HC Deb 04 July 1967 vol 749 cc1559-60
Q2. Mr. G. Campbell

asked the Prime Minister if he will make one Minister responsible for co-ordination of regional development, and progress towards the more even distribution of employment and unemployment.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member will know of the responsibilities of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.

Mr. Campbell

In view of the upward trend of unemployment confirmed by the recent Government publication "Economic Trends", will the Prime Minister take action to ensure full co- ordination this winter, including a close watch on the anomalies of the Selective Employment Tax?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will know of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the general question of growth and the further action needed to be taken. As to the hon. Gentleman's concern for regional employment, as is shown in his Question, he will know also of the Government's announcement of a very major programme of regional employment premia, as well as the recent increases made in investment grants for development areas.

Mr. Ronald Atkins

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of the Ministries, especially those providing social services, do not seem to be acting in conformity with the Government's regional policy?

The Prime Minister

If my hon. Friend will send me particulars, I will be very glad to go into the matter.

Mr. Heath

Can the Prime Minister deny that under his Administration there will be an increase of unemployment this winter above the seasonal increases?

The Prime Minister

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer said. My right hon. Friend said that if the growth rate slipped behind schedule other action would be taken to deal with the very question the right hon. Gentleman has in mind. The Leader of the Opposition will be glad to know, however, that in Scotland, for example, about which the hon. Member for Moray and Nairn (Mr. G. Campbell) put down this Question, unemployment at the present time is about 18,000 less than it was in the same month of 1963, after the right hon. Gentleman's party had been in power for 12 years.