HC Deb 22 February 1968 vol 759 c633
14. Mr. Judd

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what action he will now take in the light of the South-East Regional Planning Board's recent report to offset the effects of the new defence policies on civil manpower requirements within the region.

Mr. Dell

It is too early yet to know what the effects of the new defence policies will be in the South-East Region.

Mr. Judd

Would my hon. Friend not agree that, already, as a result of changes in our defence commitments, we are seeing the impact in terms of surplus capacity in manpower and resources, particularly in dockyards, and that we should act now for a smooth transition to the use of these resources?

Mr. Dell

I entirely agree that unemployment in the Portsmouth area is too high, but the precise impact of defence policies on the South-Fast has not yet been made clear. Clearly, the Government will have to consider what action to take in the light of changes in defence policies.

Mr. Ian Lloyd

Surely, if the Government are as good planners as they say in defence and the civil economy, they should have been able to predict in much greater detail the impact of their own policies on regions like the Portsmouth area?

Mr. Dell

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, the changes in defence policy have only recently been made. The Southampton-Portsmouth area is a growth area for new industry, and this may reduce the necessity for further action.