HC Deb 11 July 1968 vol 768 cc706-7
2. Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what surveys he has made to assess the effects of present regional policies upon the grey areas.

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

Studies by the Government and, in respect of particular areas, by regional boards and councils led to the setting up last year of the Hunt Committee to carry out a searching analysis of the problems of all areas whose rate of economic growth gives cause for concern. While awaiting the report of that Committee I am continuing to watch closely developments in all areas.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen and studied an article by his right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on the subject of giving subsidies directly to private industries? Would he not agree with his right hon. Friend that it is far superior to support the infra-structure by public expenditure than give subsidies to private concerns?

Mr. Shore

I have not, as it happens, seen the article by my right hon. Friend, but I shall certainly study it because I am always interested in what he has to say. I think that the case for giving cash aid to firms in development areas is very strong, and I am satisfied with the R.E.P.

Dr. Gray

What effect does my right hon. Friend think that his regional policies have had on the below-average wages which prevailed in the constituency of Yarmouth and throughout Norfolk?

Mr. Shore

I am afraid that I have no direct information about the effect of development area or regional policy on Great Yarmouth in particular, but if my hon. Friend has any information that he wishes to bring to my attention I promise to study it.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Is it the right hon. Gentleman's policy that this direct financial aid to firms should have the result of preventing from closing down firms which otherwise would have closed down?

Mr. Shore

In so far as cash grants through R.E.P. help firms in development areas to stay open when they would otherwise need to close, I think that this is a useful contribution that they can make to the maintenance of employment in development areas.

Sir Cyril Osborne

Even though the firms are inefficient?

Mr. Frank Allaun