HC Deb 08 May 1969 vol 783 cc644-5
22. Mr. Ridley

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will now take steps to abolish the Regional Employment Premium.

Mr. Shore

No, Sir.

Mr. Ridley

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that since the Government came into office they have spent £580 mililon on regional policy, with the net result that there are 51,000 fewer jobs in the development districts? This is not value for money. What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do to give the taxpayer value for money?

Mr. Shore

That is a very curious conclusion to draw from the policy which we are pursuing in the development areas. As I informed the House not long ago, the important thing is that over the last four years the rate of i.d.c. approvals in development areas has been substantially greater than in the previous four years, and but for that improvement there would have been a serious deterioration in employment in the development areas.

Mr. Blenkinsop

We very much welcome my right hon. Friend's clear reply, but is he aware that there is serious anxiety in the area because of the campaign waged by right hon. and hon. Members opposite, particularly by those representing constituencies in the South, to damage the aid given in areas like the North-East?

Mr. Shore

I am sure that the campaign which hon. Members opposite have launched against development area policy can only have a very unsettling effect upon the decisions of industry which we wish to encourage to move into these areas.