HC Deb 27 March 1969 vol 780 c1771
8. Mr. Woof

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs to what extent the Government economic assessment involves the development of increasing employment opportunities and the attraction of further industrial growth in the North-East Development Region.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Frederick Lee)

Our discriminatory regional policy is concentrated on helping every development area to get an increasing number of new jobs. In 1968 we spent about £48 million on discriminatory assistance in the Northern Region. The economic assessment takes full account of the contribution we expect this expenditure to make to the growth of new employment in the region.

Mr. Woof

Will my right hon. Friend say whether he has excluded the possibility and desirability of creating more special development areas within the Northern Region, and what crucial contribution the Government are prepared to make to reduce the continuing heavy rate of unemployment there?

Mr. Lee

The Northern Region gains more from the policy of special development areas than any other region and is responding very adequately. In reply to the second part of the question, the Government are spending more on and getting better results from the development area policy than ever before in the industrial history of the country.

Sir C. Osborne

Did not the Labour Party promise full employment for everybody? Why are the Government allowing more than half-a-million people to remain permanently unemployed?

Mr. Lee

If when the Conservative Party were in power they had not funked the issue of the restructuring of industry, we should now be further ahead than we are.