HC Deb 26 June 1969 vol 785 cc1678-81
2. Mr. Blaker

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs when he expects to be in a position to make his further statement on the Government's regional policy.

9. Mr. Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will now make a statement on the boundaries of the intermediate areas in Yorkshire and Humberside.

18. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will now state which areas of Yorkshire and Humberside are to be scheduled for special assistance on the lines of the Hunt Committee's Report.

23. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs when he intends to announce the exact boundaries of the intermediate areas which will enjoy special assistance in accordance with the decisions of the Government on the Hunt Report.

Mr. Shore

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my statement yesterday.—[Vol. 785, c. 1506–8.]

Mr. Blaker

The Secretary of State repeated yesterday his undertaking that the R.E.P. would not be withdrawn for seven years. Does this mean, in effect, that, in that time, the size of the development areas cannot be reduced?

Mr. Shore

It means exactly what I said—that the R.E.P. will be paid for seven years to firms in the existing development areas.

Mr. Johnson

The Government's measures were keenly awaited in Hull, and they have not disappointed us. We are particularly happy that the building grants will apply to us in the North-East, since we can now go ahead on a fairly even basis.

Mr. Shore

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We are, of course, aware of the problems of the Hull and North Humberside area, and these additional intermediate area proposals will be of great assistance to it.

Mr. Hooley

While we welcome the speed with which my right hon. Friend has decided this important matter, the exclusion of certain authorities from intermediate region status will create serious anomalies, in that they are economically integral parts of the regions which the Hunt Committee studied, but will not be in a third-class category vis-à-vis the development areas and the new intermediate areas. My right hon. Friend is creating more anomalies than he is solving.

Mr. Shore

It is one of the inevitable consequences of any kind of regional policy in which one creates development areas or intermediate areas that there will be those which are included and those which are excluded, but we have taken into account the claims of other towns in the Yorkshire intermediate area, particularly Sheffield. I assure my hon. Friend that we concluded that the outlook for that city was sufficiently promising not to justify inclusion at present.

6 and 7. Mr. Michael Shaw

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (1) what effect he estimates the Government's proposal to meet the cost of the new help for the intermediate areas from within the total assistance to the development areas will have on development in the regions;

(2) what diversion of new employment opportunities from the development areas he estimates will follow from the Government's regional proposals.

Mr. Shore

Our proposals are intended to encourage the expansion of existing industry in the intermediate areas and to attract some new industry there. The development areas will continue to offer more powerful and varied incentives and the diversion effects should not be great.

Mr. Shaw

Can the right hon. Gentleman reply in any other form to the supplementary question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker) just now? Does his reply mean that every firm which now enjoys the regional employment premium will continue to enjoy it for the next seven years? This assurance is even more important now than it was before the right hon. Gentleman made his announcement yesterday. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a genuine fear in the North-East that the measures announced yesterday may detract somewhat from the employment position of the North-East, which is serious?

Mr. Speaker

Order. Long supplementaries mean fewer Questions.

Mr. Shore

In reply to the first part of the supplementary question, I would add that the regional employment premium will go on for seven years as from the date of its introduction in 1967. I hope this makes the position clear. Of course I understand the worries in the North-East but I must, as the hon. Member knows from his experience of a West Riding constituency, weigh the problems of development areas against the emerging problems of other parts of the country, and I have tried to be fair.

Mr. Bagier

While appreciating my right hon. Friend's wish to assist intermediate areas, may I ask whether he does not agree that the extension of the limit within which industrial development certificates were previously held will have a detrimental effect particularly on the North-East in view of the number of footloose industries still about in that area?

Mr. Shore

It was our concern for development areas which led the Government to the conclusion that we should not raise the limit for exemption from I.D.C. control from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Mr. Higgins

How many fewer jobs does the right hon. Gentleman estimate will be created in development areas as a result of his announcement?

Mr. Shore

It is impossible to get such an estimate at the present time but, given the geographical situation of a number of intermediate areas, there is the distinct possibility that some Midland or London firms which would not have gone to development areas will be attracted to the new intermediate areas.

Miss Herbison

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in development areas where there are dwindling industries, particularly areas with mine closures which are coming regularly, there is great fear that the announcement he made yesterday will detract from the attraction of new industries to development areas? Can he give a much more positive assurance that this will not happen?

Mr. Shore

I appreciate my right hon. Friends concern, but I remind her that it was partly to anticipate the specially severe problems of the rundown of the coal industry that we declared a number of special development areas in the autumn of 1967, which will be a very material and helpful factor.

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