HC Deb 06 July 1971 vol 820 cc1102-3
1. Mr. Douglas

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the regional implications of the failure to reach his estimated 3.8 per cent. growth rate.

28. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment concerning the regional implications he has made arising out of the failure to reach his estimated 38 per cent. growth rate; and if he will make a statement.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Maurice Macmillan)

I am not certain to which estimate the hon. Members refer; the Budget forecast was for a growth in output of 3.1 per cent. between the first halves of 1971 and 1972.

Mr. Douglas

I apologise for nattering the Government by enhancing their growth rate. Can the Minister assure me that the regional problem will not be exacerbated by stupid decisions such as the siting of the value-added centre at Southend and that, whatever the exigencies of particular treaties, there will be no expansion of industrial development such as a steel mill at Foulness adjacent to an airport and industrial development there?

Mr. Macmillan

The hon. Gentleman has raised matters which are the subject of consideration and which are very wide of this Question. I assure him that the regional implications of decisions are considered very carefully. There is a Question on the Order Paper about the decision over the value-added tax headquarters.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the Chief Secretary aware that whatever estimates he has been working on have been totally unsuccessful for Scotland? With over 120,000 unemployed in Scotland, with more than 10 per cent. of the male population unemployed in some parts of North Lanarkshire, and with young boys now reaching 18 never having had any work yet, is it not time the hon. Gentleman swallowed his pride, got his estimates done properly and got our people work?

Mr. Macmillan

I do not accept the implication about the estimates. The problem of unemployment in the regions is being very carefully considered by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor and by the Government generally.