HC Deb 23 May 1968 vol 765 cc846-7
10. Captain W. Elliot

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what was the total expenditure on promoting economic development, and on measures to reduce unemployment in, and emigration from, the development areas in each of the last 12-month periods to the latest convenient date.

The Minister of State, Department of Economic Affairs (Mr. T. W. Urwin)

In each financial year from 1st April, 1964, about £33 million, £77 million, £91 million and £265 million.

Captain Elliot

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is a great pleasure to see him answering Questions? Can he say how many new jobs are being created by this large expenditure? Is he satisfied that he is getting value for money?

Mr. Urwin

I thank the hon. and gallant Gentleman for his somewhat generous remarks. These measures are having the effect of reducing unemployment. In April the wholly unemployed rate for Scotland, Wales and the Northern Region was lower than it was in 1963, and it will continue to fall once the effect of the regional employment premium begins to work it way through.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that it is of the highest importance that we should have a very much closer correlation between the substantial cost of these regional policies and the effect of creating unemployment? We must have some clearer idea of the cost per job, because we are spending a great deal of money on this.

Mr. Urwin

It is expected that the totality of the present measures will reduce the disparity between the overall levels of unemployment in the development areas and the national average by at least a half during the next three years. Because of the un-predecented nature of the measures, particularly the regional employment premium, it is not possible to forecast the rate at which that will happen.

Mr. Tinn

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend on his appointment. Can he confirm that during the next four years more than 42,000 new jobs in manufacturing industry alone will be created in the Northern Region? Is not that a welcome development, and an indication that we are getting at least some value for money?

Mr. Urwin

We are aware of the tremendous efforts which have been made in the more recent past to relieve the difficult situation in the Northern Region, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is continuing his intensive efforts to ensure that the appropriate result will accrue.

Mr. Blaker

Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the statement in The Times of 29th March by the chairman of a public company which has been in the same location for 25 years that the company is receiving in free hand-outs £100,000 a year without having to employ even one extra worker? Is not that a wasteful use of taxpayers' money?

Mr. Urwin

The hon. Gentleman should appreciate that expenditure of that kind is aimed at increasing the turnover of the business concerned.