HC Deb 25 November 1971 vol 826 cc1529-30
Q2. Mr. Lamond

asked the Prime Minister how many regional development authorities have made representations to him in the period 1st August, 1971 to 31st October, 1971.

The Prime Minister

Two, Sir.

Mr. Lamond

Does the Prime Minister realise that his off-hand and arrogant answers to at least some of these Questions—[Interruption]—are strangely out of tune with the contrite apologetic confessions of failure we had from his colleagues in the Cabinet from the Despatch Box earlier this week? If he agrees with their expressions of misjudgment, will he reopen his correspondence with these development associations and tell them that he has been moved by the demonstrations which took place outside the House this week to review this policy and to accept the policies being put forward by the development associations?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman asked me how many development authorities had made representations to me and I gave him the answer two. That is a matter of fact. There is nothing off-hand or arrogant about it. It just proves that the hon. Gentleman does not wish to have information but wishes merely to make a political point.

Mr. Redmond

Did the regional development authorities in their representations to my right hon. Friend give him any information on what is being done by the local authority industrial development officers, and have they told him where these exist and how successful they have been?

The Prime Minister

This has been mentioned in the course of discussions, and the authorities, one in the North-East and one in the North-West, both of which I have met, in addition to submitting memoranda to me, put forward a number of policy points, all of which are being pursued. I shall be in contact with them again about the matters they have raised.

Mr. Grimond

Is the Prime Minister aware that the advantages held by the development areas have been steadily eroded? So that this process may be reversed will he consult, because it is vital to encourage industry to go to these areas?

The Prime Minister

I do not entirely accept the right hon. Gentleman's first statement. Policy on these areas has been changed, but if one takes full account of all measures including the infrastructure that is now going into the development areas, their advantage has not been reduced. There has been a conflict of interest in the representations I have received. The deputation I received from the North-East asked that the I.D.C. policy should be most rigorously enforced, but when I saw the North-West Development Authority its representatives asked that I.D.C. policy should immediately be completely changed to allow free development in their region.

Forward to