HC Deb 17 April 1972 vol 835 cc28-9
28. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of increased industrial activity in the Midlands arising from his Budget proposals.

Mr. Chataway

The proposals announced on 22nd March are part of a coherent programme for the modernisation and expansion of British industry in all parts of the country. The Midlands will also benefit substantially through the extension of free depreciation on plant and machinery and the increased initial allowance for industrial buildings.

Mrs. Renée Short

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware—apart from that platitudinous reply, which told me nothing—that the West Midlands is gradually becoming an area of vast industrial dereliction with an unemployment rate higher than the national average? Is he aware that within Wolverhampton 300 young people, school leavers, are unable to get jobs, and there are several hundreds more coming out of school in July? What does he intend to do? When does he reckon that these alleged benefits will be felt in the West Midlands?

Mr. Chataway

The hon. Lady asks me a question which clearly is capable of no direct reply since there could not be evidence as yet of the measures taken in the Budget. However, she may be interested to know that there are continuing signs of recovery amongst manufacturers of consumer goods in the West Midlands. The number of IDC applications received during March in the West Midlands for projects in excess of 5,000 square feet was 57, the highest for over a year, and 47 of those were for areas over 10,000 square feet—an exceptionally high proportion.

Mr. Dan Jones

Have those applications been granted?