HC Deb 06 November 1968 vol 772 cc878-9
27. Mr. Dalyell

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many advance factories in Scotland were unoccupied at the last convenient date; and what is the square footage.

34. Mr. Gordon Campbell

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many advance factories in Scotland are completed but empty; how many are under construction; and how many of these have not yet been assigned to prospective tenants.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

At 31st October, 1968, 15 advance factories in Scotland, with a total area of approximately 335,000 square feet, were complete but unoccupied. Applications for two of these are under consideration. A further three are under construction and two of these have already been allocated.

Mr. Dalyell

Is priority still being given to the construction of advance factories in areas where collieries are closing down?

Mrs. Dunwoody

Obviously, we have a rolling programme which concerns special development areas. It is certainly true that we give them special consideration.

Mr. Campbell

Does the hon. Lady agree that an empty factory helps no one? Is she satisfied with the present position in Scotland?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would agree that it is very encouraging that 12 factories have been allocated during 1968, which is more than double the rate achieved in 1967. In the last four months, eight have been allocated. Although I am not pretending that I shall ever be satisfied while there is an empty advance factory, I am highly delighted that we seem to be letting them far faster than they have ever been let before.

Mr. Lawson

Will my hon. Friend accept the compliments of this side of the House on her continued pursuit of this policy, bearing in mind that if these empty factories had not existed, the industries concerned would not have been there now?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We shall not be content until the development areas, which still have too high an unemployment rate, are providing employment at the rate which we think necessary, and the programme of advance factories is one very practical way of achieving that end.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

What is the longest that one of the 15 factories now vacant has been vacant?

Mrs. Dunwoody

One factory has been standing empty since September, 1966. I do not pretend that I am happy about that, but I hope that we shall continue to let them as fast as we have let them in the last months.