HC Deb 07 December 1971 vol 827 cc1117-8
Q2. Mr. Urwin

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Houghton-le-Spring.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Urwin

Does the Prime Minister appreciate that there will be a feeling of great sadness in Houghton-le-Spring when it learns that he has no intention of visiting it? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that he is missing a valuable opportunity to talk to several hundred pensioners living on the doorstep of poverty and several hundred young people who will be denied the opportunity of white collar jobs as a result of the Government's decision not to go ahead with a P.A.Y.E. centre at Washington, which is within five miles of my constituency, which would have provided several hundred jobs in an area of great need?

The Prime Minister

I had an opportunity to discuss these problems with members of the North-East Development Council when I was in the North East in September. The computer centre was involved in the review of P.A.Y.E. procedures and processes, and the Government have come to the conclusion that we should not be justified in going for the nine regional centres which were previously planned. That accounts for the change in the North East.

Mr. Pentland

Is the Prime Minister aware that an 800,000 sq. ft. site was made available by the Washington Development Corporation for the centre? Will he now investigate the possibility of bringing other Government Departments there to take over the site?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir. That question is already under examination. When we came to office we started a new and complete review of the possibilities of moving Government staffs into other parts of the country, including the North East.