HC Deb 27 March 1969 vol 780 cc1774-6
13. Mr. J. H. Osborn

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what action he proposes to take to increase the rate of employment growth in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region, which is expected to decline further, as outlined in paragraph 24, chapter 9, Regional Strategy and Prospects, of "The Task Ahead."

51. Mr. James Johnson

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what steps he is taking to ameliorate economic conditions in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region, in view of the statement, about its slow employment growth in paragraph 34 of chapter 9, entitled Regional Strategy and Prospects, in "The Task Ahead."

Mr. Urwin

The Government are considering what measures are necessary and practicable, bearing in mind also the needs of other areas.

Mr. Osborn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this is a most bland and depressing statement in "The Task Ahead"? In view of the fact that it will be some two months before the Hunt Committee's Report is published, which will no doubt confirm what is the task ahead, surely the Government should not be "considering". They should be taking action to prevent the sort of trend which they admit is happening now.

Mr. Urwin

The Hunt Committee has considered the claims of many areas for special assistance. It is important that consideration should be given to the Committee's findings as a whole.

Mr. Hooley

Would my hon. Friend agree that it is very important to locate new centres of administration and research in this area? Will he protest strenuously to his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science about placing the headquarters of the open university in the South-East, when it might have formed an important cultural and growth centre in another region?

Mr. Urwin

The Government's dispersal policy has been of great benefit to a number of areas in the country, and I assure my hon. Friend that the needs of the area to which he refers will be con- sidered in the future, in conjunction with many others.

Mr. Edwin Wainwright

Will my hon. Friend take into account the fact that the Yorkshire and Humberside Region is too large? There are too many pockets of unemployment, like that in Mexborough, which has a level of over 6 per cent. Will he do something about it quickly and not await publication and discussion of the Hunt Report?

Mr. Urwin

I am conscious of the problem which my hon. Friend raises, and we are considering particularly the situation and prospects in the coalfield area.

35. Mr. Eddie Griffiths

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what representations he has recently received from local authority organisations in Yorkshire about the economic future of the Region; and what reply he has sent.

Mr. Urwin

The West Riding of Yorkshire Urban District Councils Association has urged that South Yorkshire should be designated as a development area. It was informed by my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade that its views would be taken fully into account in the Government's review of the recommendations of the Hunt Committee.

Mr. Griffiths

I thank my hon Friend for that reply. Has he had any representations from a consortium of local authorities, known as the 44 Group? If he has, what reply has he sent to it?

Mr. Urwin

As the House knows, a certain number of representations have been made, but no reply will be sent until we have considered the Hunt Report. The 44 Group is to be congratulated on the work which it has done in helping to co-ordinate the aims of local authorities, and on its collective effort in assisting economic planning councils in their work.