understood him to say that he did not accept the R.E.P. or S.E.T. grants were of much help. Now he is telling us what he would put in their place in those areas.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I must have been very unclear if I inferred that. I was pointing out various advantages which development areas had over non-development areas, and I listed five of them, investment grants, regional employment premiums, S.E.T. repayments, urban renewal, and training grants, and I was saying that these are ways in which the development areas have much greater advantages than non-development areas.

There are other ways of dealing with the matter. It does not follow from that that we should have to abolish those advantages for development areas, and I am not suggesting we should, but I was dealing with them one by one and coming, first to investment grants and saying that I would like to establish an intermediate category getting 35 per cent., together with more selectivity inside the development areas.

I will give an example of what I mean. In Ellesmere Port, we have plenty of industry employing men, and there is a shortage of men for work there. So in addition to planning for work for men, it is necessary to plan also for work for women, for there is very little employment for women there. I think, therefore, that what is needed is a system whereby there could be more selectivity in giving grants. There should be more selectivity inside development areas and grants directed to the textile, colliery and coastal towns, which should get 35 per cent, grant. I think that if they were inside the 35 per cent, category that would give them at least some chance of attracting new industry.

I would review the Regional Employment Premium, certainly as regards payment in respect of workers already employed before 4th September.

Third, I would revise urban renewal grants. I would put some of the money saved on Regional Employment Premiums in the ways I have described to overdue road improvements in these areas. In September I was told that the future of the Rossendale Valley would be completely changed if it had eight miles of new motorway. I think that this could be managed without net cost to the Treasury. This would be an interim programme. It would be pending the Hunt report. After all, a substantial time will be needed to study and discuss the report. It will be a very important report, as I have said, but I think that we shall have to revise a lot of our ideas in this period about the whole range of our strategy and tactics in the campaign for the fuller use of our resources— a campaign we all want to win.

But I think it will take quite a long time and rushed decisions following the Hunt report may not be sound decisions. Therefore, it seems to me absolutely essential that something should be done meanwhile in these ways, along the lines I have suggested, and that would go some way to meeting the situation.

That is the first matter. I come to the textile industry. Of course, it is relatively not as important as it was, but over 120,000 are still employed in it in Lancashire, and it is of considerable psychological significance. The statistics make grim reading. That figure of 120,000 compares with 314,000 in 1951. Exports of cotton cloth in 1951 were 1,054 million square yards; now they are 232 million. Imports, on the other hand, which were 476 million square yards in 1951 are now 681 million square yards. Closures during the last 12 months have been 60, the largest number in any year since the reorganisation.

After the visit which I paid to North-East Lancashire in September, I put to the right hon. Gentleman certain points which had been urged upon me by representatives of all parties, and with remarkable unanimity. I will quite briefly just go through these now. First of all, it was suggested that the Government must state whether they wish to have a textile industry or not and, if the answer was, "Yes", to define approximately its size and shape and to take steps which would enable it to survive. The right hon. Gentleman replied in October that he was aware that the textile industry was going through a very bad time, indeed, and that the Government wanted it to survive, but that until the Textile Council completed its major study on productivity and efficiency, it was really impossible for the Government to go further.

A second point was that steps must be taken to reduce imports, and I was told all the time that quotas were fixed too high because of the recession in home demand had not been expected— for example, in the case of sheetings, where 60 per cent, of home demand was now being met by imports. There might be some benefit to accrue from devaluation — but not all the benefits go the same way.

Once again, it looks, in view of the measures of restriction foreshadowed, that there may again be some cutback in home demand. Therefore, it was urged upon me all the time that quotas should be renegotiated, or, in any event, they should be spaced out throughout the year on a quarterly basis. Replying to me, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said the quotas could not be renegotiated and he did not accept the idea of spacing them out.

The third point I put to him was that the anti-dumping procedures were not effective, and that changes with regard to the burden of proof needed to be made. The right hon. Gentleman replied that on anti-dumping there had been a good deal of misunderstanding by the industry.

The fourth point was that the Imports Commission should have greater powers to obtain the facts about the market disruption techniques of importers. I was given some examples. But the right hon. Gentleman said he thought he need not comment on the suggestion that the Imports Commission or, indeed, any other body on which domestic producers are represented, should have power to inquire into the private business of import merchants.

Well, I should have thought that it was a question of finding out what was happening and whether the regulations were being observed for our anti-dumping procedures or whether they were being thwarted, and I should have thought there was a case for investigation. I do not think that we would expect the Imports Commission to regulate imports, but I think it could investigate the circumstances and the nature of what was being permitted. Finally, what is needed is that clear guidance should be given about what is to happen after 1970 when the existing arrangements end. The right hon. Gentleman's answer to that was that there are too many unknown factors and that this is a matter for discussion with the Textile Council.

Now, before I come to my observations on all this, I will give way to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp).

Mr. Mapp

I think that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's third point is official policy on behalf of the Opposition, namely, that there should be a renegotiation of the quotas and a more even spread of the import position year by year. However, would he go a little further and tell us what he means by a revision or renegotiation of import quotas? Does he propose that this should be done after 1970, or would it be done to operate before 1970, and would he tell us to what extent any cut-back would be imposed on Commonwealth countries?

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

Frequently, it is a mistake to give way to another hon. Member during the course of one's speech, because so often one finds that the question raised is the very point to which one is coming.

I regard the answers that I have quoted as; too negative an attitude. I do not think that it is one which will encourage the necessary capital investment. There is talk of better prospects facing the textile industry. It is probable that there has been, or will be, an upturn. There always have been upturns or cyclical movements. However, the high point of each cyclical movement has been lower than the previous peak, and the lowest point has been lower than the lowest point of the previous depression. That is what worries the industry so much. Although it recognises that there is bound, in time, to be a pick-up in the industry, it wonders whether the high point of that pick-up will not be lower than the previous high point.

The Government should take advantage of the devaluation readjustments to seek some revision of the quotas. They should be put on a quarterly basis. Any idea of allowing a 1 per cent, growth automatically is quite impossible.

We should be given very much more information about Portuguese imports. I understand that 31 million square yards of cotton piece goods were imported during the first six months of 1967, compared with 12 million square yards during the first six months of 1966. The Portuguese appear to have a duty-free entry here, yet they seem to be able to clap on duties against us when they want to. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with that point fairly fully, because I was told of a case which I have referred to before where there was a prospect of getting a good order in Portugal, they at once put on a 200 per cent, duty, and that was the end of the order.

It is extremely important that something should be said about the post-1970 prospects. I have said before, and I apologise for repeating it, that the representative of one firm told me that his company had to take a decision involving the expenditure of £600,000 on a major re-equipment scheme and that, without some idea of what is to happen after 1970, it was doubtful whether the company dared do it.

The Government have to say what they think will happen in 1970. Many people have the impression that there will be free imports after 1970. Certain words which have been said in the past by Ministers give the impression that, after that year, the industry will be sufficiently competitive to allow for free imports. I do not think that that is a realistic approach if we expect our textile industry to survive. There must be something definite said about the post-1970 period, about import controls and about the share of home markets in order to give confidence to the people who have these important decisions to make.

Mr. Ernest Thornton (Farnworth)

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is making an extremely reasonable case, and is right to ask for guarantees about the situation after 1970. However, did not an identical situation confront the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Administration when, during the period of the reorganisation scheme, the industry asked for similar guarantees and the Government of the day denied them?

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

So what? We all make mistakes. Governments are not perfect. The previous Labour Government made plenty of mistakes, and no doubt we did many things which we ought not to have done and neglected to do other things which we ought to have done. What I am concerned with is the future and survival of 6¾ million people.

I must apologise to the hon. Gentleman for answering him in what might seem to have been a rather heated fashion, because he is always so courteous.

I now come to a smaller matter but one which is of major importance to the people concerned. It is the footwear industry, which is also suffering from a flood of cheap imports. I have been told about slippers from Hong Kong which cost 2s. 8d. a pair, and that it is very doubtful where they are manufactured. I was told that the problems of the small-scale manufacturer are very difficult. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will make a concession today on one specific point, and that is in relation to the investment grant limit of £25. Unless something costs more than £25, it is impossible to get an investment grant. However, footwear manufacturers buy lasts, knives, and dies, each one of which costs less than £25. However, it must be remembered that they have to buy a number of each, and the total cost is much more than the limit. Such items should be grouped together when bought in numbers, so that they qualify for grant.

There are a number of other matters in respect of which the region is suffering from present Government policies. For example, it is very doubtful whether we are getting our fair share of advance factories. I have been told that, of the first 82, only five have gone to the Northwest. Out of 1,463,000 square feet, only 125,000 square feet has gone to the North-West. There are later figures, but I believe that they show the same tendency.

The new Transport Bill will not help. The 100-mile limit and the wear and tear tax will both affect the North-West far more than the Midlands, for instance, because of our geographical position and the higher proportion of heavy traffic coming from the North-West.

The nationalisation of our ports and docks will not help. Among other things, it will mean the end of a strong and profitable local concern, the Manchester Ship Canal Company, with a local interest in attracting industry to the banks of the canal.

All along the line, the North-West seems to be getting the worst of it, and the action of the Chairman of the North-West Economic Planning Council is symptomatic. The Council was set up with a fanfare of trumpets in 1965 under a distinguished Chairman, Mr. Charles Carter, the Vice-Chancellor of Lancaster University. In February, 1966, the Council produced "An Economic Planning Strategy for the North-West Region". It was a pink document, though I am not prejudiced against it for that reason, and it said some very good things about the attractions of the region and the difficulties, ending up with these words: The Economic Planning Council can, however, act as a catalyst for regional effort on a scale to enable the North-West to make its full contribution to national economic progress and to achieve new conditions of living for its people. The Council has worked hard. Hon. Gentlemen opposite as well as some of my colleagues and I have met representatives of the Council from time to time. Some of us were slightly annoyed at our last meeting when the chairman said that he could not reveal to us his Council's views on certain transport matters because the Minister of Transport wished them to be confidential. I also understand that the representatives of certain municipalities and chambers of commerce on the Council are not allowed to report back what takes place on the Council.

I now read that Mr. Carter plans to resign: Last night, Mr. Carter, who was appointed chairman when the council was formed in February, 1965, said he had felt a considerable sense of frustration in the job. He still believed in regional planning, but thought that there was a danger of the Government' too easily accepting a pretence of regional planning when it is politically convenient'. The trouble was, however, that the Government did not listen enough to the advice provided by the regional councils. We decided on this debate before we knew of Mr. Carter's action, but we feel the truth of the point made by him. The Government do not listen to the Planning Council. I do not think that they listen very much to hon. Members representing constituencies in the North-West, no matter on which side of the House they sit. They cannot deny the feeling of malaise, the feeling of lack of confidence, the feeling that London has no idea how to deal with the problems of the area, and the feeling that the words of the Amendment show that the Government are thoroughly complacement about them.

I believe that the situation in certain areas in the North-West demands urgent action. If this debate stimulates the Government to some action along the lines suggested— I do not care who gets the credit; the point is to get the action— then the debate will have served an important and valuable purpose.

4.11 p.m.

The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Anthony Crosland)

I beg to move, to leave out from "attention" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: to the action taken by Her Majesty's Government to resolve the economic problems of the North-West Region and to the better prospects now facing the textile industry and the areas traditionally associated with it". The whole House is grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) for opening the debate in a very constructive way. I entirely agree that it is an excellent thing that we should be having the debate. I am not sure that he is right that any Minister can ever be unaware of the strength of feeling in the North-West held by the textile industry. Certainly, I have been made aware of how strong this feeling is on many occasions, even during a brief period of three months at the Board of Trade. Nevertheless, the problems are real ones and I agree that it is most desirable that we should debate them today.

Before coming on to my main points, I would like to answer two particular questions that the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked.

First, he asked about the operation of the de minimis rule, as it is called, on investment grants in the footwear industry. This is a matter that is now being discussed between the Government, the C.B.I, and the Footwear Manufacturers' Association, and we are well aware of the strong feeling on this matter.

Secondly, he asked about a particular case where a 200 per cent, duty has been imposed by Portugal. As he will know, we have corresponded about this, but we would like to have details to enable us to identify the case, which at the moment we are unable to do.

The Motion refers both to the general problems facing the North-West, and, in particular, to the problems of the textile industry and the textile areas. I shall deal mainly with textiles, leaving the broader regional aspect to my right hon. friend the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, who will be winding up the debate. But I will say one word about the North West as a whole.

What is remarkable is how adaptable the region has proved in the face of a rapid change in its industrial structure. People outside the region do not realise that today employment in the "tradi- tional" industries of textiles and coal mining accounts for only 7.3 per cent, and 1 per cent, respectively of the total insured population of the region. The proportion of the working population employed in manufacturing industries is over 45 per cent., which is considerably higher than the average for Great Britain as a whole.

I think that this Government can take some credit for the expansion and the diversification of industry in the area. Industrial development certificates granted in the area have risen from 5.3 million square feet in 1963 to a rate of over 12 million square feet this year. That represents a very remarkable change indeed.

In addition, as hon. Members from the area well know, there has been a large expansion of employment in vacant existing industrial premises. We should not underestimate the importance of developments in existing property. Admittedly, some old premises should be completely replaced, but many conversions are highly successful.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

On the point about the 12 million square feet, could the right hon. Gentleman break down those within the development areas or new towns and those outside?

Mr. Crosland

I have not got the breakdown with me, but I will ask my right hon. Friend to give it to the hon. and learned Member when he replies.

The arrival of new industry, and the expansion of certain kinds of existing industry, has meant that the region now has a much more broadly and heathily based economy than ever before. The success of the Government's policy for the region can be judged by the unemployment figures. For the period January-September, 1967, there were 2.3 per cent, for the region, as compared with 2.9 per cent, for the comparable year of recession in 1963. In Merseyside, to which reference has been made, the figures are 3.2 per cent, and 5.1 per cent, respectively. This amounts to a very considerable structural change in our economy to the advantage of the North-West.

Nevertheless, as the right hon. and learned Gentleman made clear and as hon. Members are well aware, there are still anxieties in particular parts of the region, and notably in the traditional textile areas to which the Motion refers.

Some people argue that these areas should be given development area status. They say, naturally enough, that the powerful incentives now available in development areas are attracting industry which would otherwise have gone, say, to North-East Lancashire. They point out that the physical environment of the area is sometimes unattractive, much of the housing needs to be replaced, there is a need for more new schools, hospitals, and so on; generally the area suffers from serious dereliction.

They argue that communications need improvement; that there is net migration from the area particularly of young people; and that unemployment figures do not give a true picture of the situation of the area, since women who become redundant do not register as unemployed.

I would not attempt to deny any of these propositions. The difficulty is that all these things are equally true of the development areas, but on top of them they have heavy unemployment. And the difference in unemployment cannot be explained away simply by the failure of redundant female workers in North-East Lancashire to register as unemployed. In fact, many of them do register.

I have looked at the figures carefully. In recent periods of slackness in the textile industry, the proportion of women on the unemployment register rises markedly in North-East Lancashire. So the fact is that there is not, as is sometimes suggested, a total failure to register.

However we interpret the figures, we cannot escape the fact that the unemployment level in the textile areas nowhere approaches the levels often found in development areas. An unemployment rate of 3.2 per cent, even in Nelson and Colne last month— I suppose the worst hit area— must be compared with levels of around 8 per cent, in certain parts of South Wales. Certainly I found it salutory, when I followed the right hon. and learned Gentleman in his tour of North-East Lancashire, to follow that immediately with a visit to the development area of West Cumberland. Without in any way denying that the problems of North-East Lancashire are serious, one could not possibly maintain that they were as serious as those of the West Cumberland development area.

So I do not think that the claim to development area status can be made out. On the other hand, we must all agree that the simple division of the country into development areas and non-development areas is not flexible enough to meet changing needs and circumstances. That is why we have recently created the special development areas within development areas to cope with the exceptional unemployment problem caused by pit closures. And that is also why we have set up the Hunt Committee to consider the problem of "grey" or intermediate areas— a recognition of the fact that certain parts of the country outside the development areas cannot be put in the same category as London, the South-East and the Midlands.

As to the Hunt Committee, the Government are most anxious that it should report as quickly as it can, and no doubt my right hon. Friend will this evening say something about the timing. In any event, we must not, and do not, rule out all action in advance of the Hunt report. This is a matter very much in the Government's mind. We shall certainly consider whether anything can be done in the interim. Meanwhile, I made it clear when I was in North-East Lancashire recently that we shall issue I.D.C.s freely and, indeed, virtually automatically, for the expansion of existing industry in this area, and will consider promptly and with a determination to be helpful any request for an I.D.C. for new projects suited to the needs and resources of the area.

There will certainly be no attempt, as it was sometimes suggested in the past there was, to persuade industry to leave North-East Lancashire.

Mr. Barnett

I raised the point with my right hon. Friend's predecessor about a company from the South-East which wanted to move into my constituency. It was told of all the advantages which it would have obtained from going to a development area instead, and whilst an I.D.C. was not specifically refused, the company nevertheless went to a development area.

Mr. Crosland

I am not sure whether my hon. Friend is implying that it was dissuaded from going there.

Mr. Barnett


Mr. Crosland

It depends from where. As far as North-East Lancashire is concerned, which is what I am talking about, there will be no attempt to dissuade firms from going there, or of persuading firms to leave that area. In addition, what will happen— and I think that this point must be made— is that the prospects of the area will improve substantially as general economic expansion gets under way, because part of the difficulties of the industry— to which I shall come in a moment— during the last year and a half has been due to the general recession in the country as a whole.

I turn, now, to the problems of the textile industry as such. It is a problem made up of many different factors. The long-term reasons for the industry's decline are well known. It was a founding industry in all the advanced industrial countries, and it was bound to decline in relative size, partly as a result of technical progress and higher productivity, but mainly because cotton textile production was invariably one of the first industries to expand in the developing countries. All the advanced industrial countries have suffered a similar experience, but in Britain it has been particularly severe. We were an unusually large exporter, so suffered worse than most from the development of textile industries overseas, and we have, in addition, had the peculiar problem created by the duty-free entry of textiles from the Commonwealth.

There has also been the swing to man-made fibres. This, obviously, has its good side. There is a tariff on imports of man-made fibre textiles from all sources, including the Commonwealth, so that as the swing from cotton to man-made fibre cloth has taken place so a greater proportion of the traditional Lancashire industry's production has received the benefit of this protection.

Mr. Peter Mahon (Preston, North)


Mr. Crosland

Perhaps it will be helpmful if, before giving way, I develop my argument in more detail so that the House can see the general picture.

Man-made fibre textile production is generally carried out by developed countries with comparable standards of wages to our own. But the swing to man-made fibres, though beneficial to the country as a whole, has not always benefited Lancashire. The new sectors of production have tended to develop outside Lancashire. This is particularly true of the warp knitting industry, less than one-fifth of whose sales come from Lancashire. It is noticeable that, whereas, in September, cotton and man-made fibre cloth production was 19 per cent, below the level of September a year ago, deliveries of yarn to warp knitters were 26 per cent, above the level of September a year ago.

Those are the familiar long-term factors, but during the last year or so the textile industry has also been hit by a combination of very painful short-term factors. There has been a world-wide textile recession affecting not only Britain but all other advanced countries. The fall in production of cotton cloth in Germany, for example, in the first half of this year was as bad as in Lancashire, and Holland and Belgium have also been very hard hit.

This downswing in the textile cycle, the effects of the withdrawal of the import surcharge, and the increasing swing from woven to knitted goods, coincided with the effects of the measures of July, 1966, which caused a very sharp general recession. As a result, between June, 1966, and September, 1967, the production of cotton and man-made fibre yarn fell by 9 per cent., while cloth production fell by 25 per cent. In 1966, 64 mills closed. So far this year, 80 mills have closed.

Sir Frank Pearson (Clitheroe)

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree that all the factors which he has listed, which are entirely correct, must, without exception, have been very much in the mind of the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), when he raised the quota at the end of 1965 by 10 per cent., plus the additional 1 per cent. per annum?

Mr. Crosland

There was one major factor which my right hon. Friend could not have foreseen, and that was the necessity for the measures of July, 1966, which put this additional burden on the textile industry, as indeed it did on the country as a whole. I do not want to make a party speech, any more than the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral did — indeed, he was very disarming when he said that we all make mistakes, as no doubt we do— but if we are talking about mill closures it is worth noting that during the 10 years before this Government took over no fewer than 1,000 mills closed.

No one would deny the industry's problems which, in all conscience, are serious enough, but before I come to future policy I want to go into rather more detail on two aspects of the problem.

First, imports, which cause so much concern in the industry. As I have said, this problem is complicated by the fact that, for historical reasons connected with the Commonwealth, Britain has allowed an unusually high proportion of her market for cotton textiles to be supplied by low-cost imports. It is also affected by our sense of responsibility towards the under-developed countries which want to develop their economies and raise their standards of living. In this respect, trade is as important as aid. These countries will reach self-sufficiency only if they can increase their earnings of foreign exchange, which will allow them to buy essential imports.

In February, I shall be going to the second meeting of the U.N.C.T.A.D., where the trading problems of the underdeveloped countries will be thoroughly aired, and where the richer countries will come under very heavy pressure to help the poorer countries increase their exports. This is the other side of the picture, as Lancashire, and notably the textile unions, have, to their credit, always recognised. But the fact that is not in dispute is that Britain has borne a disproportionate share of the burden of helping the developing countries by taking in their cotton textiles. We take a much higher proportion, as we are constantly reminded, than any other major country.

What can be done about that? First, we have tried to persuade other countries to increase the share of cotton textiles which they take from the developing countries. We have made slower progress than we would have liked, but, nevertheless, it has been substantial. In 1966, the United States imported more cotton fibres and made-up goods than Britain produced in total, and it was mostly from low-cost countries. The United States has now agreed to an annual increase of 5 per cent, a year up to 1970. The countries of the E.E.C. have also made significant concessions, though in both cases, the United States and the Common Market countries, the low-cost countries' share of the market is still very much below ours, and I shall try to ensure that this improvement is maintained.

Next, as my right hon. Friend will no doubt explain better than anyone, we have taken more direct action. Already, in the early 'fifties, the Lancashire industry was becoming even more alarmed at the increasing and unrestricted flow of duty-free imports from India, Pakistan, and Hong Kong. The Conservative Government refused to impose quotas on Commonwealth countries. All that they did was to encourage Lancashire in its efforts to negotiate inter-industry agreements with the major exporting countries, but these arrangements became more and more inadequate and unsatisfactory over the years.

When the Labour Government took office in 1964 it was clear to my right hon. Friend, in particular, that a complete reappraisal of the import problem was needed to give the industry the breathing space it needed to carry out its necessary reorganisation. This reappraisal resulted in the import restrictions of 1966. We hear, as we have heard this afternoon and probably will hear later in the debate, a great deal of criticism of the Government over imports, but it is only right to recognise the major effort made by this Government to bring low cost cotton textile imports under control— an effort far surpassing anything achieved in this direction by our Conservative predecessors in office.

The restrictions imposed in 1966, combined with our existing bilateral arrangements, cover about 89 countries, that is, every country outside Western Europe, North America and Australasia. We persuaded supplying countries to acquiesce in quota ceilings in 1966 about 66 million sq. ft. below their previous performance. The protection now given to the cotton textile industry is, in fact, far more comprehensive than is generally appreciated.

It has often been said, and was said this afternoon, that the quota ceilings are intolerably high in a period when the domestic industry is passing through a period of recession, but we must remember that imports as well as domestic production have been affected by the fall in demand. In fact, imports supply a slightly smaller share of total British consumption than in 1964—

Mr. Ronald Atkins (Preston, North)

Would it not, therefore, be better to regulate imports of cottons in relation to the home market rather than on a fixed quota?

Mr. Crosland

As the right hon. and learned Member for the Wirral said, the trouble about giving way— this is no criticism— is that the consequent question so often relates to a point which one is just coming to. I would like to deal, first, with the factual situation and then with each of the points which the industry is now putting to the Government in relation to further import restrictions—

Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)

On a point of clarification. Did the right hon. Gentleman say that the quotas were fixed at 66 million square feet or square yards? There is an enormous difference: we normally deal in square yards, and I think he said square feet.

Mr. Crosland

Square feet—

Sir K. Joseph

Well, that is only 5 million square yards.

Mr. Crosland

I am sorry, I should have said yards—66 million square yards.

As I was saying, imports are now taking a slightly smaller share of British consumption than in 1964 and, also, retained imports from India, Hong Kong and the many other countries covered by the global quota arrangements, which rose to a peak in 1964, were almost exactly the same last year as they had been six years earlier in 1960. I do not think, therefore, that anyone can claim that we have not taken effective measures to curb the rapid growth in imports.

I would like to mention, also, the work of the Textile Council Imports Commission, to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman drew attention, which has helped so greatly in supervising the flow of imports. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman said, the actual regulation of the quantity of imports must, of course, be a matter for Government, who alone can conduct negotiations with foreign countries and impose licensing controls — although we always give serious consideration to the Commission's advice, but we are not always able to act upon its recommendations. The Commission has been of great assistance to the Customs in the work of detecting attempted evasions of quota or duty.

The next matter which I want to discuss is the industry's degree of competitiveness. None of us— this would be generally agreed, I think— would want to protect an industry which was not growing steadily more competitive. We cannot say that the position here is wholly satisfactory. Although the industry has increased its productivity in recent years, it looks as though there is still a considerable gap between it and some of its competitors. This seemed to emerge from figures produced by the G.A.T.T. Secretariat in 1964, which showed that output per spindle in Britain was a good deal lower than, for example, in the United States, Belgium, Austria and Portugal. In weaving, the position was rather better, but other countries were still some way ahead.

This seemed to be confirmed by our rather disappointing export performance. In recent years, for example, we have lost ground to our textile competitors in Europe, where wages in most cases are as high as or higher than in Great Britain. In 1966, we exported only 6 million square yards of cotton cloth to the Common Market countries, but we imported 49 million square yards for retention from them. That was despite the surcharge.

The position was almost as bad in E.F.T.A., in spite of the considerable tariff preference in favour of British goods. In 1966, despite this tariff preference, the Six outsold us in the E.F.T.A. markets by about 7 to 1, of which the major part came from Germany, where wages are, if anything, higher than in Britain. I hope that this position will improve as a result of devaluation, with which I will deal in a moment, but these figures show how vital it is to ensure that our goods are competitive in price, quality, design and colour.

Again, if we look at the pattern of imports, we find a significant and, perhaps, disturbing trend. Whereas imports from the restricted countries have remained stable and are, in fact, running at a lower level than three years ago, there has been a marked increase in imports of finished cloth, household textiles and apparel from the unrestricted countries. In 1964, about 25 per cent, of our imports or household textiles and 22 per cent, of our imports of apparel came from the unrestricted countries.

By the third quarter of this year, these percentages had risen to 31 per cent, and 30 per cent, respectively. The developed countries which have made the largest gains in the British market since 1964 are Canada, the United States, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France and Switzerland— all of them countries with a wage level comparable to, if not higher than, our own.

One is puzzled to know why those countries whose goods are, in most cases, subject to duty on entry of Britain should have been more successful than the British mills in picking up increased orders— and not only in Britain, but in E.F.T.A. I know that some people in the industry put it down to the fact that these other industries have a more secure home base, whereas in Britain our efficiency is said to be prejudiced by the unusually high level of import penetration in our own home market. But I am not convinced that this is the whole explanation.

The proportion of the home market held by our domestic industry is very substantial in absolute terms and represents a very worthwhile prize for any domestic producer who goes out to attack it, and some of our competitors among developed countries can produce lines at less cost than ourselves despite a comparably high import penetration and far higher wages also. Sweden and Canada are both places in point. Thus, there is a real problem of our competitiveness and there is no agreement about the cause of the problem.

That is why the Government, after they had taken the action proposed by my right hon. Friend to restrict imports from the low-cost countries, asked the Cotton Board— now reformed as the Textile Council— to consider ways and means by which the productivity and efficiency of the industry could be most rapidly increased to enable progress to be made towards the goal of a compact and viable industry. This work is now proceeding in depth across the broad front of a cost, structure, labour and marketing analysis. Consultants have been commissioned to work internationally on some of these problems. A report on the study as a whole is expected towards the end of next year and will certainly be of fundamental importance.

What action should the Government take, meanwhile? First, we want to do all we can, consistent with our international obligations, to assist the industry through public purchasing policies. The Government already take 88 per cent, of their non-wool textile requirements from home-produced cloth— a percentage considerably above that for the home market as a whole. In determining which tender to accept, we make it quite clear that all relevant factors must be taken into account— not simply price, but also delivery dates, quality, facilities for inspection and the long-term availability of a secure supply.

The Board of Trade is discussing with the Textile Council the reasons for the low response rate to invitations to tender and the unwillingness of most firms to bid for the whole of the contract. The Textile Council proposes to bring to the attention of the industry the main areas of Government business and the requirements which have to be met. So I hope for some improvement here.

Next, I turn to dumping. There are two reasons for being concerned about dumping. The first is that our manufacturers in Lancashire, as in the rest of the country, and also our farmers, are entitled to protection from unfair competition that causes or threatens them with material injury. But also, and in its way equally important to Britain, we want to avert anti-dumping action by other countries where this is taken unjustifiably, or without proper inquiry, with consequent damage to our exports.

To achieve these two results, we sought, during the Kennedy Round negotiations, agreement that antidumping procedures should be based, like our own legislation, on Article VI of the G.A.T.T. We can claim a considerable measure of success. The major participants in the Kennedy Round, including the United States, agreed on an Anti-Dumping Code setting out procedures and practices which are intended to make sure that trade is not unjustifiably disrupted or inhibited. Our own present legislation and practices are generally in line with the provisions of the code. What was achieved at Geneva was that other countries adhering to the code will move much closer to our practice.

In one important respect, however, the code goes further than our own legislation. It permits provisional antidumping action to be taken in cases where a preliminary examination shows sufficient evidence of dumping and of injury even though the necessary full investigation has not been completed. This is a facility which our Act does not provide. At present, we can move only when our full investigations have been completed. As announced during the Queen's Speech, we shall introduce during the present Session, shortly after the House reassembles after Christmas, a Bill to give us these powers to take provisional action.

We hear a good deal of criticism that the Government are unwilling to act strongly enough on dumping. I cannot accept this. Wherever an industry, whether the textile industry or any other industry, bring us a case which stands up to examination— and many, I have to add, do not—and meets the necessary criteria of dumping, material injury and national interest, then we shall certainly take action. I have made this absolutely clear to the industry.

I repeat it now. If the textile industry comes to us with a case that meets the requirements of the Act we shall take action. But we must be satisfied that the evidence is conclusive.

The industry, I know, would like further measures to restrict imports, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned a number of proposals. The proposals put forward have ranged from a complete moratorium on imports to suggestions that the quota categorisation arrangements for certain types of textiles should be tightened up. In particular, there have been demands— supported by the Imports Commission of the Textile Council— for the abolition of the 1 per cent, annual growth arrangement in the quotas, and for the introduction of new categories. I have carefully considered all the suggestions which have been made, but I cannot accept them for a number of reasons.

First, I cannot agree that in present circumstances we should be justified in going back on our quota agreements, which were negotiated for a five-year period, or, indeed, that we should be wise to attempt to alter the package deal which was negotiated by my right hon. Friend with such difficulty only 18 months ago. Secondly, to impose any additional import restrictions so soon after devaluation would be considered intolerable by other countries whose trade balance with us will already significantly worsen as a result of devaluation.

Most of our suppliers of cotton textiles have not devalued and so have been placed at a disadvantage in the British market compared with their former position. Naturally, they would be strongly opposed to still further measures against them, by means of new import restrictions, so soon after devaluation.

Thirdly, as this implies, devaluation itself will bring the industry a definite benefit. That has not yet been sufficiently recognised, although the right hon. and learned Gentleman conceded it.

I am aware that the uncertainties about the supply of cotton and post-devaluation prices and contracts are creating temporary uncertainties and difficulties. We are in touch with the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and other interests affected about this whole problem and we hope that they will succeed in persuading their suppliers to honour the contract conditions. As for the special problems involved in trade with Nigeria, Uganda and Tanzania, which affect cotton to some degree and other industries, too, I am glad that the Bank of England has been able to offer a measure of help in certain cases and that discussions are continuing. These, we hope, will be only temporary difficulties.

Of course, I admit that the cost advantage on devaluation will be partially offset by the increase in the price of raw cotton, the withdrawal of the S.E.T. premium and other factors. But it seems clear, and is agreed by many in the industry, that a really worthwhile margin of advantage will remain as a result of devaluation. After all, devaluation is a measure of extra tariff protection. The bulk of our cotton textile imports come from countries which have not devalued with us, so that the price advantage hitherto enjoyed by imports should be diminished. There is also now an added incentive for home-produced man-made fibre textiles to cut out some of the cotton imports. On top of this, there should be better opportunities for exports to markets such as E.F.T.A. and the other Western European countries.

Generally, although the effect will vary for different parts of the industry, the effective degree of tariff protection will be substantially increased, particularly for those sections which use home-produced fibres. Devaluation will certainly be of greater benefit to the industry than suspension of the 1 per cent, growth formula, or any change in categorisation. To this extent, the industry's demand for a further measure of import protection has been indirectly met.

And we have to remember that even before devaluation an upswing in orders was apparent. Hon. Members will have seen the latest Financial Times Survey of Business Opinion, in yesterday's issue. This reports a striking increase in optimism about the business situation in the textile and clothing group of industries. The results show 96 per cent, of respondents more optimistic than four months ago and only 2 per cent, less so. The Financial Times comments: The turn-round in the mood of this industry reflects a recent pick-up in new orders and output rates, which has led to a fairly widespread expectation of improved profit margins ". In fact, the Financial Times reports that 99 per cent, of respondents in the textiles group expect production to rise by between 1 per cent, and 10 per cent, during the next 12 months, and the pickup in the rate of new orders in the textiles group is observed to be more marked than in the other industries covered in the survey.

This confirms what was already apparent. During the last two months there have been widespread reports of an unmistakable upturn in demand. The spinning sector of the industry is said to have the best order position for 18 months; on the weaving side there has also been a revival of interest, which, I might add, has only this week been given by one firm as the reason for its refusal to quote when invited to tender for a Government contract.

In the light of this, I do not think that the case for any further immediate action is made out. But I realise that the industry wants an assurance about the long-term future, and, in particular, about Government policy towards low-cost imports after the present quota arrangements expire at the end of 1970. I have great sympathy with this. The Govern-men would like to give the industry confidence, and to convince it that the Government believe firmly in a strong and viable textile industry.

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)

The right hon. Gentleman is right when he talks about the mini-boom which the industry has had, but that is mainly due to the relaxation of controls in August. If the right hon. Gentleman talks to people in the industry instead of relying on extracts from newspapers he will find that they are very concerned indeed about the order situation for the immediate months ahead.

Mr. Crosland

It was not a question simply of tittle-tattle in newspapers. I was quoting the Financial Times survey of businessmen who were giving the answers which I quoted.

I think it reasonable, dealing with the industry's demand for confidence after 1970, that the Government should also look for assurances from the industry; that it will be efficient, productive and competitive, at least with other high-wage countries in price, design and quality. That is why I attach so much importance to the productivity study and to seeing its analysis and recommendations.

I am also extremely pleased that some other studies are being commissioned, in particular, one which I understand has been commissioned by the textile trade unions into the right structure for the industry. That is an initiative which I welcome very much. When we have the Textile Council's study, and those which have been independently commissioned, we must, all of us together, take a view of the long-term size and proper structure of the industry and, for the Government, that view will include the level of imports after 1970.

If the industry will play its part on the side of productive efficiency, the Government will fulfil their responsibility for an adequate policy on imports. I am absolutely confident that, if all those involved in this problem play their part, we can create an industry which will continue to play a major rôle in the nation's economic life.

4.51 p.m.

Sir Frank Pearson (Clitheroe)

I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House who represent Lancashire constituencies will be grateful to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition for having arranged for this debate on Lancashire affairs to take place on a Supply Day. It is a debate to which Lancashire has been looking forward for a long time.

Nothing said by the President of the Board of Trade removes the need for a Motion in the terms set out by the Opposition. We have heard promises for the future and about committees and commissions being set up. Apart from that, we have heard virtually nothing about what has actually been done to help Lancashire during the last three years. That is what this debate is about.

I was glad to hear the right hon. Gentleman accept so many of the points put forward by my right hon. Friend about the failure of the development area policy. The question of this and similar policies is probably the most vital one affecting the North-West. I wish, therefore, to refer to those policies as they affect my constituency in the north-east corner of Lancashire.

It seems strange that in an area which is predominantly dominated by hon. Gentlemen opposite, it should fall to me and to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke) to put forward the case for North-East Lancashire. I am only too happy to do so. At least, the people of this area may be assured that somebody in the House is prepared to get to his feet and talk about their problems.

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington

The hon. Gentleman assumes that he is the only hon. Member qualified to speak about the problems of North-East Lancashire. Does he recall that I raised these very problems in an Adjournment debate recently and that he took part in it?

Sir F. Pearson

I remember that debate well. I was glad to get the last word in the final three minutes of it and to have the opportunity to say some extremely uncomplimentary things to the Minister.

I particularly wish today to speak about the small area around Burnley, Nelson and Colne, Padiham and my constituency surrounding Burnley,' an area which, for the last 16 years, has seen a steady decline in its population. It has been a remarkable decline because while in 1951 the population of the area was 179,000 people, today it is only 168,000. During that period the employed population in the textile industry has fallen from 40,000 to 18,000. These figures are an indication of the problems faced by North-East Lancashire. The labour force of Great Britain generally has increased by 3 million, or 14 per cent. In North-East Lancashire, it has decreased by 10 per cent.

Between 1953 and 1960, under Conservative rule, this area was designated as a development area and, during those years, a certain vitality was produced in the district. That vitality was brought about by diversification and that diversification saw the establishment of the great Mullard factory and Michelin factory in Burnley. Thank goodness those factories came to the area during those years. I dread to think what the position would have been in the last three years had they not come to North-East Lancashire.

By 1960, everything appeared to be set fair. The area was beginning to expand, people thought that they had a new life and could begin to play their part in the second industrial revolution. But from 1964 the position has been very different indeed.

Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)

On a point of order. Is the hon. Gentleman in order in speaking about a constituency other than his own when he knows perfectly well that the representative of that constituency is, unfortunately, unable to contribute to the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Sydney Irving)

That is not a matter for the Chair. What the hon. Gentleman says is a matter for his own responsibility.

Sir F. Pearson

The area of which I am speaking entirely surrounds the hon. Gentleman's constituency.

Mr. Dan Jones

The hon. Gentleman should confine his remarks to his area.

Sir F. Pearson

Our problems are in common and I am endeavouring to put to the House the problems about which I know the hon. Gentleman feels strongly. I appreciate that, he is not in a position to put them.

As a result of this historical background, we in North-East Lancashire have had three years of complete stagnation. Our problems are an ageing population, a stagnant industrial base and, above all, the problem of seeing our young men and women, highly qualified in our local schools and colleges, leaving the area. We know all about exports. It is a sad thing that we in this area are exporting our highly qualified young people— and that sort of exporting is certainly not fun.

I do not want the House to feel that I am unsympathetic towards the development areas. The President of the Board of Trade rightly pointed out that those areas have our problems, but, in addition, have the problem of very much higher unemployment. I wish, above all else, to see those problems settled. I wish to see the unemployment in development districts reduced, I would welcome all reasonable measures to that end, but the tragedy today is that the measures to assist the development districts have become unreasonable.

Almost every day the Prime Minister promises more assistance to those districts. Every time he promises further assistance to development areas such as mine in North-East Lancashire they become even more disheartened and depressed. For every employed person in a development district the Government are to pay £97 per annum to industries which are well-established there. They are industries which are thriving. To some, such as the Ford factory, this will mean more than £1 million a year Government money paid to a factory to which it will do no good whatsoever. It is a total waste of taxpayers' money and the resources of the country.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, can you wonder that there is bitterness in areas such as North-East Lancashire when people there see this money wasted on projects where it will do no good whereas they know full well that one-tenth of that money would make all the difference to them between stagnation and reasonable expansion? It is not only a question of stagnation. There are firms in North-East Lancashire today which are seriously contemplating closing and moving to other areas because in the other areas they can get all the assistance the Government promise.

The right hon. Gentleman says that he will wait for the Hunt Committee's report. He said that his right hon. Friend will tell us at the end of the debate when the Hunt Committee will report. That is not soon enough. There is nothing that the Hunt Committee can say which he and his Department do not know already and no statistic it can produce which is not already on his files. We were delighted to welcome the right hon. Gentleman to North-East Lancashire the other day and to tell him of our problems, which he could see for himself. A decision could be made tomorrow if the will were there. Unfortunately, I see no sign yet that the will is there. Even if the Hunt Committee reported in the middle of next year, there would be another year before we could know what was to happen.

I should not like to think that all these committees have been set up so that their reports come in to form the basis of the Government's proposals for the next General Election. I hope that is not the general order of time. If it is, there will be great disillusion in North-East Lancashire. I see no reason at all why early and immediate steps cannot be taken to give assistance to such intermediate areas as these.

Quite apart from direct Government assistance I stress again the importance of communications. We are very worried in Lancashire about the proposal to build a new town at Preston on the A6 near the Port of Fleetwood. We know the psychological situation purely on the ground of communications. I welcome the Preston new town and believe that it will do good to Lancashire, but I shall fight the proposal tooth and nail until I have an assurance that some of the advantages of the Preston situation will be offset by similar advantages to other industrial areas.

One of the best things the Government could do for North-East Lancashire would be to announce tomorrow— or better still tonight— a great motorway programme linking North-East Lancashire with Manchester, on the one hand, by the Manchester/Yorkshire motorway, and the M6 and Preston, on the other. If the Government promised that this would be put through as a priority job, we could have some hope that we could hold our own and expand.

Another matter is urban renewal and amenity. This area is crying out for renewal. There are old cotton mills, old slag heaps and dirty buildings which all want tidying up, [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) would rise to his feet, I would give way.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

We should like to know what the hon. Member's Government did during the 13 years that they were in office to clear up precisely that mess.

Sir F. Pearson

If the hon. Member has nothing better to say, I should not give way to him.

I advert for a moment to the question of urban renewal. This is one of the most important factors in industrial development today. As my right hon. and learned Friend said, we have a magnificent area in North-East Lancashire, a wonderful hinterland, but we want money spent on getting rid of old cotton mills. I would rather see them pulled down than new industries going into them. We want new factories and a new policy which would encourage about eight science-based factories to come to North-East Lancashire. [An HON. MEMBER: "Publicly owned."] They should have good communications. If we had that we would be well on the way towards a successful future.

I accept that much must be done by the textile industry itself to increase efficiency, to improve with modern machinery and to rationalise the structure of the industry. This, of course, must play a part, but I believe that the right hon. Gentleman underrates seriously the part which confidence must play before this restructuring and re-equipment can begin to take place. Some action is necessary now to give the industry a real confidence in its future. I have not heard anything from the right hon. Gentleman this afternoon which, if I were a textile manufacturer, would give me an iota of confidence more than I have today.

The right hon. Gentleman made great play about order books being filled for the last six months. They have given that boost which he and his Government have wanted for the last year. It came and might have been in time to save his bacon, but circumstances are not normal. Any boost to trade today is likely to be seriously affected by measures of restraint which have to follow devaluation.

The right hon. Gentleman said that he was not quite certain what the final effects of devaluation would be. The trade is not quite certain yet, but one thing sticks out a mile. We shall all be wearing clothes with very much more synthetic material in them than we had before. The amount of cotton in our garments will be substantially less and it will be very much more expensive. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to have another look at the quota. The proportion of the quota in relation to our total take-off cotton will be very much larger than in the past. I implore him to consider whether it is not possible to adopt the suggestion made by my right hon. and learned Friend, even as a temporary measure, to reduce the quota, or certainly to split it up into the four periods of a year. I urge him to look at the categorisation of cloth to see if we cannot strengthen the sheeting industry.

Mr. Dan Jones

Will the hon. Member give way?

Sir F. Pearson


Mr. Dan Jones

Perhaps I might be permitted to ask a question, although I should very much like to make an observation. Will the hon. Member say yea or nay to a perfectly direct question? During the admittedly difficult months that it has gone through, has not the textile industry itself played its full and efficient part?

Sir F. Pearson

The textile industry itself, since the reorganisation of 1959–60, has done a magnificent job. But one of the troubles today is that the hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of new machinery which was put in at that time is now largely out of date. New machinery must be installed. Industry will not consider making the capital investment involved until the Government give some indication of what is to happen in future.

I hope that I have made my two points sufficiently clearly. The first is that there must be an intermediate programme for assisting the grey or intermediate areas. A totally fresh look must be taken at the assistance being given to development districts. This is the most important problem for my part of Lancashire.

For the rest— for the textile industry — I do not believe that anything that the Minister said today is of any real value. The committee of the industry which is studying the structure of the industry will not report until the end of 1968. Action will not be taken until 1969. The quota ends in 1970. We must know now what is to happen after 1970. If we do not, there will not be the necessary investment to give the industry a strong and prosperous future.

5.10 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Thornton (Farnworth)

I am glad again to have the opportunity of following the hon. Baronet the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson). I may have misunderstood him, but I thought that he tended to give the impression that the decline in North-East Lancashire had set in only since the Labour Government came to power. I was born in Burnley and lived for 20 years in Nelson during the period when the decline in North-East Lancashire set in. It has been a very long decline. Unfortunately, unless drastic measures are taken, this type of industrial decline begins to accelerate. There can be no doubt that it has accelerated in the last three years.

The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) made a very reasonable and, on the whole, constructive speech. The censure he applied to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade for not committing himself to what the quota levels would be after 1970 comes ill from a prominent member of the last Tory Administration. Arising from the Cotton Industry Act, 1959, the industry was anxious to know the quota levels which would be established before it committed itself to capital investment under the reorganisation scheme. Had the then Government committed themselves to a reasonable quota level of imports, there would have been a much greater amount of capital investment at that time. Following the cotton industry reorganisation scheme, the Select Committee submitted its Report upon its investigation and emphasised to the Government the importance of giving guarantees as to the future import position if the Cotton Industry Act was to be worth while and investment not to be wasted. Right up to 1964 the Conservative Government refused to make those commitments.

We are discussing today the problems of the North-West, the oldest industrial region in the United Kingdom and the second largest, if not the largest, of our industrial regions from the standpoint of production. The trend in the North-West in the last 15 years— roughly the period of the decline of the textile industry after its post-war period and covering the somewhat shorter period of the decline of coal mining— has been very disturbing. Lancashire is overwhelmingly, both in population and in industry, the major part of the North-West region. The geographical county of Lancashire— that is, the administrative county, plus its 17 county boroughs— has a population roughly equal to that of the whole of Scotland. The 1961 Census revealed for the first time this century that Lancashire's population was less than that of Scotland. From this it is not unreasonable to deduce that the outflow of people from Lancashire in recent years has been not less than the migration from Scotland.

Earlier this year the D.E.A. published a Green Book on the development areas. The Department makes a point of saying that in Scotland, Wales and the Northern Region together 300,000 jobs were lost in the three declining industries— that is, declining from the point of view of manpower employed. In agriculture, mining and shipbuilding, in the 16 years from 1951 to 1966, there was a loss of 300,000 jobs in these three regions.

In the North-West Region alone during those same 16 years, 227,000 jobs were lost, or 70 per cent, of the number lost in all those three regions. Of those 227,000 jobs lost, 180,000 were lost in textiles. Today the figure is up to 200,000. This is a rate and magnitude of contraction unparalleled in Britain's industrial history.

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade said that this has not reflected itself in the unemployment figure, for one reason to which he referred in particular. If my right hon. Friend will pardon my saying so, he underestimated rather than overestimated its importance. Approximately one-third of those employed in the Lancashire textile industry are married females. Of these, only a small proportion are insured for National Insurance. A case in point can be given. When Eckersley Mill at Wigan closed several months ago, 800 women lost their jobs. Only 60 registered at the employment exchange. They did not show in the unemployment figures, but this example indicates a tremendous loss to the industrial and productive potential.

The downward trend in mining in the North-West during the last several years has been almost as steep as that in textiles. In the next few years it is likely to be even steeper. The impending closure of Mosley Common Colliery is a tragedy for this part of Lancashire. It is the largest colliery in Lancashire. It is partly in my constituency but mainly in to constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. H. Boardman). Two thousand men will lose their jobs. It is obvious that all of them cannot be absorbed. There will be a great problem of job replacement, of retraining, of premature retirement, and perhaps of morale-sapping unemployment. I hope that the National Coal Board will deal sympathetically and understandingly with men approaching 60, who present a very special problem, for reasons which I need not detain the House by expanding.

I hope, also, that if unemployment for some of these men has become persistent, the Government will initiate schemes to ensure that they can be found employment in clearing or helping to landscape some of the many unsightly slag heaps which we have in the area of the Lancashire coalfield. This would be socially desirable work, effacing the slag heaps and some of the other worst features of industrial decay and dereliction all to evident in industrial Lancashire today.

I shall not weary the House by traversing the well discussed problem of low-cost tariff-free imports from Commonwealth countries, but it is still a problem, and I assure my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that it remains a severe one for the industry, both practically and psychologically. It has been a major factor in the too steep decline of our industry during the past 16 years. I regret to have to say that the policies of successive Governments during the past 16 years have been to let things go on and, rather, to tend to accelerate the decline of the industry. They held the view, no doubt with the best motives, that the new and more capital-intensive industries should take the place of the old and that this would be in the best interests of the nation as a whole and of the North-West in particular.

It was a plausible policy, if it worked. But it has not worked. It would have made sense if a modern dynamic economy had emerged in Britain and had added to the nation's wealth, and if it could be shown that the decline of the old cotton textile industry and the growth of new industries to take its place was the general trend in the advanced world. But it has not been a world-wide trend. All the other developed countries of the world, with the single exception, perhaps of Sweden, have taken steps to protect to a considerable extent their cotton textile industries against disruption from low-cost imports on a large scale; and these countries which have not taken steps in contracting quickly the old industries have emerged with economies which have grown stronger, whereas our economy, year by year over the last 16 years— not the last 3 years— has, relative to other advanced countries, become weaker and weaker.

Government policy in the North-West in regard to cotton and coal has been to let the industries decline, to let the new technological and science-based industries by their exports replace and pay for the added imports of cotton textiles and fuel. But this policy has not worked. The new industries on which so much hope was pinned have not been equal to the task of matching the bigger import bill due to greater imports of textiles and fuel. The story of the last 10 or 15 years has been one of global imports into the United Kingdom climbing faster than global exports.

It would have been better if previous Governments and the present Government had phased a lower rate of contraction of these industries until they were assured that the newer technological industries were equal to the task of matching the export effort necessary to meet the bigger import bill. That policy would have been more successful, and I hope that we have learned a lesson here.

It may be said, quite understandably, that I am underestimating or oversimplifying one aspect of the nation's economic problem. I do not claim to be an expert or an economist, but I have been in industry for a long time. I have been a responsible trade union leader for more years now than I care to recall— about 40 years— and, during that time, I have often had to make decisions and form judgments on complex and intricate matters. I have found that on what are termed economic issues I have been right or wrong in just about the same proportion as the experts and the economists.

I admit, as my right hon. Friend stated and as the hon. Member for Clitheroe admitted, that the industry itself is far from free of fault. A lot remains to be done. Far-reaching structural changes are needed in the industry. It is still much too fragmented. The "Big Four" in the industry, Courtaulds, Viyella, English Sewing Cotton and Carrington & Dewhurst, have done a tremendous lot. By and large, they are doing a good job. Substantial capital investment has been made, and they are on the way to creating efficient and viable sectors of the industry to meet the challenge of the 1970s.

But the Big Four employ only one-third of the workers in the Lancashire textile industry today. The remaining two-thirds are spread among about 400 medium and small firms, many of them very efficient but many of them very inefficient and completely out of date, keeping going only because they have written off all their capital and have practically no overheads or capital charges.

I believe that there is considerable available capital among these 400 medium and small firms. Here is a job which the Government could initiate. There is room and need for groupings, for reorganisation, for rationalisation, and this should be centred around firms in the 400 which have proved to have efficient and effective managements. It must be centred around only those which are effective and efficient. If something along those lines is not done, there will be further attrition within the industry, and it is by no means certain that the least efficient will be the first to go to the wall. Indeed, it is more likely that some of the more efficient will be the first to go to the wall. If they cannot keep themselves fully employed, running on a three-shift system and keeping their machinery active, then, because of their heavy capital charges, some of them may well be the first casualties.

The Lancashire textile unions are conscious of some of these problems. Let us admit that the Lancashire textile unions have been both progressive and co-operative. I was involved in the last big strike we had in Lancashire. There has not been an official major strike for about 35 years, since about 1933. We have an excellent record of industrial relations and understanding, and I pay a compliment to the employers' organisations just as I do to my trade union colleagues. As my right hon. Friend said, the unions are taking an interest in the need for structural change. They have requested Professor Hague, of the Manchester Business School, to undertake a study of the industry's structure and related questions, and in due course he will report and make recommendations.

I had intended saying something about the Imports Commission of the Textile Council. I am glad that Her Majesty's Customs will provide information on seizures of textile goods to the Textile Council so that it can be publicised.

For many years I opposed suggestions that the textile industry should be nationalised. But when I compared the terms of compensation for redundant miners, which I welcome, with what redundant textile workers have received, or failed to receive, in the past 16 years it occurred to me that I might have been wrong to oppose nationalisation.

Much needs to be done in industrial Lancashire, particularly in the coal and textile areas. Young people are leaving some areas in large numbers. The hon. Member for Clitheroe referred to this. There are signs of industrial decay and environmental deterioration, and if a community loses its youth it has no worthwhile future. North-East Lancashire and the Rossendale Valley are cases in point. Urgent and dynamic action is needed in them if decay is not to set in permanently.

There is in my constituency in Worsley a large overspill scheme, which is probably the most successful under the Town Development Act, 1952. But even there, successful though it is, industrial development has not matched housing development, and too many people have still too far to travel to work for maximum efficiency.

We shall deceive ourselves if we think that the problems in the grey areas or the development areas will be resolved unless we get the country's economy on a firm footing and can look forward to sustained economic growth. Doubtless all hon. Members receive circulars from the Economic Intelligence Department of Barclays Bank. I have been much concerned in recent years to note from its information how Britain is falling behind. We still tend to think and say that we are a wealthy country. But we must now ask ourselves if in this modern world we really are wealthy.

According to these circulars, there are now many countries with higher average incomes per head of population than the United Kingdom has. Within my lifetime we could say with pride that Britain had the highest living standards in the world, with the possible exception of the United States, whose per capita income passed us early in the century, I think. But now, according to Barclays Bank's statistics, there are higher average per capita incomes not only in the United States but in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, West Germany— and last year or this year France also passed us. As a result of devaluation, Belgium and Holland will have a higher per capita income in terms of £s than we have.

The only industrial nations in the world with a lower per capita income than the United Kingdom today are Italy and Japan. According to the Anglo-Japanese Economic Institute, Japan estimates that by 1970 her gross national product will total £70,220 million and per capita income will reach £540, which I think is about the level of our per capita income today. If we project the trends of the past 10 years forward another five years we see that by 1972 or 1973 Japan will have a higher per capita income than the United Kingdom.

The message for us is that there is something basically wrong with our country at present. A long-standing, deep-seated sickness runs through the whole of our society, through all sections of the community, and we must awaken to the danger and realise that we are no longer a first-class Power and that on the contrary we are nearing the bottom of the First Division. Unless we pull up our socks and play more strongly, the country has a very dismal future ahead of it.

5.36 p.m.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Walter Bromley-Davenport (Knutsford)

I believe that there is a great industrial future for the North-Western Region, but only if we revolutionise our thinking and the Government decide to plan for the future on a regional rather than on a local basis. The Government should heed the advice of the regional councils, which consist of knowledgeable, capable and influential people who believe in the concept of regional planning and are prepared to spend the necessary time and effort in working for the public good.

One of the great criticisms is that, because our towns and cities have been working and planning in complete isolation, many of their development projects although architecturally excellent, have been too localised and inward-looking in charter and quite irrelevant to the economic needs of the region as a whole. Now that there is an urgent need to curtail Government expenditure should we not call a halt, take stock, and re-assess the economic needs of the region as a whole? We could then get our priorities right and direct and channel all future developers into satisfying those needs and doing what is best in the interests of the country.

In the longer term, we must take into account the run-down in the coal industry. But an immediate and urgent priority is to remedy the very serious economic weakness in the textile towns of North-East Lancashire, which were once perhaps the greatest and most productive in the world. Their recent history is heartrending because of the rapid decline in their basic industry. The labour force in textiles alone has fallen from 250,000 to 130,000 in the past nine years.

Unemployment is rife. The official figures are 76,000 for the whole region. Many more are working only part time. During the same period 1,000 textile mills have closed and 500 of these, the majority of them in first-class condition, lie empty and idle. What a shocking waste of our industrial resources. Let us take stock of the tremendous capital assets which already exist in the textile towns and which are under-utilised.

We have heard that there are first-class industrial premises, many lying empty and idle. I heard a suggestion that if they are no longer required they might be knocked down and new premises erected. This is the most lovely countryside. There are adequate road and rail communications, storage depôts, marshalling yards, and gas, water, electricity, sewerage and telephone services are all laid on. These towns are blessed with some of the finest technical colleges in the world which are vital to the industrial training and retraining and regrettably they are under-utilised.

It is utterly ridiculous that good Exchequer and local authority money should be poured out, at enormous cost to the taxpayer, to provide, starting from scratch, assets and services for industrial development in areas such as Wilmslow in North Cheshire in my constituency, and elsewhere, and which simply duplicate those already existing in North-East Lancashire which are not being gainfully or efficiently used.

Therefore, my first plea is to make the industrial centres of North-East Lancashire special development areas, and afford top priority to them in attracting new industries. Prospective employers there would gain another priceless asset — the skill, dedication and the proven adaptability of a very large and at present untapped labour source in which there are about 30,000 men and women. Formerly they were full- and part-time workers and they are not registered in current unemployment figures. Their working lives ceased abruptly with the decline in the textile industry.

It is not enough to halt the steady emigration of skilled workers from the textile towns. The trend must be reversed and it could most sensibly be done by using our existing resources and building up and consolidating strong and pros- perous industrial centres at very little cost to the public. This type of development would attract labour from other areas, thus helping the region to make better and proper use of its manpower resources.

I wish to deal with the very serious problem of our overcrowded cities, particularly those of Salford and Manchester. Because of our present deficiencies in regional planning they can in no way be blamed for pragmatic action in grabbing whatever land they can, and wherever they can get it, to overcome what was and still is a desperate and urgent problem for their overspill population. In view of more suitable alternatives it would be criminal folly to condone any further extension of Manchester's fragmented development in various proposed and approved areas in North Cheshire.

In economic terms the recent new development there by Manchester has been carried out at enormous cost to the nation. Valuable and irreplaceable agricultural land has been destroyed for ever. As I have frequently said in this House, we have only to go on destroying good agricultural land at the rate that we are now doing and one day we shall be building houses for the people to starve in. In starting from scratch the provision of basic services such as gas, water, electricity, roads, telephones, sewers and so on, has been very expensive. This has required a costly extension of local government and social services.

Quite apart from housing, it has involved the building of new schools, libraries, health centres, clinics, churches, shopping centres and so on. For the people who go to live there, there is the increased cost of travelling to and from work, more time is needed, wage demands rise, prices are increased, there are transport problems and bottlenecks into the city, more roads have to be widened at a great cost, which means more taxes, higher rates, and so it all goes on.

In the end the people who suffer are the people of this country, as they always do if there is bad planning and bad organisation. Now is the time for taking stock and replanning on regional lines. I suggest that during this period Manchester and Salford should be encouraged to redevelop to the maximum extent within their own boundaries, but until sensible regional plans have been made, no further development plan should be allowed to proceed in other areas. There are more suitable alternatives which would be less wasteful of our economic resources.

I therefore urge the Government to use the good offices of the regional planning councils and to convene a conference of representatives of local authorities, industrialists, planners, and trade unions, covering the textile towns. The object of the exercise would be to encourage and consolidate new industries into their areas, to arrange for the long-term reception of overspill population from Manchester and Salford, to service those industries and to consider the practicability of building a new town in North-East Lancashire. In economic terms there is much to commend the attraction of overspill population to these textile areas where the necessary services already exist.

There is a sociological and human aspect to be considered which is of equal importance. Many city people deplore being sent out to live in Cheshire for a variety of reasons, not least of which is that there is a high rise in living costs. In North-East Lancashire that hardship would be mitigated due to newcomers being more sensibly housed close to their places of employment. The root cause of the main resentment and bitterness of tie city people is that the reception areas in Cheshire are quite unable to provide comparable shopping centres and cultural, recreational and amusement facilities, to which they have been so accustomed in the cities.

Compulsory resettlement in Cheshire creates for them an abrupt and unwelcome change in their traditional way of life. It is here by comparison that the textile towns score all along the line. Their civic fathers have for generations demonstrated a tradition of local pride. Their town centres are modern and attractive and they have already provided the facilities which the city people want and which are, alas, lacking in the smaller areas of North Cheshire.

Change and progress inevitably cause hardship for individual citizens and mainly those who, by dint of thrift and effort, have purchased their own homes and their own patch of ground. I there- fore make a special appeal that the Government should view with compassion those people whose property is made sterile due to planning blight, and that they should consider with the minimum delay granting compensation to them in terms of replacement value. Otherwise they are ruined and in many cases, if they are getting on in life, they have nothing left to live for.

To sum up, I urge the Government to have courage and to scrap piecemeal development schemes and start real regional planning. There are many regional experts who are both willing and anxious to help. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said, what a tragedy it is that Mr. Charles Carter, the public-spirited Chairman of the North-Western Economic Planning Council, should announce his resignation because he feels a sense of frustration in his job. In amplifying his decision, the charges with which he so frankly condemned the Government are quite devastating. He says that he sees the danger of the Government too easily accepting a pretence of regional planning wherever it is politically expedient. The trouble was that the Council had too little influence because the Government did not listen enough to the advice of the Council and little, if any, action followed its advice.

This sense of frustration and the lack of coherent regional planning was inevitably linked with the rundown of the nation's economy. The necessary action had, in too many cases, to be postponed indefinitely, simply because it involved spending money and resources which we were not producing. This sort of woolly-mindedness and vacillation by the Government must cease. The Minister must give the planners a definite lead and clear instructions on their long-term objectives. I suggest that these should include the conservation and utilisation to the fullest extent of our economic resources; to give special consideration and help to North-East Lancashire; to direct their proposals, not only to achieve industrial and economic prosperity, but to secure family happiness and stability based on good homes built in the right places, with steady employment and a desirable environment.

5.53 p.m.

Mr. Eric Ogden (Liverpool, West Derby)

I will comment but briefly on the contribution of the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir Bromley-Davenport). It seemed that he was offering peace terms to Manchester and Salford on condition that they exported their surplus population— as he called it— not to North-East Cheshire but to North-East Lancashire, which would give help to North-East Lancashire and make his own security of tenure at Knutsford rather more secure than it is. I would suppose that there was a great deal more in his speech than would appear and that it deserves consideration because he made some points with which, I am surprised to say, I found myself in complete agreement.

There are 50 or 60 Members who represent constituencies in the North-West. The proportion is about six Labour Members to one Conservative Member. Therefore, perhaps, you would consider, Sir Eric, the possibility of taking that into account and calling six speakers from this side of the House for every speaker from the benches opposite.

Sir K. Josephindicated dissent.

Mr. Ogden

I accept the challenge and think that Yorkshire Members should perhaps keep out of this debate.

I was ever an optimist. The North-West has never been short of problems or of ideas about how to solve them. We shall always have problems because we shall always be changing and there will always be a challenge to solve the problems. The problems which we create will be equally as formidable in scope and time as the present problems. The challenge will always be before us. The North-West has never been short of advice about how to solve its problems. The number of reports and analyses and the amount of advice it has had from many people, and particularly from those outside the area, is formidable.

There is basically agreement on both sides of the House that we have, in the main, four basic problems: the slow rate of economic growth; over-dependence on contracting or declining industries, basically coal and cotton; the net outward migration of population, because there is a tremendous movement of population inside the region which is not always taken into consideration; and the effects on our villages, towns and cities of the first Industrial Revolution. Now we are asked to consider and support a Motion which might be acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition, but which is less than worthy of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), whose name is at the bottom rather than the top of the list— and there may be some significance in that. He moved the Motion in a constrained and moderate way, but it is a pity that it is wholly negative, although he enlarged on it in his opening remarks.

Whilst the textile industry is still vital in the North-West, we must recognise, at last, that it is only a part of the economy. Every Lancastrian and every person from the North-West has cotton in his veins, but we can over-emphasise our dependence on cotton, which employs only about 5 per cent, of the employed population in the area. Criticisms of the Government's textile policy come ill from members of the Conservative Administration which between 1951 and 1963 allowed employment in the textile industry in the North-West to fall from 410,000 to 240,000.

All parts of the North-West are interdependent. This is accepted by everyone in the North-West. But certain regions have special problems. I should like to make a few comments on the special problems of Merseyside and Liverpool. Homes and employment are the two outstanding problems in the area.

In Liverpool, there are 27,000 families, and possibly more, waiting for homes on the housing list. Liverpool has the biggest slum clearance problem in the country and probably the greatest problem of urban renewal. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) asked, "What have the Government done to help my constituency? So often, when we concentrate on our own problems, we forget the help which has been given by the Government in the short time that they have been in office. We have had more aid from the Labour Government in housing on Merseyside in the three years that they have been in office than we had during the 13 years of the Tory Government. We have had Government aid and support for the private and public sectors. It began in a small way, with extra facilities in respect of the Public Works Loan Board. We have had the rate support grant, the option mortgage scheme, 100 per cent, mortgages and— the biggest help of all — the Housing Subsidies Bill, which means a saving of 4 per cent, on present Bank Rate. In addition, if, for example, Liverpool Corporation, which built 4,000 homes last year, wanted to build 5,000 this year, it has had the go-ahead to do so. The message went out from the previous Minister of Housing and Local Government: "Tell us how many houses you want to build. There will be no ceiling. You build them and we will give you the money at a 4 per cent, rate of interest, back dated." I was sorry to see in the Liverpool Echo yesterday the following headline concerning the housing Chairman of the new Tory-controlled council: Housing chief warns ' We may stop building'. That is the warning from the housing chairman when there are 27,000 families on the waiting list.

There are some points about the method of assessing the price of a house, a flat or an old person's home between the tender price and the Government yardstick which need to be ironed out. I understand that the local council has asked the Minister to meet a deputation, but, equally, our colleagues at home might be reminded that they have nine Members of Parliament from the City of Liverpool in the House of Commons. On this one aspect, there is complete agreement between all nine that we want more homes built. The local council should use the facilities and services of its Members of Parliament before getting into difficulties at home. I hope that a way will be found of meeting representatives of Liverpool, including Members of Parliament, from both sides, to solve this problem. There is no reason why Liverpool of all cities should stop building council houses or other homes at this time.

Merseyside depends a great deal for its prosperity on the motor car industry. Credit is due to right hon. and hon. Members opposite who, when in office, encouraged the motor industry to move to Merseyside. The attraction of the motor industry on Merseyside has brought another 59 companies scattered through-out the North-West which are dependent on the motor industry. One growth area has, therefore, brought other growth points.

I quote, however, the Ford Bulletin of 1st December, which had the headline: Keeping up with an economic yo-yo ". Changes in Purchase Tax and hire-purchase arrangements make it extremely difficult for any industry, particularly the car industry, to forecast production. I hope that it is not beyond the skill or the wit of the Government, difficult though the task may be, to arrange a long-term basis on which the motor industry could operate with better security than it has now for its advanced production programmes.

Continuing my local points, I ask that help should be given to the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and Industry because of the difficulties which have been caused by devaluation. Letters which have come to individual Members of Parliament suggest that because of devaluation and import difficulties, there will be at least a threat to the Liverpool Cotton market and to the trade. If we can help agriculture, and rightly so, in special circumstances because of devaluation, we should at least consider what help we should give to industry to get over its difficulties.

My next local point concerns the port and communications of the City of Liverpool. We are a great city and a great port, working hard to become the premier port in Western Europe. I look forward, as do the citizens of Liverpool, to the day when we can have direct road and rail links via the M6 and M1 through the Channel Tunnel to a united Europe. There is tremendous possibility in this. The container berths, the Seaforth project and the new tunnel are going ahead.

We want assurances from the Government for a third Mersey crossing, either under or over the water— I do not mind which. The South Lancashire motorway link with the M6 must not be delayed because of cutbacks in investment programmes but should be encouraged. This is not only a link from Liverpool to the M6, but is the link across the country to the Yorkshire ports on the other side. I ask that there should be no delay, but an advancement of those programmes.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Waver-tree)

The Minister of Transport answered a Question from me only today about that very link, which my hon. Friends and I regard as extremely important. The right hon. Lady said: During the first year or two of operations of the Seaforth Dock, it is expected that rail access, together with the existing road system, will provide adequate communications. I only hope that the right hon. Lady, on her way to her constituency at Blackburn, gets off the M6 and goes to Seaforth today.

Mr. Ogden

In fairness to my right hon. Friend, I must say that she has been to Liverpool and knows the problems. There will be no difficulty, however, in combining efforts from Merseyside— the south bank and the north bank— to maintain pressure on the Government. It may be that we have to continue pressure on other Departments than the Ministry of Transport. This has been a continuing process and we have had good results. I do not want to embarrass the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) by saying how much co-operation there is at times between Members from different parties in Liverpool, but on this matter we are agreed.

I emphasise, however, that while, in some respects, Merseyside is separate and distinct from other parts of the North-West, we are interdependent and the prosperity of Merseyside depends in large degree upon the prosperity of the region — cotton imports affect the cotton industry, and textile imports affect the textile industry. Merseyside has supported, does support and will continue to support, efforts to bring industry and prosperity to the rest of the region. I say this particularly because of some of the comments of the hon. Baronet the Member for Clitheroe, who at times gave the impression that he was a lone voice battling for North-East Lancashire. He would, I think, concede fairly that that is not quite the case. Both in the Lancashire and Cheshire Regional Council of the Labour Party and in the Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Association, Members from all over the region combine to help one another in the different areas.

There have been proposals that Merseyside should retain its development area status until such time as we can stand on our own feet without outside help or aid, and that both South Lancashire and North-East Lancashire— which, again, have been primarily dependent from the old days on coal and cotton— should become development areas. The hon. Member for Clitheroe would, I think, agree that the cotton industry would not get a lot of help from development area status. That time has passed. Development area status would bring new industry but would not primarily help the existing cotton industry.

We have put forward suggestions in the Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Association for halfway status, such as was commented on earlier this afternoon, between development areas and non-development areas with grants of, say, 20, 30 and 40 per cent, or 25, 35 and 45 per cent., so that it would be a mixed area. The North-East Lancashire motorway— at least, the first spur from the North-East down the valley to the M6— should have priority.

I suggest that the Government could well postpone the development of the Leyland and Chorley new town and use some, if not all, of the money on investment in existing towns in the North-East and in the centre of Lancashire. There is tremendous potential in those areas. The money could be better spent on the older towns than in establishing a new one at this time. It was extraordinary that the people who put forward the proposals for the new town should be the same people who were asked to give reports on the effects of the new town on central areas. A balance should be maintained in all this.

I ask the Government to consider a refinement of the Selective Employment Tax between industry and industry. It is crazy that a company or organisation making handbags in West Derby— although I do not have one making handbags in West Derby; I refer rather to the candy-floss type of industry— should be getting aid and support from the Government when someone who moves to Bold or Crompton, for example, does not get help. It is the useful kind of industry rather than specific points which need to be helped.

We should certainly not wait for a final report from the Hunt Committee. That Committee, comprising 10 members, was set up on 6th July this year. All credit to them for agreeing to serve on such a Committee. I understand that its first meeting was held on 4th October. It has asked for evidence to be submitted by the other bodies in the area— 25 copies, if you please. We may be told later how soon the Hunt Committee will report. Whenever it reports, it will be too slow and probably too little and too late. It may be difficult to say to a committee of people who have been asked to give service for a long time, "Thank you very much, but we do not need you," or "Thank you very much, but we are going to change your terms of reference." But what I think we could well do would be to give them more help and support, put a little pressure on them, and ask for an interim report. We have the Committee; we cannot change it; but at least the Committee should not be an obstacle to action.

Again I would say to my right hon. Friend, we in the North-West are not asking for charity or for a dole or for sympathy. We are asking for investment and the full use of our resources. The problems of the North-West will be solved in the North-West and not in Whitehall. Whitehall can help; Whitehall can hinder. These are problems which will be solved up in the North-West.

The North-West Regional Economic Planning Council was commented upon in the papers a few days ago. I think most hon. Members of the House welcomed the creation of that Council. Incidentally, I hope people will get it right: we are not the North; we are the North-West, and this is not just a regional board but this is the North-West Regional Economic Planning Council. We accept that it has limitations in having been appointed, rather than elected, but we in the North-West are not, I hope, nationalists, but we are patriots. We sometimes hear of things which have happened and which have been done in the North when people really mean the North-East or the North-West or somewhere else.

Although it had limitations we hoped that it would be a focus or a rallying point or a tower of strength in the North-West, but I must confess that I am deeply disappointed by the results. It has been more of an ivory tower than a tower of strength. There may be some significance in the fact that it meets in a building 16 storeys up in the centre of Manchester instead of some more important place elsewhere in the region— [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]— such as Merseyside or Bolton or somewhere else.

Mr. Heffer

Or Liverpool.

Mr. Ogden

Certainly Liverpool. It has done good work, I would agree, in research and in statistics, with some co-ordination and some reports, but its major failure has, of course, been the complete failure to communicate its presence to the people of the area.

It is asking the chairman and the members of the group to do an impossible task when they are doing the work part-time; it may be physically impossible to run a university and the North-West Regional Economic Planning Council. This is a full-time job which should be done by full-time people if it is to make any impact at all. One is entitled to compare its impact with the impact which the Lancashire and Mersey-side Industrial Development Association has made. The Government do not do anything but the director of that Association has a comment to make. That has to be compared with the almost complete lack of impact by the Regional Economic Planning Council, and if the Council is to be judged by the impact which it has made, it has been a dismal failure. The chairman should be full time whoever he may be, and one or two of the members, and it requires extra staffs and resources, and— I am not volunteering for this job— why should not one or two Members of Parliament from different parts of the region be members of the Council? Why should they be excluded? The Chief Whip may have a word on that.

The Council is making too many reports in confidence about which Members of Parliament and people in the region know nothing at all. It is giving advice in confidence to Ministers. How can people have any confidence in an organisation which is receiving, and giving, advice in secret? If this goes on how can it make an impact on the region? It could do a tremendous job in the region itself, but more decisions should be made by people in the region.

I hope that the House will reject the Amendment, despite the disarming right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wirral. Let it be remember that we are asking not for charity or for a dole, but we are asking for investment by the Government in the people and in the industry of the North-West. We are asking asking them to help make the County Palatine worthy of its people.

6.14 p.m.

Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)

I thing that the whole House enjoyed the speech by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden). He was sincere in what he said, and I thought that he was extremely fair in his references to what happened under the Conservative Government— quite unlike the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), who interrupted and talked about 13 wasted years —

Mr. Heffer

They were, too.

Sir A. V. Harvey

If the hon. Member would stop his incessant chatter wherever he sits, and would only listen, he would hear of the other side of the coin—

Mr. Heffer

I have experienced the other side of the coin.

Sir A. V. Harvey

— which was pointed to in the very reasoned speech of his hon. Friend, who was fair enough.

Mr. Heffer


Sir A. V. Harvey

I will give way when I have got further on with my speech.

The hon. Member for West Derby recognised what has been done in the motor car industry. In looking at the situation in the North-West we ought all of us to try to be objective and fair, for the region deserves that.

Mr. Heffer

I thank the hon. Member for giving way. I would point out, in relation to the car industry on Merseyside, that one of the principal people involved was Alderman Jack Braddock, a Socialist leader of Liverpool City Council, and that equally it was the gigantic campaign of Liverpool Trades Council and the Labour movement, and they were responsible for putting pressure on the Conservative Government to bring industry to Merseyside.

Sir A. V. Harvey

If it was a Socialist alderman who could persuade the Con- servative Government to do something useful, good luck to him. It was a very good thing. I see nothing wrong in that. But the hon. Member sits there with a long face interrupting speeches and constructive suggestions. Why does he not make a constructive speech? I would ask him to grow up and look at these things rather more objectively.

The people of the North-West deserve something better than they have had in recent years. I am not excusing the Conservative Government for what happened during the 13 years so far as the textile industry is concerned. More could have been done. Nevertheless, a lot was done. I think that we all recognise that the textile industry was bound to become smaller, and would contract. Therefore, it has got to be more specialised. What we do need are other industries to supplement it.

I heard the Secretary of State for Defence this afternoon talk about £450 million being spent on Phantom aircraft from the United States, the money to be paid in nine years. Of course, he will not be there to pay the bill, but it is a bill which has got to be paid by the British taxpayers for Phantom aircraft alone.

If those F111Ks are still required— we are told by the Labour Government that they are still required, though I have my doubts in view of their own policies, but they say they are still required— with a little hindsight we can see how much better it would have been to have had the TSR2 at Preston and the electronics side in the North.

The bill might have been greater, but it would have been in sterling, not American dollars, and the F111 is now to cost that much more. We would then have stopped, the brain drain and have had these people fully employed in modern industry.

As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said in his admirable speech, we need seven or eight new factories in the area, such as Mullard's glassworks. It is no good trying to convert old mills into modern factories. There are too many problems, such as those of heating, and if we want to attract the best labour, whether for research or manufacturing, we have to offer them good conditions of work. That is essential, and we do not have enough of them in the North-west.

The Government have shown neglect of the North-West, concentating, on the other hand, on the development areas. I do not grudge the development areas help. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) initiated those regional policies, but if that pattern is rigidly pursued we shall have development areas in the North-West. That will be the inevitable result, unless something is done, and done fairly quickly.

We have seen the number of employees in the textile industry reduced by 200,000 in the last 15 years; 1,000 mills have closed down; 47 mills have closed during the year ended last March. Of course, that is because of a shift of pattern in the industry, and we have to recognise that, but we have to replace the industry we have lost with other industry, and with industry which will be worth while for the economy and for the people.

Both sides of industry have made many representations to the Government that it is these high levels of imports from Portugal which have been disastrous for the textile industry, and the Government should have done something about it. The quota system does not cover all the E.F.T.A. countries, including Portugal. There, is a voluntary arrangement, but no details are published. We do not know what the arrangements are, and we ought to know.

There was a marked increase in the quantities of cotton piece goods coming in from Portugal during the first half of this year. There was also a striking increase in imports of Portuguese rayon staple/cotton mixtures designed to evade the limitation on cotton goods. In 1964, there were just over 18 million square yards. This year, we imported 30 million square yards. The textile industry cannot live with imports of that size coming from Portugal.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition urged the Government to limit imports of cotton goods from Portugal and other countries, and said that they could evoke Article 20 of the E.F.T.A. Convention, and that ought to be done. Whenever we have talked about anti-dumping, Ministers of successive Governments have said that if evi- dence is produced, they will do something about it. They forget that by the time the evidence is produced and they have got down to it, the damage has been done. I have seen it happen so many times in different industries.

Then we have this absurd situation of the import surcharge which the Government imposed earlier in their period of office it helped the textile industry. In the state of the British economy, we ought to have that import surcharge today, because it would be of inestimable help in keeping down imports. It would be just the kind of fiscal weapon that we need.

Instead the Government announced in April that they intended to remove the import surcharge on 1st December, 1966, giving the Portuguese and others eight months in which to make arrangements to send their cloth goods when the 10 per cent, came off. It was a tremendous mistake, and I imagine that the Government were pushed into the situation in Geneva so as not to offend their E.F.T.A. partners.

Mr. Stanley Henig (Lancaster)

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell us whether, in his opinion, the devaluation of 14½ per cent, will not give to the industry at least some of the advantages which the import surcharge gave.

Sir. A. V. Harvey

I am dealing at the moment with the removal of the import surcharge. I am saying that it came off prematurely, and that to give eight months' warning was wrong.

The President of the Board of Trade skated over the problems about the future of the textile industry in a rather light-handed way. He rather indicated that it would be fairly easy for the industry, and provide great opportunities. However, he does not realise that having put up Corporation Tax and withdrawn the S.E.T. premium and the export bonus, in addition to the extra that will have to be paid for cotton and oil, the result is that there will probably not be much advantage at the end of the day. Of course, I hope that there is, but we shall see.

At Ringway, Manchester has what is probably one the best run airports in Britain. The city council was far sighted. What a pleasure it is to arrive at or depart from Ringway as opposed to London Airport. The other day, an American said to me, "At London you either fall down a hole or trip over a sleeper." At Ringway, we have a magnificent airport, but communications from it to the north and north east of Lancashire are deplorable. It serves an enormous conurbation of 4 or 5 million people. The Minister of Transport must help to get things moving with improved communications. New industries will come in if the communications are good, and I hope that something can be done in that direction.

I want now to turn to two specific problems in my constituency. For many years Macclesfield was dependent upon the silk industry, though very little silk is made in this country today. But there have always been ups and downs, booms and slumps. After the war, some of us formed a committee and set up an industrial estate of 150 acres. It has been a tremendous help to Macclesfield, bringing in such industries as chemicals, plastics and engineering. In the borough, unemployment is reasonably low. Why could not that be applied to other parts of the North-West such as Nelson, Rochdale, Bacup and even Congleton, which is in my constituency?

Congleton was almost a depressed area before the war. Little has been done since. There are 12 acres available, but it is practically impossible to get industrial development certificates to put up new factories. Congleton is too far away for people to travel to Manchester, although many go to the Potteries, and there is too little employment for men. On the other hand, female labour has to be imported. The industries are unbalanced, and there is a problem of getting new industry into the town.

Then there is the great problem of sand quarrying, about which I presented a petition to the House a week or two ago. The great proportion of silica sand comes from Congleton and Chelford. Quarries are made, and then left. Dust is blown into people's homes, and the place is like a desert. At one time, I asked the Minister of Town and Country Planning to receive a deputation, but then some of the quarries changed hands, and he could not see them. However, die Minister has a duty to do. Four years ago, just before the October election, I went to see the then Minister. The problem still exists, and it is one to which the present Minister must give urgent attention. I shall go on raising the matter on the Adjournment and worrying the life out of him until something is done.

In Macclesfield itself, the town is experiencing great difficulty in trying to help itself by obtaining loan sanction for the purchase of land in advance of immediate requirements. Some people might say that the town centre is attractive, but it is very old and out of date, and in urgent need of revitalisation. In conjunction with Cheshire County Council the borough council has approved in principle a draft policy map which allocates areas for development. It is in the process of preparing the next stage of the map which will show how development is to be phased over the next few years. In the meantime, properties are becoming available for sale because businesses are moving out of Macclesfield. They are vital for securing proper economic control in the development of the central area.

The council has not the resources to buy these sites without the aid of borrowing. As Macclesfield is refused loan sanction, what will happen is that developers will buy them and, later, when the council wants them it will have to pay more to get them back from the developers, always assuming that they are prepared to sell. In the meantime, there is a severe loss of rateable value. When the council tried to enlist the aid of the Land Commission, it was told by the North-West Regional Office that its finances were not uncontrolled.

I am an East Anglian by birth, but, in my experience, the people of the North-West are magnificent, management and workers alike. During the great frost four or five years ago, I noticed that the people in the North got to work somehow. I know of some factories in the Home Counties where people did not make that effort. There is a dedication to work and there are skills in the North which are unmatched almost anywhere in the world. The people up there deserve something more than they are getting, and I hope that the Government will give urgent attention to the immediate problem of filling in what have come to be known as the "grey" areas, and get something done fairly soon.

6.29 p.m.

Mr. Charles Mapp (Oldham, East)

So far, the debate has been rather mixed. I enjoyed the approach of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), which was typical of him, although I have to say frankly that the inevitable weakness of his party was brought out in his speech. He suggested policies; for the future, but he evaded the fundamental need for industry to look at its own blemishes. I shall deal with that point in greater detail in a moment.

It is no use blaming any Government from 1950 onwards unless we are prepared to examine the inabilities and faults of Governments and the inabilities and faults of industry, too. I will look at that kind of thing, to, in a moment.

What startles me is that the debate so far is completely out of harmony with the Motion of censure which is before the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman shakes his head, but it is a Motion of censure and the supporting speeches are not directed to that purpose. Equally, when I read the Amendment, which is, as the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral said, a complacent policy, I find that the Government are asking me simply to note what has been happening across Lancashire and to look forward to the future with a certain measure of increasing confidence. That is not a policy. That is purely an interim holding operation. In a few moments I will develop the kind of policy which I believe the Government must follow, both short-term and long-term.

I would like to interject—

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

The hon. Gentleman said that the debate so far had not really been in tune with a Motion of censure. This Motion was carefully drawn. I was most disappointed when the Government Amendment was put down. I had hoped that the whole House would accept it. It was not meant to be a Motion of censure.

Mr. Mapp

I will now say why this debate is this week and why it might have taken place 10 days ago. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) was in Oldham 10 days ago and he deferred it from Wednesday to Friday because of the change in the business. This debate today is not without some link with a possible by-election in Lancashire, and the fact is that this Motion of censure, despite the right hon. and learned Gentleman's assurance, is here for that purpose. We are well aware of it.

Quite frankly, had we, on this side of the House, been faced with some difficult words at the end of July, we might have had great cause to look at the words very carefully. But since then there have been changes. The House will realise, from the fairly wide and open-minded approach of the President of the Board of Trade that we can feel— and I think that I detected this feeling on the other side— there can be a period of running in or a period of waiting for the industry's reports. It may be that in a few months' time we can ask for some long-term policy.

I would like to throw in two comments before coming to my major points. The first concerns Government and State-aided civil and atomic research establishments in 1963 distributed across this country. Out of 248, 162 were in the London, Eastern and Southern areas and a mere nine were in the North-West area. This is an area where the Government can have direct responsibility, because this is a very unfair distribution not only to the North-West, but to Yorkshire and other regions. I ask the Minister to bear in mind that the distribution of research establishments establishes growth points wherever they happen to be situated.

The other point I observed, after studying Ministry of Labour figures, was that if we compare the national average of unemployment across the country since 1954 with the graph for the North-West, we will find that it has been on average 0.33 per cent, higher than the national position throughout those years until 1965. This means that on average somewhere between possibly 45,000 to 80,000 people, varying with the national position, have been out of work at different times.

But we have now reached the position, with the Government's regional policy, that in 1966, for the first time, and continuing to November this year, we are, in fact, on the same level of unemployment as the rest of the country. If we reflect that figure in terms of permanent jobs that would not otherwise have been there, it shows a net gain of roughly 7,000 to 8,000 jobs, compared to the whole of that period, over the last 12 or nearly 18 months. I regard this as a real gain arising out of the Government's regional policy.

Reverting to the textile industry, I do not think that I need say that 13,000 to 14,000 jobs a year have been falling away from the industry since about 1953. Indeed, that number has been accentuated over the last two or three years. What have been the causes? As I see them, and the Minister himself touched upon them, the first is that textile industrialisation has become the primary industry of some of the Commonwealth countries. Secondly, the Government's "open door" policy for cotton imports from such countries at low wage prices— this is the bargaining of the economics— in return for trading advantages for sophisticated home industries, themselves "sheltering" I should say, behind the protected home market, shows the need for that "open door" to close before long.

Thirdly— and this may be resented by the Opposition, publicly, anyway— the whole industry has been, and still is, unable to free itself from its stratified and outmoded structure; relics of the 19th century. It is unable to find the infrastructure, financial or boardroom-wise, to meet the new challenge.

Although this, again, will be disputed by the Opposition, I think that the Government's action in 1959, well in-tentioned— possibly electoral as well as industrial— to take out of the industry so much of the old machinery and replace it by new machinery would have had my complete approval, subject to the one thing that they did not do, which was a major reorganisation so that the industry's structural difficulties, marketing inabilities and efficiencies would have been put right for the future. It had public money without reform of the industry. I hope that the Government will never do that again.

This leads me to the next problem which is besetting the industry. The industry is tearing itself to pieces even now about this. There is internecine war because it is unable in certain sectors to welcome the man-made fibre section. There is some fear and there is some hope within differing sectors. This is regrettable, because the man-made fibre industry must clearly be part of the industry which will be ascendant in the future.

Lastly, I think that the industry is now waking up to the fact that the consumer herself, as has been mentioned before, is now changing her requirements to warp, knitted, man-made fibres, and particularly the short life expendable materials as against the old-fashioned endurable quality goods. The industry has been rather a long time in facing up to this position.

Let us look at what Governments have been doing over the last few years. I mentioned the 1959 Act which had its fatal effect. I think that the Front Bench also mentioned that up to 1964 the then Tory Government was moving forward to a quota system. I think that the then Cotton Board by 1964 had originated about 12 trading undertakings across the world. Since then this has been extended to a global system covering about 85 countries. An infrastructure has been brought in to carry out a major part of our pledges to the electorate. In addition, an Imports Commission has been set up, and for the first time today I heard from the Minister something like a report of its usefulness to him. The previous Cotton Board and now the Council fail to report successes. We hear squeals about failures, and I shall refer to these in a moment.

In July, 1966, when the Cotton Board heard the announcement by the President of the Board of Trade about global qualities, it said that it could look forward with a major degree of confidence to a restructured industry for the next few years, but it entered the caveat that the volume of imports was too large, and in this respect I agreed with it. Since then the Board has produced its "Conditions for Progress", and I want to illustrate the problem of never seeing the mote in one's own eye.

The preamble to the document contains seven conditions. Of these, six call for Government action, and only one for action by the industry. The short-term requirements are also set out. Of these, eight call for Government action, and only one for action by the industry to examine its own problems. Of the long-term considerations, five call for Government action, two call for the industry to do something for itself, and there are half a dozen generalisations. Is this the balanced judgment of an industry that is in difficulties? It cannot be, and the sooner we have the proper productivity study the better.

I do not think that the industry's proposal will be credible in the House. I doubt whether it will be credible in the country, because it will be self-medication. It will mean that the industry is trying to see what is wrong. It is calling in consultants, but it is paying the bill. The fact is that the rest of the British economy and the rest of business generally, and indeed all other people who think like I do about politics and economics generally, have grave reservations about whether the industry is capable of hoisting itself into the 'seventies without some outside advice and firm direction. I know that the Minister has views about this. I know that I am at variance with the Textile Council, but events will prove me right.

I would have liked my right hon. Friend to appoint a first-class inquiry which would be credible, and which would be able to recommend for the future, or at least for the 'seventies, policies which would bring about the kind of progress that is being made in the shipbuilding industry, where there is a real marriage between private enterprise, credibility for money, credibility for the employees, and a future which is worthwhile, provided the industry is efficient.

The problem at the moment is that the industry in Lancashire does not have—

Mr. Harold Boardman (Leigh)

We tend to over-complicate these things. Is it not a fact that there is not a yard of cloth or a garment which comes into this country but which has been bought by somebody in Britain before it arrives here?

Mr. Mapp

Whether that is the way to deal with die problem, I would not like to say. If we interfere too much with imports, and with the merchants, we may go too far in interfering with the choice of the consumer. I would think for a long time before interfering too much in that direction, unless I incorporated some trading organisation from within the industry about which the Government could be satisfied, and which would result in increased efficiency within the industry.

I propose to deal, next, with two things which I think ought to be done. It is no good the industry coming squealing to this House, as it did to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I say quite frankly and openly that all my colleagues are prepared, in return for a real critical examination into the efficiency of the industry— and there are good industrial relations within it— to root out those elements which are inefficient, and to build around those which are efficient, and there is no doubt that there are some efficient firms. The trouble is that three or four of these efficient firms are in danger because they cannot run their machines around the clock, and are, therefore, likely to be among the first to falter. This would be a tragedy, but we know that there are some weak and small elements in the industry.

Concomitant with what I have just said, the industry is entitled to ask the House to help it, and I am prepared to demand that the Government should restrict the flow of imports to about 20 per cent, of home consumption. In this way, the industry could feel that it was being given a breathing space in which to gear itself to efficiency, to increase its output, and to keep pace with consumer choice. It could gear itself to really efficient working around the clock, and to higher wages. In return, we could do away with the old Ottawa spirit which has gone a long way to creating an open-door policy for the Commonwealth as it now is, and die Empire as it was. The rest of the Commonwealth trades with this country on commercial lines. They have for long enjoyed the privileges granted to them by the Ottawa Agreement, but they have now grown up and they must expect to accept the responsibility of that process.

Now that a new Minister has taken over at the Board of Trade, many of us feel that he is entitled to look critically at the industry, to get from it all the reports that he can, and at some time in the new year— and let it be not later than the summer— must devise a policy which will gear us to the 'seventies. He has mitigated excessive imports from Portugal. These are now being turned back, and he must bring in a long-term policy for the future of the industry.

I say as kindly as I can that Lancashire and its representatives in this House certainly on this side, do not propose to put up with another 12 months during which there appears to be no hope for the future. We believe that there is room for a viable textile industry, which will be good for Britain, good for our balance of payments, and good for the industry itself. It is because of this that I shall support the Government tonight, though from what has been said today it seems that there should be no vote at all.

It seems to me that what both sides of the House are looking for is an industry with a future for men and money. It is entitled, in return, to say to the House, "Turn the imports tap off a little and we will pull our socks up and make ourselves not only more efficient, but more viable." I hope that this message will get across to the Government, and will not be lost sight of during the next few months.

6.50 p.m.

Mr. A. G. F. Hall-Davis (Morecambe and Lonsdale)

If I speak particularly about Lancashire, I apologise to those hon. Members from the other counties in the North-West, but it is because I have lived and worked all my life in Lancashire. In view of earlier exchanges, I would say that if I refer to the constituencies of other hon. Members, and if any of them have suggestions for solving the problems of my constituency— and, better still, can persuade the Government to act upon them— I shall be only too delighted; I hope that they will view my comments in the same light.

I want to speak about a rather different problem to that of the specific future of the textile industry. One decision on that industry which must be taken quickly is to give it some general indication of the market which, if it is efficient, it can expect to enjoy at home after 1970, because investment decisions are nowadays planned a long time ahead and we are in that phase in which people are considering their investment after 1970.

I welcome the debate because it gives us an opportunity to confront the Govern- ment with one general question which, in my experience, they have not answered, but which is fundamental to our whole attitude to the region. That is: do the Government recognise the North-West as a potential growth area, capable of becoming a strong counter-magnet to the South-East and the Midlands? If they do not, then the alternative— this has been happening, which is why I am prepared to censure the Government— is that they will allow an accident of industrial history to pull the region down until large parts of it become problem areas.

This industrial accident is the recent rapid contraction of the textile industry at the very time when Lancashire is confronted by a peak of obsolescence in both its industrial and its social environment. Much of this social environment, the large urban areas of crowded terrace housing, was a fall-out from the explosive and remarkable expansion of the textile industry a century ago. It is truly ironical that, just at the moment when Lancashire once again needs a thriving industrial base to support a much-wanted social renewal, the industry should have been in a phase of contraction as rapid as the expansion of a century ago.

It is because the Government have failed to recognise the need for this firm industrial base to support the renewal and have taken too few steps to help Lancashire to secure it that I am critical of the Government today—

Mr. Robert Howarth (Bolton, East)

Is the hon. Gentleman suggesting that this recent decline has been only in the last three years? Is he not aware that it has been going on for many years?

Mr. Hall-Davis

I am moved to echo the comment of the speakers on the two front benches, that when one gives way it is invariably the subject of one's very next sentence which is raised. I was coming to that very point.

People are inclined to say to those of us who talk about Lancashire that many areas are only slightly dependent upon the textile industry and that the dependence of all areas is much reduced compared to what it was about 15 years ago. What they fail to realise— this is my basic point, directly linked with that intervention— is the size of the void left by the industry's contraction. We have heard reference to the 190,000 jobs in the textile industry which disappeared between 1951 and 1966 and I was about to refer to this longer period.

I would put it slightly differently. This was equivalent to taking away the total employment— in every occupation: not just textiles— of the four towns Rochdale, Oldham, Blackburn and Burnley. This was the void in the middle of East Lancashire created by that contraction, and it represented no fewer than one-sixth of all the jobs in manufacturing industry outside Merseyside and Furness.

I believe that it has needed an economic and industrial engine of considerable power to drive the region forward at all against such a built-in breaking mechanism operating in the last 15 years. It is because, despite this brake, the region has gone forward and because the export figure for this region for each person in employment is higher than that for any other region, that one can say that if we could overcome this historical problem there is a potential for real growth.

I am not looking for palliatives, but want the Government to jump a major hurdle and say, "We recognise that the North-West can be a real growth area and counter-magnet to the South-East and the Midlands"—

The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Alan Williams)

Does the hon. Gentleman not realise that any criticism of this type reflects even more strongly against his own party because, in 1961, 1962 and 1963— the last three full years when they were the Government— there were 17 million square feet of I.D.C. approvals, whereas during the last two and three-quarter years— that is, 1965, 1966 and the first nine months of this year— there have been 28 million square feet of I.D.C. approvals, so we are surging ahead in the North-West at a far greater rate than did hon. Gentlemen opposite?

Mr. Hall-Davis

I would be happy if I felt that those figures in themselves gave the full picture, but I am about to say something about the record of the Conservative Government. Again, this is on the very next page of my notes —

Sir K. Joseph

The hon. Gentleman has intervened from the Government Front Bench and I hope that my hon. Friend will allow me to say that the Government have changed the basis of measuring the superficial area of industrial space built. Now, I.D.C. approvals include storage, offices and canteen space, which were never included until the change of Government. This is perfectly reasonable, provided that the change of basis of comparison is always quoted.

Mr. Hall-Davis

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that intervention.

I was about to say that it is important for the Government to realise that few of us feel that the greater part of Lancashire requires the full package of development area assistance. I do not believe that the region needs a general underpinning of its economy such as the regional employment premium rather clumsily seeks to provide. What the region needs is action to secure an accurately planted injection of new industrial development in the right areas.

The Government need not fear that they will be entering a commitment of indefinite nature if they take action of this kind. This is very important. Ministers, and particularly their advisers, I am sure, are reluctant to enter commitments to which they see no end. The experience of Lancashire is that this commitment would be of limited duration. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Dan Jones) is not here, but my experience of that area, where I lived and worked before he had the good fortune to be elected its Member, and my experience of North-East Lancashire, was that, after it was scheduled by the previous Government as a development area, this proved such a rapid stimulus to the economy of the district that it was being referred to— perhaps unwisely— by the local inhabitants as a second Coventry within a matter of a few years.

Following descheduling, after the area had enjoyed a period of that assistance, it had received an impetus which was sufficient to carry it forward until the recent and particularly acute phase of contraction in the textile industry, and I am sure that that experience would be repeated. It is not necessary for the Government to wait until they have received the report of the Hunt Committee. I welcome the comments of the President of the Board of Trade about that, but it is incredible that one of the most debated subjects in the country requires further long consideration. I do not believe that it is necessary.

I turn to the creation of a new environment. It is renewal which is at the basis of the problems of the North-West. If we are to give the economy of the region a new vigour, and if we are to give its social environment a new attractiveness, it is essential that the new social and industrial investment should be clearly visible so that confidence is created. In many areas— not all— too much new housing has gone into pockets of infilling instead of contributing to the creation of larger residential areas which have a wider appeal to a public outside the region, and far too much new industrial investment has been lost to view amid decaying surroundings. I believe that wherever practicable new industrial investment should be channelled into attractive and well-situated industrial estates. Far too many workers in Lancashire go to work and leave work surrounded by the relics and decay of a bygone age.

It is because I wish to see new investment less dispersed that I take a slightly different view from that of some hon. Members on both sides of the House about the detailed examination taking place into the possibility of a major new expansion in the Preston area. In terms of modern transport that would adjoin my constituency. I believe that it is right to examine this possibility, but that it is also entirely right that the Minister — belatedly and under considerable pressure— has commissioned a study of the impact of the Preston development on the towns of North-East Lancashire, because— and on this point I am certain — if the Preston development were to proceed without some balancing and simultaneous assistance to the towns further east, those communities would be weakened in the way which their local authorities fear. If the Preston project were accompanied by steps to improve the social environment and economy of East Lancashire, then the project could do much to renew confidence in an exciting and expanding future. That is where the significance of that development will lie.

I turn to things nearer to my own constituency. In North Lancashire we are perhaps faced with revolutionary prospects if it is decided in due course to proceed with a full-scale Morecambe Bay barrage directly linking Furness with the south side or the bay. Hon. Members will, however, be pleased to hear that I do not propose to dilate on that subject this evening. But I say with considerable emphasis that there is a feeling in the north of Lancashire that in the short term the barrage investigation has distracted attention from more urgent matters and that, but for it, a firm date would have been set for the construction of the Furness link road— a road which I should like to see renamed the Furness and West Cumberland link road, because it would assist the whole of a very hard-hit area of the North-West Coast.

May I draw attention to the bluntness and illogicality of the regional employment premium in this connection. While Furness has undoubtedly been assisted by its development area status, which was conferred upon it before the present Government came into office, its needs and problems well illustrate the inflexibility of the Government's development area policy, because a large part of the regional employment premium and the S.E.T. premium paid in this area goes to firms substantially engaged on Government contracts, and one would assume —and I would hope—that it finds its way back to the Government. It is estimated that the cost of the Furness link road, as a single carriageway in the first phase, will be £3½million.

I believe that that is less than the Government will claw back from the area in regional employment premium and S.E.T. premium in five years, due solely to the large volume of work on Government account in the area. Surely some flexibility would throw up the fact that what is needed primarily is not a general subsidy to wages for people many of whom are working on Government work but an improvement in communications which will assist in bringing new industry to set alongside the somewhat unbalanced economy of the area.

I find it extraordinary that half my constituency lies in a development area and half lies outside. The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) has quoted some unemployment figures for the region as a whole. In my constituency, the average percentage unemployed in that part of the constituency which is not a development area— Morecambe and Heysham— is double the figure of unemployment in that part of the constituency which is in the development area. During the three years that I have been in the House I have struggled to get the Government to take some action to replace the employment in the Post Office Savings Division in Morecambe, which will disappear with the transfer of the work of that branch to Durham. The Post Office says that it has tried hard to find replacement work and has failed. Notwithstanding that, much Government work of a suitable nature has been placed in other parts of the country during that period. I am certain that if Morecambe had been classified as a development area replacement work would have been found for those members of the Civil Service who will have to resign and probably leave employment.

That is the sort of anomaly which is created by this broad sweep of the pen —this line where all aid falls on one side and none on the other. I am told that hard cases make bad law—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman feels that I am getting somewhere near the correct quotation. But the rigidity of the Government's development area policy has pressed hard on Lancashire and has meant that the small amount of pump priming which I believe to be necessary to produce great results has been denied to a region which is capable of real growth and of making a strong contribution to the economy.

7 8 p.m.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

We have had only one other debate on the North-West in recent years. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will, I am sure, agree with me that we discuss the problems of the region much too infrequently. But even today, it has been suggested that we owe the present debate more to party tactics than to the intrinsic importance of the problems we are discussing.

I recall that the previous debate on the region began at 7.17 a.m. on 3rd August 1965. It was initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) who spoke ably and with great conviction par- ticularly about housing, housing land, social obsolescence and other important problems of the North-West. On that occasion, as I well remember, there was only one hon. Member representing the Conservative Party. I mention this only to emphasise that none of the parties should claim a monopoly of concern for the region's problems. In my view, all of us who represent constituencies in the North-West should try to exclude considerations of party tactics and should address ourselves to the extremely important questions of policy facing the region at present.

My hon. Friend the Member for Openshaw, speaking soon after the publication of the Report of the North-West Study Group, laid particular emphasis on the housing problem in the region. It is worth recalling that paragraph 30 of that Report stated that of the 2½ million poorest dwellings in the country, about 20 per cent, were in the North-West. In terms of sheer numbers, the region's housing problem is entirely without parallel. It is staggering to reflect on the one statistic that we shall need 440,000 dwellings to replace the homes which are already unfit or which will be unfit by 1981.

On page 79 of that Report appeared a table which endeavoured to estimate the time that it would take to clear our slums. It did this by projecting the then rate of clearance into the future. Its conclusion was that, in the conurbations, it would take about four decades to meet this problem. In North Lancashire alone it will take 78 years. Truly it is an enormous human problem and one which we should discuss in the absence of party tactics.

Little emphasis has been placed in the debate so far on the urgent problems of environmental planning and the great need for urban renewal in the towns and cities of the North-West Region. In many parts of the region social balance has been fast disappearing in recent years. In the past it was accepted that all income groups should work and live in reasonable proximity one to the other, each sharing a single social environment. Today the affluent increasingly live in areas which are socially segregated, most of them on or beyond the borders of our towns and cities. Environmental planning should seek to tackle this problem in the interests of desirable social development. We in the North-West now have many rich men's reservations and social segregation can have extremely unfortunate industrial consequences. I trust that the environmental planners will take this problem very much to heart.

I trust they will also consider the serious lack of facilities for leisure, and particularly for sport, for our younger people in the region. I particularly have in mind the lack of adequate facilities in the City of Manchester. I understand that under the Standards For School Premises Regulations, 1959, there should be about 1,200 acres devoted to recreational provision in Manchester. My information is that at present we have only some 600 acres, or only half the amount of land which we need for the recreation of the city's young people. It is impossible for anyone who visits Manchester not to remark on the general lack of provision for games and sports facilities in so many areas of the city.

A great deal has been said about the textile industry. People who live south of Watford tend to think that the North-West is an area which is still dominated by cotton. We heard a distinguished speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Farnworth (Mr. Thornton). I know he will agree that the cotton industry and its problems are much less dominant in our affairs—

Mr. Thornton

About 7 per cent.

Mr. Morris

And half a million people have left the cotton industry in the last 50 years. My hon. Friend made a worthwhile point in describing that as one of the most important examples of peaceful industrial transition that one could imagine. Other industries have gone ahead apace and it is a tribute to the Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Organisation and to the local authorities that less than 160 of the 550 mills closed in the last 12 years are still empty. However, this only partially makes good the employment lost and provides no new net growth. Moreover, to continue to depend on very old buildings, which are frequently unsuitable for modern industry, does not help to promote productivity and industrial efficency. It only perpetuates the old image of our towns and fails to provide the much-needed environmental improvement.

Nevertheless, the reoccupying of mills previously used by the cotton industry testifies to the ability of our people in the North-West to accept industrial change. Some figures which are well known in the region but which are not well enough known outside it are perhaps worth mentioning in this debate. While the region represents only one-twenty-fifth of the geographical area of this country, it has one-eighth of Britain's population, one-sixth of the national labour force in manufacturing and produces one-fifth of the nation's exports. This total of exports represents a larger tonnage than is exported by any other region and, even in value terms, the region is only slightly behind the London and the South-Eastern Region.

We can take pride in the abilities and industriousness of our people in the North-West. Usually people who represent North-Western constituencies come from the region and know the local problems very well. As the Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Association put it recently: The textile industry of Lancashire produced people who were not afraid of hard work and capable of skilful and detailed manipulation. Many industrialists have testified to the speed with which Lancashire workers have adapted themselves to new processes. However, we do have important problems and one of them arises from the payment of the regional employment premium in the development areas. I am particularly concerned about the backwash effect of paying this premium in the development areas on the jobs and prospects of people in certain of the border areas of the North-West.

I hope that my right hon. Friend will agree that we should perhaps now be thinking sub-regionally as well as regionally. After all, some districts in areas which are not development areas are less well off than certain of the districts in the development areas. We need a much more discriminating approach. I do not share some of the pessimism which has been expressed today about our region's future nor about the future of our country. The North-West sends out one-fifth of the exports which go from this country and that is a remarkable statistic. Moreover, it should be remembered that, in the country as a whole, in the last three years exports have increased by £1,000 million. We should be proud that in 1966 Britain earned £8,000 million in foreign currency— the highest figure yet recorded.

We can be proud too that the North-West contributed so much to this figure and that we paid for 95 per cent, of our imports of food, raw materials and manufactures with goods sold overseas compared with an average of only 65 per cent, in the 1930s. That is why I do not share some the pessimism expressed in this debate. Every encouragement given to the North-West will meet with a ready response, and we can do even better than we have done so far.

If I may return to the regional employment premium, when we look at the attractive new benefits which are being paid we have the fear that some of the older towns in the North-West, when there is an upturn in investment, will be denied their part in industrial expansion. The Lancashire and Merseyside Industrial Development Association report says: The action taken by Nairn Williamson at Lancaster is well known. The association is maintaining records of the companies proposing to take similar action and the information so far indicates that our fears are justified. I ask my right hon. Friend to have a word with the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs to see that he addresses himself to this problem when he replies to the debate. In one district of Lancashire unemployment in the past 12 months has averaged 6.5 per cent, and it is currently 7.1 per cent. That district has every entitlement to be regarded as a development district. I hope that we shall start talking more in terms of development districts as well as development areas.

I am very glad that the timing of the Hunt Committee's Report is something to which my right hon. Friend will address himself when he replies to the debate. I was also pleased that the President of the Board of Trade said that the two-fold division of the country into development and non-development areas may no longer be acceptable to him. The whole House appreciated that that was an important thing for him to say. I hope we shall see action taken in the spirit of his statement as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) has left the Chamber. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] His advice, as ever, was that Manchester people should use all the land they have before they look anywhere else. An hon. Member said "Hear, hear." What constituency does he represent? There has been important evidence recently that condemning people to live in flats, particularly children, as we have had to do in large numbers in Manchester, especially in my constituency, reduces the quality of life. I say to the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]— that we are still determined not only to give a face-lift to the "Coronation Streets" of Manchester but to end social squalor altogether.

It is much to the credit of the present Administration that after 20 years of dilly-dallying with the problem of a new town for Manchester they have designated an area. One would go far to find slums worse than those in some parts of Manchester. I was born in one and I know the realities of life in a slum dwelling. Much has been done to lessen the problem, but it will never be completely tackled until we have the land we have been promised outside the city.

7.25 p.m.

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

The hon. Member for Manchester, Wythen-shawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) referred early in his speech to the necessity of our endeavouring to make a non-party, or, if he prefers, an all-party approach to the problems of the North-West. I shall endeavour to follow his advice, although I can give no guarantee.

I was interested in his comments on social segregation in the light of what is happening in development in overspill and population trends in the North-West. He made an interesting and important point, but, in turn, he should accept that there are factors about the people of the North-West which perhaps militate against some of the ill-effects of that segregation. The class structure is not so clearly defined as elsewhere. One has only to go to one of the cotton textile towns to see that class means nothing, for everyone speaks to everyone else in the same accent and with the same choice of words.

Nevertheless, the point was important and it was different from the point made by my Member of Parliament, the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport). At the beginning of his speech, because of his remarks about regionalism I began to feel that perhaps I ought to have voted for him, but when he came to some of his later observations on his resistance to the spread of the Manchester population into the Knutsford area I began to think that my decision had been right after all. Although, even on this matter, some of his points were valid and require an answer.

I apologise for having been absent for a brief period at the beginning of the debate. I had to go upstairs to explain why I could not engage in other Parliamentary duties. This made me miss the end of the speech by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) and the beginning— although only the beginning— of the speech by the President of the Board of Trade. I thought that the speech of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral was balanced, reasoned, highly constructive and helpful. I was glad that it was received by the President of the Board of Trade in that spirit. He seemed anxious to accept help from whatever quarter it was offered.

I do not make light of the promises made by the President of the Board of Trade, promises which were referred to by the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson). I think that they were good promises, but the President of the Board of Trade will accept that they were only promises. I do not say that he does not intend to carry them out. Nevertheless, it would not be reasonable to expect people in the North-West to assume that they have been carried out, because they have not. It is for this reason that I could not have advised my right hon. and hon. Friends to have voted for the Prime Minister's Amendment.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Which hon. Friends?

Dr. Winstanley

My right hon. and hon. Friends will certainly be available to vote, as I have no doubt will some of the hon. Friends of the hon. Member opposite, should the need arise, as I hope that it will.

Had the vote been taking place on the Prime Minister's Amendment, undoubtedly I should have had to say that we must vote against it. To talk about new confidence is not the kind of talk that can be accepted in the North-West. Maybe the cotton textile towns can look forward to expansion and to "better prospects", but they do not feel that yet. I do not see that that is the kind of Amendment which we could possibly accept.

Nor do I agree with my constituent, the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp), who seemed to regard the restrained Motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition as being some kind of savage indictment. I believe that it is much more restrained than the language that people in the North-West would use. It is much more restrained than the verbal observations hon. Members opposite have made in the debates we have had on the North-West— for example, in the debate on the cotton textile industry, which went on right through the night and in which terms were used which were far less restrained than were those used by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral.

I represent a constituency in the North-West which, though crowded and densely populated, is a prosperous and a thriving constituency. It is true that it is mixed in many ways, but it is prosperous. I am sure that hon. Members will accept that a prosperous constituency in a region of this kind is not shielded from the impact of what is happening outside. We are very much involved in it, sometimes even more involved in it because of the contrast with our own situation in the constituency.

We share the impact of what goes on in the rest of the region, but Cheshire has its special problems at the moment. I think it would be right in this debate to mention that Cheshire has had the most savage onslaught of foot-and-mouth disease of any county. When it comes to restocking, there will undoubtedly be great trouble in the area, which has hitherto been fairly prosperous. We hope that every possible assistance will be given.

I have expressed my views, both in the Chamber and outside, on matters such as the cotton textile industry and its future, on the declining coal industry, and on the whole question of how development area inducements of one kind or another are operating. All these points have been made by members of both the other parties. I endorse what they have said and see no point in repeating their observations or in repeating what I have said previously.

I want to underline one point which has been made about retraining. We want to hear something more about the retraining facilities being set up in places like Oldham and Rochdale and the North-West as a whole— retraining facilities to match the existing redundancy problem and the much greater potential redundancy problem in the area of the North-West.

I want to concentrate on why we have got into this situation and why some of these problems have not been solved. I believe that there are two reasons. First, I believe that our whole parliamentary system of government is such as not to enable the Members of Parliament, of whatever party, for the areas concerned to make an adequate impact upon Government policy in the formulative stage. Had hon. Members of all parties, who have made very wise and sensible observations in our earlier debates, been able to play a more constructive rôle in the formulation of policy at an earlier stage, many of the problems from which the North-West is now suffering would not have arisen.

I do not want to go on talking about the question of parliamentary reform, but I am sure that it is essential that we do something about our procedures so as to give people from the areas a greater voice, irrespective of their party, in the formulation of policy.

The second factor which I think is responsible for our failure to deal with these problems in time has been our failure to set up adequate regional machinery. Much has been said about this. It was made much of by the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden). It is the business of the central Government to lay down the broad lines of national policy. We must not dispute that, but within those broad lines there is room for a great deal of regional variation according to both regional needs and regional choice. The problem has always been that we have not had effective regional machinery to enable the regions to operate this choice and demonstrate these needs.

I endorse what has been said about the need for effective regional councils. I am not trying to anticipate the findings of the Maud Commission, or anything of that kind, but I welcomed, as hon. Members in all parts of the House did, the establishment of the Economic Planning Councils. I think that we now have to look at them once again, as hon. Members have done, and decide what we can do to make them function better. Reference has been made to the resignation of Mr. Charles Carter, the Chairman of the North-West Economic Planning Council.

I want to refer briefly to some correspondence I have had on this matter. I was at a meeting, which was attended by many hon. Members from the North-West who are now present, with officers of the Regional Council in Manchester. We were presented with a report of what the Regional Council had been doing. Amongst other things, it told us in the Report that the Council had been giving confidential advice to certain Ministries, and, in particular, to the Ministry of Transport on rail closures, regional passenger rail services, ports, and other things.

Immediately, the question was asked: why is this advice confidential? This question was asked by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral, by the hon. Member for West Derby, by the hon. Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks), and by me. The answer was that this was at the request of the Minister. We Members of Parliament made the point that we as Members, irrespective of party considerations, were anxious to combine and assist in a regional strategy but that it was very difficult for us to do this if we did not in effect know what the regional strategy was. Could not these important plans affecting all our constituencies be revealed to us, we asked, and then we could combine and probably assist. We were anxious to assist, and we said so.

We received this reply, "This confidentiality is not at our request. We should be very glad to explain what we have recommended and discuss it with Members of Parliament. The confidentiality is at the request of the Minister." I asked the Minister of Transport why this advice was confidential. This is the reply I received to my Parliamentary Question: It is desirable that on such matters as these the Councils should be able to advise freely and frankly and this is best achieved if they are consulted and advised in confidence."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th November, 1967; Vol. 754, c. 101.] I was not satisfied with that, so I wrote to the Minister and said that if people in the regions were to assist, and if it was to be seen that the regional councils were, in effect, to serve the regions rather than to merely serve the central Government, it was necessary to take a different view. To this approach I received a reply from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport. In the course of a letter to me dated 30th November, he said: On some matters these consultations "— consultations between Ministries and regional councils— can be much more effective if they take place in confidence so that we can explain fully the considerations we have in mind, and Councils can give their views frankly without having to concern themselves too much with the views of pressure groups within the region. But that is precisely what they are for, to concern themselves with pressure groups and to explain their regional strategy.

There has been a lot of talk about transport problems. I have immense transport problems in my constituency, with the A.6, perhaps the busiest main thoroughfare in the country, and, in the centre of Cheadle itself, problems concerned with the Sharston by-pass. I do not know what to recommend; I do not know whether I am acting in the best interests of the constituency or against them unless I know how other transport projects might affect the constituency. I would like to help. We would all like to help and combine on a regional strategy, but this can be worked out only by a regional body such as the regional planning council, if the Government will allow it.

I hope, therefore, to have a reply on these matters. I am anxious to see these bodies work, and so are the Government, I am sure. They will work far better if they work publicly and openly rather than in secret, and if they show clearly that they are there to serve and to try to reflect the needs of the area rather than the Government's plans in any particular project. The Government's project may be a desirable one, but it remains a central project rather than essentially a regional one, and it is the regional approach which we must have.

On the same subject of the need for better Government machinery and regional machinery, there is another point which is closely relevant to the observations of the hon. Member for Oldham, East when he commented on the need for the textile industry to do something for itself. Whatever the problem, we must realise that all the answers are not necessarily in this place. It is a delusion of Western society that every problem has a political answer and only a political answer.

The only kind of Government which can provide all the answers is one which is given all the powers. A Government with total command of the economy and of the lives of all who work in it, which can tell people to work so many hours for so much and to produce this and not that, will be the kind of Government from which we can expect all the answers. It is not the kind of Government I want, and neither is it the kind of Government which the people of Britain want.

Democratic government, which is what we all want, calls for participation. Instead of looking automatically towards Westminster for answers, people should look a little more towards their own firms, their own trade unions, their own work and their own lives at home. Therefore, while welcoming new provisions made by the Government, let us not forget that many of our problems in the North-West are in the hands of the people of the North-West. They should be given a chance to solve them. They do not want a chance to opt out. I am not recommending the sort of neo-Fascism which is advanced by some of the leaders, though not the supporters, of the Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru.

I am advocating a measure of devolution so that the people of the North-West may have a chance to solve their problems. Given that chance, not to opt out but to play a full part on the basis of participation, the people of the Northwest can solve many of these problems for themselves.

7.43 p.m.

Mr. Edwin Brooks (Bebington)

I have a great deal of sympathy with the remarks just made by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), who, like myself, represents a Cheshire constituency. It is fortunate, perhaps, that today's debate on the problems of the North-West has not focused, as it might well have done, on the problems of the textile industry alone. When I was listening to one or two of the earlier back-bench contributions from the other side, I felt that, at long last, we were hearing the prophet Jeremiah give the epilogue.

If this was to be the tone of the debate, a long recitation of self-pity and impending disaster, we should do the North-West no service by having the debate. For too long, because of our natural concern with the problems of the past, we may, inadvertently, have given the rest of the country the impression that we know of nothing but the problems of the past and we have no outlook for the future and no success story to relate so far.

I represent a constituency which is sometimes referred to as part of Merseyside and sometimes— I am sure that the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) would prefer this— as part of Cheshire. In fact, my constituency straddles areas with very divergent and different points of view. Precisely because of one's awareness, notably in local government, of the seeds of conflict and the enormously variegated pattern of different local authorities which, in the past, has led to so many false battles on false premises, with people trying to solve problems which existed in large measure only because of the boundaries inherited from long ago, people like myself long ago came to recognise the need for regional thinking in this complicated area.

Moreover— this is true particularly for those of us who live in the Wirral peninsula, an area between the two great estuaries of the Dee and the Mersey— we feel that, perhaps, we should cast our regional net even wider and that the problem is not simply one of Lancashire and Cheshire. In these days, when we can look forward with a little more confidence to the speedy conclusion of a Dee crossing to North Wales, we shall, before long, I suggest, have to integrate our regional planning in the North-West with that of a wide area of North-East and, perhaps, North-West Wales, too.

Inevitably, this debate is taking place against a sombre background, the background of a day on which we have heard once again of the serious situation which the country's commercial life faces. It is inevitable that the North-West, like other regions, will have to face a hard winter. In many respects, the consequences of devaluation are bound to produce this result. I should be out of order if I were to develop this larger theme at length, but I must say that, following some of the answers given at Question Time today to questions put by hon. Members about the likely impact of devaluation upon defence expenditure, many of us will be most concerned to ensure in the days and weeks ahead that the cost of devaluation is borne not only by our constituents, not only by the social services, but by those unnecessary and profligate forms of expenditure overseas with which we have lived for too long.

The regional economic planning councils, to which the hon. Member for Cheadle referred, have from the outset been beset by certain inherent and deep-seated ambiguities. I recall the occasion when I made my maiden speech, having come to this Chamber with trepidation but also with enthusiasm because I felt that we were here charting a new course, that we were making available the expertise of people who were familiar with the region to those who were involved in the preparation of plans.

In my view, the hon. Member for Cheadle's comments were perfectly justified when he passed strictures on the way in which regional councils have been encouraged to give information to Ministers in a somewhat surreptitious and secretive way. I know the argument that a regional economic planning council which publicly states which railway lines should be closed will inevitably expose itself to criticism and controversy. So what? That is its function. That is what it is supposed to do, to arouse public discussion.

The problem we face in this country is one of having far too little public discussion on matters of public concern. It may well be that some of the interests and groups which would, naturally, flourish in such an environment of controversy will be misguided. It is up to others to point this out. Only in the arena of public discussion can such things be pointed out and exposed.

We are here on the edge of something very important in the problems facing our country. For far too long, it has been thought that government is in some way the prerogative of a small élite, a group of people who sit down behind closed doors, take decisions and then announce them as though they are the most remarkable feats of intellectual brilliance of all time. In fact, people are not persuaded by that sort of performance. They like to feel that they are participating in decision making. This is what democracy is all about. I can understand the feelings of men like Professor Carter if this is, in fact, the backcloth against which they have decided not to seek any further term as chairman. But that point has been well aired.

I should like briefly to refer to two matters on which we have perhaps tended to lose sight of the wood for the trees. I often think that it would help if we were to superimpose on the map of the North-West a map of the Greater London conurbation to the same scale. We still think in the North-West of areas like Merseyside and Manchester as quite separate and remote from one another. Yet this is a most remarkable area in the North-West. It is one in which two great conurbations, each with a population of well over 1 million, live side by side, and in which it is possible to travel from Liverpool to Manchester— indeed, from Birkenhead to Oldham— and never lose sight of built-up areas. Sadly, one must say that. It is an almost complete urban coagulation, which is perhaps the best way to describe some urban features that one sees.

In that context, we should not be obsessed all the time with whether our constituency happens to be on the edge of a development area, transects it, or is just within it. Surely, in these days people will travel to work? That is taken for granted in the Greater London area. One does not want to encourage unnecessarily long, arduous and tedious journeys to work, but surely it is possible to site industries in areas to which people can travel easily from various other areas of the North-West?

I particularly have in mind the area along the axis of the M6, a great growth axis of the future for the North-West. It looks north to Scotland and south into the great Midland and South-East urban and industrial areas. It is bound to be an area to which industry will want to come. We are already seeing this in Skelmersdale, which is not so far from that axis. There is plenty of evidence of the ease and facility with which industry can come to these areas if the opportunities are made available. It is not difficult to envisage people journeying not very great distances to the area between Liverpool and Manchester and avoiding the problem of the inner city areas. It would avoid too much focusing on these already congested and traffic-saturated central inner areas.

The second area I suggest as a possible axis of development in the North-West is Deeside. We have already heard that a study is going on. Not long ago I was fortunate enough to visit the Hydraulics Research Station, at Wallingford, in connection with the Dee Barrage scheme. These are early days, and it may well be that the scheme is not technically or financially feasible, but it would offer great advantages to the region. It would make large areas of North-Eastern Wales much more readily accessible to the great congested urban areas of the North-West. That would enable large areas of land to be reclaimed, possibly for industry, and possibly for recreation, no doubt alongside the water areas which will be available not only for recreation but to supply a commodity that is vital in the North-West, as elsewhere.

We can envisage enormous expansion of marine activities of one form or another offering people recreational opportunities, which will become more and more necessary as traffic saturates the roads. We can also envisage the development of new housing opportunities for people who will be able to live in areas in North-East Wales and travel relatively short distances to work, possibly in Wirral and possibly in Liverpool. We must try to go ahead at full blast with this sort of project, because it will create the image that will save the North-West, if it can be provided in time.

It is important to try to resurrect declining and derelict areas if we can, but there comes a time when we must ask if the time-scale is such that perhaps for generations to come people will have to grow up in areas which are not fit for human beings. There must come a time when we seek to run them down, doing it with humanity in a way which offers people new opportunities elsewhere within the region and does not sever the link completely.

But if we can find the right projects — and I have mentioned two possible ideas which are well known in the area, projects which are imaginative and give the opportunity for rehabilitation of large areas, and provide the basis of economic opportunity for the region, we shall see in the North-West one of the most prosperous areas of the country. I say that not just because it is a popular thing to say in my constituency, but because it is a realistic assessment of the area's opportunity.

It is one of the great sea entries into Britain, serving the major industrial belt which straddles England from the North-West to the South-East and which, when the Channel Tunnel is open and we are in Europe, will be part of the vast manufacturing belt continuing right across the Netherlands, Belgium, the Rhine, Switzerland to Northern Italy. We can think of it as being the entry to one of the greatest manufacturing belts in the world, comparable in many ways with the great manufacturing belt in the United States.

We need not be downhearted in the North-West. The next few decades can be exciting as the 19th century industrial development, and they will have one thing which that century did not have. They will combine economic opportunity and excitement with the determination that people also matter, and that we shall provide a decent environment and habitation for the people of the area.

7.56 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The speech of the hon. Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks) was very attractive and visionary, and I found myself almost agreeing with him, except in two respects. The first was when he commended the habits of people travelling to work in London as an example to be followed by the people of Lancashire. It will be a long time before I dare commend the life of the London commuter to my constituents. The poor, wretched creature wastes an hour and a half in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening— if he is lucky— out of his life. The Minister of Transport will have to do a good deal better before we seek to inflict on northerners the miserable lives of those in the South.

I also disagreed with the hon. Gentleman on the way in which he was inclined to dismiss the older towns, particularly of North Lancashire, as dismal and beyond repair, at least for a generation or more. That is not so. They not only can be, but are being, rehabilitated, often by their own efforts. I invite the hon. Gentleman to come, for example, to the centre of Blackburn where, with relatively little outside assistance, the borough has managed to lift itself up by its own boot straps and clear out the rotten core in the most remarkable way. That can be done throughout the towns concerned, and I believe that it would be done but for the extraordinarily clumsy division between the development and the non-development areas which has been the great theme of the debate.

The President of the Board of Trade in his speech spoke just two sentences with which I agreed. The first was on antidumping. What he said about the new crash procedure for action on prima facie evidence seems to me one of the two hopeful things that have come from the Front Bench opposite. He said— and we all know it— that one of the great objections in the past has been that the anti-dumping procedure was so slow in its thorough investigation that the horse had gone by the time the door was bolted. If that is to be speeded up and we are to have a crash procedure introduced in new legislation early next year, I am delighted. On the rest of the antidumping front, he was very disappointing.

First of all, there was no change of attitude in the Board of Trade. The Board of Trade has erected itself as a sort of neutral judge between the British trader and the foreign importer. For many years, under successive Governments, many of us have been complaining that the Board of Trade ought not to regard itself as a neutral in this matter, but that it ought to regard itself as counsel for the British. It ought to regard itself as there to help, not merely passively, by sitting back in judgment and expecting the trader to prove his case, but it ought actively to help the trader to prove his case, because only it has the machinery and the communications and intelligence service with which to do this.

I therefore hope that there will be less of this neutral "umpire" attitude in the Board of Trade, although I have very little hope of seeing it, because the wording of the President's speech this afternoon seemed to echo this. When a complaint is made there should be more of a determination, on the part of the Board of Trade to use all the elements in its power to help the Briton to prove its case.

The second sentence, which I thought was perhaps the most encouraging of all — though these are only aspirations for the future— was to the effect that the right hon. Gentleman recognised, I think that these are his words, that the simple division of the country into development and non-development areas was not flexible enough. That is something which I should have thought was by now obvious beyond peradventure. It is my contention that the existence of the development areas as they are— and their lines presumably were drawn with the object of encouraging industry in Scotland and North of England, Wales and the West Country at the expense of Birmingham and the South— has hit Lancashire far harder than they have hit Birmingham or the South.

That can be demonstrated. The reason is one of geographical propinquity. If someone is prepared to move out of London and Birmingham they would not go to Lancashire, or to North-East Lancashire at any rate, when among other things, they can get £97 a year for each employee another 50 miles north or west. Furthermore, the people already in North-East Lancashire will find it much easier to move 50 miles north or west than do the people of Birmingham or London or Kent, who have to move 200 miles north or west, and can usually produce some very good reason to the Government why they should be allowed to expand on their own site. They can usually show that they cannot get their leading charge-hands or executives to move that distance, whereas for someone in my constituency for example it is fairly easy to persuade an employee to move a matter of 40 to 50 miles into a new development area.

It is quite clear that Lancashire, which has a development area frontier 40 miles north of it— I am referring to my part of Lancashire— another one 40 miles to the west of it and the new town of Skelmersdale 20 miles to the west, with yet another one in Merseyside, really cannot hope to get, under present circumstances, any better treatment than Birmingham in the South. Because of that, the 50-mile blight that runs along the frontiers of the development areas to the east and the south means that it is really in a much worse condition even than the South.

I very much fear that if the new Preston-Chorley town, or whatever it is to be called, is also put there, with another magnetic field to draw in from North-East Lancashire not only any possible future development, but such activity as is already there, then our plight will be very bad indeed. There was a conference of local authorities in Blackburn on this subject in the summer. I know that not all local authorities agreed with the conclusions which were very strong. They were that if the new town of Preston and Chorley was to go forward there must not be the same sort of dramatic and drastic attractions as in Skelmersdale, for example, because that would be the death blow to Accrington, Burnley, Rossendale Valley, my constituency, Blackburn and I dare say Bolton as well.

Mr. Robert Howarth

Would the hon. and learned Gentleman not have another look at the document? The resolution referred to Leyland-Chorley and there is quite a difference here. The idea of possibly centring a new town on Preston is a somewhat separate proposal. The attitude might be different for certain authorities to Preston new town vis-à-vis a Leyland-Chorley one.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

We are talking now about two or three miles which just shows how delicate these things are, but whether it be Chorley-Leyland or Leyland-Preston it would certainly, as new towns are at present constituted, provide another and serious magnetic field for the whole of the area of North-East Lancashire, which has a great deal of what is called social furniture, unused, and which could be rehabilitated and made agreeable with a good quality of life, contrary to the fears expressed by the hon. Member for Bebington.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

The first proposal was for a Leyland-Chorley-with-Preston new town, but the scheme that is now being considered by consultants, and on which there is to be an impact study, has a new town centred on Preston.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

There are an infinite number of plans drawn up by consultants, not only for this area, but for other areas. One reads and views the most beautiful plans and pictures for new towns. Usually they require a great deal of agricultural flat land, and one's only hope about them in many cases is that they will remain pictures in the books rather then become fact on agricultural land.

I am persuaded that a building on the hills and existing development in North-Fast Lancashire is far better, not only for social reasons but for economic reasons if, as I believe we must, we are to feed ourselves more in the future from agricultural land than we have done in the past. I am sure that the neglect of some areas is due to this clumsy division, which is becoming very serious.

In 1965, new factory building in North-East Lancashire provided only 0.6 sq. ft. per employee. This contrasts with a national figure of 8.5 sq. ft. per employee, or the regional figure of 7 sq. ft. per employee. These are much better figures than those relating to I.D.C.s which have been used both by the President of the Board of Trade and in an intervention. As was pointed out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) these figures are misleading because they are not comparing like with like. The figures which I have given show in more dramatic form the effect of this frontier about which we complain. I hope that, in view of the sentence uttered by the President of the Board of Trade in which he admitted— and it was the first time that I had heard a Government spokesman admit it— the need for something more than the simple division of the country into development and non-development areas, we have some hope for the future. Unless that line is blurred, no new Professor C. F. Carter or anyone else can do anything in the face of it.

In my constituency there have been circulating the advertisements which have been circulating in the national Press "Come to the Development Areas and you will get £97 per operative per year". Of course, that is only one of the attractions. This is a very bitter pill for those who are doing their best to attract development to North-East Lancashire and even to keep going what activity is there at present.

I wish to keep my self-imposed limit, which I always adopt, of speaking for not more than 15 minutes, and, therefore, finally, I wish to say a few words about textiles, which feature in our Motion. I do not wish to go over the old ground again. A lot could be done if we could revive what was a very successful campaign before the war called "Buy British". I find that there is a great desire among the buying public to buy home-produced articles provided that the price is more or less competitive. Of course, if the price difference is enormous, it cannot be done, but if there is not much in it the people of the United Kingdom prefer to buy goods produced in this country.

I hope that the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and the President of the Board of Trade will seriously consider the possibility of instituting a "Buy United Kingdom" campaign. It would have to go hand-in-hand with a new labelling campaign, because it is almost impossible to discover anything about a product these days until one has torn off all the wrapping— if one is lucky to be able to do so. As the Government have proposals for legislation on labelling, I hope that they will consider simultaneously a "Buy United Kingdom" campaign. I hope that at the same time they will look into the question about Government purchases which the President of the Board of Trade mentioned. He said— or it may have been someone else— that about 80 per cent, of Government buying was of home-produced textiles. That has not been the experience or feeling of my constituents.

I have a case about which the Board of Trade knows very well in which the tender has gone out to someone who has bought from Sweden all the sateen drills required for many of the Armed Forces. I should think that that news will get about in North-East Lancashire and will not be at all popular. There may be very good reason for it. The secrecy surrounding the matter was such that it required a good deal of ferreting out to discover exactly what had happened and where the order would be placed. But it has gone out and it has caused a good deal of fury in view of the present condition of the trade. The truth is still not altogether known because the passion for secrecy has made rumour and truth almost impossible to disentangle. Nevertheless, if it is true, I hope that some explanation will be given.

My final point on textiles is this. I suppose that for many years Members on both sides of the House have been hoping and believing that we should get into the European Economic Community and that when we did, a great deal of the unfair proportion of low-cost textiles which we accept would be spread among the other members of the E.E.C., which at present accept too small a proportion. We felt— and there were good grounds for feeling it, although not perhaps for saying too much about it because it might impede our entry— that the 35 per cent., or whatever the percentage is, which we accept would diminish and that the 5 or 6 per cent, which many of the Continental countries accept would increase as a result of the self-regulating mechanism of the E.E.C. and of the attitude of the E.E.C. to third countries. That was a fairly lively and suitable hope.

However, in spite of the messages yesterday or the day before from Brussels, I do not think that we can go on relying on the entry of this country into the E.E.C. as an automatic regulator and safeguard on that point. It is time for the President of the Board of Trade, perhaps at the U.N.C.T.A.D. meeting in February, or whenever it is, to insist that the other countries take substantially more, otherwise we shall take substantially less. He has a duty to us as well as to the underdeveloped nations— we are rapidly becoming an underdeveloped nation— to insist with the other developed nations that this burden be shared. We can no longer assume that the problem will be automatically solved by our entry into the E.E.C. and, therefore, fresh thought must be given in Government circles to how the imbalance between these proportions can be adjusted to the benefit of all of us.

8.17 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

This has been an extremely interesting debate. It is absolutely right that the problems which have been discussed have ranged over the whole region, and that hon. Members have tried to look at the regional problems as a whole. But I think that every hon. Member would agree that the region is divided into a number of sub-regions which have specific and particular problems of their own. While we should consider the regional problem as a whole, we must particularise and attempt to deal with the specific problems affecting specific areas.

Looking at the situation as a whole, I think that we have to agree that there are two distinct groups of problems. First, we have the problems of a temporary nature which have developed as a result of the immediate economic problems and policies which have been pursued in the past year. Secondly, there are the longstanding, structural problems which obviously require long-term solutions. Both groups of problems have brought us unemployment and a certain amount of stagnation, but, while we must agree that the first group of problems is likely to be overcome in the next year or so, the structural problems remain, and a new approach to them is required.

Many hon. Members have dealt with the situation in their own areas. There have been references to the cotton towns, to the grey areas and to the problems of the North-East Lancashire coast. I hope that the House will forgive me if I particularise the problems on Merseyside. They are long-term, structural problems which require specific and definite solutions which up to now, despite all the efforts which have been made, have not been found. One hon. Member opposite was a little unfair in suggesting that I had never acknowledged that the Conservative Party had done something to bring industry to Merseyside. That was quite untrue.

I accept completely that all post-war Governments have brought a measure of industry to Merseyside. Nevertheless, we have to accept that the problem still remains with us today, as it did in 1945. Advances have been made but, nevertheless, we have a higher level of unemployment than the national average, higher than is necessary and certainly much higher than it ought to be. It must be recognised that we have had this problem with us since the war.

We have to look at the specific reasons why we have had this measure of unemployment. The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) made the point that the region bears the scars of its history. He was absolutely right. It is, however, necessary to talk about not only the history of the Industrial Revolution, but also the closer history of the position shortly prior to the war.

In the excellent report on the problems of Merseyside— the appendix to the North-West Regional Study, issued by the Department of Economic Affairs, on page 21, item 4, under the heading "Unemployment", we find these words: High unemployment on Merseyside is not a recent phenomenon. In 1932, when unemployment nationally was at its highest level ever, 121,000 were unemployed on Merseyside, a rate of 28 per cent, compared with the national rate of 23 per cent. Imagine 121,000 people unemployed in a total population of just on three-quarters of a million. When I say that my father-in-law was the only man in the street in which he lived who had work, that is a measure of the type of problem which we inherited on Merseyside because of the position prior to the war.

That meant that we had far too many unskilled workers. During the war, many of them went into the Armed Forces. When they came back, however, they were still unskilled workers who had no skills to contribute. We did not have sufficient of the right type of jobs for them to take up and to which to introduce them in industry.

We have done a great deal but we have to recognise that the character of industry in Liverpool has been mainly concerned, certainly until the last few years, with the service industries, around the port in particular. What we require on Merseyside is greater diversification, and this has begun. As my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) rightly pointed out. we now have the motor car industry and the ancillary industries which go with it. That is excellent— it is a beginning— but we still need to do a great deal more in this connection. We have to recognise that up to now we have not solved this problem.

Another reason why we have the problem of a high level of unemployment on Merseyside— it may be that the two things have gone together— is that we have a very high birth rate. It may be that because people have been out of work, they have had nothing else to do. The point is that we have had, and we still have, a tremendously high birth rate. This has contributed to the problems of unemployment on Merseyside.

The problem of bringing industry to Merseyside must be faced with an entirely new approach. The Government are quite right in their industrial development certificate policy. We have stepped this up and we have done a great deal. I am not entirely happy about the premiums which are being given. I was at first rather enthusiastic about this and I had prepared a speech in which I would support the Government. I was not called to speak in the debate, however, and perhaps it was rather a good thing that I was not, because I have had second thoughts about it. I am not on record, therefore, as having been enthusiastic for the scheme.

There is a case for such a scheme, but there is also a case— it has been made this afternoon— for selective use of the premium mechanism. There are on Merseyside, in the development area, industries of long standing. They will not employ one extra worker and yet, as a result of the two premiums, they will get 37s. 6d. a week per person.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

Will the hon. Member give way?

Mr. Heffer

I am not anxious to do so; I do not want to take up time unnecessarily. It seems to me, therefore, that a case has been made for examining the premiums and considering whether the mechanism should not be used on a selective basis. The enormous amount of money which is being used in this direction can, and should, be used in other directions.

So far, hon. Members opposite will have been largely in agreement with me, but at this point we part company sharply. Private enterprise has only partially helped the problem. Basically, it has failed to solve the problems of areas like Merseyside. The responsibility is that of the Government to introduce directly, as we said in our election programmes of 1964 and 1966, publicly-owned industries.

I have done some research on this and I find that the research departments of various Ministries do a great deal of work concerning new types of research which could be commercially used. There is sometimes a great time lag before commercial firms will take up the benefits of research. There does not need to be a time lag. The Government could take up the benefits of this research and develop it, particularly, perhaps, in agricultural machinery and in telecommunications. Those are directions which the Government could well examine and endeavour to develop publicly-owned industries based on the research projects which have been successful but have not been taken up commercially because of backward managements who are so hidebound and are not prepared to take a chance in development. We ought to do this ourselves.

What is required on Merseyside is the introduction of publicly-owned industries, which, incidentally, could be geared to long-term projects and agreements with underdeveloped countries, thereby providing the sort of products which those countries require and giving employment to places such as Merseyside.

To come down to, as it were, parish pump politics, what else do we need? My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, West Derby quite rightly said that we want better communications. It really is about time we had them. I was interested to hear the comments of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), when he mentioned that reply which he has had today. I think it very unfortunate— I am being very careful in what I am saying— because I want to see the link between Merseyside and the M6 in operation at the earliest possible moment.

If we are to make a success of our new deep-sea berths, if we are to make a success of our new container project on Merseyside, we need that extra communication, and we need it now. Incidentally, we need this communication because of the talk of only one port for containers in the South-East, which would obviously be against everything which the Government and the whole country have accepted as the right way to diversify industry and to develop areas such as Merseyside.

We need the extra communications. The flyover, work on which is proceeding in my constituency, will help transport to the docks, but it will be a short-term project, and it will not solve the problem for any length of time. We certainly need a link road. We ought also to have far greater support for our airport facilities. I have long argued that.

I have also argued, ever since the whole idea of the Regional Economic Planning Councils came up, that we ought to have had a council for Merseyside. I make no apology for arguing it again, because I think that Merseyside is in itself a natural region. I still think that we ought to have had a council for Merseyside. It was wrong that we did not. Anyway, we did not. Nevertheless, I hope that at a later stage we shall get a Merseyside council, because Merseyside is in itself a natural region, which would take in North Wales. I think that the case made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bebington (Mr. Brooks) proved conclusively that there is a Merseyside region.

Mr. Peter Mahon

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Heffer

Well, all right.

Mr. Peter Mahon

I assure the House that my intervention will not take more than a moment. I should just like to remind my hon. Friend that there would be a natural reluctance on the part of many of the authorities on Merseyside to concur with the viewpoint he has just expressed.

Mr. Heffer

I accept that some of the local authorities on Merseyside, like local authorities everywhere else, cannot see beyond their own boundaries. It is very unfortunate, but it is something one has 1o recognise. I take the point which my lion. Friend has made.

The point I am making is that there is an airport which would serve this region. We have heard about Manchester Airport. There is a Liverpool Airport, and it seems to me that Liverpool Airport needs to be given greater assistance. I do not mean to criticise the work being done by Liverpool City Council, which is doing a first-class job here, but the airport needs greater assistance in order to develop the facilities there and to make certain that those facilities are properly used, and used to the maximum, for at the moment they are not being used to the extent to which they could be used. That, I think, is something else that we require.

Like the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), I intend to discipline myself and speak only for a short time, but there are two other points I wish briefly to make. I have mentioned the port and new developments taking place there, but I want to join issue with Mr. Oliphant, whom I know very well, whom I admire, who has done a great deal for our city and for the community and who is a leading businessman. But he is quite wrong, in my opinion, in suggesting that public ownership will not help the Port of Liverpool. In my opinion, the port needs public ownership so as to overcome the backward ideas which have existed in the port for far too long. If we are to get the modernisation that we require we need public ownership.

I say this in passing because he made a statement last night, as Chairman of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, attacking the concept of public ownership. As a Merseysider who has never been chairman of the Board, but who has worked for the Board, I certainly welcome the idea of public ownership. It would be very beneficial to the workers and, I believe, beneficial to the users of the port and I am thinking in terms of shipowners, and others.

My last point is this. We have undoubtedly developed quite a long way in the training of the unemployed, in the training centres which have helped create new skills. We are expanding the training centres established in my constituency. They are doing a good job, but there is a need to go much further and do more. We may run into difficulty with some of our trade union colleagues, but discussions will have to be held with them to get agreement.

We have had the paradoxical situation on Merseyside where unemployment has been running at a high level and, at the same time, there has been a serious lack of skilled workers. If we had had skilled workers, the level of unemployment would have been lower. We require more training facilities, both through the Government and through private enterprise, to increase the number of skilled workers on Merseyside.

I intended originally to say a good deal more about the problems of the North-West. However, I felt that I ought to concentrate on Merseyside issues which, although they have been aired partially in this debate, need to be emphasised more for the country to understand the position. As a Merseysider, I get tired of listening to people talking about the terrible problems of the unemployed in the North-East, in Northern Ireland and in South Wales. Radio and television commentators never mention Merseyside, yet we have had a higher level of persistent unemployment than any other area.

In a parish pump way, perhaps, I make a plea now for my own area to be recognised as one with real problems. It is recognised to an extent. Support is being given to us. We need a great deal more, and I suggest that it should be made available along the lines that I have indicated.

8.36 p.m.

Mr. John Tilney(Liverpool, Waver-tree)

Somewhat oddly, I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), with one important exception, that being his wish to nationalise or go ahead with creeping nationalisation.

I, too, know Mr. Morton Oliphant. It so happens that, at one period in the war, he was my assistant adjutant. I agree with him that for the Government to nationalise what is already virtually a public trust is a complete waste of time and not in keeping with the country's present problems. I think that the Government are right in emphasising that the need is for exports, but no nationalised industry exports. Virtually all our exports are from private enterprise.

I agree with the hon. Gentleman when he refers to the history of Liverpool. It is a great city which was founded on commerce and the service industries. However, thanks to the Conservative local government before the war who set up the great trading estates of Liverpool, we are in a better state today than we were between the wars. But there is a danger in the emphasis which is now placed on manufactured goods, to the detriment of commerce and the service industries, which we are apt to forget. We have a greater diversity, but there is fear among some of those diversified industries.

Cammell Laird has been on Merseyside for a long time. Thanks to Government orders, it has built up a reservoir of skilled labour. I agree that we have not enough skilled men, and that many more unskilled can be employed if there are enough with skills. As a result of Polaris, that great company has been able to build up a reasonably large reservoir of skilled men. It has had to go outside Merseyside. Not many other industries are in a comparable position, with the exception, possibly, of English Electric. Certainly, the motor industry is not, because on the whole it employs semi-skilled people. Naturally enough, there is the fear that defence cuts will come and that the very valuable reserves of skilled labour will be endangered.

There is also the fear that, as seen from outside, Merseyside is not attractive to capitalists and those who want to build new factories. I believe that they have got the wrong view about Liverpool. They think of the Beatles, of Aintree and of a great port; but they also think of strikes, of too many unemployables— so they say — and they think that labour relations are bad. They are quite wrong. Merseyside labour can be and is very good. This applies to labour of every kind, especially the white collar workers.

I remember the chairman of one of the insurance companies saying that the white collar workers on Merseyside were probably the best in the whole country. But people in the South, the Midlands, and the East of England think of Liverpool as a place where there are too many slums, and a place to which their wives, on the whole, do not want to come. This is entirely a wrong view. They see the litter in the streets. Liverpool is far less litter conscious than probably any other city. So people think of the amenities they know in the South and which they would like to see on Merseyside and throughout the North-West, but which in many cases are not there.

This is not helped by the Government. I am glad to see the Minister of Housing and Local Government on the Front Bench, because one point of view which is accepted by both major parties in Liverpool concerns the housing subsidy. There are nine major schemes at present in the pipeline costing over £13 million and involving 3,838 dwellings. The subsidy is paid only on the yardstick laid down by the Minister. Yet the tender price varies from 7.4 per cent, to as much as 68.34 per cent, over that yardstick. I am told that this will mean £36,517 per annum for 60 years or £2,191,000 on the rates. This is the unanimous view of the City of Liverpool, and I very much hope that the Minister will look into it.

Yet the Government are sending the rents of corporation houses to be looked at by the Prices and Incomes Board. How can they do that and at the same time put as a burden on the ratepayers such a very large sum of money?

Mr. Ogden


Mr. Tilney

I would rather not give way. I want to be as quick as possible.

Mr. Ogden

I gave way to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Tilney

Very well.

Mr. Ogden

If the hon. Gentleman is listing the deficiencies of the Government, will he also list some of their achievements in housing, such as the 4 per cent, and the rate subsidies? Will he give the other side of the picture?

Mr. Tilney

I accept all that, but this is a view which the hon. Gentleman's own party accepts, and has accepted, in the City of Liverpool. That is the point I want to make.

I agree with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton about the road scheme. At the moment we are out on a limb. It is absolutely essential that communications should be improved, particularly between the M6 and the new dock at Seaforth.

One thing that we can do for ourselves is to improve our amenities, be it by councils in the North-West by individuals, or by individual companies. I would refer to Operation Springclean which was brought into being, after the report of the Environmental Committee of the North-West Economic Planning Council, to assault the dirt, the drabness, and the untidiness of the region. I believe that we can make a big effort ourselves. Mr. William Mather, who has done so much, said: It was found that the environment was a limiting factor in the prosperity of the area. It does not attract people or hold people, particularly those with a freedom of choice. I want to see a stop to the drift to the South. I believe in a mixed society, with people of all incomes living together, and not being segregated. I am fed up with the number of people who make their money in the North-West and then retire to Bournemouth, or to the South. I believe in regional premiums. Perhaps I might suggest something which could be introduced in the next Budget. Could not some help be given to the rentier, so that when he retires he can remain in a development area rather than go elsewhere? I believe that this could be of considerable benefit to the area.

But before we come to discuss the Budget, there is action which could be taken now by the Government to help the commerce of Liverpool. I often think that the Government do not understand invisible exports, or, in some cases, exports judging from the length of time that it took them to work out how the export rebate was to be wound up. I refer particularly to the effect of devaluation on invisible exports and the commodity markets. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman has seen the letter addressed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the Committee appointed by the Cocoa Association of London Ltd., the Incorporated Oil Seed Association, the Liverpool Cotton Association, still an important body, though not with the glamour of years gone by, the London Copra Association, the London Oil and Tallow Trades Association, and the Seed, Oil, Cake and General Produce Association. I will not weary the House with the details, but it refers particularly to the effect of our devaluation on the produce coming from Nigeria. The commodity trades will lose about £8 million due to non-devaluation by Nigeria, which has received so much aid in the past.

I should like to read the views of Mr. Bridge and Mr. Faure on behalf of that committee. They say: Some considerable losses will in any case arise, which Traders will have to carry, but provided they are those which can properly be considered to be their own risks, the Trade can still survive. Whereas, should they be called upon, unjustly if we may say so, to accept the burden of other losses, which are not their responsibility, there is a grave danger of the Trade breaking down under the strain.… Companies trading these commodities are also active in other fields as well, so that failures would not be restricted to a narrow field but would spread over a wide area. The inevitable result would be not only widespread unemployment in those Trades but the snowball effects could cause failures a long way down the line, a complete disruption of the accepted and established machinery of moving goods from one part of the world to the other, the serious disruption in industry and with greater unemployment in addition there exists the danger of Britain no longer retaining the Centres of International Trade. You will be aware of the serious loss in invisible exports which this would mean, not only in the Trade in the goods, but in the side-effects such as the loss to British shipping, to British Banking and Insurance, to the use of British ports for the entrepot trade in these and certainly in other commodities in part, if not in total. Those are serious words. I agree that most of that trade may be in London, but there is quite a proportion of it on Merseyside, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say something about that.

Finally, I believe that we should seriously consider some form of regional government. I can see no reason why, if we are federated with the Northern Ireland Government, we should not have the equivalent of Stormont not only in Edinburgh and Cardiff, but in the regions as well. This should be government with a certain amount of power and not merely for consultation— and consultation, apparently, in private, Mr. Carter said that the Government do not listen to the advice from the North-West area, and I have heard others on that Council say exactly the same.

I hope that, when we divide, hon. Members opposite will study the Motion carefully and ask themselves whether, in their hearts, they really think that the outlook for the North-West is now better than it was when we were in power.

8.50 p.m.

Mr. Stanley Henig (Lancaster)

I will not follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) in his last train of thought. What some of us in the North-West are asking for is not to be cut off from Westminster, but to get more help from Westminster, Whitehall and the centres of government. I come from an area whose problems are caused by its "greyness" and not by the decline of a single industry like cotton or coal. Nairn Williamson, the Kirkcaldy-Lancaster firm which decided to rationalise away from Lancaster, has been mentioned. The effect of this decision on Lancaster is inadequately realised. The number of people laid off by the firm, 1,500, amounted to 12½ per cent, of those employed in manufacturing in the area. This was considerable. By no means all of those who are due to lose their jobs have as yet been made redundant.

In the wake of this, three broad considerations are worrying us. First, there is the general greyness of a low-wage area. It is not enough in this respect to consider unemployment figures. Fortunately, the broad, bare unemployment figures for the Lancaster area are not at this stage too disturbing in themselves. Unemployment is about the same as the national average. What is much more worrying is what is happening to the work force.

People previously employed in Lancaster by Nairn Williamson's and other firms are tending to travel a long way seeking work— to Preston and even further. One man I know travels every Monday morning to Hinckley, in Leicestershire, and drives back every Friday evening. That is where he works. It may be asked, why should people not be prepared to travel 20 or 30 miles— or, as in that case, 150 miles— to their weekly work? Why not, but in that case what is the logic of moving industry to Cumberland so that the people there do not have to move? If that is logical, why should my people in Lancaster have to move? 1 should like my right hon. Friend's comments on this.

Associated with this is a certain amount of general anxiety in the area. The right hon. and learned Member for the Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said that he had heard that Storey's, in Lancaster, was considering expanding elsewhere. He seems to have heard more than I have, in which case I once again express profound regret that firms in my constituency do not at least tell me their intentions. There was a rumour to this effect some months ago, and it appeared that the firm had decided not to go ahead and cause a further severe blow to employment prospects in Lancaster.

This is symptomatic of our concern. Many firms in Lancaster are controlled from outside, and, if they are not, they usually have branches in other parts of the country. If a firm which has a branch in Lancaster and another only 20 miles further north, in a development area, wants to expand, where will it expand? If it is interested in profits, which it probably is, or in its shareholders, as it might be, it will not expand in Lancaster.

Industrialists have said to me, "When the economy picks up, we must think about where we will expand and, frankly, we will not expand in Lancaster. Although we would be the local people who put the case for local development to our boards of directors, they would probably sack us on the spot if we suggested something so unprofitable to the firm when we could get the big advantage of investment grants and the regional employment premium by expanding elsewhere." This is one concern.

I am glad to see the hon. Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis) in his place. He mentioned the Post Office Savings Department in his constituency and, as we have been associated together on this matter, I know that he will not mind if I support him. The Post Office Savings Department is situated just inside his constituency, on the right side of the road for him, and it employs people from both our constituencies. It was one of the very few industries— I suppose that one can call it that— in the area which employed civil servants, and which gave much clerical work. It is being moved, not, I am glad to say, to London, but to the North-East. Good luck to them in the North-East.

But what kind of Government Department shall we get to replace it? It appears that every time that a branch of the Government is considering moving some small unit to Morecambe and Lancaster, the prior need of the development areas must be considered first. Maybe those are always prior needs, but are we to wait until this working force has been dispersed and until that kind of job no longer exists in the area? I hope that something is done about it.

All these matters are engendering in people a kind of neurosis. I find this when I go back to my constituency. People say, "Things are all right now, but can we be reassured about the future?" I reply, "Don't worry. Eventually, the Government will do something for the grey areas. The Hunt Committee is about to report". But they retort, "Nothing is happening. Industries are running down. Unemployment is rising — only by a little, it is true— and people are going away to work. When will something positive be done? "

That is the first question which I put to my right hon. Friend: when shall we get some positive action? My right hon. Friend is very helpful about this. I have had conversations with him. He has expressed sympathy and interest, but I hope that tonight he will not talk to the House simply about I.D.C.s, because, frankly, I.D.C.s are not enough. I expect that it is axiomatic that any firm now applying to the Board of Trade for an I.D.C. to develop in Lancaster will be granted it automatically, as a result of the pressure we have brought to bear. But my fear is that not enough firms will ask to go to Lancaster because of the natural disadvantages to which I have referred.

I cannot see, in the name of reason, why, in advance of the Hunt Committee's report, we cannot try to alter the stark distinction between white and black areas. Why not an intermediate range of grants and an intermediate range for the regional employment premium? My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on a number of occasions has insisted that the Government wish to increase employment and prosperity in the development areas without overheating the economy. Let us be a little more subtle and ensue that the result of the policy is not that grey areas become black while black areas become grey. We should try to stop the drift south by getting the people into the development areas but not by hitting Lancaster for the benefit of Kirkcaldy. That is pointless.

Secondly, may we be told a little more about the broad purpose of the Government's regional policy? To what extent is it in force? It is not enough to say that we should help the regions because they have been depressed in the past. We need a coherent policy concerning the kind of country we want to see. When I look at an amalgam of Government policies— for example, S.E.T. and the regional employment premium — and at Lancaster, I find that our industries are being affected adversely and that a little further to the north the hotel and tourist industry in the Lake District is heavily taxed. Who benefits from that? Apparently manufacturing industry in the Lake District. I am sure that I put it too starkly and too unfairly, but occasionally that is how it looks. Perhaps my right hon. Friend will comment on it.

I regard the Opposition's Motion as somewhat hypocritical. We have been urged to keep party politics out of this discussion. I would be more willing to do that if, during the 13 years of rule of hon. Gentlemen opposite, a little more had been done for the North-West. I sometimes feel that hon. Gentlemen opposite— and I have this feeling about the Conservative Party in my constituency— trying deliberately to exploit employment and industrial difficulties which are not of the Government's making. However, to be honest, I must admit that the Amendment— for which I shall vote since the Motion is so hypocritical— is rather complacent.

I want to see action. I understand that in the past year the development areas have been a top priority. Now that we have established a good policy which should help them, we need to see something done for the grey areas which are becoming greyer and greyer every day. I would like to hear from my right hon. Friend exactly when the Hunt Committee will report and when he expects to start his action which will give us the assistance we need.

9.2 p.m.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

Whichever way the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig) is proposing to vote tonight, one thing was clear from his speech; that the distinction between the development areas and the non-development areas is too wide and is detracting from development throughout Lancashire in those parts which are not now classed as development areas.

For obvious reasons I must keep my remarks brief. I believe that one must look at the North-West as a whole. When one considers that there are certain parts, such as Merseyside, where there is development status, and that there are other areas of almost equivalent difficulty, such as North-East Lancashire, which have no help at all, I do not believe that it is adequate for the President of the Board of Trade to say, as he does, "Of course, we give I.D.C.s in those parts of Lancashire." It has always seemed to me that the refusal of an I.D.C. may be an adequate stick to prevent someone from developing in a particular area, while the offer of an I.D.C. is not a sufficient carrot when it is financially advantageous for that person to go to areas in the immediate vicinity.

When I attempted to intervene in the speech of the hon. Member for Lancaster, I was about to point out that in my constituency of Runcorn— which has development status as the result of being a reception area for Liverpool— industry is gaining 37s. 6d. a man, even for those who are not attempting to take people from Liverpool.

I am glad that the Minister of Housing and Local Government is in his place, because I wish to make it clear to him that one means of reducing the difficulties in Lancashire would be to look at the question of planning over all the North-West for the siting of new towns and overspill areas. I had intended to make a number of points, but I will limit my remarks to the proposal for Warrington. At present, it is suggested by the Minister that there should be a new town in Warrington which should take 40,000 people from Manchester, 18,000 of whom are to come into Cheshire. It is proposed to take up 3,500 acres of good agricultural land— this from a county which is already losing agricultural land to development at the rate of 2,000 acres a year.

It would be far better if the money that will be spent in this area— where this development is not welcome, not for the reasons suggested by the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) but because this is good agricultural land— were spent on developing North-East Lancashire where, I understand, great opportunities exist. For example, new roads and rail communications are needed.

I regret that the Government's transport policy, as set out in the Transport Bill, will mean £40 million additional taxation being levied on members of the Road Haulage Association because this will fall heavily on the regions. From the point of view of Lancashire, there must be a great deal of heavy industrial movement by road and these people are bound to be made less competitive as a result of this new taxation.

There are great opportunities in developing North-East Lancashire, provided that the Government are prepared to pursue policies which encourage rather than detract from development in that area. If they had spent the money on improving the infrastructure of the area rather than developing on good agricultural land in Cheshire, they could have seized these opportunities.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington)

Obviously, I shall have to be very brief. The House will have to accept my word for the fact that the best part of my speech will not be delivered. I shall condense my remarks into one particular aspect, the problem of emigration from North-East Lancashire. This is a very serious problem. I hope that my right hon. Friend who is to reply to the debate will take note of it and that the House will respond to it.

In North-East Lancashire there is what has been referred to as a distorted age structure. Young people from the region are, and have been, gradually drifting away from the Midlands and the South-East. To emphasise that I refer to some figures which probably my right hon. Friend has, but which I am sure we would like to hear again. During the last six years about 33,000 people have migrated from the North-West. That is a very bad and startling figure.

It is even worse for the area when we consider that out of that number 14,000 have gone from North-East Lancashire. About 50 per cent, of those who have drifted away to seek work elsewhere have gone from the very small area of Lancashire. That is bad enough, but I have worse figures. Out of that 14,000 the vast majority were between the ages of 16 and 32. These are the very people we need to restore industrial vitality to the area which we can ill afford to lose.

I am afraid that the drift has not been halted, but is continuing. In my constituency there is the Huncoat pit. We are grateful to the Prime Minister that it has been reprieved, at least until March, but those employed in the pit will move, or are already moving, out of the area. They are going to Nottingham. Nottingham gains young people whom we desperately need. I ask my right hon. Friend to look at this as perhaps one of the main reasons for designating this part of Lancashire as some form of "mini-area" status.

9.8 p.m.

Sir Keith Joseph (Leeds, North-East)

All the speeches today have focused on the two inter-related characteristics of the North-West Region, the need for jobs and the prevalence of obsolescence. I will not try to describe yet again what so many hon. Members, on either side of the House, have already described, the historic background and the resulting mixture of modernity and decay which makes up the region.

The national background of today's debate is three feverish years of Labour Government, the first of inflation and the last two years of deflation with the Government always apparently caught and surprised by economic events. We could, if we were so minded, use a series of Supply Days to raise in the House the position of each region in turn. We could in each region no doubt make out a case, which would often be supported by hon. Members opposite, that in that region there was a shortage of the right sort of jobs or a shortage of jobs in particular.

The underlying cause for this universal feature of the regions is that for the last two years industrial investment in Britain has been either stagnant or falling. Government investment has been rising and, much though we deplore the rising proportion of public expenditure going through the Government's hands, much investment has to be done by the Government, and we recognise its value. But private investment has been falling, and this is a direct result of Government policy. It is not a wish of the Government. It is not as if they were deliberately seeking to reduce private investment. It is a direct result of their incompetent policies.

The North-West Region has the problems described graphically by a series of hon. Members. It is undoubtedly populated by an adaptable people. That must be true. However, these people are still paying in obsolescence for the pioneering rôle played by their grandparents and their great great grandparents. We on this side know, and hon. Members opposite know, that the transformation of slums, of decay and of obsolescence cannot occur overnight. We know, and we are ready to say from this Box, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) did, that the problems of the North-West did not begin with the arrival of the Labour Government in power. We are not for a moment pretending that they did. Our case is a perfectly simple one. Our case is that this Government are making the problems of the North-West worse.

The previous series of Conservative governments broadly, though not in each year, maintained for most of their period in office expanding investment and a confident, buoyant economy. Under this Government for two-thirds of their time in office, and not for the first year when they took over from the Tories, we have had violent deflation made worse by crude taxes and an even cruder development area policy.

Four main strands of concern have emerged from the numerous speeches today. The first is the inter-related subject of housing and town planning. This is a huge subject of its own. I am in duty bound to state my interest as a builder. It is too big a subject, I think, to slot into this debate, particularly as, although the Minister of Housing and Local Government is present, the winding-up speech is to be made by the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.

Let us get our basic facts right, though. Hon. Members opposite tease or chide us that we did not do enough about the decay in the North-West and perhaps elsewhere during our 13 years in office. There is a limit to what any Government can do. We do not chide the Labour Government because, between 1945 and 1951, they did not start slum clearance. We never chide them with that, because it was not the priority of the time. Repair of bomb-damaged houses was the priority. It was not practicable to start on slum clearance until the mid-1950s. The Tory Government started in 1955. It only became practicable to turn large resources on to the repair of decay later still. That is why in a series of priorities we now are all concentrating— I think that the Minister of Housing and Local Government himself is concentrating— on decay. We on this side may think that the laws have made these problems worse, laws which we as well as hon. Members opposite countenanced, but the fact is that first was die repair of war damage, then slums, and now decay.

My hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Mr. Hall-Davis), in his very effective speech, was surely right to stress the influence of decay on the whole of the North-West Region. As my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) very properly brought out, there is a close link between decay and industrial prosperity. If there are not earnings from well-paid jobs coming into the households, there is not the capacity for or the willingness to pay for the better conditions which we all want to see in the towns of the North-West and elsewhere.

I am sorry that I missed the speech of the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) about Manchester's housing, but I heard the feeling speech of the hon. Member for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Ogden) about Liverpool's intense housing problem. I am glad to hear that some more rapid progress is being made, although I may take credit for the fact that some of the land required for the present acceleration was made available under the Tory Government. But the problem is not only that we have to contemplate decent housing for the existing popula- tion to come in the North-West. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport), while recognising that there is bound to be overspill, made some very wise comments on how to deal with overspill which we should all study.

The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Arthur Davidson) made a valid point about die loss of vital population from the North-West which must have something to do with the drabness of the decayed surroundings. It was rather curious that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) wanted to improve the earning capacity of the region by bringing in more nationalised industry. He looked a trifle glum when my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), not to tease him, praised die training fall-out from the building of the Polaris submarines in the region. This is a nationalised product all right, but I think that die hon. Member would do grave damage to the region if he wanted to try to introduce more nationalised industry as such. It would not increase the prosperity of die area.

From the large number of speeches which have been made I have distilled three simple questions which I should like to put to the Secretary of State. The first concerns development area policy. The Industrial Development Act of last year audiorised the Government to take into account a whole range of factors in deciding whether to use development area powers. Recently, as part of the coal policy, the Government created a new range of development areas— what we might call "super development areas"— in the places particularly affected by the closure of coal mines. No one can be sure— I do not believe that even anyone on the Government Front Bench can be sure— that the present development area policies are right.

We on this side of the House criticise the substitution of development areas for growth centres. We criticise the substitution of grants for allowances. There may be other changes which should be made. But I remember, as if it were from a bygone age, all the subtle calculations which academics and die Government gave us to support the regional employment premium. This was to be a magic way of creating more employment in development areas without having to withdraw consumption power from the rest of the population by raising taxes. It was to give us more production without inflation at a time of full employment.

The story is very different now. The Government are telling us, rightly, that they have to reduce consumption to make way for exports and import substitution. I wonder whether the regional employment premium, if it was ever a sensible device— and we on this side of the House voted against it— is at all relevant now. Certainly, in the North-West, we must be made to think by the fact that no less than £18 million is going as a straightforward bonus to manufacturers who were there before the R.E.P. was introduced. Some of it may be justified, but I suggest that a better use could be found for at least some of that £18 million. We disapprove of both the Selective Employment Tax and its dependent relative, the R.E.P., and the absurd bias against services and distribution which underlies both.

But even if the Government cannot act before the Hunt Committee reports— and we were glad that the President of the Board of Trade told us that they might take action beforehand, and even if they cannot accept the suggestions of my right lion. Friend and many hon. Members that there should be an intermediate grade of development area, cannot they switch some of the money now being wasted in the regional employment premium into helping to improve the renewal of the towns in the North-West Region? The premium is an indiscriminate bonus, unrelated to efficiency, but while it is still with us could not part be switched to the grey areas for improving the infrastructure?

The first of my three questions to the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs is, therefore: will he try to give us a more encouraging answer than did the President of the Board of Trade and say that the Government will consider that some of the R.E.P. could be switched to one or other of the purposes which hon. Members have advocated this afternoon?

I now come to textiles. We are grateful to the President of the Board of Trade for giving us what must have been a considered statement on textiles, although the Motion touches on them only as part of a larger theme. As he talked about them I make no apology for following up what he said. I hope that the Government will not use any temporary buoyancy there may be in the textile industry as an excuse for inactivity. I am sure, speaking entirely as a layman, that it is on its way to becoming a multi-fibre, multi-process industry of a capital intensive nature.

I understand that some of the new investment coming in involves no less than £12,000 per person employed, assuming that the men work three shifts. If only one shift is worked, it is £ 36,000 per person on the one shift. It is highly capital intensive equipment. Our competitors, sometimes paying much higher earnings, like the United States, and more often, as in Asia, far less, are concentrating on the economies that flow from long runs on new equipment.

We are beginning— no, that would be grossly unfair— we have a wide spectrum of management vision, vigour, skill and size, from some formidable giants through to small enterprises. There is nothing wrong with small enterprises if they are well managed and vigorous. We have had a leap in knitting, in man-made fibres and in management skill in some parts of the textile industry. Yet on average, as the right hon. Gentleman said, yarn product per spindle and cloth production per loom are still relatively low in this country by international standards.

What are the prospects after devaluation? I strongly support my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree, who made a most important point about the invisibles. I need not repeat what he said about the huge loss the produce brokers have had to suffer by the differential devaluation of different parts of the sterling area. I hope that the President of the Board of Trade and the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs will take very seriously the fact that these differential devaluations, coupled, I understand, with a continued refusal by the Government or the Bank of England— I do not know which— to allow these traders to cover sterling forward may damage permanently, or at least for a long time, the very valuable entrepôt trade which this country has in a number of different commodities traded all over the world. This is not a party point, and I beg the Government to take it very seriously.

Devaluation will undoubtedly make cotton more costly. It is true that it puts up the price of imports and presents exporters with greater scope. I thought that the President of the Board of Trade treated the effect of devaluation on the traditional cotton textile industry in a rather cavalier fashion. I understand that over the past seven or eight years the consumption of cotton goods in this country has been falling by 2 per cent. a year, and the fall is expected to continue. Global quotas, plus Hong Kong and Indian allocations, amounted to 30 per cent, of home consumption when they were negotiated, and, whether home consumption rises or falls, 1 per cent, is automatically added to that global quota each year until 1970.

Taking into account the 2 per cent, decline which we expect to continue, and the 1 per cent, growth of quota it looks as if 34 per cent, of the home consumption of cotton will be going to the quota by 1970 unless change occurs. This is the point which I thought the President of the Board of Trade under-estimated. At the same time as this trend is in play, devaluation will strengthen the competitive position of synthetic fibres. There is likely, therefore, to be an acceleration of the reduction in home demand for cotton goods as such, at least till 1970, and a rising quota of low-cost cotton imports competing for that lower home demand.

This is an aspect which I fear follows ineluctably from devaluation, but which the President of the Board of Trade did not bring out. A vigorous management will compete by good marketing and by long runs of few product lines, provided that investment in business is encouraged by a clear indication of post-1970 Government policy. The right hon. Gentleman was entirely right to say that no Government could think of protecting an industry that was not making the strongest possible efforts to be competitive. That must be in the interests of the country as a whole and in the interests of consumers. I beg the Government, while stimulating efficiency, not to destroy the confidence of efficient management of all sizes.

Competition is already restructuring the industry and will go on doing so but not necessarily the best managed and equipped will survive. The hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) was right when he said that if there is no confidence among these good managers, they will be the ones who will switch their investments, or will curtail or abate them. It is the managers who must be convinced of what the Government are doing. We recognise the obligation to the Commonwealth and the under-developed countries. With U.N.C.T.A.D. ahead we wish the Government good luck in persuading other developed countries to take more of these low-cost imports.

The whole question is the degree of protection that should be allowed. Even if the Government will not try to renegotiate the quotas or remove the 1 per cent, annual automatic increase, as my right hon. Friend so rightly asked, even if they will not go that far, will they not give the trade the confidence that would come from acknowledging at least two errors that they made in negotiating the present position? The first error was that they established a rising global quota with an automatic increase, regardless of home consumption each year. That was surely an error that they will not repeat.

Secondly, will they not admit that it was an error not to separate the global quotas quarterly throughout the year. If they could give this sort of assurance to industry it might help confidence. I would hope that they might be able to go even further. We realise that the Government will not allow industry to be lulled into a lethargy by a categoric assurance on a precise level of protection. But in the light of the Government's own failure only a year ago to foresee what would happen in the ensuing four years, we feel that the industry is bound to need some more encouragement to continue investment.

What we ask the Secretary of State is: is the industry really expected to wait for any Government answer until the completion of the Textile Council's study? We do beg the Minister to consider what my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale emphasised— the importance of confidence if an efficient industry is to survive.

I come to the third question that I wish to put to the Government— I understand that the Secretary of State has asked for 25 minutes in which to reply. The third subject is about the Regional Economic Planning Council. The chairman of the North-West Regional Economic Planning Council has resigned, frustrated it is said by the "planning pretence" of the Government. The hon. Member for West Derby puts the blame on the council. He is normally a relatively objective observer, but I doubt whether he is being fair in this case. The Regional Economic Planning Council has had its dreams of growth and renewal, but, alas, in the North-West the only growth has been of population and of problems.

I understand that the hon. Members for Bebington (Mr. Brooks) and for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) discussed regional planning. Will the Secretary of State tell us categorically what is the status of the Regional Economic Planning Council? He must know, but the Government have never made it clear. Is the council a pressure group, is it an agent of the central Government, is it a forerunner of some scheme of devolution, or is it merely an ear to the ground for Whitehall? Will the Secretary of State tell us what the Regional Economic Planning Council really is? The North-West's chairman's resignation is not the only straw in the wind. There has been dissatisfaction in other regional economic planning councils, not only in the North-West.

I put those three questions to the Secretary of State, and my hon. Friends have put a number of others. Our case is that the Government's policies are making the difficulties of the North-West worse. We have had two years of stagnant investment. There is a lack of expansion in industry. There is a crude new set of taxes, and an equally crude development area strategy, with far too big a gap, as my hon. Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, between development areas and areas without that status. There is also the ill-defined shop-window of the regional economic planning network.

We believe that, although the problems of the North-West are vast, a return of confidence and industrial investment could set in being a chain of improvement and renewal in the whole region which would hold population, attract new industry and, at an accelerating rate, create the conditions which we all want for such an important and historically vital region of the country.

As we say in our Motion, we regret that the Government have made so many errors in handling the regions. We think that the cause is partly straight errors of judgment. Part of the cause of the errors is a pursuit of gimmickry, and part is sheer humbug and hypocrisy, which, in our view, the regional economic planning councils illustrate.

I turn now to the "dramatic" Amendment, which, no doubt, will be spoken to by the Secretary of State. Are they the fire-eaters of the North-West on the Labour benches who have made all the tame speeches we have heard today? Have they been tamed by this complacent, smug and passive Amendment? Do they really think that the Amendment would satisfy any of their constituents? My hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) made the only speech with the passion which would have satisfied their constituents.

Hon. Members opposite are hiding their real disappointment— I know that they are disappointed— at the performance of their own Government under the excuse of finding some comfort in the speech of the President of the Board of Trade and, indeed, in the new President of the Board of Trade himself. They are putting the right hon. Gentleman on probation. It was the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) who put the whole Government on probation at the Scarborough conference. He gave them four months, and we all know what happened within four months. Some of the Government's chickens came home to roost, and the whole country is suffering.

Putting the President of the Board of Trade on probation may allow hon. Members, without much damage to their conscience, to vote for this placid, vapid, insipid, smug and complacent Amendment. But I should like to meet them on their own chosen ground. Their refrain has been— no doubt, the Whips have been at them— "What did the Conservative Government do for the North-West during their 13 years?". I shall tell them.

For a far higher proportion of our time in office than the party opposite have done, we kept a buoyant, growing, expanding economy. While we were in power, vast new firms and industries— I have a list of them— were established in the North-West so that the large fall in textile and coal employment was absorbed within a very low average level of unemployment, lower than at present. We demolished a huge chunk of slums, but, of course, we left a vast deal still to be done. Have hon. Members opposite forgotten the promises made at successive elections by their Front Bench— the promises to protect textiles and of more and cheaper houses?

This is a Micawber Government, always waiting for something good to turn up and always being caught by something bad when it does turn up. Today, the Government tell us to wait— to wait for the Textile Council's report before they will say anything more about textiles, and to wait for the Hunt report before they do anything more about the grey areas. The whole House looks to the Secretary of State not to daze us with an avalanche of figures, but to tell us when the Government will shift some of the regional employment premiums to the grey areas, whether they will not at least announce some of the errors that they will not repeat in any negotiations for the post-1970 textile period, and what regional economic planning councils really are for.

9.36 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. Peter Shore)

One thing which I can assure the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) is that the House would, I think, prefer an avalanche of statistics to an avalanche of adjectives. I hope not to have to provide either, except in modest measure.

So far, the main lesson to be drawn from the debate is the discovery by right hon. and hon. Members opposite of the values and virtues of regional planning. When I heard the hon. and gallant Member for Knutsford (Sir W. Bromley-Davenport) say that the future of the economy depended on regional planning, as it were, as opposed to local planning, I felt that he must have brought a blush to the cheeks of the authors of the Local Employment Acts, which were such a feature of 1960 and earlier years.

The second thing which I have noted in the debate is that we have had yet again the example of right hon. and hon. Members opposite opposing Government expenditure in general and coming forward with their favoured projects. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson), for example, wanted a motorway to be built through his constituency. That is a very expensive item. Many other suggestions for increasing expenditure in the region were put forward.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster, the Leader of the Opposition was today putting forward a whole series of propositions urgently calling for major and serious cuts in Government expenditure. As on a number of other occasions, hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. If they are so determined to cut expenditure, why spend a day urging their proposals on a Government who have spent more on regional planning than any Government in history and why urge increased expenditure in grey areas, on communications and on urban renewals. These are not inexpensive projects.

The third point which I should like to deal with in a preliminary way was the right hon. Gentleman's allegation that we have been making the problem worse in the North-West. I do not know what evidence would convince some hon. Members opposite —

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

The unemployment figures.

Mr. Shore

I will come to them presently. The industrial development certificate approvals are a reasonable guide, although not absolutely overwhelming evidence, to the amount of new industrial activity which is coming to a region. We have checked on this, and the fact is that in the period 1961–63— and far from an avalanche of statistics I assure him this is one of the few I shall offer him— they totalled 17 million square ft. under the I.D.C. provisions, and in 1965–66 and the first three-quarters of 1967 this has gone up to over 24¼ million.

The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), I think it was, questioned my right hon. Friend during his speech to ask, was the greater part of this admittedly greater I.D.C. approval figure going to the Merseyside development area as opposed to the rest of the region? We have had a quick check en this and if one can take the current year, 1967, it is running at the moment at an annual rate of about 12.5 million for the region as a whole, and of that something like 5.7 million is going to the Merseyside development area, and that does, of course, leave a very substantial part, nearly two-thirds, of the total for the rest of the North-West.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

What about the Skelmersdale area? Where does that come in, and Runcorn as well?

Mr. Shore

I think I would be right in saying that Skelmersdale and Runcorn are excluded from those figures, but the effects on the total would be very small. I think I can deal with this later, but I think I can convince the hon. and learned Gentleman on that point.

Before dealing with some of the more detailed points raised in the debate I should like to refer briefly to the Government's general approach to regional planning and to what has been done since 1964. Unlike the previous Administration, we have made regional planning one of the main planks of our economic strategy. Among the first steps taken by this party on assuming office was a major review of Departmental structure and organisation leading to the establishment for the first time of effective regional planning machinery in this country. With the regional structure, economic planning boards were established under senior officials of my own Department. Our special job in the regions is to co-ordinate aspects of government at the regional level. We introduced at the same time a new element in regional planning through the establishment of regional councils, and I must say a word about them and their functions.

As hon. Members will know, these are advisory bodies served by the planning boards whose members are drawn from many different backgrounds, from both sides of industry, from local authorities, universities, the social services. The councils are independent bodies, and their members are not the representatives of any particular interests. This joint venture in regional planning is still in its infancy. It is only two and a half years since the first one was set up, but the councils are already making a substantial contribution to the planning of our economy and our social structure.

A number of hon. Members questioned the purpose, and, indeed, the future development, of the regional councils. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), if I got his point, and there were many points, was concerned to widen their authority within their own regions, and I think he more than hinted at the possibility of their having an elective basis. This would mark a very important step and change from the existing purpose of the regional councils. It is certainly not one which I would myself rule out. The regional councils, as I have said, have been going for a very short time only, and the future organisation of planning, and, indeed, of democracy, in the regions is a subject which, I am sure, we shall all want to think of a great deal more.

Many hon. Gentlemen say that the regional councils have very little power because they are only advisory, and why not give them much greater power. But they see this always in relation to the transfer of functions and powers from Whitehall to the regions, whereas there might well be, as some hon. Gentlemen have urged, a transfer from local government to the regional level. One of our difficulties at the moment is that we are going through a most searching examination of local government structure and its future in Britain. Until we have the Report of the Royal Commission on Local Government, it is very difficult to form a view on what should be the future of regional councils.

I might add that there have been submissions put to the Royal Commission urging that regional councils should be elected bodies— a kind of third tier of local government in their regions.

Dr. Winstanley

In a sense, the right hon. Gentleman has anticipated what I may say in a future debate, but I did not say it in this one. The point upon which I asked him to pronounce was the view quoted from the Ministry of Transport saying that, in giving advice, the councils may give their views frankly without having to concern themselves too much with the views of pressure groups within their regions. I am merely asking to whom they are accountable at the moment— never mind the future.

Mr. Shore

There are two time-scales of advice which we get from regional councils. When they are dealing with matters currently before the Government which are coming up for urgent decision, they tend to be matters on which confidential relationships are maintained; examples have been quoted. But ideas and proposals for the future of their regions are published. The publication of a regional strategy would be the platform and occasion for a major debate in the region amongst those concerned about its future. This is and should be a most important part of regional planning.

Although regional planning aims to provide a comprehensive review of all the needs and resources of the regions, many of the specific measures taken by the Government in the economic sphere are intended to have a direct impact on the less prosperous areas —

Sir Frank Pearson


Mr. Shore

The Government's attitude to these problems, which are a product of the unthinking and unplanned developments of the past coupled with the rapid economic change of the present, reflects our broad approach to regional policy. We have rejected the narrow approach based on unemployment alone —

Sir Frank Pearson


Mr. Shore

In place of the previously scattered development districts, we have established broad continuous development areas, taking into account all the circumstances of the area—

Sir Frank Pearson


Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

Order. The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) must not keep getting to his feet if the right hon. Gentleman does not give way.

Mr. Shore

The hon. Member for Clitheroe has had plenty of time to speak.

It is a major factor of the Government's regional policy that the static approach of the past should be replaced by a dynamic flexible approach, which the House has already welcomed in what my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has said. Since taking office, we have introduced a number of new measures designed to help the less fortunate regions, and the success of our policy in the North-West in relation to the Merseyside and Furness areas cannot be denied.

A few months ago we made the first payment of the regional employment premium. Expenditure on the North-West Region will approach £20 million a year. That is the contribution which the premium will make to the North-West Region in its two development areas.

A number of hon. Gentlemen, including the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East and, surprisingly, my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) combined in criticising the regional employment premium. From what they said I felt that they had not understood what its purposes were.

The first purpose was to help existing firms in development areas and not put the accent simply upon getting new firms to come in. It was a deliberate attempt to help existing firms to expand.

The second thing we attempted to do through the premium was to encourage in particular, labour-intensive industry and not simply capital-intensive industry which tends to get the maximum advantage from the investment grant.

The third thing that we wished to do quite deliberately through the premium was to give these firms in the development areas a cost advantage over similar firms in other parts of the country in the belief that they would switch production to take full advantage of their branch establishments in the development areas.

Finally, we introduced it in the belief that it would not increase the overall pressure of demand on the economy. We hoped that by spending £100 million in this way we would bring into play unused resources and not have to take £100 million out of demand elsewhere.

If we are right about the last point, the whole argument about getting rid of the £100 million on the R.E.P. and using the money on something else collapses. One can argue about whether that is right, but, if it is right, the argument that there is £100 million to be spent on something else in fact collapses. This of great help to regional policy and I am certain that we should continue it. Indeed, I have great confidence in its effect.

Sir Frank Pearson

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Hon. Members

Sit down.

Mr. Shore

I have a very large number of points to try to deal with and it will not be easy in the short time that is left.

Hon. Members on both sides have pressed me, in the course of the debate, to give some immediate help to the North-West before the Hunt Committee reports. My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig) and my hon. Friend the Member for Accrington (Mr. Arthur Davidson) have pressed this very strongly indeed. I understand the difficulty that faces them. It is not just the point that the hon. and learned Member for Darwen made about the proximity of some of those intermediate areas to development areas; it is also the point— and this is why the Lancashire problem is taken so seriously— that they have proximity not merely to development areas, but to those development areas which are doing better than other development areas in the country.

The gap between the two is, therefore, smaller in relation to these particular development areas than it is anywhere else in the country. I understand at once that this excites in people's minds the comparison, "Am I in an area just outside a development area where my general economic circumstances are only marginally better, or perhaps even marginally worse, than those in the neighbouring development area?"

All I can say is that the decision to set up the Hunt Committee, which was a decision taken in July this year and to which I attach so much importance, is in itself a recognition of the importance that we attach to this problem. I do not, as I have previously made clear to the House, regard our hands as necessarily tied until the Hunt Committee reports. But the problems of the North-West and the other so-called grey areas are complex and varied. There is not only unemployment, real or concealed; there is also the question, as my hon. Friends have pointed out, of migration levels, activity rates, the changing industrial structure, and the quality of the physical environment. These are all matters which the Hunt Committee is studying urgently. It is receiving evidence, and it is shortly to receive the evidence of the North-Western Economic Planning Council, which is, after all, one of the most relevant documents that it will have to study.

Although this is a debate on the North-West, it is no good hon. Members on either side of the House imagining that they have, as it were, a monopoly of problems, and a monopoly of intermediate areas. There are intermediate areas in other parts of the country, and unless there are very clearly defined special circumstances we cannot say that we will give extra assistance, which will be extremely costly, to this area, and not to other areas whose needs may be equally great. I assure hon. Members that I shall continue to keep a very close watch on the position in the North-West, and indeed in the other regions, in the months ahead, so that we will be in a position to take any steps which the changing situation may require.

In the very few minutes left to me I should like to comment briefly on what I see as the main problems of the North-West. The first problem is that of economic development. The need here is to maintain the balance between the inflow of new work and the rundown of the older industries, including the cotton textile and coal mining industries. This is a very real problem, but it is not a new one. In the ten years from 1957 to 1967 the cotton textile industry declined from 271,000 in employment to 128,000, and year after year it has averaged a steady run down of 14,000 a year. I find it strange that hon. Gentlemen opposite, with the knowledge that this has gone on year after year, should, as it were, wait until now to make the point that the rundown of the textile industry is a serious problem in the North-West. This is the first time that an attempt has been made to help the textile industry through the use of quotas, as my right hon. Friend said in the course of his speech earlier today. The inflow of new work and new industries into the North-West has more than made good the decline in employment in the older established industries.

I have no more time, unfortunately, in which to deal with the economic problems of the North-West, but I agree very much with those of my hon. Friends who have stressed the crucial need for communications. This is one reason why we can be reasonably optimistic about the future of the North-West. I am, of course, referring to the development in its communications with the rest of the country, and increasingly within the region itself. I have in mind liner trains, the electrification of the railways, the building of major motorways, and indeed the re-equipping of the port of Liverpool and other ports which is being carried out, and whose future activities will be guided best under comprehensive public ownership, as we propose, and as we shall carry out.

The last point on which I want to touch is housing and environment. Here again the record is good. We are building many

more houses than were built in any year since the end of the war when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in power. We will carry on with this programme of building houses on a scale which will match the problems of the North-West, will meet the needs of its people, will replace the large number of slums which should have been cleared, and will cater for the growth of population which we can see ahead.

I conclude by asking the House to reject what I consider to be an almost impertinent Motion, and to support the Government in the good work which they are doing, the fruits of which we shall see much more clearly within the next year, and indeed in the years ahead.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The House divided: Ayes 327, Noes 241.

Division No. 22.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Abse, Leo Corbet, Mrs. Freda Forrester, John
Albu, Austen Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Fowler, Gerry
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Crawshaw, Richard Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton)
Alldritt, Walter Cronin, John Freeson, Reginald
Anderson, Donald Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Galpern, Sir Myer
Archer, Peter Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Gardner, Tony
Armstrong, Ernest Cullen, Mrs. Alice Garrett, W. E.
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Dalyell, Tam Ginsburg, David
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Darling, Rt. Hn. George Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Gourlay, Harry
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)
Barnes, Michael Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Barnett, Joel Davies, Harold (Leek) Gregory, Arnold
Baxter, William Davies, Ifor (Gower) Grey, Charles (Durham)
Beaney, Alan de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Delargy, Hugh Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Bence, Cyril Dell, Edmund Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Dempsey, James Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Bidwell, Sydney Dewar, Donald Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Binns, John Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Bishop, E. S. Dickens, James Hamling, William
Blackburn, F. Dobson, Ray Hannan, William
Blenkinsop, Arthur Doig, Peter Harper, Joseph
Booth, Albert Donnelly, Desmond Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Boston, Terence Dunn, James A. Hart, Mrs. Judith
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Dunnett, Jack Haseldine, Norman
Boyden, James Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hattersley, Roy
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Hazell, Bert
Bradley, Tom Eadie, Alex Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Edelman, Maurice Heffer, Eric S.
Brooks, Edwin Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Henig, Stanley
Broughton, Dr. A, D. D. Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Hilton, W. S.
Brown, Bob(N 'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Ellis, John Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) English, Michael Hooley, Frank
Buchan, Norman Ennals, David Horner, John
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Ensor, David Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Faulds, Andrew Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Cant, R. B. Ferny hough, E. Hoy, James
Carmichael, Neil Finch, Harold Huckfield, Leslie
Carter-Jones, Lewis Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Coe, Denis Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Coleman, Donald Foley, Maurice Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Concannon, J. D. Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Hunter, Adam
Conlan, Bernard Ford, Ben Hynd, John
Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Mellish, Robert Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Mendelson, J. J. Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Mikardo, Ian Ryan, John
Janner, Sir Barnett Millan, Bruce Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Miller, Dr. M. S. Sheldon, Robert
Jeger.Mrs Lena(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Milne, Edward (Blyth) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Molloy, William Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c tle-u-Tyne)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Moonman, Eric Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Jones, Rt.Hn. Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Morris, John (Aberavon) Skeffington, Arthur
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Moyle, Roland Slater, Joseph
Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Murray, Albert Small, William
Judd, Frank Neal, Harold Snow, Julian
Kelley, Richard Newens, Stan Spriggs, Leslie
Kenyon, Clifford Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Norwood, Christopher Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Oakes, Gordon Stonehouse, John
Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Ogden, Eric Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Lawson, George O'Malley, Brian Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Leadbitter, Ted Oram, Albert E. Swain, Thomas
Ledger, Ron Orbach, Maurice Swingler, Stephen
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Orme, Stanley Taverne, Dick
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Oswald, Thomas Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Lee, John (Reading) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Lestor, Miss Joan Owen, Will (Morpeth) Thornton, Ernest
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Padlay, Walter Tinn, James
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Tomney, Frank
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Paget, R. T. Urwin, T. W.
Lipton, Marcus Palmer, Arthur Varley, Eric G.
Lomas, Kenneth Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Loughlin, Charles Park, Trevor Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Parker, John (Dagenham) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.) Wallace, George
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Watkins, David (Consett)
McBride, Neil Pavitt, Laurence Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
McCann, John Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Weitzman, David
MacColl, James Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Wellbeloved, James
MacDermot, Niall Pentland, Norman Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Macdonald, A. H. Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Whitaker, Ben
McGuire, Michael Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) White, Mrs. Eirene
McKay, Mrs. Margaret Price, Christopher (Perry Barr) Whitlock, William
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Wilkins, W. A.
Mackie, John Price, William (Rugby) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Mackintosh, John P. Probert, Arthur Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Maclennan, Robert Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Randall, Harry Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
McMillan Tom (Glasgow, C.) Rankin, John Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
McNamara, J. Kevin Rees, Merlyn Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
MacPherson, Malcolm Rhodes, Geoffrey Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Richard, Ivor Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Winnick, David
Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.) Winterbottom, R. E.
Mapp, Charles Robertson, John (Paisley) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Marks, Kenneth Robinson, Rt.Hn. Kenneth(St.P'c'as) Woof, Robert
Marquand, David Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.) Wyatt, Woodrow
Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Rodgers, William (Stockton) Yates, Victor
Mason, Roy Roebuck, Roy
Maxwell, Robert Rogers, George (Kensington, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mayhew, Christopher Rose, Paul Mr. William Howie and
Mr. Charles Morris.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Blaker, Peter Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Boardman, Thomas (Leicester, S.W.) Cary, Sir Robert
Astor, John Body, Richard Channon, H. P. G.
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Bossom, Sir Clive Chichester-Clark, R.
Awdry, Daniel Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Clark, Henry
Baker, W. H. K. Braine, Bernard Clegg, Walter
Balniel, Lord Brewis, John Cooke, Robert
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Brinton, Sir Tatton Cooper-Key, Sir Neill
Batsford, Brian Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Cordle, John
Beamish, Col.Sir Tufton Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Corfield, F. V.
Bell, Ronald Bruce-Gardyne, J. Costain, A. P.
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Bryan, Paul Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver
Berry, Hn. Anthony Buck, Antony (Colchester) Crouch, David
Biffen, John Bullus, Sir Eric Crowder, F. P.
Biggs-Davison, John Burden, F. A. Cunningham, Sir Knox
Birch. Rt. Hn. Nigel Campbell, Gordon Currle, G. B. H.
Black, Sir Cyril Carlisle, Mark Dalkeith, Earl of
Dance, James Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Price, David (Eastleigh)
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Prior, J. M. L.
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pym, Francis
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Jopling, Michael Quennell, Miss J. M.
Digby, Simon Wingfield Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kaberry, Sir Donald Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Doughty, Charles Kershaw, Anthony Rees-Davies, W. R.
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Kimball, Marcus Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Drayson, G. B. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kirk, Peter Ridsdale, Julian
Eden, Sir John Kitson, Timothy Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Knight, Mrs. Jill Robson Brown, Sir William
Emery, Peter Lambton, Viscount Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Errington, Sir Eric Lancaster, Col. C. G. Rossi, Hugh(Hornsey)
Eyre, Reginald Lane, David Royle, Anthony
Farr, John Langford-Holt, Sir John Russell, Sir Ronald
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Fortescue, Tim Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Scott, Nicholas
Foster, Sir John Lloyd, Rt.Hn. Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Sharples, Richard
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Silvester, Frederick
Gibson-Watt, David Longden, Gilbert Sinclair, Sir George
Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Loveys, W. H. Smith, John
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Lubbock, Eric Stainton, Keith
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) McAdden, Sir Stephen Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Glover, Sir Douglas MacArthur, Ian Stodart, Anthony
Glyn, Sir Richard Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain Summers, Sir Spencer
Goodhart, Philip McMaster, Stanley Scott-Hopkins, James
Goodhew, Victor Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Tapsell, Peter
Gower, Raymond Maddan, Martin Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Grant, Anthony Marten, Neil Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)
Gresham Cooke, R Maude, Angus Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Grieve, Percy Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Temple, John M.
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mawby, Ray Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Tilney, John
Gurden, Harold Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hall, John (Wycombe) Mills, Peter (Torrington) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Miscampbell, Norman Vickers, Dame Joan
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Monro, Hector Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Montgomery, Fergus Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Wall, Patrick
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Walters, Dennis
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Ward, Dame Irene
Harvie Anderson, Miss Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Weatherill, Bernard
Hastings, Stephen Murton, Oscar Webster, David
Hawkins, Paul Nabarro, Sir Gerald Wells, John (Maidstone)
Hay, John Neave, Airey Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Heseltine, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Higgins, Terence L. Nott, John Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Hiley, Joseph Onslow, Cranley Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Hill, J. E. B. Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Hirst, Geoffrey Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodnutt, Mark
Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Worsley, Marcus
Holland, Philip Page, Graham (Crosby) Wright, Esmond
Hordern, Peter Page, John (Harrow, W.) Wylie, N. R.
Hornby, Richard Pardoe, John Younger, Hn. George
Hunt, John Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Hutchison, Michael Clark Percival, Ian TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Iremonger, T. L. Pike, Miss Mervyn Mr. R. W Elliott and
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pink, R. Bonner Mr. Jasper More.
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch

Main Question, as amended, put:

The House divided: Ayes 323, Noes 240.

Division No. 23.] AYES [10.14p.m.
Abse, Leo Barnett, Joel Boston, Terence
Albu, Austen Baxter, William Bottomley, Rt. Hn, Arthur
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Beaney, Alan Boyden, James
Alldritt, Walter Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Braddock, Mrs. E. M.
Anderson, Donald Bence, Cyril Bradley, Tom
Archer, Peter Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Bray, Dr. Jeremy
Armstrong, Ernest Bidwell, Sydney Brooks, Edwin
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Binns, John Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Bishop, E. S. Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Blackburn, F. Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)
Barnes, Michael Booth, Albert Buchan, Norman
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hattersley, Roy Mendelson, J. J.
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Hazell, Bert Mikardo, Ian
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Millan, Bruce
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Heffer, Eric S. Miller, Dr. M. S.
Cant, R. B. Henig, Stanley Milne, Edward (Blyth)
Carmichael, Neil Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hilton, W. S. Molloy, William
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town) Moonman, Eric
Coe, Denis Hooley, Frank Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Coleman, Donald Horner, John Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Concannon, J. D. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, John (Aberavon)
Conlan, Bernard Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Moyle, Roland
Corbert, M.S. Freda Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Murray, Albert
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Neal, Harold
Crawshaw, Richard Hoy, James Newens, Stan
Cronin, John Huckrield, Leslie Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Norwood, Christopher
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Oakes, Gordon
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Ogden, Eric
Dalyell, Tam Hughes, Roy (Newport) O'Malley, Brian
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Hunter, Adam Oram, Albert E.
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Hynd, John Orbach, Maurice
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Orme, Stanley
Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Oswald, Thomas
Davies, Harold (Leek) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Janner, Sir Barnett Owen, Will (Morpeth)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Padley, Walter
Delargy, Hugh Jeger,Mrs.Lerna(H'b'n&St.P'cras,S.) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Dell, Edmund Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Paget, R. T.
Dempsey, James Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Palmer, Arthur
Dewar, Donald Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Park, Trevor
Dickens, James Jones, Dan (Burnley) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Dobson, Ray Jones.Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham,S.) Parkin, Ben (Paddington, N.)
Doig, Peter Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Donnelly, Desmond Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Dunn, James A. Judd, Frank Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Dunnett, Jack Kelley, Richard Pentland, Norman
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Kenyon, Clifford Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, s.)
Eadie, Alex Kerr, Dr. David (W'worth, Central) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Edelman, Maurice Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Edwards, Rt. Hn. Ness (Caerphilly) Lawson, George Price, William (Rugby)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Leadbitler, Ted Probert, Arthur
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Ledger, Ron Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Ellis, John Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Randall, Harry
English, Michael Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Rankin, John
Ennals, David Lee, John (Reading) Rees, Merlyn
Ensor, David Lestor, Miss Joan Rhodes, Geoffrey
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Richard, Ivor
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Faulds, Andrew Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Fernyhough, E. Linton, Marcus Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Finch, Harold Lomas, Kenneth Robertson, John (Paisley)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Loughlin, Charles Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Foley, Maurice Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Roebuck, Roy
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McBride, Neil Rose, Paul
Ford, Ben McCann, John Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Forrester, John MacColl, James Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Fowler, Gerry MacDermot, Niall Ryan, John
Fraser, John (Norwood) Macdonald, A. H. Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)
Freeson, Reginald McGuire, Michael Sheldon, Robert
Galpern, Sir Myer McKay, Mrs. Margaret Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Gardner, Tony Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tie-u-Tyns))
Garrett, W. E. Mackie, John Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Ginsburg, David Mackintosh, John P. Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Maclennan, Robert Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Gourlay, Harry MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles) Skeffington, Arthur
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Slater, Joseph
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony McNamara, J. Kevin Small, William
Gregory, Arnold MacPherson, Malcolm Snow, Julian
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Spriggs, Leslie
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Hale, Lesile (Oldham, W.) Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Stonehouse, John
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mapp, Charles Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Marks, Kenneth Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hamling, William Marquand, David Swain, Thomas
Hannan, William Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Swingler, Stephen
Harper, Joseph Mason, Roy Taverne, Dick
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Maxwell, Robert Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Hart, Mrs. Judith Mayhew, Christopher Thomson, Rt. Hn. George
Haseldine, Norman Mellish, Robert Thornton, Ernest
Tinn, James Wells, William (Walsall, N.) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Tomney, Frank Whitaker, Ben Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Urwin, T. W. White, Mrs. Eirene Winnick, David
Varley, Eric G. Whitlock, William Winterbottom, R. E.
Walnwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley) Wilkins, W. A. Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Walden, Brian (All Saints) Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick Woof, Robert
Walker, Harold (Doncaster) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.) Wyatt, Woodrow
Wallace, George Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch) Yates, Victor
Watkins, David (Consett) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Weitzman, David Williams, W. T. (Warrington) Mr. William Howie and Mr. Charles Morris.
Wellbeloved, James Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Farr, John Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Longden, Gilbert
Astor, John Fortescue, Tim Loveys, W. H.
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Foster, Sir John Lubbock, Eric
Awdry, Daniel Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Baker, W. H. K. Galbraith, Hon. T. C. MacArthur, Ian
Balniel, Lord Gibson-Watt, David Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Batsford, Brian Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) McMaster, Stanley
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Bell, Ronald Glover, Sir Douglas Marten, Neil
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Glyn, Sir Richard Maude, Angus
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Berry, Hn. Anthony Goodhart, Philip Mawby, Ray
Biffen, John Goodhew, Victor Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Biggs-Davison, John Gower, Raymond Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Grant, Anthony Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Black, Sir Cyril Gresham Cooke, R. Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Blaker, Peter Grieve, Percy Miscampbell, Norman
Boardman, Tom Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Body, Richard Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Monro, Hector
Bossom, Sir Clive Gurden, Harold Montgomery, Fergus
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Hall, John (Wycombe) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Braine, Bernard Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Brewis, John Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh) Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Brinton, Sir Tatton Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Murton, Oscar
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Harris, Reader (Heston) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Neave, Airey
Bryan, Paul Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Nott, John
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Harvie Anderson, Miss Onslow, Cranley
Bullus, Sir Eric Hastings, Stephen Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Burden, F. A. Hawkins, Paul Osborn, John (Hallam)
Campbell, Gordon Hay, John Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)
Carlisle, Mark Heseltine, Michael Page, Graham (Crosby)
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Higgins, Terence L. Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Cary, Sir Robert Hiley, Joseph Pardoe, John
Channon, H. P. G. Hill, J. E. B. Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hirst, Geoffrey Percival, Ian
Clark, Henry Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Pike, Miss Mervyn
Clegg, Walter Holland, Philip Pink, R. Bonner
Cooke, Robert Hordern, Peter Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hornby, Richard Price, David (Eastleigh)
Cordle, John Hunt, John Prior, J. M. L.
Corfield, F. V. Hutchison, Michael Clark Pym, Francis
Costain, A. P. Iremonger, T. L. Quennell, Miss J. M.
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Sir Oliver Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Crouch, David Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Rees-Davies, W. R.
Crowder, F. P. Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Cunningham, Sir Knox Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Currie, G. B. H. Jopling, Michael Ridsdale, Julian
Dalkeith, Earl of Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Dance, James Kaberry, Sir Donald Robson Brown, Sir William
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Kershaw, Anthony Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Kimball, Marcus Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Royle, Anthony
Digby, Simon Wingfield Kirk, Peter Russell, Sir Ronald
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Kitson, Timothy Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Doughty, Charles Knight, Mrs. Jill Scott, Nicholas
Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec Lambton, Viscount Scott-Hopkins, James
Drayson, G. B. Lancaster, Col. C. G. Sharples, Richard
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Lane, David Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Eden, Sir John Langford-Holt, Sir John Silvester, Frederick
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Sinclair, Sir George
Emery, Peter Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Smith, John
Errington, Sir Eric Lloyd,Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Stainton, Keith
Eyre, Reginald Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Stodart, Anthony Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Vickers, Dame Joan Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Summers, Sir Spencer Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Tapsell, Peter Walker, Peter (Worcester) Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Woodnutt, Mark
Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Wall, Patrick Worsley, Marcus
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Walters, Dennis Wright, Esmond
Temple, John M. Ward, Dame Irene Wylie, N. R.
Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Weatherill, Bernard Younger, Hn. George
Tilney, John Webster, David
Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Wells, John (Maidstone) TELLERS FOR THE NOES;
Van Straubenzee, W. R. Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William Mr. R. W. Elliott and
Mr. Jasper More.


That this House calls attention to the action taken by Her Majesty's Government to resolve the economic problems of the North-West Region and to the better prospects now facing the textile industry and the areas traditionally associated with it.

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