HC Deb 08 February 1972 vol 830 cc1129-30
Q1. Mr. Arthur Davidson

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Accrington.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Edward Heath)

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Davidson

Is the Prime Minister aware that he had no plans to do so the last time I asked him? What plans has he for dealing with the problem of unemployment amongst younger people which is particularly serious in North-East Lancashire? Is he aware that such unemployment can have a particularly long-term debilitating effect on the area because young people tend to leave the area anyway and to seek work elsewhere?

The Prime Minister

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has not given me enough encouragement to visit his constituency. He will agree that the problem is serious for young people. However, the level of unemployment in his constituency is below the level of the North-West region as a whole. What really concerns the hon. Gentleman is bringing more industry into that area, and he will be glad to know that there has been an increase in I.D.C. approvals for the intermediate area—an increase which is growing. In the last three months of 1971 the number of I.D.C. approvals was greater than in the previous quarter. In the first month of this year, January, the number of applications for assistance under the Local Employment Acts was the same as that for the first three months of last year. That is an encouraging sign.

Mr. McGuire

Referring to the North-West, the Prime Minister will recall that at the meeting on 29th October the position about the discrimination which exists against the North-West was put to him very forcibly. How can he continue to justify this discriminating against Lancashire, and, in particular against the Wigan area? The right hon. Gentleman knows that they are discriminated against. They do not get grants on unemployment grounds or for urban renewal.

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will also recall that in the discussion at that meeting I emphasised that it was a question of priorities between the special development areas, the development areas and the intermediate areas, and that in trying to get industry back to these areas, according to their need, one is hound to have some form of discrimination. If all the areas are put in exactly the same position, obviously, those which most need the industry which is expanding do not get it.