HC Deb 24 April 1968 vol 763 cc200-1
3. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the President of the Board of Trade what is his policy towards the grant of industrial development certificates in the North-West of England outside development areas.

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

An extremely liberal and flexible one. No I.D.C.s have been refused in the North-West Region outside the Greater Manchester area since 1966. In 1967 I.D.C. approvals in the North-West Region outside the development areas amounted to over 6 million square feet.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Could the President of the Board of Trade say what the rate of applications for I.D.C.s in the areas outside industrial development areas is now? The impression in my constituency and in similar constituencies is that people simply are not applying for I.D.C.s owing to the magnetic effect of the new towns and the nearby development areas.

Mr. Crosland

Unemployment in the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituency is, I am glad to say, below the national average, as the hon. and learned Gentleman knows. As to the rate of application for I.D.C.s, this has been low for the past 18 months or so, in my view largely because of the recession through which the country has been passing. I would expect the rate of applications to rise markedly now as the economy moves towards a much fuller level of employment.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

What my right hon. Friend says is most encouraging, but would not he agree that just as important as encouraging firms to develop in the area is dissuading existing firms from developing outside the area? What steps is he taking in this matter?

Mr. Crosland

It is not part of our intention to dissuade firms from expanding in the development areas if it is their commercial judgment that that is the right thing to do in the light of the financial incentives the Government offer. I think that what my hon. Friend has in mind is what is now more and more accepted, that the present division merely between development and non-development areas has become rather too crude. It is because we take that view that we set up the Hunt Committee.