HC Deb 23 May 1968 vol 765 cc840-2
1. Mr. Haseldine

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he approved the campaign inaugurated by the North-East Development Council to attract Yorkshire firms to the North-East Development Area.

15. Mr. Ford

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he is aware that Government aid is being used as an inducement to attract industrial development away from the West Riding, where diversification is urgently required; and if he will take steps to discourage such movements until after the publication of the Hunt Committee Report.

16. Mr. Ford

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what financial and other assistance his Department gives to the North-East Development Council.

25. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will give an assurance that it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to encourage expansion in the North-East and other development areas, in view of the availability of labour and sites there, to which their attention has been drawn by the North-East Development Council.

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

I would refer my hon. Friends to the Answer I gave to similar Questions on 16th and 17th May.—[Vol. 764, c. 271, 301.]

Mr. Haseldine

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his reply was well received in Yorkshire and Humberside? But will he take all possible steps, along with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and other Ministers, to ensure that nothing further is done to aggravate the situation which results in unfair competition from development areas on areas such as Yorkshire and Humberside? Will he further give an undertaking that speedy action will be taken as soon as the Hunt Committee reports?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Long questions mean fewer questions.

Mr. Shore

I thank my hon. Friend for his opening remarks. He will be aware that we have urged upon Sir Joseph Hunt the need to report as quickly as possible on the matters which have been put to the Committee. I hope to receive this Report in the autumn. My hon. Friend will also be aware that I deprecate any unnecessary rivalry and competition between the regions.

Mr. Watkins

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the North-East Development Council will not in any way be penalised in its efforts towards solving the chronic unemployment problems of the development areas in the North-East?

Mr. Shore

I fully understand the difficulties facing the Northern Region and, indeed, the concern of the Development Council for its prospects. I assure my hon. Friend that I have no intention of penalising them in any way.

Mr. Higgins

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the overall figures for wholly unemployed, seasonably adjusted, published today continue to show an increase, and does this give him cause for concern? Can he tell us how the overall figures compare with those for the intermediate areas?

Mr. Shore

There has been an increase in regional unemployment figures in the North, as announced today. This is a slight increase over last month. It is too soon to draw any firm conclusions about the trend of unemloyment generally, not only in the regions, but in the country as a whole.

Mr. Tinn

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the North-East Development Council's campaign was confined strictly to localities where there is a very low unemployment rate? Will he bear in mind that the need for jobs in the North is 10 times greater than in those areas?

Mr. Shore

I am aware, and it is my job to be aware, of the needs of both regions. I have to try to find a proper balance between the two.