HC Deb 26 June 1969 vol 785 cc1683-4
8. Mr. Speed

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs when he estimates his Department will have sufficient experience of the effects of development area measures on the problems of the development areas to enable a review of the measures to be held.

Mr. Shore

I keep a close watch on all regional measures, but a special review of development area policy would be premature.

Mr. Speed

Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that to spend hundreds of millions of pounds annually on development areas without having any idea of the return on the money or the number of new jobs created is nonsensical? Cannot we get this review under way with much more urgency than his reply indicates in order to make sure that we are getting value for money?

Mr. Shore

I repeat what I have said on a number of occasions—that the new measures we have introduced for development areas are of very recent origin and that both the differential investment grants and the regional employment premium only began to be paid out in autumn 1967. I do not want to embark on a premature review which would be fruitless and lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that one of the things he could do to review the cost of the development area proposals is to consider the descheduling of some of the areas in the development areas which are, on the evidence of the Hunt Committee, nothing like as bad as either intermediate areas or those areas which have not been included in either? I speak in particular of the North Riding.

Mr. Shore

I am not aware that the Hunt Committee recommended that any particular parts of development areas should be descheduled. It recommended that we should embark upon a review. There is here a real danger of having an unsettling effect on industry. We have a momentum now behind development area policy and I should be reluctant to take action that might cause it to falter.