HC Deb 28 May 1968 vol 765 cc1514-5
25. Mr. Hooley

asked the Minister of Power if he will give a general direction to the gas, electricity, coal, and publicly-owned steel industries to diversify their industrial activity in development areas and Hunt Committee areas, so as to provide employment for manpower displaced by rundown of activity or technological innovation in these industries.

Mr. Gunter

No, Sir, it would be inappropriate to use powers of direction for such a purpose. The Government's White Paper on Fuel Policy (Cmnd. 3438) outlined the measures to be taken by the Government in certain parts of the development areas likely to be most seriously affected by colliery closures. The Government will consider the position of other areas in the light of the report of the Hunt Committee, which is expected in the autumn.

Mr. Hooley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in South Yorkshire a gas-making plant is being closed down, thus rendering workers redundant, that steel works are working more efficiently and requiring less manpower and that collieries are being closed and making men redundant? Is it not common sense to allow these industries to diversify their activities and so provide alternative employment?

Mr. Gunter

Any proposal that the industries should undertake ancillary activities, not related to their main activities, for social reasons would conflict with the broad general policy that they should, as far as possible, run their businesses as commercial enterprises. To answer my hon. Friend's other point, I said in my Answer that we are awaiting the Hunt Report; and then we will be able to look at the whole situation.

Mr. Swain

Has my right hon. Friend studied paragraphs 56 to 62 of the T.U.C. Economic Review of 1968? If so, will he seriously consider introducing legislation to implement the principles contained in those paragraphs?

Mr. Gunter

I read that T.U.C. document with great interest, but I have nothing to add to what I have already said.