HC Deb 28 February 1972 vol 832 cc23-4
27. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a further statement on the review of regional policy.

Mr. John Davies

I have nothing to add to the answer my hon. Friend gave to the right hon. Member on 21st February.—[Vol. 831, c. 195.]

Mr. Willey

Is the Secretary of State aware that it is now quite clear that the replacement of grants by allowances has seriously damaged the development areas? Is he further aware that there is now overwhelming support for a complete restructuring of development area aid? In view of the plight of places such as my constituency, Sunderland, will he treat this as a matter of the gravest urgency?

Mr. Davies

Yes, I am very well aware of the many comments which have been made on the lines the right hon. Gentleman mentions. He may rest assured that I am certainly treating this as a matter of the very greatest urgency.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a meeting of the North East Development Council on 10th March? As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister promised me that we should not have to wait much longer for some of the main matters to be decided, will he please get a little speed on, because action is necessary? I should like some action, so be cheerful and let us have it.

Mr. Davies

I can reassure my hon. Friend that speed is very much the essence of the contract, but it will not perhaps, I fear, be at a rate to satisfy the North East Development Council by 10th March.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that now that the C.B.I. has published its recommendations and the T.U.C. Economic Review has also come out with recommendations, and the Press says that the National Economic Development Council is to discuss regional policy at its next meeting, with a Government paper presented, could not that paper be published as a Green Paper or something else so that we could have an opportunity of knowing the line of Government thinking and hon. Members from the regions would be able to contribute their views before the Government view comes forward in their long awaited, long overdue proposals?

Mr. Davies

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman knows that it needs no publication on the Government's side in order to ensure that views are represented to us from the regions and from many other interests including the C.B.I. and the T.U.C. I reassure the right hon. Gentleman, if he has need of it, that there is no lack of advice and guidance given to the Government on those subjects.