HC Deb 18 November 1971 vol 826 cc620-2
Q1. Mr. Kaufman

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement following his meeting with the North-West Industrial Development Association.

Q3. Mr. Lamond

asked the Prime Minister if he is now able to reply to the representations made to him by the North-West Industrial Development Association at their meeting on Friday, 29th October, 1971.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Reginald Maudling)

I have been asked to reply. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is the Prime Minister?"] The House will be interested to know that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is attending the opening by the Queen of Attlee House.

I have nothing to add to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave on 9th November to a Question from the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher).—[Vol. 825, c. 127.]

Mr. Kaufman

In view of the disastrous unemployment figures, including 1,000 more Manchester breadwinners out of a job, will the right hon. Gentleman admit that the North-West Industrial Development Association is right to be concerned about unemployment in the region and that the Prime Minister is wrong in his attitude of complacent arrogance towards the association? As a first step towards alleviating the situation, will the right hon. Gentleman lift the ban on new industry going to Manchester?

Mr. Maudling

The association is right to be concerned, but the hon. Gentleman is totally wrong to use those absurd words about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. With regard to the hon. Member's question about industry going to Manchester, he will be glad to know that the number of industrial development certificates and applications for help under the Local Employment Acts in the area have been increasing.

Sir R. Cary

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the unemployment situation in the North-West is beginning to stabilise, particularly in the Manchester area, where the British Steel Corporation's plan for a total shut-down is to be withdrawn, which will be of great help? Is it not a fact that the country must wait for the new measures proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to work their way through the economy to give a higher level of employment?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir. The measures which the Government have taken constitute the biggest single reflationary activity which the country has ever seen.

Mr. Lamond

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer on 9th November to which he has referred was an arrogant and unjustifiably brief answer to two very carefully prepared memoranda by the North-West Industrial Development Association which clearly showed that the association is struggling to overcome, not only the sort of grave unemployment which affects every part of the country, but the unemployment caused by the decline in the textile industry? The Prime Minister must realise that urgent action is needed in Lancashire and the North-West generally to help solve the unemployment problem there.

Mr. Maudling

The answer of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was nothing of the kind. He made it clear that he had discussed the proposals in the memoranda at a meeting on 29th October in Manchester. He said that he explained at the meeting the measures taken by the Government to reflate the economy and that the other suggestions which the association had made were under consideration.

Mr. Churchill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that after devaluation and three years of severe deflation by the previous Government, the North-West welcomes an expansionist Government?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the steel workers in my constituency were perplexed and bemused that when the Prime Minister came to Manchester on 29th October, while he had no time to meet them and hear their representations, he found time to visit Fagin's Night Club? Will he stop being like the Artful Dodger and remember that while my constituents believe that all work and no play makes Ted a dull boy, all play and no work is leading my constituents and the steelworkers of Manchester to be very frustrated and financially very distressed?

Mr. Maudling

I fail to appreciate the full subtlety of that rather contrived supplementary question. As for my right hon. Friend's meetings, he met the North-West Industrial Development Association on the subject of these questions.

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