HC Deb 08 February 1971 vol 811 cc24-5
36. Mr. Strang

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he intends to announce his decision on the inclusion of Edinburgh in the development area.

88. Mr. Murray

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether, in the light of recent figures showing that, despite depopulation, unemployment in the Leith Employment Exchange area is at its highest level for 20 years, he will now expedite his review of Leith's development area status.

Sir J. Eden

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to their Questions on 9th November by my hon. Friend the Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.—[Vol. 806, c. 5–6.]

Mr. Strang

Is the Minister aware that the people of Edinburgh are anxiously awaiting this decision? Can he assure us that he will take into account not only the sharp rise in unemployment in the Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello employment exchange areas but also that in employment exchange areas just outside Edinburgh?

Sir J. Eden

I am aware of the need for an early decision on this matter. I hope that it will be taken fairly soon.

Mr. Murray

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, in view of the announcement about super-development area status for the Clyde valley, there is a risk of adverse repercussions on the east end of the central belt of Scotland and that these may be particularly bad in Leith, which does not have full development area status, and Edinburgh, which is denied development area status altogether? Would it not be more sensible to back this super-development area by making the whole of Scotland a development area?

Sir J. Eden

A statement on the review of development area policy will be made before long. Although Edinburgh's employment situation has worsened in recent years, unemployment in the Edinburgh group as a whole is still well below the average for the Scottish development area. I am aware of the representations of the local authorities in that part of the country, and they will be taken fully into account.

Mr. Varley

Does not the welcome announcement last week about making West Central Scotland a special development area show the inconsistencies of Government policy? Have not they got themselves in a muddle? Should not they get the review completed as quickly as possible so that the uncertainties which exist throughout the region can be removed?

Sir J. Eden

It shows that we are ready to make an announcement as soon as we have taken a decision.