HC Deb 17 February 1972 vol 831 cc614-6
Q5. Mr. Laurance Reed

asked the Prime Minister if he will now pay an official visit to Bolton.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so.

Mr. Reed

Unemployment in Bolton is twice as high as in the Lancashire intermediate area. Under present regional policy we do not come in for any assistance. Because of our geographical proximity to that area, we find it difficult to bring in new investment and to create new jobs by our own efforts. May I suggest to my right hon. Friend that it is urgent that the Government complete their review of regional policy? I am sure that, if my right hon. Friend were able to visit Bolton, he would understand why there is growing restlessness among his own supporters on this matter.

The Prime Minister

I think that my hon. Friend recognises the problems of extending any of the assisted area arrangements. But, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry told the House in answering Questions, these matters are being examined, and the boundaries are kept constantly under review. However, I understand that my hon. Friend and my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Redmond) are to have a discussion with the Secretary of State about the area. Perhaps we should await the outcome of that.

Mr. Heffer

Is not it clear that the whole of the Government's regional policy needs to be looked at again, especially in view of the fact that the level of employment on Merseyside has doubled within the last two years? Bearing in mind that the Prime Minister visited Merseyside recently, will he say what answers he is likely to give to the people of Merseyside following his visit, and what the Government intend to do to bring down the present very high level of unemployment there?

The Prime Minister

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I had a long and full discussion with the Merseyside Unemployment Advisory Committee on Friday. After discussing matters with that body, I undertook to consider each of its pro posals, to have them all examined by the Departments concerned, and to send a reply to the Committee. I will do that.

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