HC Deb 13 July 1970 vol 803 cc1140-1
49. Mr. Harper

asked the Minister of Technology if he will examine the possibility of upgrading the area covered by the South Yorkshire coalfield from intermediate to full development area status, in view of the high unemployment in the area.

Mr. Ridley

Intermediate area incentives, which became available under the Local Employment Act 1970, will take some while to make their full impact, and it would be inappropriate to consider changes now.

Mr. Harper

Is the hon. Gentleman really aware of the high rate of unemployment in this area, which is as high as 11 per cent. in parts? Is he also aware that the best way of redeeming the pledge in the Tory manifesto, confirmed in this House by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the debate on the Queen's Speech, is by giving it full area development status so that it will attract industry and thereby help to solve the unemployment problem?

Mr. Ridley

The high level of unemployment prevailing is a tribute to the last Government. I think that we should allow their policy on intermediate areas time to work before we make any change in this respect.

Mr. George Jeger

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, while the whole area has been scheduled as grey, there are various shades of grey, as my hon. Friend has indicated? The 11 per cent. unemployment figure is in one particular place in my constituency. Will the hon. Gentleman give special attention to that and seek to remove a black spot from a grey area?

Mr. Ridley

We will consider industrial development certificates sympathetically if there is a high rate of unemployment in one area. If the hon. Gentleman will write to me I will certainly look into it.