HC Deb 05 July 1971 vol 820 cc905-6
12. Mr. Chapman

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many industrial development certificates have been applied for within the city of Birmingham since 1st July, 1970; how many were granted; and what were the appropriate figures for the previous 12 months.

Mr. Anthony Grant

In the period 1st July, 1970 to 31st May, 1971, 80 industrial development certificates were issued in the Birmingham Group of Employment Exchange Areas and 10 were refused. The figures for the period 1st July, 1969 to 30th June, 1970 were 160 and 23 respectively.

Mr. Chapman

While appreciating that the purpose of industrial development certificates is to encourage expansion of industry in the development areas, and my hon. Friend's greater flexibility to wards this matter, as instanced by the raising of the exemption level for expansion of industry from 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft., may I ask whether he would be pre pared to go further and state categorically that, in looking at individual applications, if a firm can show that it cannot expand in a development area it will be allowed to expand in a non-development area, bearing in mind the recent example in the West Midlands where a firm has lost £100,000 by the refusal of an I.D.C. because it was not able to open up or expand—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Supplementaries must be brief.

Mr. Grant

As my hon. Friend said, one reason for the change in the figures was the I.D.C. exemption limit being raised from 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft. It will not be practicable to change the policy generally in the way suggested by my hon. Friend. We operate a flexible policy. In Birmingham, modest expansion by firms which have strong ties with the area—expansion designed to improve efficiency—will be allowed subject to giving priority to development and intermediate areas.

Mr. William Price

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that West Midlands Tory Members of Parliament have been arguing for years that all that the Midlands needed if they wanted industry was to get rid of the Labour Government? Is he aware that he has just about demolished the whole lot?

Mr. Grant

I do not accept that. I am saying that with the limited supply of mobile industry it is important to give priority to the assisted areas.