HC Deb 22 February 1972 vol 831 cc1098-9
Q5. Mr. Duffy

asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay an official visit to the Yorkshire and Humberside Region in the near future.

The Prime Minister

I visited the region in March and October of last year, but I have at present no plans for further official visits.

Mr. Duffy

Is the Prime Minister aware that, paradoxically, the problem of Yorkshire and Humberside is that it has continued to be regarded as relatively prosperous at a time of underlying deterioration, so that now, in earnings, hours of work and employment in growth industries, it has tended to fall behind other regions? This state of deterioration was concealed for a long time by low unemployment and net emigration. In rethinking regional policy, will the Prime Minister bear in mind in-between regions such as Yorkshire and Humberside, which have been denied the remedial help available to other regions but whose problems and needs have now grown every bit as acute and urgent?

The Prime Minister

I shall certainly hear that point in mind in the context of the priorities to be given to special development areas, development areas, and intermediate areas. But in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, I.D.C. approvals last year were for over 5 million square feet of floor space and an estimated additional employment of nearly 6,000. In the fourth quarter of 1971 there was an increase compared with the previous quarter. I have indicated before that in various regions there is this hopeful sign of an increase in the floor space covered by I.D.C. approvals.

Mr. Jeffrey Archer

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us have no desire to welcome him to Humberside? We wish to welcome him to North Lincolnshire. Will he take seriously the plebiscite being held on whether those of North Lincolnshire wish to become part of Humberside or wish to remain yellow-bellies?

The Prime Minister

I was aware of this difference of view in the area, and the controversy arises from the Local Government Bill now in Committee. The local authorities are now being given the opportunity to express their views on these proposals.

Mr. James Johnson

Is the Prime Minister aware that the previous Administration began the Humber Feasibility Study, due to be published this year, and began estuarial development studies, of which Humberside was almost the leading estuary? It needs someone of the right hon. Gentleman's status to look at this matter. Would he please come to Hull and push the boat out there on our behalf?

The Prime Minister

I have been to Hull many times, and I would always be happy to go again, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is in a position in the Cabinet to deal with all these matters.