HC Deb 18 June 1969 vol 785 cc453-4
3. Mr. Dudley Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many industrial development certificates have been granted since 1st January 1965 to companies already operating in the West Midlands: and how many applications have been refused.

Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody

A total of 1,887 industrial development certificates for a total of 32.8 million square feet have been issued to existing firms in the West Midlands since 1st January 1965. In the same period 185 such applications for 5.5 million square feet have been refused.

Mr. Smith

Is the hon. Lady aware that many West Midlands firms are under the impression that if they apply for an i.d.c. they are likely to be refused? As many of them are long-established in the area, what would she suggest to encourage them to apply for a certificate?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will accept that people sometimes use subjective rather than objective judgments. My Department is anxious that all modernisation schemes should go ahead, and the only way to find out whether an i.d.c. will be granted is, obviously, to ask for one.

Mr. William Price

Is my hon. Friend aware that Conservative Members in the West Midlands are always complaining about the so-called ban on i.d.c.s? Is this not rather odd since more development has taken place in the last two years than took place in 1963–64? Does it not show that we cannot believe a word that they say?

Mrs. Dunwoody

I am well aware that, for various reasons, there is in the West Midlands a constant campaign to try to misrepresent the i.d.c. policy of the Board of Trade. We are not in any way restricting growth that is adequate or necessary for the region. What we are trying to do is to alter the situation in which in the hon. Gentleman's constituency there is a 1.4 per cent. unemployment rate, while in Great Britain, on average, it is 2.3 per cent., and higher in the development areas.