HC Deb 18 July 1972 vol 841 cc422-534

4.33 p.m.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

I beg to move, That this House, noting with alarm that the North-West Region has suffered increased unemployment which has almost doubled in the past two years, and deeply concerned at the lack of job opportunities caused by the contraction of cotton, coalmining, and now, steel and heavy engineering, fears that the Government's belated and forced reversal of economic and regional policies will be applied with insufficient determination to remedy a desperate condition; and condemns the damaging and reactionary nature of the Government's social, housing and industrial policies as applied in the Region. The last debate we had on the North-West was initiated by Mr. Speaker, who was then on the Opposition benches. That was in December, five years ago. It occurred after the Hunt Committee was set up but before it had reported. I mention that to give an indication of how rare it is that we have these debates in the House. Because there are so many of my hon. and right hon. Friends and hon. Members who want to speak I think it will be necessary to ask, as I am sure Mr. Speaker would ask, for a considerable degree of brevity by all speakers.

Hon, Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Sheldon

I see that I have the approval of the House so far.

The problems of the North-West have increased since the debate nearly five years ago. For those of us to whom the North-West is our home it is with a great deal of sadness and even bitterness that we see what has happened during the intervening years.

As the Hunt Report says, the North-West is the oldest industrial area in the world. In the mills and factories were produced the wealth that enabled us to play an imperial rôle. The British Empire produced the trade and the North-West produced the wealth that made it work. In the 19th century half the exports of the country came from the mills and factories of our part of the country, and whole countries and even continents were clothed by the products of our factories. Africa, India, China, South America, Australia—all were clothed from the vast production that came from the cotton industry, created by the native genius of those working in the mills throughout the North-West.

It was at that time that our industrial landscape took shape, and it is the fault of those who created it, but even more it is the fault of those who came after, that it remains as it does today, the monument to the energy of the industrial pioneers and those who subsequently did not see fit to make the improvements necessary in the light of improving standards in living conditions. We note today that the Secretary of State for the Environment is undertaking a study of the North-West which I understand will cost £250,000. I also understand that this will be ready some time next year. I would be pleased if we could be told how this study is going on.

One thing we know is that the North-West Region has had studies in plenty. Basically, the problems are known, and, while we are always anxious to find out more of the details of these problems and how they can be dealt with, at the end of the day it is not studies but action that will be needed. The basic problem of the North-West is the problem of declining industry. The trouble is that in many of the areas where we thought we had achieved some diversification of industry we find that firms are closing.

We know the problems of the cotton industry, with the Board of Trade in our opinion too anxious to consider its world rôle and not anxious enough to consider the peculiar problems of an industry too open to receive the imports of countries which are balanced by the exports of those other parts of the United Kingdom. In dealing with these problems we have many of my hon. Friends—the hon. Members for West Houghton (Mr. J. T. Price), for Oldham, East (Mr. James Lamond), Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) and Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett)—who are deeply interested in this. In particular I wish to mention the late Jack McCann who used to raise and deal with these problems. The House will miss him very much in these debates. He was a man much liked, much loved, who will be very greatly missed over the following years.

We know too, of the problems of the coal industry, the pit closures, which are changing the economy of a number of our towns in the North-West, and if my hon. Friends the Members for Ince (Mr. McGuire) and Wigan (Mr. Fitch) and other of my hon. Friends are fortunate enough to be called I am sure that they will wish to expand on this. Added to this problem we have the closure of the steel mills of Irlam and Openshaw, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) and my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) and others will wish to refer.

Not only do we see these newer industries closing and suffering unemployment problems but we also see those industries involving a high level of skill declining. In particular we note with deep regret the contraction of our heavy engineering industry which provided most of the prosperity in the post-war years. The effect of the decline on industries has given rise to very grave fears about the kind of industries which are still in difficulties, which we hoped would be the expanding industries of the future.

Let me give an illustration of the kind of problems facing us. In 1969, the last full year in which the Labour Government was in office, the unemployment figure was 73,000. In June, 1972, the last month for which we have figures, we had a figure of 136,000, nearly double. I do not want to make only party points but it is absolutely clear that the problems with which the Labour Government coped, not with the degree of success that we would have wished to see—at least we succeeded in keeping the position reasonably stable—have returned and the position has been seriously weakened over the past two years.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)


Mr. Sheldon

I hope that I shall not have to give way very much because I have asked that everyone should keep their speeches as brief as possible to provide time for as many hon. Members as possible to take part.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in my constituency unemployment more than doubled, from 340 to 855, during the time of the Labour Government?

Mr. Sheldon

It would be interesting to know the figures since the Government came to office. But the important point is that, although there has been a welcome fall in unemployment in the North-West during the past six months, we have had only one-third of the fall in unemployment which has happened in the rest of the country. If there were some unspecified and unguessed-at time lag responsible for this, perhaps there would not be the same reason for concern. But nobody is able to show that there is any such time lag in operation. The level of national vacancies has increased by 51½ per cent. in the past six months, whereas in the North-West it has been less than half that amount. Therefore, even if the national economic situation improves slightly, we are getting nothing like that level of improvement in the North-West.

The North-West had a big problem during the whole of the 1950s and 1960s; namely, the problem of the cotton and coal industries. But it is much worse now. What frightens us in the North-West is that a new scale of problems seems to be arising. In the past there has been diversity as different parts of the region had different degrees of success or failure. In the past the problems of Preston were not the same as those of Manchester; the problems of Liverpool were not the same as those of North-East Lancashire. Today unemployment is the problem of all parts of Lancashire and Cheshire.

When the North-West Group of Labour Members of Parliament voted last year in favour of intermediate area status for the North-West, the problem of unemployment and of over-capacity was affecting all parts. We welcome, as the whole of the North-West does, the giving of intermediate area status, but it must be remembered that it was the increasing scale of the problem which made that status necessary—in fact, essential.

The North-West has suffered too long from the consequences of mergers. I am not against mergers. They can be very valuable and can bring increased efficiency. There can be an increasing concentration of production whereby costs can be reduced. But what we object to is that concentrations of industry have resulted in the closing of plants and the North-West has been much more affected than other areas where firms have merged with firms in the North-West. This might be partly because of the outdated industrial premises in the North-West. However, it must be partly due to the fact that the factories which remained open tended to be nearer to the head office, and the head office was not often situated in the North-West.

Coupled with this change is the decline in job opportunities, which is continuing. When I was an engineering apprentice some years ago, I heard stories about apprentices who were fired as soon as they reached the age of 21 because of the surplus of labour and the fact that the older man with greater experience was the better worker to employ. I always thought, and I still think, that this is the cruellest unemployment of all—the discarding of a young man just when he has learned his craft and is ready to put it to proper use. The scars of this kind of unemployment are sharper and more long-lasting possibly than any other. I know of two large national organisations where young boys have been fired at the age of 21 or have been informed that they will not be kept in employment when their apprenticeship ends.

But it is not simply job opportunities in industry which are required; we need job opportunities in office employment. This is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of opportunity, and we have to take it very seriously. Here I should like to quote from the North-West Industrial Development Association's memorandum. I pay tribute to the work of the association, doing, as it does, the work of keeping before people engaged in industry and in the region the problems and perhaps providing some of the solutions for the economic difficulties in the North-West. The association states: A serious weakness in the new package of regional measures is, in the Association's view, the complete absence of any strong initiative by the Government to promote office development in the North-West and other assisted areas. We are awaiting the report on the potential for decentralising Civil Service work, and we look forward to early action in this respect. But this is a serious weakness. There has been a massive increase in clerical work and in pay in the London area. For example, female clerical workers in the London area earn 18 per cent, more than those doing similar work in the North-West. There is much scope for an increase in office employment in our region.

However, one of the major problems confronting us is industrial dereliction. Those who may not be familiar with our part of the country will be familiar with the kind of landscape which is rapidly disappearing but which is still present in many areas. The North-West Industrial Development Association has called for an increase in the industrial dereliction grant to local authorities to 100 per cent. I am happy to support that. I fail to see why responsibility for the industrial slag-heaps and decayed buildings in the areas should be charged to the region concerned. They were the faults of the past. I must ask: who benefited from these outrages? It was not the people of Lancashire and Cheshire. It was the country which benefited, and the country must restore the area.

I welcome Operation Eyesore. I pay tribute to the introduction of the scheme. It needs to be pursued with vigour and more resources. When one goes around the North-West and talks to the people, one is struck by the fact that they feel that they are worse off than those in other parts of the country. This shows itself in pay. Earnings and wage rates in the North-West are lower than they are in more favoured parts of the country. This is known by the people concerned. The assertion, frequently made by the Government, that high unemployment is due to high wages is offensive to North-West workers when they compare their pay with the pay which is obtainable elsewhere. When the Foreign Secretary talks about greedy workers he causes a great deal of anger.

The trouble is that we have double standards. There is a standard for the businessman, for whom high profits and high earnings are good. This is held by the community to be efficient. It is said that they are the basis of our system and that this is the proper use of resources. When he makes high profits and consequential high earnings, he is, apparently, efficient and good. When the workers try to obtain high earnings, this is bad; this is greed.

It is these double standards which people find so objectionable. We must not have two standards—one for the employer and one for the employee. We are one people, and the same standards must apply to both. We are one country, and the same rewards should be given to each of the regions. The people in the North-West are not inferior in any way; they are not inadequate. It is not like Italy where there are under-educated people and non-industrial populations and people have difficulty of assimilation in an industrial environment.

Our region is still the industrial heart of the country and the people have industrial skills which they are ready and willing to use. The North-West has work patterns which are highly relevant to modern needs, with tradition based on our women going out to work, with shifts readily manned, and with all the advantages of an industrial working population used to and willing to do the kind of work which industry requires to be done.

Despite all this, and despite the considerable industrial diversification which we have achieved, we are still faced with the industrial problems which I have described. The terrible, unanswerable reality is that the regions are in decline. It is not a question of some regions going up and some going down. Apart from London and the South-West, they are all in decline. It is because the pull of London and the South-East is too strong. Part of the reason is that the heads of our industrial companies too often situate themselves in London and the South-East. Too many industrial decisions affecting our future are being taken elsewhere. Management is too remote. That does not happen in other countries but it is one of the things peculiar to Britain.

Out of the top 100 industrial companies in Britain, 84 have their headquarters in London. In America, 29 out of the top 100 have their headquarters in New York, the fiancial capital. Europe, with the exception of France, is similarly diversified, with head offices dispersed. Whereas General Motors is in Detroit, British Leyland is in Berkeley Square; whereas Daimler-Benz is in Stuttgart, Ford and Chrysler are in London; whereas du Pont is in Maryland, ICI is in London; whereas Burlington Industries, the biggest textile group in America, has its headquarters in North Carolina, not only Courtaulds but Carrington and Vyella have their headquarters in London. It is impossible to understand why other countries operate on the basis that their headquarters are where their manufacturing capacity is but this country does not. Other countries have had more success than we have had, and there may be something to learn from them.

To sum up—

Mr. Frank Allaun (Salford, East)

Before my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) sums up, I hope that he will say something about the announced removal of the ceiling on cotton imports this January, which is a direct consequence of entering the Common Market and will crucify Lancashire cotton towns. How some people can still defend it I do not know. The quota must be restored on 1st January, otherwise we shall be in a terrible mess. I hope that my hon. Friend will strongly pursue the Minister on this point.

Mr. Sheldon

That was to be my next sentence. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) for reinforcing the point.

I shall now sum up. First, the problems which we have discovered over the past few years have largely been increased by the Government. The "lame duck" philosophy, which may have had its disadvantages elsewhere, has been more disadvantageous to our region. Firms have closed down which will never reopen. Some of the solutions that the Government are proposing and have proposed are valuable. I am not willing to hide my welcome for many of their solutions, but they have to be considered in relation to the problems which the Government themselves have created and increased.

What is required by way of a solution? First, one of the important ways in which we have to deal with these problems is to reduce the pull of London, whether by disincentives or some other means. Next textile quotas must be introduced where they are not in force and must be reduced where they are too high. Here I must declare a personal interest.

The well-being of the textile industry is necessary for the North-West as it is for the whole of the country. That industry is happy and willing to compete on equal terms with the European Community, but it does not want to have handicaps which industries in other countries do not bear. Hon. Members representing North-West constituencies have asked for a meeting with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, consisting of trade unionists and Members of Parliament, to discuss that problem. We hope that the Secretary of State will agree, because it is a crucial issue. The industry has suffered repeatedly because the Department has pursued policies which may be advantageous to other industries but are deeply disadvantageous not only to the textile industry but to the whole of the North-West Region.

Next, we want to see dereliction grants increased to 100 per cent. so that the community as a whole will pay for chat which was created in its name, to the advantage of those who have suffered for so long. We now—my hon. Friend the Member for Ince certainly knows—that there are local authority areas where almost half the land is derelict. It is impossible for such local authorities to find the resources to improve the amenities of their areas.

We also want to see selective assistance given under the Industry Bill, related closely to unemployment. Blanket inducements may be valuable but they have limitations. We want to see money specifically given to creating viable jobs in the areas of greatest need. Finally, there needs to be a strong initiative to promote office development in the North-West.

At the end of this debate, it would be wrong if anyone had the impression that I or any of my hon. Friends have come to this House to beg for money. Today in industrial Britain there is a distortion based on no industrial logic. There are men with skills and the willingness to use them in one part of the country and there are decisions frequently taken at the other end. This debate is about reducing that distortion by means of Government action, and we and the people of the North-West ask that that be done.

4.58 p.m.

The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof, welcomes the recent decision of Her Majesty's Government to schedule the whole of the North-West Region as an Intermediate Area; recognises the extensive action already taken to produce greater economic growth and improvement in environmental conditions; and endorses the regional policies of Her Majesty's Government designed to spread national prosperity more evenly. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) commendably said a great deal in a short time. I shall do my best to follow him, at least in not using up too much time because I recognise that many right hon. and hon. Members want to speak. I hope that nobody on that account will criticise me if I do not mention certain topics. Inevitably, I shall have to leave out a number of matters of importance.

I do not find myself in a large measure of disagreement with the hon. Gentleman's prescriptions. The policy which he was urging to deal with regional development is close to Government thinking and practice. However, at times I quarrel with his diagnosis, which was alarmist.

The Motion can be fairly said to portray a picture of the North-West as hopelessly and helplessly slithering into decline. That is not the position. It is an area of great resources and potential. I shall describe some of the opportunities which exist for the area and show that there are not merely clear signs that the downward trend has been checked but positive signs of recovery.

We are concerned with the industrial and human problems of one region. We all know that the difficulties of the North-West have largely been caused over recent years by a low level of national economic activity. The hon. Gentleman said that he was not anxious to score only party points, and I hope that all hon. Members recognise that the national problems of recent years have been international in origin. It is fair to acknowledge that the situation which we took over a couple of years ago was deteriorating more seriously than was recognised.

The Government have, of course, undertaken more extensive measures than ever before to increase demand. Critics may now argue, with the advantages of hindsight, that, despite the unprecedented scale of that stimulation, it should have been produced even earlier. Having said that, I wonder whether anybody on either side of the House would seriously contest that the squeezes and the stagnation of Labour's years in office have had no effect in the past two years. There is certainly a striking contrast between the inheritance of this Government and that of the Labour Government in the health of the regions. Six months after taking office the Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer was able to say that things in the North-West were absolutely booming and that investment was going ahead very fast. We could not at any point have said that about the situation that we found in the regions.

The index of production for May, the provisional June figure for retail sales and the reports that are coming in from many industries in nearly every region show that the economy is now reviving firmly, but very few people would take the view that the fact that we have had a long, hard struggle to produce that revival has nothing to do with the policies that immediately preceded our taking office. I do not want to dwell on this topic, but it is perhaps of importance to refer briefly to some of the alternative solutions that are now being posed by hon. Gentlemen opposite.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne made a very moderate speech, but there has just been published the "Labour Programme for Britain". Hon. Gentlemen opposite, I know, are as anxious as we are to assist in the regeneration of the regions and of the North-West by stimulating investment and encouraging a growing confidence, but what sort of encouragement to investors does that programme contain? It is clear on almost every page that Labour means to return to a policy of rapidly rising taxation and squeezed profit margins. Labour promises again to set up an agency— to integrate industries and firms into the public sector". Labour threatens overseas companies which are considering investing in this country with a range of measures specially directed against multi-national companies. I do not need to say that in the North-West, as in other regions, investment by foreign companies is extremely important. The suggestion in the Labour programme that the Government would require to take equity in the parent company of multi-national companies, as well as to appoint a director to the parent board, would, if it were taken seriously, hardly induce Ford, General Motors and others who play an important part in creating employment in the North-West to expand their activities. Fortunately, however, I believe that most of this will not be taken seriously, and I hope that the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne and others who have a firm grasp of realities will be able to do something about this programme before too long.

I turn now to the problems that particularly face the North-West. The region has experienced major structural changes over this past decade and more. Since 1959 employment in cotton textiles has halved. There have been big job losses in coal mining and in steel. Employment has been reduced, too, in shipbuilding and repairing, clothing and particular sectors of engineering, notably electric plant and machine tools. In some of these areas there is the prospect of further contraction.

There is, I know, much concern about the rationalisation of the steel industry and the British Steel Corporation's recent announcement about Irlam. I think, too, it is generally recognised on both sides of the House that if our steel industry is to be competitive this process of rationalisation cannot be halted. During phase 1 of the closure of Irlam, although 1,900 jobs were lost to the beginning of 1972, the great majority of the people who were displaced were absorbed into other industries. Against a background now of rising economic activity and falling unemployment, there are prospects of absorbing even more effectively those who are to be released from Irlam over the next two years.

Nobody can be in any doubt about the human problems that are posed by these changes. The figures I have given for the changes that the North-West has had to face over the last 10 years and more give some indication of the scale of the problem in the region. I hope that nobody is in any doubt of the importance of ensuring that new jobs are created in the region to compensate for those lost by the BSC's reorganisation and by several other such factors.

Much has been said—and the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) referred to it in his intervention—about anxieties in the textile industry over arrangements within the Common Market. We have taken on board the industry's views about imports of low-cost cotton yarn, and the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne referred to discussions that I hope can be arranged in due course. There are negotiations due in the autumn about quotas on cotton textiles. The problems relating to imports of man-made fibres and polyester cotton in particular are at present under active consideration by the Government.

We should not forget that the textile industry as a whole has made it clear that it welcomes entry into the Common Market and is confident of its ability to compete with the textile industries of Europe. Looking back over the experience of the decade, one recognises that there has been an encouraging growth in activity in many other industries.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the question? Do the Government intend to go ahead on 1st January with the proposal to remove the ceiling on textile imports? He must be aware that the textile unions are desperately concerned about this. The cotton industry has lost 300,000 jobs in 20 years, and this proposal would wipe out the remainder of the cotton industry. Whether or not we join the Common Market—of course, I hope that we do not—I hope that the Government at least will not comply with this condition of the Common Market because it will be critical not only to the cotton industry but to the light engineering industry which supplies the cotton industry.

Mr. Chataway

Generally speaking, we shall retain our existing rights to control imports of cotton textiles from developing countries. There are already Community arrangements with certain countries for restraining their exports. There are anxieties about cotton yarn, but the larger question is the principle of a comprehensive policy for restriction of textile imports into the whole enlarged EEC. There is clearly a balance to be struck between fair dealings with the developing countries and the protection of our own industry, for very good reasons. On entry into the Common Market some areas of the textile industry will benefit and some will not, but the textile industry as a whole has made it clear that it welcomes entry and sees considerable opportunities.

Mr. Charles R. Morris (Manchester, Openshaw)

Is the Minister saying that the Government are prepared to sacrifice the yarn and spinning sections of the textile industry? That is the implication of the statement he has just made.

Mr. Chataway

No, I have not said anything to the House that is not known and has not been said on several previous occasions. I was correcting the impression given by the hon. Member for Salford, East, I am sure inadvertently, that all quotas came off cotton textiles. That is not so.

Mr. Morris

What about yarn?

Mr. Chataway

Cotton yarn is on the EEC common liberalisation list and this has been know for many months.

Mr. Morris


Mr. Chataway

I am telling the hon. Gentleman that nothing I have said has changed a position which has been known for a very long time. I have indicated the areas in which we are having discussions, and I hope he will forgive me if I turn to other areas. I am sure the House will not want my speech to be too long.

Looking back over the experience of the 1960s and late 1950s, we recognise that in the North-West there has been an encouraging growth in activity in many other industries. The engineering industry as a whole has grown, despite weak areas. The oil and chemical industries have invested heavily and, although there are some immediate investment problems, it is to be hoped that the substantial production gains of the past will continue. The food and drink industries are contributing useful gains. Most of the compensating industrial growth has come from established industry, but 60,000 jobs, principally in the motor industry, have been created since 1959 by newcomers to the region. Furthermore, much new employment has been contributed by the service industries.

Taking the whole of the past decade, it is clear that the region has had some real success in absorbing large structural losses and has a well diversified economy, but it has problems enough to justify its assisted area status. I have no doubt that investment is needed to cater for the manpower released by the declining industries.

The more recent figures are encouraging. It is true that the peak in unemploy- ment came later in the North-West than to the rest of the country and that recovery also appears to have been a few months behind the rest of Britain. Leaving aside the figures for 1972, which were distorted by the coal strike, the national rate of unemployment began to decline after January, 1972, whereas the North-West did not see a turn-round until April. But by June unemployment in the North-West had fallen by 15,000 as compared with the corresponding April figure. On the other side of the coin, the number of unfilled vacancies in the North-West has been rising since January, 1972, and in June of this year the figure stood at 15,400, which was 3,000 more than in January.

It is against this rising trend that the region now faces the opportunities provided by the Government's new package of regional measures. I wish to draw attention to a few of the more important features of these measures. First, the scale of incentives offered to investment in the assisted areas is greater than ever before compared to the rest of the country. There are regional development grants of 20 per cent. to be paid towards the cost of buildings in qualifying industries throughout the region and 20 per cent. of plant and machinery costs are payable in addition in the development area and in Skelmersdale, and these are very substantial. This means that if these grants are taken together with tax relief it will enable profitable companies to recover more than half their expenditure on industrial projects in the development areas and 36 per cent. of expenditure on new buildings in the intermediate area.

Secondly—and this is a particularly important feature in the North-West—there is no discrimination against existing firms. Existing firms are enabled to modernise by abolishing the job link; that is to say, by no longer requiring that new employment must be created in order for an area to obtain assistance. The opportunity is now given to older industries in the North-West, of which there are many, to modernise their buildings. I believe that this can be of very great importance to the environment and in safeguarding employment for the future.

Thirdly, there are the provisions for selective assistance which will provide a flexible means of encouraging development in strategic industries and in areas within the region. I agree with the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne that there is an important function for selective assistance for the service industries. It cannot make sense to give a general grant to all service industries, because the majority are not mobile. Their existence and expansion depend on the level of economic activity in the area. There are some service industries, and headquarter officers are a good example, which are potentially mobile and which, given some help, may be induced to come into the region. It is of considerable importance that the region should attract more office development. I envisage this as a use to which the power in Clause 7 of the Industry Bill can be put.

Another important feature of the new arrangements is that there should be a greater level of devolution to the region than ever before. The Department's regional organisation in Manchester has been strengthened. The post of regional director has been upgraded, and the director will shortly be assisted by a regional industrial director from industry. The regional organisation, assisted by the Regional Industrial Development Board, will have a great measure of decision-making.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the request from the North-West that it should be given a grant for propaganda purposes? Certain areas have been given grants for this purpose, and we should like to know whether the Minister will look favourably at our request.

Mr. Chataway

I am considering this proposal from the North-West Industrial Development Association. A number of considerations are involved and we must look at the division of function between Government authorised bodies in the promotion of the region. I am prepared to look at the proposal.

There is now clear evidence that industry is very much interested in the North-West and in these new measures. At the end of last week, 1,131 firm inquiries were all recorded in my Department's regional office in Manchester. Among these are many which could have important employment implications.

Another indicator is the number of applications for industrial development certificates. Since late March this year IDC approvals in the North-West have been very substantially higher than those for the corresponding period last year; the number is 30 per cent. higher. The area of factory space involved is 100 per cent. higher, and, most important, the estimates by applications of the number of new jobs is nearly 100 per cent. higher.

There are also signs of growing interest among service employers in the North-West as the gap between rents in London and the North-West widens. The Government have their part to play in providing greater office facilities and office jobs in the regions. Some 28,000 jobs have already moved from London, and another 19,000 are to follow. The computer PAYE centre at Bootle is going ahead, and a further fundamental review of possible dispersal of Government offices is nearing completion. It is hoped that conclusions will be available towards the end of the year.

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment in winding up will deal with a number of developments for which his Department is responsible. It is worth noting that the past two years have seen an unprecedented effort by the Government in terms of home improvement, clearance of derelict land and road building. In the last financial year, 29,000 cash grants for home improvements were given in the North-West compared with 8,600 in 1969–70. The road building programme built up to a peak of more than £65 million a year last year and is currently running at about £45 million. In the clearance of derelict land there has been an effort on a remarkable scale. The total approved programme is now 2,600 acres costing some £6¼ million. It should be remembered that in the development areas 85 per cent. of the cost of that programme is met by the Government, and in the intermediate areas 75 per cent. When the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne suggests that the 85 per cent. should be 100 per cent. he has to consider whether it is not desirable to have some local authority involvement. With rate support grant, which is given on the 15 per cent. which remains to be paid in the development area, it is a fairly modest proportion of the total cost which is now being met by the local authorities.

Mr. Sheldon

But even when a local authority has its land restored it still has to spend a considerable amount of money afterwards.

Mr. Chataway

Yes, but the point is that the difference between 85 per cent. and 100 per cent., in view of the fact that rate support grant is available, is pretty modest.

Mr. Laurance Reed (Bolton, East)

My right hon. Friend seems to be attempting to justify the discrepancy between 85 per cent. in development areas and 75 per cent. alsewhere. However, Liverpool has a very small amount of waste acres whereas an area east of Wigan has no less than 33 per cent. of its land classified as derelict area. Surely the grant should be equal throughout the area. Should not the element of discrimination between one part of Lancashire and another be ended?

Mr. Chataway

I do not want to engage in an argument with my hon. Friend about the relative needs of two places. But the general principle is right that there should be a differentiation between development areas and intermediate areas since the capacity of development areas to meet the costs involved is on the whole less than that of intermediate areas. However, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment may wish to reply further to that question.

All these measures, together with the expansion of training opportunities in the region, mean that the region now has a very great deal to offer industry. Shortly it will be served by one of the finest motorway and traffic systems in the country with fast roads to all parts and fast urban roads to ensure rapid access. Ring way, with growing freight and international passenger traffic, is the country's second highest airport. Merseyside's new dock at Seaforth and the introduction of modern handling methods at Manchester promise an important advance in the ports. The region's labour force has almost every kind of skill and industrial experience. There is no justification therefore, for selling the North-West short.

I do not believe that the Opposition's Motion gives encouragement to the recovery which is now getting under way. I hope that in due course it will be rejected. I hope, too, that there will be a general recognition in the debate of the progress being achieved in the North-West and of the substantial opportunities which are now available.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)

May I first take up the point made by the right hon. Gentleman about dereliction? Perhaps I might remind him that the Lancashire coalfield, with the exception of St. Helens, is outside the Lancashire development area. That is almost unique. Where-ever development areas are based on the contraction of the coal industry, invariably they are special development areas, let alone ordinary development areas. Until three years ago we in Lancashire did not even have St. Helens in the development area. For that reason we have never had the increased aid which the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Laurance Reed) commented upon, and, therefore, our dereliction problem is more severe because of our lack of development area status.

The right hon. Gentleman also referred to the aid which intermediate status should bring. Again I remind him that the development area policy pre-supposes heavy unemployment in some areas and full employment in others. This is the assumption of mobile industry. When there are high rates of unemployment throughout practically the whole country there is not the same mobility of industry as existed previously. While I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is proved right in what he said, I suggest to him that unless there is a general improvement in employment levels throughout the country there will not be the kind of mobility that we both hope to see coming into the North-West Region.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) reminded the House that Lancashire was probably the oldest industrial area in the world. At a time when great industrial changes have to be made, areas such as Lancashire suffer the worst. In my constituency, Stephenson had his wagon headquarters. In my time I have seen that go. I have also seen the coal mines go to a great degree, and now steel is in considerable trouble. I make no party point when I say that we have reached a phase where we see great institutions and firms leaving small areas which are utterly dependent upon them for their economic life. We cannot be satisfied that they should wave us a fond farewell and leave us to pick up the pieces. We have reached the stage where those in boardrooms, whether in nationalised or private industries, should take account of the social consequences of their decisions.

During this phase it senems to me that both industrialists and Governments have proved themselves far more adept at eliminating jobs than at creating them. This is one of the enormous problems that we face. As the process of modernising our older industries continues the balance between the elimination and the creation of jobs will tilt adversely for reasons which I shall try to give in a moment.

Although we have seen heavy investment in the public sector we have been disappointed at the low level of investment in the private sector. When, as we hope, that picks up we shall see the swing of labour intensive industries to capital intensive industries. That is the object of the exercise. It may be that in the older industrial areas the process will show results out of all proportion to what they would show in industries which are more modern in their base than we are.

The Minister referred to improvement in the unemployment position. We welcome it. I agree there has been some small improvement from the disgraceful levels of a few months ago. But we must remember that we are now at the very height of seasonal employment. We are in the second half of July. I know from personal experience during my days at the old Ministry of Labour that the decline will begin two months from now. When we look at an unemployment level of 800,000 in July we must keep in mind the decline in seasonal employment which is the usual pattern from September onwards. We must not be too complacent because we seem to be a little better off at the moment than we were a short time ago.

For these reasons, the Government should do more in the sense of defining who accepts social responsibility for these great removals from which Irlam is suffering.

Recently the Secretary of State said that it was the responsibility of industry to look after these matters. Is it or is it not? I believe there is responsibility on both the Government and industry in this respect. The nationalised industries argue "If you want us to be viable, do not put social costs on us." However, when they go to the Government, they are told that it is the responsibility of the industry. This cannot go on. We must have a clear definition about who accepts social responsibility for the great changes which are now taking place.

I will not go over the whole history of Irlam's development. However the whole economy and atmosphere of the area revolved on the steel industry and the fact that 5,000 of its inhabitants were based there. Therefore, its economy relied utterly upon it. The British Steel Corporation chooses to go at a time when the Lancashire Tar Distillers in the same area has said that there will be 130 redundancies during the year.

I have proved beyond doubt the profitability of Irlam. Its markets are within a 50-mile radius. Steel scrap is available for the electric arc furnaces, and so on. Following the decision of the BSC I asked for an independent inquiry about the viability of the Irlam Works. I would stand by the result of such an inquiry whether it should be closed or remain open. Having met the BSC, I am convinced that some of the gentlemen concerned are more worried about their £200 million investment at Scunthorpe, which may not be looking so rosy as it once did when it was a gleam in an engineer's eye, and are determined to eliminate steel producing capacity in other parts of the country. Therefore, I again ask the Minister to accept the need for an independent inquiry about the viability of Irlam.

The obvious alternative to employment in the Irlam Steel Works is in Trafford Park, once the biggest industrial estate in the world. There were 30,000 people employed in Metropolitan Vickers alone before Mr. Weinstock decided we had too many there. There was a great alternative for Irlam people there, but now that is in decline. Therefore, the alternative about which the Minister was confident quite frankly does not now exist.

Yesterday I had a near miss with a Question I wanted to ask the Department. It referred to the use of Section 15 of the Iron and Steel Act, 1967. Section 15 gives the Minister power to stop development in the private sector which would be inimical of the development programme of the BSC. The Minister intimated that he would not use Section 15. He argued that it is the Government's policy to encourage investment and so increase efficiency in both sectors of the steel industry.

I call in aid an article from the Observer of 11th June, 1972, which describes therise of what is described as "mini" steel works. The article states: Two Midland companies, F. H. Lloyd and Cooper Industries, announced plans last week to build a £3 million, 100,000 ton a year, mini steel works in the West Midlands. It then refers to Richard Johnson and Nephew in the area of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris).

It continues: Tucked away in a corner of Kent, Sheerness Steel Company's £10 million, 57 acre works is now in operation, only 15 months after construction began. It's the first steel works to be built in the South-east of England, well away from the traditional steel producing areas. But then the whole idea of the mini steel works marks a sharp break from conventional steel industry thinking. So, whilst thousands of steel workers throughout the development areas face unemployment, we see the rise in the South-East of the mini steel works whose capacity I shall refer to again in my quotation from the Observer article. It does not seem to make sense, especially as we have a report which predicts that the BSC will be confined to 28 million tons annually, that thousands of steel workers should be thrown on the unemployment heap. We see mini steel works being added to the private sector. The Secretary of State, who has power to stop this development, refuses point blank to use Section 15 of the 1967 Act.

The article goes on to deal with technical points with which I will not weary the House. However, it makes this point, which is worth consideration: Sheerness's 200,000 tons a year of steel bars may seem a flea-bite compared with the BSC's annual output of 25 million tons. But Sheerness's 200,000 tons a year output of reinforcing bars compares with BSC's output in this sector of about 700,000 tons a year. So they are coming precious near to the same kind of production of bars as the BSC.

Next Gerry Heffernan, a Canadian steel maker and one of the pioneers of the 'mini'. heard of the project, flew over to Britain and joined forces with Learmond, now deputy chairman and sales director of Sheerness. The Canadian Government, faced with a domestic depression, offered a 10-year, $13 million loan on condition that the bulk of the plant's equipment was made in Canada. To complete the financial package, £2,650,000 of Sheerness loan stock and Ordinary shares was placed with institutional investors. Overall North American interests have a 64 per cent. stake while British investors hold the rest. I am not complaining about foreign investment. I am pointing out that we are now seeing, as is predicted, the mini steel mill very much on the upsurge. Literally dozens of people are hoping to open steel mills in the private sector of the British steel industry. This is sheer lunacy. How can the BSC hope to look at its programme objectively when duplication on that scale is taking place? Section 15 was put into the 1967 Act to prevent that very thing. This is a question not for the BSC but for the Government. It may be that the BSC's policies are wrong—I think they are wrong in this respect—but on this issue it is a straight question for the Government. The Secretary of State has complete responsibility for deciding whether to use Section 15. It is sheer nonsense, sheer hypocrisy, for any Minister who says he is greatly concerned about what is happening throughout the places where steel has been made for so many years and where men have given their lives to the steel industry to allow duplication in places where there is no steel-making history while men are being thrown on the unemployment scrap heap in the way I have described.

I believe that the House is entitled to an answer on this. Before the debate ends we should ask why the Minister will not use Section 15. I assure him that there is great concern about this matter not only in Irlam but on this side of the House and throughout the country. I hope that by the time he comes to winding up the debate the hon. Gentleman will have received some information from the Department of Trade and Industry on what we consider to be one of the most vital matters imaginable.

5.40 p.m.

Sir Robert Cary (Manchester, Withington)

I shall observe the mood of the debate and be brief.

It is a pleasure to follow the speech of the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), because the cause between us is a common one centred upon Irlam Steel Works. But before I come to that may I join in the tribute paid by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) to the late Jack McCann, who was a personal friend of mine. For 10 years it was my privilege to represent the Eccles division of Lancashire, and I knew Jack as a young man and saw him become mayor of that borough in 1955. He made a good contribution to local government, he made a splendid contribution to the House of Commons, and his going is to be regretted by us all.

I agree with so much of what was said by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne and by the right hon. Member for Newton that it is difficult to find those points of fundamental disagreement which divide the House of Commons on the whole future of the North-Western area. The right hon. Gentleman matched industrial efficiency with social consequences, and this seems to be vital in all industrial policy in an industrialised country like ours.

The old objectives of profitability in industry, to get on or get out, to make and thrive or to fall, can no longer be the yardsticks by which one approaches an industrial society. The Government are striving within their own competence to match industrial efficiency and take into account the social consequences which may ensue in old and ancient areas like the North-West whose capital assets, in many respects, are out of date and have to be replaced.

I agree with the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne that one of the obvious symptoms, or failures, is our monitoring of personnel and great concentration of administrative and industrial labour which, in the nationalised sector, is under the immediate control of the Government, and not diversifying more in other areas of the country. This constant concentration into the South-East has been a bad phase in the last 20 years and has done intrinsic harm to areas which I have been privileged to represent for more than 30 years. I have seen the changing pattern during the last 30 to 40 years, and we must now make efforts not only to rehabilitate but to rebuild the area and fortify its people with the energy, bite and skill which enabled the people there to make such a great contribution in years gone by.

I have only one preoccupation in this debate, apart from the general welfare of the Lancashire-Cheshire border which I am privileged to represent. It is the subject which dominated the speech of the right hon. Member for Newton. I cannot have a better text than that which appeared in a document circulated to all hon. Members by the North-West Industrial Development Association. One sentence in it is sufficient: Of the redundancies announced which have yet to take effect, the second phase of the British Steel Corporation's move to close the steelworks at Irlam gives most cause for concern. Over 2,300 jobs are at stake, the closure being due to take place sometime in 1973. This is another serious body blow to the Manchester area. Following the closure of Metropolitan-Vickers, which was mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman, the complete shutdown of the Irlam Steel Works is one of the worst body blows that we can suffer, but in saying that I cannot support the gloom of the Sunday Times, which referred to it as The town that waits to die". That is not the way in which the matter should be dealt with. I had the privilege of being the companion of the right hon. Member for Newton when, following a communication from Lord Melchett, the Chairman of the British Steel Corporation, we attended that final meeting in the offices at Irlam to hear the corporation's verdict about its future. Fortunately, it is not to be 1973. I think that the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that the one plus mark was an extension by another year to 1974.

Mr. Frederick Lee

Two years.

Sir R. Cary

Two years. So we now have to years' grace in which to prepare ourselves to create a new Irlam. On the occasion to which I have referred I was to have been accompanied by my hon. Friend and Colleague the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) but another urgent parliamentary engagement prevented his attending. I was, however, able to bring back to him the decisions which we heard from Mr. Morley and his colleagues, who told us what had been decided.

I was a little comforted in some ways. In the first phase we lost 1,900 to 2,000 jobs. In fairness to the Government it must be said that the pump priming which has gone on in that area the last 12 months has brought about the situation that out of the total of 1,950 men discharged only 280 are now registered as unemployed.

Mr. Frederick Lee

I am not certain that that is the right figure. That is the number at the Irlam employment exchange. The area around also suffered intensely, and it would need a breakdown of the figures at the other employment exchanges to get the correct number.

Sir R. Cary

I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind, but I felt assured by the lowness of the figure, even though it was taken off a limited employment exchange register, when Mr. Morley, speaking on behalf of the corporation, said: Even if we gave you your wish and installed two arc electric furnaces we should provide employment for only about 500 men. Five hundred men is not the full loaf that we wanted. We hoped that with the installation of two electric arc furnaces we could give employment to 2,000 men. But, in any case, if the employment situation in the area is to improve steadily, I would accept two electric arc furnaces giving employment to 500 men with the happy thought that the surplus labour created, which would be the younger element, could within reason find alternative jobs in the area.

Therefore, I come back to the point that an inquiry would be justified into the Irlam situation. We have two years of time on our side. The problem of the hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) has been solved in the steel works with which he is concerned because another firm, in Sheffield, has come in and is diverting some of its work. The Irlam problem is concentrated in the township of Irlam, and I beg my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary to consider the plea made by the right hon. Member for Newton. The only contribution that I make to this debate is that I add my plea in support of his.

I liked the opening sentiments expressed by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne. I have seen a lot of the Lancashire- Cheshire border in 40 years. I went to that area with David Maxwell Fyfe as a candidate in the early 1930s, in the deep trenches of mass unemployment. There were 3 million unemployed in the country. It was a back-breaking agony which I hope we shall escape. A year ago when it appeared that unemployment was reaching a certain level, when we got to the 1 million mark, the old fears began to assert themselves, but the swift action of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Government produced a scale of remedies—palliatives, if one likes—particularly in the development areas, in the form of regional grants. This is one remedy to which the Germans are objecting, or about which, at least, they are seeking information. There have been some rather intimidating headlines in the Press. But this is the hinge upon which we hope to do so much to rebuild the Lancashire-Cheshire border. I hope that what is printed in some newspapers represents no more than a scare.

I was privileged some years ago to attend a gathering in the Manchester town hall, when we gave the freedom of that great city to Lord Simon of Wythenshawe. In his speech of acceptance he said that the one thing he regretted most as a citizen of that city was that when he looked out of the windows of the town hall he did not see a garden city spread at his feet but instead broken-down offices and warehouses. The Germans have learned this lesson through their city guilds. All too frequently our cities have been used as areas of extraction. If a new wealth is to be created on the skills of our people, the areas to benefit most should be those in which the money was made and in which the people thrive. We have a civic duty to dedicate ourselves in rebuilding our country, in replacing outworn capital assets and in doing the honourable and straightforward thing, not to some external god of our own imagination but to the great working force which is the hinge on which our industrial might has always dwelt—the ordinary people in the street.

5.55 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Davidson (Accrington)

When I spoke in our last debate on the North-West I managed to speak for a quick three minutes at the end of the debate. I hope to be almost as quick this time, although I have a somewhat more prestigious position which I do not like to waste. However, I shall be brief.

I want to talk about the problems of North-East Lancashire. I want to stress the words "North-East Lancashire" so that the Minister does not fall into the trap into which so many people who are not over-familiar with the area fall, in thinking that the problems of the North-West and of Lancashire mean the problems of Greater Liverpool and Greater Manchester. They do not by any means. It is true that in North-East Lancashire we suffer from many of the same problems. The only difference is that we have them to a greater degree than the other part of the North-West and the other parts of Lancashire. We suffer from the same problems of dereliction, only more so. We suffer particularly from the same annoying problem of the drift-away of young people, only to a far greater degree.

The greatest indictment that I can make against the Government is this. Over the last two years, for month after month, the Government have succeeded in producing in an area of traditionally low unemployment, in North-East Lancashire, the highest unemployment figures since the war. In my area the largest factory has been on short time for the last few months. The Minister will know—it is mentioned in the document which has been referred to earlier—that only last month one of the largest employers of labour, J. and T. Rothwell, has closed down with a resultant loss of 300 workers, many of whom will leave the area and will seek work elsewhere.

I know what Ministers will say. They will say that it is all due to greedy workers and bad labour relations. I find it particularly offensive that people who are doing all right and have always done all right should refer to workers as greedy and grabbing. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) mentioned, quite rightly, that the wage rates in the North-West are on average lower than those in most other parts of the country. That is true, but in North-East Lancashire they are even lower than in other parts of Lancashire and other parts of the North-West. As my hon. Friends will know, labour relations in North-East Lancashire have always been traditionally good. Yet in an area of excellent labour relations and of low wages, one of the largest factories has had to close down in the last few months.

It is all very well for the Minister, as he is entitled to do, to come out with optimistic statements about the statistics of unfilled vacancies and that sort of thing. Optimistic statistics cannot disguise what people feel and what they are suffering, and anyone who has lived in North-East Lancashire in recent months knows that throughout the area there is a deep sense of insecurity about jobs. People can feel and smell unemployment in the air because it is there, and it is lingering.

A particular problem arising out of the aftermath of the closure of J. and T. Rothwell concerns apprentices. I do not expect an answer from him tonight, but I must put this matter to the Minister. Forty apprentices will shortly lose their jobs as a result of the closure. The majority of them have not managed to find alternative employment—this applies especially to platers and welders—and the prospect for them is gloomy. In the upper age group, there is a particular problem because, unless these boys can complete their apprenticeship in their chosen trade, they will lose their designation as skilled craftsmen and will have to take dead-end jobs, jobs without any future, jobs fit only for unqualified people.

There is also the question of their technical training. It has been put to me by the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers—I put it to the Minister for his consideration—that the Engineering Industry Training Board and the Department of Employment should jointly sponsor these apprentices for at least the next 12 months so that, until such time as they can obtain other jobs, their technical training may continue without a break. This is especially important for those already half-way through their modular training. I hope that the Minister will convey that suggestion to his right hon. Friend at the Department of Employment as a constructive and sensible proposal to help these boys out of a serious difficulty.

The plea has been made, not only by the North-East Lancashire Development Committee, that North-East Lancashire should be given full development area status. I do not quarrel with the Government's decision to grant intermediate area status to other parts of Lancashire. That would be churlish, and it would be out of keeping with the feeling of people in North-East Lancashire. But I remind the House that North-East Lancashire was given intermediate area status by the Labour Government originally because it suffered from some special problems—I do not wish to go into them now—and it needed special incentives, particularly for new industries to develop.

Now that the rest of Lancashire has been upgraded—I see the Under-Secretary of State smiling, and I know what is in his mind: he thinks that I am always asking for more—the differential has gone, and the inducements and incentives for industries to open up in North-East Lancashire have now, as it were, disappeared because the same incentives are there throughout the rest of the county. This is a genuine plea made with great force by the North-East Lancashire Development Committee, and I ask the Minister to take it seriously.

Now, the question of intermediate area status for the new town. Statements were repeatedly made from the Government Front Bench that the mid-Lancashire new town was not to be given intermediate area status until the problems of North-East Lancashire had been solved. The hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) raised this point with great force in an Adjournment debate. Why are we now told that the new town is to be given intermediate area status? Plainly, this will be unnecessarily damaging to North-East Lancashire, and I ask that the decision be revoked.

6.4 p.m.

Mr. David Waddington (Nelson and Colne)

I suppose that in politics one should never be satisfied but—I speak with studied moderation—I think that the Opposition's Motion is, to put it mildly, somewhat ungenerous. It is interesting to compare the tone of the Motion with the reaction in Lancashire to the Government's recent policy decisions. It is of particular interest, for example, to compare the rather churlish, bad-tempered and ungenerous tone of the Motion with the letter written by the chairman of the North-West Industrial Development Association to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister after the new Government measures were announced at the end of April.

Alderman Tweedale wrote to the Prime Minister in these terms: There can be no doubt that the proposed changes in policy go to a considerable way towards meeting the recommendations put for-fard by the Association over a number of years to successive Governments. In particular, we are very pleased that assisted area status has now rightly and fairly been granted to all parts of the North-West and that industrial development will in future be actively fostered by the Govrnment throughout the Region. He went on to say, again as spokesman for the North-West Industrial Development Association: We also welcome the measures introduced to help tackle the problem of industrial obsolescence in our old industrial towns" and he concluded: I hope you will make a further visit to the North-West in the near future, when the Association will be delighted to entertain you and to have an opportunity of thanking you face to face for the action your Government have taken to help the North-West. I waited with interest to see the terms of the Motion. One is always glad to have a debate on the problems of the North-West—for one thing, it seems to be one of the few occasions when I can manage to make a speech at a reasonable hour, perhaps because there are not quite so many hon. Members anxious to get to their feet—but I was surprised and somewhat dismayed to read the wording which the Opposition had put down.

North-East Lancashire is not specifically mentioned in the Motion—I make no criticism of the Opposition for that—but I wish to say a few words about that area, the one which I know best and an area which has been recognised as one facing particular problems over the past few years.

Certain people in North-East Lancashire have expressed concern at the fact that, as a result of the whole of Lancashire having either intermediate area or development area status, North-East Lancashire has lost the special advantage which it has had over the rest of Lancashire, apart from Merseyside, since 1969. In my view, however, we in North-East Lancashire have little reason to complain about this relatively small margin of advantage being taken from us.

One should cast one's mind back over recent history to the setting up of the Hunt Committee and the time when it reported to the then Government. First, what the Government have done is what the North-East Lancashire Development Committee was itself calling for immediately after publication of the Hunt Report in 1969. Second, the North-East Lancashire towns are themselves members of the North-West Industrial Development Association and, as I have said, that association has expressed itself as delighted at the recent policy decision announced by the Government, especially the decision to make the whole of Lancashire outside Merseyside an intermediate area.

Mr. Frederick Lee

The development council was very worried about the Hunt Report because it talked about de-scheduling Merseyside.

Mr. Waddington

Yes, but what the North-West Industrial Development Association called for at that time was what it has now got. The Hunt Committee said that, in order to provide the funds for making the whole of Lancashire an intermediate area, Merseyside should be descheduled. The North-West Industrial Development Association has now got what it probably thought that it would never get, that is, both its cake and its ha'penny.

Thirdly, one has to remember that no one, no one living in North-East Lancashire and no Member of Parliament for North-East Lancashire, can say with his hand on his heart that the towns of South Lancashire do not suffer far worse problems of dereliction than we do in the North-East. No one from North-East Lancashire can seriously say with his hand on his heart that other towns, in South-East Lancashire particularly, do not have very much worse housing conditions than we suffer in the towns of North-East Lancashire.

Of course it is not surprising that there is still great concern in North-East Lancashire about the impact that the new town is likely to have on the industrial future of North-East Lancashire, but many of the steps proposed in the impact report have already been taken. In particular, the Calder Valley road is no longer a dream and it should be completed by 1977, three years before the consultants said that the full impact of the new town would be felt in the area. Secondly, the consultants stressed the need for comprehensive renewal and rehabilitation of the urban fabric and that is going on apace in North-East Lancashire.

I cross swords with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) in believing that the Government have reason to resent the suggestion that is made from time to time that they are in breach of faith because the new town area is now in the intermediate area which, as I have said, covers the whole of Lancashire, apart from the Merseyside development area. If the Hunt Committee's recommendations were to be implemented, it is impossible to see how Preston, Chorley and Leyland alone of all the towns in Lancashire could be set apart from the rest of the Lancashire intermediate area, and even more difficult to see how, if they had been artifically separated from the whole of the rest of Lancashire, that would have been of any benefit at all to towns like Burnley, Nelson and Colne.

Presumably, the only result of the exclusion of the new town area from the Lancashire intermediate area would have been intensive industrial development a few yards over the artificial boundary but still as close as possible to the M6, which would have been the obvious place to put new industry. There would have been no difficulty about putting new industry there because of the unfortunate decision taken by the last Government to include the country area between Blackburn and Preston in the intermediate area, a decision which in turn led to what I still regard as the foolish planning decision of the present Government at the beginning of their term of office allowing Whit-bread's to build its new brewery in the open countryside.

Mr. Laurance Reed

Accepting the view that it was not possible to exclude the new town from intermediate status, could not the whole concept of the new town have been abandoned? Very few people in the area wanted it and the decision to have it was taken against the near-unanimous advice of Conservative Members from the area. We did not want it.

Mr. Waddington

I am certainly not prepared to argue that with my hon. Friend because I agree with him. If I had thought that it was feasible after the Government got back to power to scrap the whole concept of the new town, I should have urged the Government to do just that. But it is an unfortunate fact of life that over the years planning decisions had been taken on the basis that the new town would come into existence in that part of Lancashire, and planning decisions had been made which after the summer of 1970 it would have been impossible to reverse. As my hon. Friend well appreciates, there was the additional difficulty that the Government had made it perfectly plain that all pleas from Lancashire for more public investment in the county would fall on deaf ears if we turned down the obvious prospect of more public investment in Lancashire resulting from the setting up of the new town.

But that is not the case that I am arguing now. The case I am arguing now is that to talk about the exclusion of the new town area from the intermediate area, which covers the whole of the rest of Lancashire, apart from Merseyside, is a nonsense and it would not do any good if by some strange device the area were to be excluded from the intermediate area.

What of the situation in North-East Lancashire? One thing is absolutely plain: North-East Lancashire has benefitted and is benefiting enormously from the policies pursued over the last two years. For instance, the 75 per cent. house improvement grants are already beginning to have effect on the appearance of our towns. I can go through Nelson and see on the ground the result of those policies. My only regret is that there is no way under the Act by which the Government could give one or two authorities in North-East Lancashire which are still not making anything like full use of the Act a hearty kick in the backside.

Secondly, the dereliction grants are being used to good effect; Operation Eyesore has created an immediate impression. One can go through the towns of North-East Lancashire and see dowdy old buildings suddenly sparkling and clean again with all their stonework showing up to the best advantage.

Thirdly, there are the industrial incentives which have been available since 1969 and which have helped to bring new industry to the area. The hon. Member for Accrington (Mr. Arthur Davidson) is perfectly entitled to plead the special problems of Accrington, and I know that Accrington has been faced with special problems as the result of one closure; all of us have found in our constituencies that the whole atmosphere can change as the result of one closure. But employment statistics can be distorted as a result of one closure. We must face the fact that unemployment figures in North-East Lancashire as a whole are much better than those for the region as a whole. We must not overstate our case.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

Nor must the hon. and learned Gentleman mis-state my case. He implies that the problems of Accrington stem from one factory closure, but that is not so. As he knows, there have been several factory closures in Accrington, redundancies and a great deal of short time.

Mr. Waddington

One must be careful not to over-state the case, and I could not agree with the extraordinary demand by the North-East Lancashire Development Committee that the Government should make North-East Lancashire a development area. The unemployment rate in North-East Lancashire is lower than that in the North-West area as a whole. One does no good to one's case and no good to North-East Lancashire if one goes around crying "Doom" and saying that the problems are much worse than they are. My personal view is that what we should be doing is not crying "Doom" but going out and selling ourselves.

or instance, we should be pointing out that ours is a fine part of the country in which to live, that one can be in the centre of a town and yet within only a few hundred yards of beautiful countryside. We should be pointing out that land prices and house prices are still relatively low compared with other parts of the country. We should be pointing out that we have excellent schools and colleges of further education, hospitals and recreational facilities. Above all, we should be pointing out that we have a work force that is second to none, that has an excellent record of industrial relations and is willing to adapt itself to the sort of industrial change with which we have had to cope in North-East Lancashire in the last 20 to 30 years.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

The hon. and learned Member has spoken of unemployment among people in North-East Lancashire and in the North-West as a whole. There is a far more sombre aspect. The incidence of unemployment among severely disabled people seeking work is 16.3 per cent. in the North-West of England, which is much higher than for the country as a whole.

I know that the hon. Gentleman shares my interest in seeking to make life better for disabled people. Would he not agree that in this debate the position of disabled people in the North-West should be strongly urged?

Mr. Waddington

I am grateful for that intervention, because the hon. Gentleman has now been able to make that valid comment. I can assure him that it was not left out of my speech and it would not be left out of the speech of any Member because it was considered of little importance but simply because of the pressures of time. I entirely agree that all of us should explore the possibilities of getting more and more disabled people placed in industry.

Of course, there is more that the Government can do. I support the call for Government encouragement of office development in the assisted areas, the call for higher dereliction grants, the call for more public investment in the county as a whole, the call made by the North-East Lanacashire Development Committee for the provision of more advance factories in North-East Lancashire and the call for selective assistance for specific industries under the new legislation. But at the end of the day our prosperity is bound up very closely with the prosperity of the country as a whole, and the Government's policy of reduced taxation and economic expansion gives us in the North-West vast opportunities which we should now grasp with both hands.

6.20 p.m.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)

I wish to concentrate on the textile industry, but first I should like to say something about the point made by the hon. and learned Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) about the letter from Councillor Arnold Tweedale, chairman of the NorthWest Industrial Development Association. It is true that Councillor Tweedale wrote to the Prime Minister to thank him for what had been done but it would have been churlish for him to do anything other, because the Association had been pressing for a long time for those things to be done. It recognises that what has been done will be of value to the area, although it has been quite a long time in coming about. Therefore, we must not quote the letter as an indication that all is well in the North-West and that everyone is satisfied. The Association realises that there is a considerable amount still to be done, and I am sure that it will continue to press for further assistance.

There are hon. Members present who know a great deal about the textile industry, and it is not necessary for me to go into detail about the background of the industry's troubles. In 50 years the numbers employed in the industry in the North-West has been run down from about 750,000 workers to under 100,000, a rundown unmatched by any other industry in the country, including the railways and coal mining, although it has gone virtually unnoticed by the general public. The trade union movement in the industry has been unusually helpful towards the employers, co-operating in every possible way, as the employers themselves will confirm. We should not be surprised if other trade unionists draw the lesson that the more co-operative they are, the less attention will be paid to their troubles and the more likely they are to lose their jobs. I do not necessarily support that point of view but it is not illogical for other trade unions to draw that lesson from the textile industry.

We can understand the depth of feeling about the problems of the industry when we receive letters from bodies like the Oldham and District Chamber of Trade, which tells me: A decline in the cotton industry would still have a very serious effect on your constituents even though industry is now much more diversified than it was in the 1930s. That is true. The textile industry employs fewer than 10 per cent. of the people in the North-West, but it is still one of the biggest employers there and still plays a very important part in the area's economy.

Hon. Members have also received a brief from the National Union of Textile and Allied Workers, which is very concerned that there is as yet no declared policy by the Government on the terms and conditions for the textile industry following entry into the EEC. It mentions its difficulties in trying to understand how countries in the EEC manage to keep their imports of cotton yarn down to 5.5 per cent. though there are no quota restrictions, yet United Kingdom imports are 7.8 per cent. though we have a quota arrangement.

The employers and trade unions have come together to form something which I believe is unique, a support campaign for their industry. They have been lobbying us pretty heavily, because they have very difficult problems and they have a simple four-point plan with which they want the Government to assist the industry. They want the retention of an import quota system. They appreciate the Government's hasty action towards the end of last year, when under heavy pressure from the Textile Industry Support Campaign and hon. Members the Government took action which gave the industry a breathing space, but it was only a breathing space. The danger still exists. Import penetration is still very great, amounting to over 55 per cent. The United States Government acted very quickly to protect their textile industry when import penetration there reached about 15 per cent. as compared with our 55 per cent. The import penetration here is much greater than in any of the EEC countries.

The industry also wants restoration of the marking of country of origin. That is a very simple point. The industry is not asking for vast sums of money, such as were given to Rolls-Royce or Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. It is asking for positive support from the Government rather than indifference or even positively harmful policies. What is wroug with the housewives being as informed as it is possible to make them about the country of origin of the garments they are buying? Every housewife with whom I have discussed the problem has told me that she places importance on knowing whether a garment is made in this country or abroad. The Government gave support to a Private Member's Bill, which has now gone through the House, pre- venting the false marking of goods, but that deals only with the tip of the iceberg, a very small part of the problem. Many consumer organisations and the industry regard that Bill as inadequate.

The Government told me when I presented a Bill on the marking of country of origin that I was trying to protect manufacturers and not the housewife. But I believe that people attach great importance to the country of origin. I shall believe the Government's case that country of origin is not important and has no selling value when Swiss watch manufacturers for example, cease to mark their watches "Swiss-made". On this matter the Government could do something to assist the industry. The industry also asks for more purchasing by Government Departments of their textile requirements from the home industry. That is not an unreasonable request when we think of the dire straits the industry is in.

Most important, the industry wants really effective action against the practice of dumping. Dumping can take many forms. There is a technical, legal definition. I do not believe that the Department of Trade and Industry does all it could to investigate the allegations made by people within the industry, who should know about what is going on in other countries. A constituent of mine, Mr. Arthur Johnson, managing director of a spinning firm in Oldham, told the Department time after time that the Pakistan Government were operating a credit-voucher scheme. This was detrimental to our textile industry. He explained that fully to the Department and it took no notice.

Mr. Johnson had to go, at his own expense, to Pakistan to obtain the evidence, which he then used to demonstrate to the Department that this was a form of Pakistan Government subsidy to their textile industry. The vouchers were being freely quoted on the Pakistan Stock Exchange; there was no secret about it. Finally the point was accepted and that practice has now ceased. Surely it is not asking too much to expect a Government Department to do that sort of job on behalf of this important industry.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Would the hon. Gentleman agree that successive Governments have intentionally sacrificed the textile industry of this coun- try as a trading pawn for perhaps the Commonwealth and developing countries?

Mr. Lamond

That is a very wide subject which I would not like to enter now. I certainly accept some of the point of that intervention. The other day the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry said in reply to a question that he heard lots of rumours about how EEC countries managed to prevent cotton yarn from entering their countries but he could not get any direct evidence about it on which he could act. While I appreciate his difficulties I think he should investigate this more fully. I have obtained information which I have been asked not to use too liberally in the House but I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman's Department has been given examples too.

Most of the EEC countries have licensing systems for cotton yarn and there is no doubt that some use them as methods of unofficial quota control. Italy, for instance, had a very low level of yarn imports and reduced that figure from 16,000 tons in 1970 to 7,000 tons in 1971. It used price supervision schemes. In some parts of the EEC there are price supervision schemes under which cotton yarn is not admitted if the price falls below a specified discount on locally produced yarn, as established by a committee of experts. Similar schemes operate in Belgium and Holland. There are bonus schemes, too, and in some cases yarn is delayed at Customs.

All these things are used but our civil servants play the game too well. They have all been taught to play cricket; they do not like to break the rules and I would not like to ask them to do so. I am entitled to ask that some attempt should be made to understand what is happening to the textile industry, what will happen when we enter the EEC and that there should be adequate protection for the industry.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I still have the names of about 15 or 16 hon. Members who wish to catch my eye. If hon. Members can keep to about 10 minutes each, very strictly, I shall be able to call everyone.

6.33 p.m.

Mr. Churchill (Stretford)

It is a pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. James Lamond). There was much in what he said with which I would not quarrel, particularly about marks of origin on which there is substantial feeling.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Waddington) quite rightly drew attention to the ungenerous wording of the Opposition Motion, since no Government have done more to provide a framework for the future prosperity of the North-West than the present Government. I am glad that hon. Gentleman opposite have not been tempted to suggest that the North-West is in any way in a process of decline or decay.

There is general agreement on both sides that our problems are those of change. The North-West has been the traditional heartland of the Industrial Revolution in this country and this has left us with many grievous problems, old factories, out-of-date buildings, derelict land and above all industries that are no longer viable in their existing form. This is particularly the case with the industry principally represented by the hon. Member for Oldham, East, the cotton industry.

It is true, too, of coal and, nearer to my constituency, it is true of steel today with the threatened closure of the Irlam steelworks. Over the years while these industries have been changing and declining the North-West has suffered from one of the lowest rates of economic investment in the country. This has led to a massive outflow of the population to the Midlands, to London and the South-East and emigration to South Africa and Australia. Above all it has been the younger people who have moved, and this is something which there is a deep determination to see reversed among all North-West Members.

We cannot afford to see the lifeblood going elsewhere. We want to see new industry, new lifeblood coming in. When the present Government came to office two years ago, many of the traditional centres of industry in the North West were undergoing a major process of decline, with no assistance available. It was the case with the constituency of the hon. Member for Oldham, East, it was the case in my own constituency of Stretford, where the largest industrial complex in the country, Trafford Park, had been undergoing severe change. We suffered 8,000 redundancies in Metropolitan-Vickers, or GEC/AEI as it is now called, over a period of four to five years up to 1970.

The problem that faced us was not only the general decline of the traditional industries but the fact that the assistance available in the North West was selective. That meant that many of the traditional centres such as Stretford, Gorton and Oldham, all old-established industrial centres, were finding themselves unable to expand, unable to get any new investment because of the policies being pursued by the then Government, which provided colossal bribes of taxpayers' money to anyone who would go to a green field site or development area to establish new industry. There was severe discrimination against anyone who wanted to do this in a place such as Stretford or Trafford Park.

It reached a point of total rigidity in the issuing of industrial development certificates. Not only were we having to complete with areas where there were grants of 40 per cent. available to new the industries but at the same time there was a physical prohibition by the central Government on any expansion, either by new firms coming in or, even less reasonably, of existing firms expanding. To give but one example, there was a case of which I learned the other day of a multinational company in my constituency wishing to expand just at the time when these 8,000 redundancies were taking place at Metro-Vickers. The firm was told firmly that the answer was" No expansion in Stretford" but that it would be welcome to expand in a place called Huyton. It now has a production facility there employing 200 to 300 people.

The then Prime Minister had some pangs of conscience about this just before the General Election, because when, two days before polling day he came to wind up his election campaign at the gates of Metro-Vickers he forswore the whole policy that his Administration had pursued for so long and promised the free issue of industrial development certificates in Stretford and Trafford Park.

The Government have gone a long way towards implementing, and indeed, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne said, have in places exceeded, the Hunt Report. This has changed the future prosperity and prospects of a place like Trafford Park and many of the other industrial areas of Lancashire. Now we have assisted area status. Grants are available for factory building and new plant. There is free depreciation on plant and equipment. Coupled with all that, there is a far less rigid industrial development certificate policy. The Budget also brought a firm commitment to the course of industrial expansion, which is perhaps more important to the North-West than any other single feature because there is no use having individual regional policies and tinkering about with the framework of industrial grants without a vigorously expanding economy. Certainly no Government have done more to ensure the future prosperity of Trafford Park than the present Government, and I am most grateful to the Ministers concerned for accepting the recommendations of those of us in the North-West.

The success of the Government's policy is already beginning to show. In Trafford Park several tens of thousands of square feet of industrial floor space have been taken up in the last five or six months. This is a most encouraging sign. But I must warn right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition side that their call for a policy of controls on multi-national companies would, should they ever be re-elected, be most damaging to Trafford Park. As the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee), who has such close knowledge of it knows, Trafford Park is based largely on multinational industry. One of the principal factors in the founding of Trafford Park was that the great American and Canadian companies could see it as the gateway not only to the British market but to the European market. I cannot think of a better place for an American multi-national company to put its money if it wants to penetrate the EEC market than a place where the skills of labour are available, as they are in the greater Manchester area, and where they have not only open access across the Atlantic but increasingly improved access across the Pennines to the EEC. It is a very safe place for them to make their investment.

The general picture is of substantial improvement compared with what it was only a few months ago. As the North West Industrial Development Association has made clear, the atmosphere is increasingly one of confidence. The number of vacancies has increased, unemployment is down and there is rising economic activity. This is pointing in the right direction. But there is a serious problem which affects many of us in the area, and it has been referred to by the right hon. Member for Newton and by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary), namely, the future of the Irlam steelworks and, above all, the future of the 4,500 men there who face redundancy.

We have reached what could almost be called a breakthrough in our policy when it comes to closing profitable industry. Following the phase 1 closure, even on basic steelmaking, Irlam is today making a profit in excess of £1 million a year. If the profit on the rod and bar mill is added, the figure is nearer £3 million. But comfort is to be drawn from the fact that, of the 1,950 people made redundant last year under phase 1, 1,280 only were left unemployed by the time that it was enforced in December last year, and1,000 of those 1,280 have found jobs. Only 280 remain on the unemployment register. The 280 includes not only those on the Irlam register but all those who were made redundant under phase 1. This was confirmed to me by the local authority last Friday. This is a remarkable fact, set against the background of high unemployment which we have had in recent months.

Nevertheless, we desperately need the electric arc furnaces which, as Lord Melchett made clear, could save up to 500 local jobs. This matter is of the greatest importance to those in adjacent constituencies such as mine. But it is not just a question of finding jobs for people; it is a question finding a future life for the township of Irlam. It is possible that jobs can be found over a wide area in the North-West or elsewhere in the country in the coming months. But that will not help Irlam's problem if the town is allowed to die. I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister will exercise the powers contained in the Industry Bill, when it comes into force, to do all he can to assist the township of Irlam, whose situation is grave. All local Members, irrespective of party, feel strongly about this matter.

On the general front, anything which can be done to steer offices to the North-West will be of great assistance. Why should we not have a major EEC office development at, for instance, Ringway? That would provide far speedier communications with Brussels than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

I agree with those Members who have spoken up for the North-West rather than denigrated it. We have a great deal to offer and we can, as a result of the Budget, look to the future with new confidence. The neglect of years is at last being tackled. Industry is being modernised so that it can compete in the EEC and outside it. The scars of the Industrial Revolution are finally being cleared. Meanwhile, the skills of the people of Lancashire remain, and this more than anything else will assure a new prosperity for our region.

6.48 p.m.

Mr. Charles R. Morris (Manchester, Openshaw)

The problems and economic well-being of the North-West merited more than they were given by the Minister in his wholly regrettable speech, which was needlessly provocative, blatantly political and devoid of any real concern for the future of the North-West.

The Minister said that the Motion was alarmist. As the North West Industrial Development Association records that between January and May, 1972, with the exception of the South-East, the North-West had the highest number of redundancies recorded of any region—15,800—and that when measured as a percentage of the working population the North-West's record is by far the worst, I believe that we should be concerned and alarmed.

In my constituency redundancy is not so much a word as a way of life. As each month succeeds the last, a new factory is closed and new redundancies are announced. Councillor Gilmor, a distinguished member of the Manchester City Council, remarked that one of Openshaw's concerns over so many years has been industrial atmospheric pollution but that in recent months, because of industrial closures and redundancies, it is well on the way to becoming a clean air zone. That is an indication of the extent of redundancies in my constituency.

Many of the famous firms which contributed so much to Britain's industrial life are now no more. Beyer and Peacock, which made locomotives for Britain and the world and existed for 112 years, is now a thing of the past. Within recent months the British Steel Corporation has closed its steel-making plant and 600 jobs went overnight. My right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee) referred to Section 15 of the Act, recording the fact that at a time when the British Steel Corporation is creating redundancies and closing steel-making plants the Department of Trade and Industry is giving authority for the establishment of mini-steel works in Sheerness owned by private enterprise. It seems completely illogical. Cook and Ferguson, another firm in my constituency, closed and created 800 redundancies. Textile mills in Failsworth closed as did the Bradford Colliery where 1,700 jobs were lost. The whole catalogue is one of contraction.

We have heard the explanation about the processes of rationalisation and industrial change, but it is more than that to the families concerned: it is a human problem. They are seeing old-established industries contracting and no new jobs taking their place.

The greater Manchester area and the North-West are not standing with the begging bowl. We are not seeking charity. All we seek is the right to work. The people of that area find themselves in a situation where their jobs are no longer available. I know it is for private investment decisions, for nationalised industries and for Government Departments to decide where investment and jobs are to be placed, but it is about time the Government took more positive action to make sure that more jobs come to the North-West.

If the Minister of State thinks that we are being unduly alarmist, let me tell him that my constituents are alarmed. It is no use telling them that 15,800 redundancies between January and May is something not to be alarmed about. If one is out of work and cannot find a job, there is cause for alarm. Let us have no more of the argument that the situation is not alarming.

I am concerned about the closure of textile mills in my constituency, the closure of the steel works in Openshaw, and redundancies affecting light engineering and heavy industry. I am equally concerned about the young people. The Minister made his political points about the booming North-West, and I hope that he is right. If that is his vision, I am with him because that is what I want to see. However, I want to see more evidence of the boom that now exists.

Many young people in Manchester face problems in seeking employment. On 12th June, 1972, 494 boys and 211 girls were unemployed and registered with the Manchester careers service. On 12th June, 1970, 194 boys and 72 girls were unemployed. Therefore, there has been almost a threefold increase in lack of job opportunities for young people in the Manchester area. It might be said that they will soon get jobs. If we take the Minister's view, there is no cause for alarm. However, 341 of the young people unemployed in June, 1972, have been unable to get a job for four weeks or more—that is 48 per cent. of the total—131 had still not been able to get a job after 12 weeks or more, and 60 were still unemployed after 20 weeks or more. Yet the Minister tells this House that we have no cause to be alarmed, anxious or concerned about the situation in Manchester and the North-West.

In supporting the Motion, the House will be indicating the real measure of concern and anxiety which it feels about this human problem.

6.59 p.m.

Mr. Ronald Bray (Rossendale)

Notwithstanding the divisive and emotive remarks of the hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris), which undersold the North-West to the limit, a policy which no other hon. Member has adopted today and I hope will not do so in the three hours which remain ahead of us, when I read the Motion tabled by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. Harold Wilson), I was reminded of a fable which can be found in St. Matthew, chapter 7 verse 5, which states: '"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? That is most apposite to the way in which the Motion is phrased.

Hon. Members on the Opposition side have cited the contraction of the steel and textile industries. Let us remember that the steel industry was renationalised by the Government headed by the right hon. Member for Huyton and the fundamental word throughout those debates was "rationalisation". The Labour Government were going to rationalise the steel industry. I can find in the record no mention of any member of the Labour Government saying "But what are we going to do with the people who will be thrown out of work as a result of rationalisation?"

The same applies to a large extent to the textile industry. It was known for years that it was to cut back but unfortunately, for economic reasons beyond this country's control, it has cut back somewhat faster than was expected. But the Government are to blame in the eyes of some hon. Members opposite.

Hon. Members opposite have also talked about unemployment. It can come from a number of things, one of which is that the country has not generated growth at a sufficiently high rate to absorb increased efficiency and those coming on to the labour market. Again, that is the responsibility of the Labour Government. In the North-West, on the contrary, the present Government have increased private investment on a per capita basis second only to the South-East. We would all like to see more, but that is a step forward. In addition the effects of the Industry Bill are still to be felt, and we shall soon see them at work throughout the North-West.

In Rossendale unemployment is down to 3 per cent. Such is the industrial development coming to the area that I would make a small side bet that in 12 months we will be short of local labour. That is what can be done if local authorities work in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry to get results. They are not short-selling their towns or constituencies. They are getting on with the job, which is exactly what we must do here.

Many hon. Members opposite and some of my hon. Friends have quoted from the brief which was kindly supplied by the North West Industrial Development Association. Of course hon. Members want to get as much as they can out of the Government. Who does not when the time is ripe and the opportunity justifies?

In conclusion, however, I want to read something which has not been quoted. It comes from News Letter No. 43, issued by the director of the association. He says: Broadly speaking however, the industrial development policies now being applied in the North-West are much more appropriate to our problems and needs than they have been in the past. The Prime Minister has replied to my letter saying that he is glad to learn of the welcome given by the Association to the Government's proposals. And he stresses that what is needed now is a sustained effort by all concerned to take advantage of the opportunities these proposals offer to modernise British industry. He is absolutely right and it is important that we go all out to take advantage of the new measures of aid. There is an urgent need to publicise the tremendous advantage that this Region can offer to industry and commerce from other parts of the U.K. and from overseas. The North West has the advantage of a large labour force and a long tradition of skill in industrial and commercial activity. He goes on to say: There is the added advantage in relation to areas to the South, of low cost land for all purposes and low cost factory space, office accommodation and housing. Moreover there is the advantage of good quality labour and good labour relations in most parts of the Region. The Government have moved an Amendment to the Opposition's mischievous Motion. The Motion is mischievous because it tends to undermine the confidence of the country in the North-West which it is the privilege of hon. Members opposite to represent with their best endeavours. I am sure that hon. Members opposite, when they refer to the detail of what is being injected into the North-West by way of capital, will be fully appreciative of the work being done on their behalf.

Mr. Alfred Morris

How can my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) be accused of under-selling the North-West because he has told the truth about the anxieties of young people in the area and of men and women who are redundant? The hon. Gentleman has made an utterly unmerited attack on my hon. Friend.

Mr. Bray

If one wishes to run down an area, one speaks in the terms used by the hon. Member for Openshaw. One does not cry "Woe is for all time". We have reduced the number of unemployed over a period and over the next six or seven months we shall see prospects for the future. One does not scare employers away by crying "wolf", which is exactly what the hon. Member for Openshaw did.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. Frank Marsden (Liverpool, Scotland)

The tale of woe has gone on for a long time. The problems of the North-West, or Merseyside and of cities like Liverpool are deep-seated and very long term. Throughout my lifetime there has been the problems of slow economic growth, derelict land, outward migration, bad housing, low level amenity and, above all, unemployment. The figures of unemployment on Merseyside vary over the years, but nevertheless they are much the same today as they were 70 or 80 years ago, and they are still amongst the highest in the country. Indeed, they are as high as they were 100 years ago. We still see a low level of business confidence, and industrial investment is negligible.

If a national company wishes to rationalise its activities, one can be sure that a factory on Merseyside will be the first to close or the first at which redundancies occur. It is only right to mention the level of unemployment. At present, in the Liverpool travel-to-work area there are 49,687 unemployed—8.2 per cent. of the working population. My hon. Friends have mentioned the tragedy of boys and girls leaving school without being able to find jobs—and it is a great tragedy, especially in my city of Liverpool.

The population of the North-West has been in decline for some years. People say that this is due to new towns being built, to compulsory purchase order areas, and to movement of population, and so on. But one factor is overlooked—that younger people have a different outlook from their elders. Older people were apt to cling to the area come rain or shine—and mostly it has been rain. They had great love and affection for Merseyside, which sustained them when the majority of them could not see over the sod and felt like second-class citizens. But many young people have got out, which is a bad thing for Liverpool, Merseyside and the North-West as a whole.

There were 29 ship-repairing firms from Liverpool to the Manchester basin 15 years ago; today, there are only three, and two of them are in financial difficulties. Cammell Laird, the Merseyside shipbuilders, recently received £3 million in assistance from the Government, yet in the United Kingdom 35 vessels, totalling 495,000 gross tons, were laid up at the end of May. That is the highest figure since July, 1963. Is it any wonder that Merseyside dockers, shipbuilders and ship repair workers see nationalisation as their only chance of job security?

We have our share of layabouts on Merseyside, but the majority of our people are decent and hard-working, giving value for money. They do not like to be unemployed for long periods. In June there was a drop in the unemployment figures in the country as a whole but again the North-West Region got little relief. I know the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Bray) well and I say to him with great sincerity that the future is bleak on Merseyside. It always has been bleak. The National Institute for Economic Research expects the number of unemployed in the United Kingdom to be 800,000 in the first quarter of 1973.

Mr. Bray

The hon. Gentleman says that the future of Liverpool has always been bleak. If that is so, can be tell us why Liverpool became such a centre of commerce and industry some years ago?

Mr. Marsden

We have always been what was considered a centre of commerce and industry. That was our mistake. We put all our eggs into the one basket of the dockside and shipping. That was terribly wrong, because when world trade was at its lowest the whole city suffered. I am glad to say that in the last 25 years or so we have broken away from the dockside, and have encouraged more industries to come to us. I wish I could give the answer to this serious regional problem, but it is our responsibility to continue to fight back. That has been done and is being done. We have to make the North-West prosperous and a good place to work in. Assisted area status must remain for many years.

I appeal to the Government actively to encourage industrial development. Cammell Laird has not had a naval contract for many years, and many shipping firms send their vessels abroad for repair. That is not how it is done in the United States of America. There, every shipping company is forced by law to have its repairs done in American ports. If a vessel calls in for repair at a foreign port, the American authorities want to know why, and if the repair is not an emergency repair the shipping company is fined very heavily. That is something that we could think about here.

British Petroleum at one time had all its repair work and refitting done at Cammell Laird, but all that is done now are emergency jobs. When such a job comes in the men are told, "Do a good job on this, lads, and if you do all right you will get a good wage", but somehow it never happens. These tankers go to Holland to be repaired—

Mr. Winterton

Perhaps the hon. Member can explain why it is that these tankers and other vessels go to foreign ports for repair. Perhaps he can tell us the reasons for this, because I am sure he knows them.

Mr. Marsden

A delegation came down here from the ship repair section of Cammell Laird, and those men impressed me. They did not come arrogantly, they did not rant and rave. They fought for their company. They spoke highly of the directors. They fully realised that their future was bound up with ship repairing and with their company. I ask them specifically "Why do these ships go to Holland?" They could not tell me. They said "We do not know. We give a very good service. We have an excellent yard. Our repair work is the finest of the world." They mentioned a ship they had repaired a little time ago which left the Merseyside three weeks before the scheduled date.

I do not know the answer to the hon. Gentleman's question but I hope that the Minister does, because what I speak of is what is going on in the North-West, and it is about time we put the North-West's house in order.

7.18 p.m.

Mr. John Tilney (Liverpool, Wavertree)

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Marsden). I, too, with my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Fortescue), saw those ship repairers from Camell Laird last week. Their argument has point, because one of the great difficulties in the Merseyside ship repairing industry is that the Fleet auxiliaries may come in once every four months and there is then nothing at all for the next four months. If the Secretary of State for Defence could even out the maintenance of some of those Fleet auxiliaries, it would be very beneficial.

The hon. Gentleman spoke of ship owners not sending their ships to Merseyside for repair but sending them to Holland. Oddlyenough, wages over there are now much higher, but we must also remember that Holland has a reputation for fewer strikes than we have had. I accept the fact that redundancy and strikes interact, and this is what has been the curse of Merseyside for far too long. I do not blame only the builders or the dockers; I blame management also. Only this evening the first two items on the BBC 6 o'clock news were about strikes on Merseyside.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

The hon. Gentleman speaks of strikes in the ship repairing industry, but is he aware that the firm of Harland and Wolff, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bootle (Mr. Simon Mahon), has had only one strike since 1948; yet that firm has closed down and moved completely from Merseyside. Again, Camell Laird's strike record is probably the best in the country.

Mr. Tilney

I shall have something to say later about firms moving from Merseyside, but I do not think that I referred to strikes in the shipbuilding industry. I referred to strikes on Merseyside, and the difficulty is that the effect of strikes in one industry impinges upon the prosperity of other industries.

Here I must say how much I agree with what was said by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) about the late Mr. McCann, who was my leader on one parliamentary delegation to West Africa and a very much loved man.

I must also say how sorry I am that my hon. Friend the Member for Preston, South (Mr. Green), the Chairman of the North-West Parliamentary Group, cannot speak today because he has lost his voice. But he would agree, I know, that all parts of the North-West are not depressed. Some areas are very prosperous, as one would expect when one realises that there are more people in Lancashire than in the whole of Scotland. I regret speeches which denigrate the achievements of the North-West. I accept that the world does not owe Merseyside or the North-West a living, nor are we entitled to expect a living for our ports unless they are competitive, but I should like to pay my tribute to the Government for the massive help they have given to Seaforth. We are also very grateful for the great help that has been given to Cammell Laird shipbuilders recently.

That being said, the fact remains that fewer and fewer people can now produce more and more wealth. It is as well to remember that it takes 150 men a week to load or discharge an average conventional cargo ship, whereas 30 men can clear a container ship of comparable tonnage in one day. Because of vastly quicker turn round at ports, five container ships can now provide the equivalent transport of 40 conventional ships. This is the technological revolution which we have to face. Unless action is taken the position will get worse.

Some parts of the North-West have a reputation for lack of amenities in comparison with the South and South-East. Until recently the slowness of our road communications compared, for instance, with those in Bristol caused private enterprise to shy away from Merseyside. Private enterprise can only be forced to come to Merseyside through the issue of IDCs, as was Ford. We have Little-woods, the Ocean Steamship Company and Pilkington, but with those exceptions the power of decision of Merseyside has largely gone. Many of the factories are merely branches of much bigger organisations, and if there is a decline in trade the outlying factories on Merseyside and elsewhere are the first to close down.

I am still a believer in Keynes's doctrine of public works. Across-the-board cuts in taxation, stimulating though they may be to the national economy, do not help places like Merseyside as much as they help other areas. When the economic pundits complain that the South and the South-East are getting overheated, Merseyside is hardly tepid. London stores have difficulty now in finding enough staff, but that could not apply today in Merseyside. Employment for the labour that was best suited to our local industry in years gone by is no longer available. I therefore welcome the major retraining schemes of the Government.

My plea for the future is that we should plan much further ahead than we have done in the past. What has been said about Irlam applies equally to Shotton. Shotton and Irlam are communities which depend on steel, and I hope that there will be mini-steel works in both places. One does not need to be a Socialist to believe in public works. The Conservative Party believes in infrastructure, and there is an immense amount still to be done in Lancashire.

Operation Eyesore provides grants of 85 per cent. or when the general grant is taken into account, 91 per cent., but to many local authorities it is a burden to find even the 9 per cent., and specialist staff is in short supply. In my constituency there are wooden schools, as there are in the constituency of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). Those schools should be replaced, and the unemployed building labour should be used for this purpose. But the plans have not even been prepared because, although there are unemployed architects and draughtsmen and the land is available, that development is not in the particular schedule. Local authorities cannot afford to take on permanent staff. There is much to be said for the Government supplying a mobile technical force to go out to areas of high unemployment and look into the possibility of public works.

There are many empty offices on Merseyside. In the last 50 years office jobs have multiplied by six, whereas manufacturing jobs have hardly increased at all. That increase in office jobs has almost entirely been in the South and South-East. Because those areas have more amenities, I suspect that the wives of executives prefer to go there. Private enterprise is unwise not to take advantage of the cheaper rent and rates in provincial cities compared with London. But the problem arises that office rents and rates in provincial cities in the South are not so much more expensive than they are in provincial cities in the North. There is, therefore, much to be said for IDCs for office development, and I hope the Minister will consider that.

We have first-class clerical labour on Merseyside. I note that the Department of Employment has set up an office in Runcorn New Town, and I hope other Departments will follow that example. But the lion's share in the growth of office development has been in the South-East, although that area already had nearly half the existing office jobs. With 38 per cent. of the nation's total labour force, the South-East now has 59 per cent. of all jobs in insurance, banking and finance, 52 per cent. of all jobs in national government and 57 per cent. of all jobs in other professional services. Cannot the Government do something about this and induce the nationalised industries to do likewise?

We cannot wait for the new local authorities to come into being. Why cannot there be a loan or float to pay special staff to get out plans for the new local authorities before the democratic government of the county comes into being? This would save many months of idleness for many people. We are told that the new Merseyside County is an economic entity; yet we have only two tunnels at the north end and no proper communications at the south end. Why could not the staff I have referred to look into the possibility of a new bridge, which is so badly needed and which would make Liverpool Airport more prosperous?

No one can say that South Lancashire is the most beautiful part of Britain, but why should so many people make their money in the North of England and then move to Bournemouth or Torquay? There is much to be said for a differential form of taxation of unearned income, but I suppose that is impossible. I welcome, as does the whole House, the tree-planting year which comes into operation next year and will apply both to our roads and to our cities. We also need a major amenity such as the reclamation of the Dee or of Morecambe Bay, with its fishing, water ski-ing and its lines of communication to the beauties of North Wales. Those are amenities which can be planned and which will stimulate people to come to the North-West and stay there. We have a fine body of people there who need help, even more than what they are now getting from the Government—which is generous—to give them impetus. There is much to be done, and investment such as I have suggested would be much more useful than a purchase of gold or depreciating dollars.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. H. Boardman (Leigh)

In a debate of this nature there is bound to be repetition, and in order to relieve the agony a little I shall confine myself to two points. Before I do so, I should perhaps say that we are today discussing a very old story. Some 25 years ago I brought a deputation to see the late Sir Stafford Cripps to discuss precisely this subject: the need for development area status for Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley. Sir Stafford was right when he said that our area was a coal and cotton area and that the Govenment were having to bring from Europe displaced persons to work in the pits, in the mills and in agriculture. He told us that if the Government were to give development area status to our area it would mean that we should be a serious counter-attraction to other areas which badly needed manpower. Therefore nothing happened as a result of that deputation.

Now, 25 years later, most of the pits have closed, the mills have suffered a great contraction and little has been done until the Government's recent measures. The textile industry and those associated with it have complained, demonstrated and done whatever they can to make their points, but I feel that one can do this sort of thing too often. The Government have become so used to the noises made in Lancashire that they ignore them, which is a very bad thing.

I turn to the two points which I wish to raise in this debate. My area has experienced fairly heavy unemployment, although when we bear in mind closures elsewhere it has been rather less heavy than was anticipated. It is bad enough to see a man without a job, but I am not sure whether it is not as important to provide for a dispersal of skills because men have lost their jobs. We have seen such a dispersal from both the mills and the mines.

One particular matter to which I wish to draw the Minister's attention is the lack of opportunity for apprenticeships in areas like mine. If skilled jobs do not exist in an area, inevitably there is no chance for apprenticeships to be awarded. I feel that the Government could do something about the situation, possibly by allowing these young people to be paid expenses so that they may go to areas where there may be opportunities for apprenticeships.

I wish to underline the points made by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) about the environment. Unfortunately, we all realise too well that coal cannot be dug out of the ground without some evidence being left on top. There is not only the problem of slag heaps which affect the Environment but also the question of subsidence.

I have never been able to understand why the people who live in mining areas should have to suffer the inconvenience of subsidence and then be called upon to contribute towards the cost of putting things right. Coal is one of the greatest assets enjoyed by British industry. Therefore, it must not become a liability to those who live in mining areas by their being called upon to meet the high costs of coping with subsidence.

A number of well-meaning people have gone much further in their criticisms of Lancashire than is wise. People who have tried to help the situation have tended to cry "stinking fish". We must seek to sell Lancashire as an area because it has a great deal to offer. We have one of the finest road systems in the country; we have people who have generations of accomplishment not only in the pits and the mills but in the finer aspects of machine work. These people would be an asset to any employer who wants to set up in business in our part of the world.

I remember once making a statement which, in the event, turned out to be a little unwise. I was lamenting the fact that miners were being thrown out of work and I said that, because they had worked most of their lives underground, they were not the most adaptable sort of people. I was soon disabused when an employer told me "As long as I have vacancies, I will take every redundant miner you can send me. I have never had a better set of men working for me."

Since we have so many things to offer, above all the many skills of our people, I would make a plea to hon. Members to join in selling the services and cap- abilities to be found in our region. Incidentally, for the benefit of the wives of directors and executives who think that Lancashire is not for them, I wish to tell them that in Lancashire and North Cheshire we have some of the best, sophisticated, snob residential areas in existence. I assure them that they will be well looked after if they come to live in Lancashire.

7.35 p.m.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

It is a pleasure to be called to speak after the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. H. Boardman), who has given such robust support to the aspirations of the North-West. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Industrial Development was right to stress the tremendous potential of the North-West. I was glad to hear hon. Members on both sides of the House expressing their confidence in the future.

I was also pleased to hear the hon. Member for Leigh criticise those on this side who cry "Stinking fish", because I believe that too many area tend to run themselves down.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) mentioned the North-West Industrial Development Association whose news letter for 21st June made interesting reading. It said: The gloom of the past year seems to be giving way to an atmosphere of confidence for the future. This is particularly so in the North-West. The hon. Member also said that we suffer the handicap of having so many old-fashioned factories. Again I wish to quote from the news letter: We welcome the new factory building grants which will not only help to bring in new industry, but will provide positive incentives for the modernisation of our old factory premises in existing industries. There is now no discrimination against existing firms.

It is true that we have suffered a good deal from the consequences of mergers, and we know all about this subject in Lancaster. We suffered grievously when the Socialist Government's measures attracted an important slice of one of our most important industries away to Scotland. During the Labour Government's period of office unemployment figures in our area not only doubled from May, 1964, to May, 1970, but increased 2½ times, from 350 to 855 as a direct result of Socialist Government measures.

I have never hesitated to say that the rate of unemployment last year was at a wholly unacceptable level. Indeed, I led a delegation to the Minister and I pointed this out to him in no uncertain terms. However, I am glad to say that since April this year unemployment in my area has been falling steeply. Although we may see a temporary increase this month as the students on vacation sign on for work, I believe that when the figures are published we shall see that the underlying trend will be downward.

There was bitter disappointment in my constituency when the Socialist Government flatly refused to implement the recommendations of the Hunt Report, which would have gone a long way towards stemming the rise in unemployment which was so catastrophic in the last year of Socialist Government and in the first year of Conservative Government. But I am proud to say that Lancaster did not wring its hands in lament. In collaboration with Morecambe it set about developing its own industrial estate and servicing sites and building factories and tried to attract new industry. As a result we are particularly well prepared to take advantage of the new intermediate area incentives introduced by my right hon. Friend when he was in charge of regional policy.

We are also indebted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment in awarding us a substantial grant to help to improve derelict railway land and to continue in our aim—which will never flag—of making our city the most attractive in the country, and an area to which new firms will be eager to come.

However, we are also very eager to get our fair share of office jobs. We were sorry that we lost the Post Office Savings department from the borders of Morecambe and Lancaster. We are anxious to get more office jobs into the area and to have a new Government training centre at Carnforth to serve the Lancaster and Furness sub-regions. I hope that my hon. Friend the Undersecretary will press his right hon. Friend in that regard.

We can offer the fascination of an historic city, marvellous countryside, pleasant homes, good well-staffed schools, ready-prepared sites, a co-operative city council which has been commended to me personally by every industrialist who has come to the area, road and rail transport unsurpassed anywhere in the country, and a warmth of welcome which northerners know how well to give. We have immense faith in our future, and we look forward to it with the utmost confidence.

7.40 p.m.

Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Exchange)

Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends have highlighted the serious unemployment position in the North-West Region, and I am certain that many other right hon. and hon. Members will expand upon the position in the course of the debate. I want briefly to deal with Merseyside, since I am a Liverpool Member, not only with the present position of Merseyside, which is serious enough, but also with the possibly critical period during the next 12 months which may affect the already unacceptably high level of unemployment.

In my constituency recently I have met many young boys and girls who have been unable to find work since they left school last Christmas. There is a high level of unemployment on Merseyside, especially among the over-45s, many of whom have been unemployed for six months or more. In some instances I know of men who have been unemployed for more than 12 months. That shows the black side of Liverpool. Other possible closures and redundancies make the picture even blacker.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Marsden) has pointed out the serious problem of Cammell Laird and the shipbuilding and ship repair industry on Merseyside. The great reduction in the work force and the loss of Government work has led to a position of open fear in the hearts of workers in the industry. The excellent work record of the workers at Cammell Laird in respect of industrial relations and in meeting delivery schedules surely merits encouragement from the Government. In this respect I disagree with the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney), who over-exaggerated the position of industrial unrest on Merseyside, especially in respect of the shipbuilding and ship repair industries. The recent deputation of workers from Cammell Laird which was received at the House by Members of both parties had great faith in the future. I have no doubt that an early meeting will be sought with the Minister for Industrial Development.

I have great fears not only for Cammell Laird but for Merseyside in general. In yesterday's edition of the Liverpool Daily Post there was an article pointing out that there will be a one-day stoppage on 27th July called by Liverpool dockers to highlight their fear of a further reduction in the work force in Liverpool Docks. This is not what the national Press normally calls a wildcat strike. It is not a strike which has been called by militants. It is a sincere expression by the dockers of their great fears about the future.

I have in my possession a letter dated 10th July, 1972, which has been sent to all employees of the Ocean Port Services Ltd. It gives notice of a 50 per cent. reduction in the labour force. It reads: As you know, we have started on the process of reducing our company to a size commensurate with our foreseen business. By April of next year OPS should again be in a break-even position and handling cargo at the rate of about 500,000 tons per annum. We shall be about one half as big as in 1970/1. Although such a very radical contraction of our company should bring us out of our present serious loss-making period—albeit at considerable cost—we shall still be extraordinarily vulnerable to fluctuations in trade and disruption of work. We have therefore decided, as an attempt at engendering greater job security for those who will continue to work in OPS, to discuss and investigate with the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company some means of establishing a joint operation in the cargo handling field, which may include the Docks Company's acquiring the ownership of OPS. The Board of the MD & HC have agreed to such an investigation. I may say that I fear that such an investigation will lead to fewer job opportunities in the Liverpool Docks.

The letter goes on: We sincerely regret the need to introduce yet another study and possible consequential action into the daily working of our company but we know that the exercise could be of considerable importance to the future of everyone involved. We shall advise you of developments as soon as there is any hard news. I sincerely hope that that last sentence really means hard news and not hard lines or even bad news. I intend to send a copy of that letter to the Minister.

I fear that the proposed closure of four hospitals in my constituency will lead to further unemployment. That is a fear which is shared by many trade unions with members employed in the hospital service. To this end, hon. Members representing Liverpool constituencies will be meeting the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security to-morrow in order to discuss the matter with him.

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris) dealt with the proposed closure of the Irlam steel works. I want briefly to touch on the future of the Shotton works. Although technically it is not in the North-West region, many hundreds of workers from the Greater Liverpool area are employed at Shotton, and any further redundancies will affect an already dark position in Liverpool. My hon. Friend the Member for Flint, East (Mr. Barry Jones) has spotlighted the critical position at Shotton to the Minister.

My concluding point concerns what in my opinion is the retrograde step to seek entry into the EEC from the point of view of the region's future. Unless the communications network in the North-West is urgently improved, especially in terms of motorways, we shall see a further recession of trade in the region to the advantage of the already prosperous South.

I undertook to restrict my remarks to a period of 10 minutes, and I intend to honour my promise. I hope that the Minister will bear in mind all these points when he replies to the debate. I hope sincerely that a positive approach can be made to alleviate the serious unemployment position in the North-West.

7.49 p.m.

Mr. Norman Miscampbell (Blackpool, North)

Like a number of other right hon. and hon. Members, I should like first to make some mention of Jack McCann. I was almost his opponent at the Rochdale by-election. In the result, it was very luck for me that I was not. For a short time he was my pair. I know that he will be missed greatly in this House.

I speak from a different background from that of a number of other hon. Members who have spoken from the point of view of the heavier industrial aspects of Lancashire. I represent an area which is largely residential and involved in tourism and light industry. None the less, Blackpool,a considerable town of 150,000 population, has had persistently high unemployment, and it is no more pleasant to be unemployed in Blackpool than anywhere else.

I concentrate on my area this evening with the clear knowledge that our prosperity depends entirely on Lancashire's prosperity. If Lancashire does not do well, Blackpool does not do well.

Before turning to Blackpool's problems, it is worth noting one or two matters which have gone quite well for us. We have achieved intermediate area status at last with many other parts of the area. Our communications have been greatly improved; we are nearer the link through from Blackpool to the motorway. Although this cannot be shared by everyone, we have managed to get rid of SET, which was selectively adverse to Blackpool.

We have to concentrate on the service industries, and I should like to make two points about Blackpool in that connection.

First, it is clear that, although grants are available for tourist projects, even so, they go to those areas with complete development status. For example, it would have been possible to argue for a selective grant for the zoo which Blackpool has just started. It will be very attractive and may have up to 1 million visitors a year. If that zoo had been in an area of full development status it could have attracted a grant. For Blackpool there was no grant.

I accept that the rate of hotel building which has occurred in London probably had to stop. The vast increase in hotel building, stimulated by the grants, was probably overdone in the South-East. This cannot be said of Blackpool, which has not had a new hotel for 35 years. It now has the prospect of a new hotel. Thankfully, too, there have been extensions to a number of hotels in Blackpool, a notable one being in the north of the town.

We are now left with the Industry Bill, and any help for which we can look to it for tourist projects comes from Part II. It is noticeable that projects which would help tourism come under Part II of the Industry Bill, which is entirely discretionary, whereas a proposal for a new factory, for instance, would come under Part I and get the grant regardless.

I turn now to the broader problems of Lancashire. I have so far addressed my mind, as it were, to the service side, not to heavy industry, which I do now. I am sure that Blackpool needs to encourage new office development. That comes by not just building new offices but getting them filled and providing employment. The Government, as one of the largest office employers in the country, have a prime responsibility to take active steps to send some of their civil servants from the crowded South-East to the North-West. I think that help could be given, under the provisions of Clause 7 of the Industry Bill, for new office developments. If we can do this, we may draw back to the North-West the headquarters of firms which have been moving to London.

We must take the opportunities now before us to use the grants which are available from many sources to change the whole enrivonment in the North-West. It cannot be said to be an attractive drive up the motorway as one comes from Warrington. Yet within a few miles of that motorway there is some of the loveliest countryside in the North-West—indeed, in the whole country. If we in the North-West are prepared to take the trouble and to put our hands in our own pockets we can once again make it a very lovely place in which to work and live. I believe it is better to live north of Birmingham than south. I have sampled both. The debate should be the opportunity for those of us who come from the North-West to point out that we can make it worth while for people to come and work among us and so bring the prosperity we need.

7.55 p.m.

Mr. Lewis Carter-Jones (Eccles)

I should like to associate myself with the remarks which have been made about Jack McCann, who was a great friend and constituent of mine. He will be missed in Eccles, and in Rochdale, where he took an active part as a constituency Member. He will be greatly missed in this House. I have no doubt that, apart from his jovial personality, he would have taken his place in this House today and advanced the cause of cotton—a cause which he held near and dear to his heart. I am sure the House would want to send its sympathies to his widow and children.

I do not wish to start on a controversial note, but I feel that I must. I live in an area to the north of Trafford Park where 12,000 jobs have been lost over the past four years. To the west we have had the problem of the closures at Irlam. Therefore, the difficulties that my constituents and people in that part of the greater Manchester area have suffered are clear.

My controversial note concerns the Industry Bill now being put through this House by a Conservative Government. I think that hon. Members on both sides were prepared to welcome the Bill until they found that it may be a hollow sham, because it now seems that legislation here will be subject to scrutiny by other countries. I believe in the wider groupings of nations. However, I regret that we are losing some of our links with the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth would not have interfered or had the audacity to interfere with or to question our legislation in the way that West Germany has in recent times.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in the House during the statement made by my right hon. Friend, but I am sure he would not wish to mislead the House. There has been no interference by the West German Government. There has been a request to the Brussels Commission for information—no more, no less.

Mr. Carter-Jones

To put it at its lowest, many of us would not be prepared to accept what the right hon. Gentleman said about the interpretation of "information". The very fact that the West German Government questioned the legislation is enough to cause anxiety to the people in my area who would have benefited from non-intervention in the implementation of the Industry Bill when it becomes an Act. Therefore, perhaps hon. Gentlemen will understand the misgiving of my constituents at the thought of much-needed development in my area being thwarted by the actions of a third party outside this country.

Mr. Winterton


Mr. Carter-Jones

I am anxious to give everyone a chance to take part in the debate. The hon. Gentleman has made a fair number of interventions, and there are six more Members who wish to speak.

In our area we have suffered the decline of four major industries—coal, cotton, iron and steel and heavy engineering. The rate of decline at Trafford Park is accelerating, and we are squandering the skills of a large number of people. What we are faced with at Trafford Park and at Irlam is a decline in investment. It may be that investment will come forward as a result of the Industry Bill, but it may well come too late. I hold no brief for any Government or party on this issue. The area has suffered for a long time, and there should have been a far greater amount of investment in the skills and know-how of the people long ago.

What worries me intensely is that we need massive, almost colossal, aid if we are not to lose altogether the skilled people who are leaving the area. Many hon. Members have referred proudly to the decline in unemployment in their areas since last year. I live in an area in which the unemployment rate is higher this year than it was last year, and I take no comfort from that. What worries me is the tremendous social cost of unemployment, and it is high time that we realised the significance of the threat of unemployment to the social fabric of a community.

As the House may have realised, I come from the Principality. I was brought up in an area of mass unemployment, and I never thought that I would live to see the day when fears about unemployment would rear their head again, that the dread fear of unemployment would be present. Our unemployment figures have risen, but they would have been higher still had it not been for the fact that large numbers of people from the North-West have been compelled to move to other more salubrious areas in the South-East.

My arguments have been adduced about the quality of life in this area. We have large tracts which are in need of rehabilitation and restoration. The area can be made attractive and re-vitalised, but it needs massive injections of aid from the Government for this purpose. The hon. Gentleman will no doubt refer to this when winding up the debate. We need aid in this area because we have experienced the ravages of the oldest industries of the Industrial Revolution. The amount of aid is such that no local authority can possibly afford it. The North-West has suffered more than any other area because of the wide variety of industries which have declined—coal, cotton, heavy engineering and others.

My constituency has the proud record of being the place where Naysmyth produced the steam hammer which was of vital importance to the Industrial Revolution, and where the first effective industrial canal was developed. When one talks about communications, we are set fair for travel by road, by rail, by air and by canal. What we need now is a massive injection of capital, either from the State or from private industry, as aid to clear our derelict areas. Above all, we want no interference from Europe in the development of an area which is vital to the well-being of our people.

8.5 p.m.

Mr. Laurance Reed (Bolton, East)

There are so many facets to the economic problems of the North-West that it is best to deal with just one, and I want to talk about dereliction.

The Hunt Report on Intermediate Areas, the CBI and the North-West Industrial Development Association all concur in the view that this environmental deficiency is an important element in the present situation. The Hunt Committee, for example, had this to say: In analysing causes for concern we drew attention to the widespread areas of dereliction. It is in our view one of the outstanding examples of the way in which an unfavourable environment can depress economic opportunity. While despoliation of the natural environment went unregarded when coal mining and other industries located on or close to the coalfield were booming the dereliction which was left now imposes a significant economic penalty on the area around since it deters the modern industry which is needed for the revitalisation of these areas and helps to stimulate outward migration. We consider that urgent remedial action is needed. There are nearly 15,000 acres of derelict land in our part of the world, and about 12,000 of these are considered bad enough to justify treatment. But this figure masks the true extent of the problem because so many of the acres which are now in active use for tipping or exca- vation are not found in the returns made every year to the Department of the Environment.

But even on the basis of the official statistics it means that the North-West Region has by far the highest percentage of its total land area blighted by the mess of past industrial activity, far more than any other part of the country, and because so much of it is concentrated in the heavily-built-up areas it has an impact out of all proportion to the actual acreage involved.

It is all the more disheartening therefore to find that the rate of progress in clearing this mess is still slow and that the rate of clearance is appreciably below the national average. In the last two years the Northern Region, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside and the East Midlands have all cleared more acres of bad land than has the North-West.

I accept that the Lancashire County Council has an outstanding record in this respect, but the county boroughs are falling down on the job. Only 288 acres were cleared in 1970, and in that year every one of the planning authorities, with the noble exception of Barrow-in-Furness, failed to meet the targets which they had set themselves. Nine authorities failed to complete any clearance at all, and four of those still had no plans to undertake any derelict land clearance in 1971. These were Burnley, Salford, Oldham and Liverpool.

Where does the fault lie? I do not think that it lies with the central Government. I have not been without criticism of some of the environmental policies pursued by the Department of the Environment, but the Department has done its utmost to persuade local authorities to clear more derelict land. I should like to think that hon. Members on both sides of the House will do more to encourage local authorities in their constituencies to get on with this job. We have to persuade them that ugliness is not just a question of aesthetics. It is a cause, as well as a symptom, of decline, because no modern industrialist will put down his roots among slagheaps and rotting and abandoned installations. Towns which neglect this problem are condemning themselves to increasing dependence on failing and ailing industries.

There is one thing which I should like to see central Government do for the North-West. The present level of grant in the whole area, with the exception of Merseyside, is 75 per cent. I find it unreasonable that Liverpool, with relatively few acres of dereliction, should qualify for 85 per cent. grant, and with the rate support grant rather more—nearly 91 per cent.—whereas South-East Lancashire, which has the biggest concentration of dereliction in the whole of the United Kingdom, gets a lower rate of grant. It seems to me that this is part of the old thinking where we tied assistance to the employment statistcis rather than to the problems which are the cause of our malaise in the North-West. In my view, environmental assistance ought to be given to the areas with the greatest need and not to those with the highest level of unemployment. This principle has been accepted in the Industry Bill. That is what it is all about. We are tackling the underlying problems. Therefore, I was surprised to hear my hon. Friend say that he felt that this discrepancy was justified.

I would not go so far as to demand what the North-West Industrial Development Association has demanded—100 per cent. grants. I think it is fair and reasonable that the local authorities should bear some responsibility for the project, in which case there must be some form of financial involvement as well. But I cannot accept that discrimination between one part of Lancashire and another is fair or reasonable.

I would call in aid once again the findings of the Hunt Committee Report: We must state plainly that we do not consider the present differential to be justified…an improved environment is needed as much in older industrial areas, especially in the North-West, as in the development areas. We, therefore, see no reason why a different level of grant should obtain." Nor do those who live in the area.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

I wish to address myself to the latter part of the Opposition Motion dealing with the impact of the Government's social policies as applied in the region. I wish in this connection to raise two specific problems applying to my constituency, and I hope I shall get a positive reply from the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment whose Department is concerned with both matters I wish to raise.

I have received from a large number of residents in the Broom Lane area of Levenshulme bitter complaints about the state of the land owned by British Rail in that area. I took up the matter some months ago with Mr. Richard Marsh and swift action was taken to deal with the grievances, but during the period since then the whole of this land has deteriorated again. It is a foetid mess, a danger to health of the people, including children, living in that area. The people have come to me and complained again about this area, but I regret that on this occasion Mr. Marsh has not been forthcoming. I wrote to him in May and I received no more than an acknowledgment. I wrote to him two weeks ago and I received not even an acknowledgment.

Meanwhile, during this hot summer this land with a polluted brook is causing unhappiness and fears for health, as well as social damage to the people of the Broom Lane area. I shall be grateful if the Under-Secretary will contact Mr. Marsh and ask that immediate action be taken to help the many people living in the area upon whose homes this land, owned and neglected by British Rail, abuts.

My second point concerns playgrounds for children in my constituency. We have a sad record of what happens to children in my constituency who are deprived of playgrounds. Only a few weeks ago a small boy living in the Heywood House block of flats was killed on the railway line near to Heywood House. In a matter of a year or so, two boys have been drowned in pools in clay pits in my area. Another child was killed while playing near the Mancunian Way, the motorway which is the boundary of my constituency. These deaths are the direct result of lack of amenity for the people living in the poorer areas of my constituency, and it is a sad fact that these accidents always befall the children of poorer parents living in poorer areas, because children of better-off parents naturally have more amenities and more places in which they can play—for example, in their parents' own gardens.

We in the Ardwick constituency—councillors together with myself—have fought hard for more playgrounds for the children in the constituency. The Manchester City Council is very anxious to provide these playgrounds. It co-operates in every possible way. But there is a terrible shortage of money, and unhappily playgrounds are fairly down the list of priorities in view of the kind of housing situation which affects my constituents. It took me more than a year to fight for a piece of derelict land near Heywood House, opposite Rostron Close, to be turned into a playground. After 13 months it was turned into a playground but it still lacks equipment of any kind. It is simply a barren piece of land.

I ask the Government to look again at the whole question of grants to local authorities for providing playgrounds. I say quite flatly that I have had enough of having to write to parents who have had the terrible disaster of losing small children who have gone away to play in areas when they should have a playground of their own.

Those are the two specific matters with which I am concerned—the matter of amenity, of dealing with dereliction, this eyesore problem, and the matter of providing playgrounds for children in my constituency so that they can have somewhere decent to play in and their parents will not be worried sick when they are out of their sight.

8.17 p.m.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

I am sure hon. Members will share and perhaps endorse the opinions and comments expressed by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman). As a West Midlander who has been adopted by the North-West, I am finding this debate extremely interesting and I hope that by the end I shall have learned a great deal from hon. Members on both sides of the House.

I should like to mention part of the contribution made by the hon. Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris), who, I believe, quite rightly reflected the concern that he felt and which is shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House for young people endeavouring to find employment and those who, unfortunately, find themselves made redundant. It was rather a pity that in reflecting this concern he did not mention that the Government are establishing two Government training centres in the North-West Region. One, I gather, will open in Trafford Park by the spring of 1974 and the other is planned to open in South-East Lancashire by 1975. Each of these centres will provide places for 200 people, and I think that this is a step in the right direction. I gather from a parliamentary Answer that a further 310 places will be provided in the region by early next year. I think this total of 710 is a fairly worthy figure and reflects credit upon the Government.

However, I am not saying that the present Government alone are concerned about this problem. The problem was obviously the concern of the previous Government as well. I do not believe, though, that we can talk about the North-West in isolation of the overall economic situation in this country. Therefore, I hope I may talk in general terms about the economic situation. I believe that it is undeniably true that the months since the Budget have provided clear evidence that the Government's dramatic reflationary measures are beginning to take effect, albeit a little slowly. Unemployment, although still tragically and unacceptably high, has dropped substantially. Industrial expansion is well under way.

Individual economic indicators reflect the optimism and buoyancy of the economy. Retail sales were up in the first quarter of this year by about 4½ per cent. New car registrations—we all know that the car industry is one of our biggest industries and one of the biggest exporters—were at a record level in May this year, about 57 per cent. up on May, 1971. Unemployment fell by 103,000 in May, and by a further 68,000 in June.

What is, perhaps, most revealing, especially in the light of some of the comments and criticisms levelled at the Government by hon. Members opposite, is that the standard of living measured in terms of real personal disposable income per head rose between June, 1970, and December, 1971, at an annual rate of 2.7 per cent., almost twice as fast as the 1.5 per cent. a year achieved under the Labour Government.

Meanwhile—this also is important—our external financial position remains strong. We have paid off all the remaining short and medium-term official debt, much of which was run up by the Labour Party when in power. Although in recent months the visible balance of trade has been in deficit, June once again showed a surplus; and each month invisibles have produced a substantial surplus for us, ensuring a credit balance overall each and every month.

The floating of the £ at the end of June, caused by international concern at wage inflation in this country, will enable the Chancellor to take the pressure off sterling and at the same time honour his commitment to a 5 per cent. economic growth rate.

Inflation is the growing cancer in any economy, and it must be contained if a sound economy giving increased prosperity to all is to be achieved. The Government are beginning to contain inflation. The retail price index shows that prices are rising at only about half the rate of 12 months ago—still too fast, but a substantial reduction. It is vital that the Government, employers and trade unions resist excessive wage claims which result in loss of business, redundancy and unemployment. The CBI price initiative, which, I am delighted to see, it intends to continue, and its extension to the nationalised industries, has been a step in the right direction. The Government's own action in taking £650 million a year off taxes on spending, by halving SET, and by progressive reductions in purchase tax have further helped to reduce price increases.

Much more needs to be done, and the Government are rightly seeking the cooperation of all groups in industry to achieve a better control of inflation in the national interests. Too seldom, I believe, do we in this House talk about the national interest irrespective of party advantage.

The North-West, including my own constituency of Macclesfield, has benefited from Government action to stimulate the economy. I particularly welcome the extension of intermediate area status to the whole of the North-West. I welcome also the derelict land clearance grants and the house improvement grants. I thoroughly endorse the opinion expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Laurance Reed) when he said that he would like to see the dereliction grant increased all over the North-West from 75per cent. to 85 per cent., and I hope that the Minister will seriously consider that.

These financial aids to the North-West could transform the area to the advantage of all who live in it. Although the position in the North-West has improved in recent months, it has not improved as much as other areas have improved, notably the South-East. I believe that this state of affairs has several causes. In the past, the North-West has depended on certain traditional industries, coal, heavy engineering, steel andtextiles—industries which are static or, perhaps, contracting. A far wider diversification of industry in these areas must be achieved if they are not to be vulnerable to the expansion or contraction of one industry or another.

I deplore the fact that the textile industry has been used as a trading pawn by successive Governments, with the result that one of our country's largest employers has shed tens of thousands of skilled workers, to the disadvantage of the United Kingdom economy. At the same time, insufficient alternative industries have been encouraged to move into the area to make up for the closures.

My own constituency has been fortunate in that two large pharmaceutical companies have established units there. But this was sanctioned only because the Macclesfield Borough Council was prepared to accept Manchester overspill into the area, so that the overall gain to the people of the area was not as great as it might have been.

Together with a number of light engineering firms, Pharmaceuticals have brought new prosperity to the constituency, raising the average wages in the area and giving excellent conditions of work. It will be a black day if the Labour Party attempts to nationalise the pharmaceutical industry should it achieve office again. That would not be popular either with the industry or with its large and growing work force.

I urge the Government to follow a policy of buying British wherever and whenever possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. James Lamond)—Iam delighted to see that he has returned to his place—rightly referred to the British textile industry, and I endorse virtually all he said. I make a similar case for the Hawker-Siddeley company, one of the most progressive and efficient aerospace companies in this country, with expertise and good facilities and an excellent skilled work force. By placing additional business with this company, the Government would not only strengthen Britain's defence but would ensure the future employment of many hundreds of skilled men in the North-West in a modern technological industry. It is modern industries of this kind which are vital to the future prosperity of the area.

I support the call voiced by several hon. Members that the Government consider industrial development certificates for office development. I believe that this is the only way to get office development to move into the North-West. We have the capacity for it, we have the space for it, and—my goodness—we need that sort of employment desperately in the North-West.

I turn to the matter of communications, and especially the roads in my constituency. Many hon. Members are more fortunate in having roads in their constituencies up to modern specification. In my constituency, in both Macclesfield and Congleton, there has been sad neglect by the various authorities concerned. Heavy traffic from Buxton, from Runcorn, from Manchester and from Ellesmere thunders through the area, polluting the environment, and running through the towns on totally inadequate roads. The building of the Congleton relief road is shortly to commence, but in Macclesfield the problem is likely to continue for some time yet unless the appropriate Government Department will do more than pay lip service to the declared policy of the Secretary of State for the Environment, namely, that main transportation routes should where possible be located outside urban areas to prevent the strangling of our towns by traffic noise and pollution. Even if it cannot be made out on paper to be a viable economic proposition, it will shortly be found to be so if this road is allowed to go ahead.

The North-West has a great deal to offer. The North-West Industrial Development Association is doing an excellent job. I attended its recent annual general meeting. The contribution it is making to the development of industry in the area is substantial. The area needs promoting. Public relations are vital and I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to assisting financially the association to meet its promotion costs. I believe that the association itself has made this plea to the Government, and I fully support it.

The North-West has tremendous potential, as has been said from both sides of the House. I shall do all I can to advance and promote those interests. But perhaps the best pill of hope for the North-West and the country at large would be a long period of co-operation in industrial relations.

8.31 p.m.

Mr. Michael Meacher (Oldham, West)

I shall concentrate on the three chief industrial problems of South-East Lancashire. They are the level of public investment, the problems of industrial dereliction, not only land dereliction, and the issue of employment prospects in the textile industry in the face of the coming removal of quotas if Britain enters the EEC.

The basic justification for demands for more positive Government policies, which no doubt prompted the considerable concessions of 22nd March, is the fact that over the last year the North-West has slid down the vicious spiral into becoming an area of chronically excess unemployment when compared with the national average. The latest figures show that unemployment is 40 per cent. above the national average, with a rate of 4.8 per cent. compared with a national 3.5 per cent. Because of its poorer quality industrial structure, the North-West is finding it much more difficult than other regions to climb out of recession. Over the last six months the decrease in the proportion of wholly unemployed in the North-West has been only one-third of the national average while the level of redundancies as a proportion of the work force has been worse in the North-West than in any other region without exception.

These are sombre and arresting facts clearly calling for decisive and imaginative Government intervention. It is doubtful whether the Industry Bill package, although it goes a long way, goes far enough, particularly in view of the loosening of the association between regional investment preference and the creation of specific jobs. The Minister saw this loosening as a clear advantage but I would say that, in the short term at any rate, it is a clear disadvantage.

One facet of regional aid of special importance not only for this but the wider effects throughout the local economy is the level of public investment. It is true that public investment has been increasing steadily, both relatively and in absolute terms, over the last seven years, but in view of the many declining or static industries, or at least the complete lack of enough growth industries, it can scarcely be argued that the region is getting the share it desperately needs. The national level of public investment is £46 per head of the population, whereas in the North-West the figure is £48, but if the region is to avoid the consequences of cyclical fluctuations within the economy positive discrimination in favour of it because of its significantly higher unemployment rate must be considerably larger than that.

One aspect of public investment which a number of hon. Members have rightly mentioned is office development. My hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) said that perhaps the most worrying feature of the Government's regional package was the absence of any Government push to promote this kind of development in the North-West. It is this type of employment that has increased fastest over the past decade, yet the increase has been largely concentrated in the South-East, which already has half the existing office jobs. Surely, therefore, we have reached the time when we need a stringent office development permit policy as tight as industrial development certificate control if the job element in the new regional package is not to be seriously weakened. Alternatively, will the Government reconsider extending operational and building grants to cover office projects in the North-West? Either alternative would be acceptable. What we cannot accept is neither.

The second problem which particularly concerns South-East Lancashire is that of land dereliction and industrial dereliction. Although a great deal of useful help has been given, this remains a major drawback in attracting new industry. Since it is no responsibility of the North-West that it alone should be penalised by the remaining scars of the Industrial Revolution, will the Government reconsider the introduction of 100 per cent. derelict land clearance grants, or if the Minister believes, as he said, that there should be an element of local involvement, will they offer 95 per cent. grants?

It would also substantially transform the landscape of much of Lancashire if the definition of dereliction were extended to include properties. Chadderton, part of my constituency, has the dubious distinction of having some of the oldest industrial property in the country. Ninety per cent. of it was built before 1914, compared with 35 per cent. for the whole of the North-West and the 20 per cent. national average. Much of it is clearly past redemption and justifies the remark of Lord Kearton at the closure of Courtaulds' Moorfield Mill at Shaw in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett): This particular mill has not shared in our extensive re-equipment programme because the buildings are old and unsuitable for modern high-speed plant. Of how many other buildings in the North-West might he have said that?

The third area of acute concern is textile employment prospects in the face of next year's removal of the quotas. The Oldham area has traditionally been the centre of the cotton textile industry. With the loss of nearly 300,000 jobs over the past two decades, there is acute anxiety about the fate of the remaining segment. The Prime Minister recently quoted the estimate of the British Textile Employers Association that between 3,100 and 5,300 jobs were at risk. That was a deliberately conservative estimate, taking no account of price disruption, which will cause even efficient mills to decide that it is no longer worth staying in business. Even if the eventual loss of jobs numbered only 5,000 to 7,000—though I do not think that "only" is the right word to use—that would be considerable enough, and I fear that the figures will be worse. That would still have a traumatic effect, because of the very limited area in which it would apply, unless the Government were prepared to take precautionary action.

Article 135 of the Treaty of Accession allows the EEC Commission to authorise emergency action to be taken during the transitional period to deal with "serious and persistent difficulties". There can be no doubt that serious and persistent difficulties will occur, because the last time it was intended to remove the quotas, on 1st January this year, company order books showed that import penetration of the home market which had rocketed from the present very high 53 per cent. to a staggering 85 per cent. The significance of those figures is shown by the fact that the comparable EEC figures for member countries vary between only 3 per cent. and 18 per cent.

What the industry wants—there is no division of interest here; it is unions, employers and workpeople all together—is a declaration by the Government invoking Article 135 on the unambiguous evidence of all that happened six months ago and all that will undoubtedly recur in six months' time. It is not enough to wait for such disruption, as the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry suggested yesterday, with all the ensuing industrial chaos and the disaster for employment, before taking action. What we want is a declaration now.

The issue is critical, perhaps the single most critical issue in South-East Lancashire. Nothing that the Minister said in his speech or in answer to interventions does anything to allay the anxieties. Unless a satisfactory commercial policy is worked out with the EEC which affords the developing countries a reasonable access to markets without forcing Lancashire to bear a disproportionate cost of the economic consequences, the new regional aid, valuable though it is, will come neither fast enough nor extensively enough to avert a catastrophe which will override the most massive convulsions which the industry has already tragically endured.

Mr. Chataway

Before the hon. Gentleman lashes himself into too much of a fervour, may I say that of course there are problems in some sectors but I am sure he will not want to overlook me fact that the textile industry as a whole, taking the balance of advantage and disadvantage, welcomes entry into the EEC and believes that it will be favourable to it.

Mr. Meacher

I had finished my speech and I will spend less than half a minute replying to the Minister. Whilst what he has said is perfectly true, it is the yarn and cotton spinning section which regards entry as a disaster. As for the Prime Minister's remarks to which the right hon. Gentleman was referring, that the weaving and finishing sectors believe that there will be corresponding advantages, if there are sharp fluctuations in supply which is likely, those sectors too may find it is a considerable disadvantage.

8.41 p.m.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

There has rightly been quite a lot of talk in this debate about dereliction. I believe that the main purpose of the debate is to point out that the greatest dereliction is that of unemployment. I want to touch on the unemployment situation in Skelmersdale in my constituency. Skelmersdale is a new town and it has all the attractions of the Merseyside development area; it has none of the obsolescence of the old South-West Lancashire towns because it is a completely new town. Yet unemployment in the Skelmersdale new town area is the highest in the Merseyside area.

I go so far as to say that although in the bulletin issued by the Department of Employment the Skelmersdale figure is merged with the Ormskirk travel-to-work area figure and appears to be about 3.4 per cent., that is a disguised figure and the actual figure for Skelmersdale is probably between 7.5 per cent. and 8.5 per cent. It is a tremendous problem which the Government can play some part in solving. If they were to announce the building of a new hospital this would galvanise the area, it would inspire the people there and it would remind them that the Government were concerned about the future. It would provide job opportunities in a modern hospital when far too many of our young boys and girls face a very bleak future.

Second, the Government could get on with the industrial training centre. It has been said that we suffer from a vicious circle in the North-West and particularly in the South-West of Lancashire. We have had the decline of the heavy engineering and mining industries which has created a lack of job opportunities for apprentices. We do not therefore have a reservoir of skill. People say to us "It is not much use coming to your part of the country because you do not have the skilled workers we need." The suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Mr. H. Boardman) that the Government should look closely at the question of job opportunities for apprentices, to provide the necessary reservoir of skill, is worthy of further attention.

Another thing which the Government could do in Skelmersdale—this has been hammered home a lot today—concerns office development. That is the biggest single growth industry in the country and the South-East already has far too high a proportion of the available jobs. I will not accept that the Government cannot direct many of the big concerns and Government bodies to the North-West. Let us have a fair distribution. We are in an age of supersonic travel, electronics and the like and I do not accept that we cannot put an office block in Skelmersdale, Wigan, Manchester or Liverpool without reducing a firm's efficiency. We have telephone and audio visual aids and I am certain that if the Government put their mind to it they could direct more of their industry to this area and they should do so.

We must be honest. The nationalised industries should not be immune from this kind of criticism and neither should some of our big unions. This is not a one-sided affair. We must not say that only the Government should do this. I believe that some of the trade unions could examine their own policies. The general office of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which is the union of my hon. Friend the Member for Leigh, is in the Manchester area. It is, I think, the only big union which maintains its headquarters in the North-West. I should like other unions to consider the possibility of siting their premises in the area. No doubt, like Government Departments, they will trot out all the usual clichés about why they would like to do it but cannot. Many such arguments are bogus. We should encourage people to move to the North- West, because we have a desperate need for this type of job opportunity, particularly in Skelmersdale.

I am hurrying along because I want to emulate the performance of the vast majority of back-bench Members, whose example has enabled me to speak. While I was very annoyed, and still am annoyed, at the selection—it was absolutely diabolical—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must take that back. He must not say that.

Mr. McGuire

I wish that I could find a way of giving what is called "the Yorkshireman's apology", Mr. Deputy Speaker. That means that I do not want to take it back, but if you want me to do so, I will.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Fortunately, I know the hon. Gentleman well. I realise that his intentions are excellent and that he means to apologise. I will take his remarks as such.

Mr. McGuire

I suppose that is what is known as being snookered. I suppose I shall have to take it back, and I will do so. But it will not stop me writing a letter, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I wish to emulate the example of other back-bench Members who have spoken briefly and succinctly. I put to the Minister the point which was put to him forcefully by the North West Industrial Development Association, namely, the possibility of making available a grant for publicity purposes. This grant is already enjoyed by our Welsh and Scottish colleagues and, in England, by the North-East Development Association. We have as many problems as, if not more than, any of these areas and I do not think that a case can be made for discriminating against us. I hope that the Minister will consider this matter favourably.

I hope, too, that the Minister will look favourably at the question of industrial dereliction grants. My constituency, in South-West Lancashire, has possibly the highest proportion of derelict land in the country. It certainly has the highest protion in the North-West area, because of the history of the place. Industrial dereliction in my area means almost entirely the reclamation of old mining areas. This is a colossal task for small authorities. Although the Lancashire County Council has faced up to it manfully, I believe that if we are to transform these areas they need to be cleared of industrial dereliction, which brought in its wake human obsolescence. In many areas we have a very poor housing record, which is part of the environmental set-up.

I know that there are Government grants for refurbishing, but I do not think that all councils are exercising themselves as they should. They are not being half as generous as they could be. They must give the standard amenity grant, but I feel that some of them are falling down on loosening the purse-strings in respect of the grant where they have a choice. This is a worthwhile grant which can be used substantially to increase the stock of good housing.

I ask the Minister to look favourably on the question of a grant for publicity and even more favourably on the possibility of increasing the industrial land reclamation grant. The coal mining industry was a national asset, and the problem of reclaiming the land should be faced on a national basis.

I hope that the forthcoming Bill concerning the mining industry will have written into it almost a guarantee to the Lancashire miners, who have suffered more from savage cuts than any other part of the country, that there will be no more pit closures unless there is exhaustion of coal. The savage policy pursued was a mistake which must not be repeated. If some of these things are done, the debate will have been worth while.

8.52 p.m.

Mr. Tom Normanton (Cheadle)

The debate has been used by right hon. and hon. Members as an opportunity to pay our respects to a recently departed friend and colleague. My wife and I knew Jack McCann well. We knew him personally and we knew him politically. I fought him in the 1959 General Election and I did so again in 1964. I lost the elections but I gained a friend. His going will be a great loss not only to myself and my family but to the House. He had qualities which I regard as of tremendous importance, particularly in the North-West. He was a great Lancastrian, although partially by adoption. However he was a great public spirited citizen of the North-West. The region was proud of him and the service he rendered. One of the characteristics of the North-West is that it has men and women who are prepared to give willingly regardless of the cost. Jack McCann did just that, and no doubt others will do so.

I am delighted to note that the debate so far has been relatively conspicuous by the absence of partisan bitterness and rancour and by the evidence of a wish or a determination to be constructive in putting forward ideas and thoughts which will benefit the North-West. Unfortunately, the region suffers not so much from its present state but from its past, the legacy of the period of the Industrial Revolution, the years in which it not only went through difficult times but at the same time gave to the world in general, not only industrially and commercially but socially and in literature and art. One should not ignore the great traditions of The Guardianand the Halle Orchestra, of which the North-West is rightly and justifiably proud.

I deeply deplore the frequency with which we in the North-West appear to tend to allow ourselves to be denigrated, the frequency with which "stinking fish"—that is the only appropriate term—is used to describe the region. Perhaps Lancastrians or North-West citizens may be permitted to do it, but if we do we are foolish and irresponsible. It is one thing for us to do it but we will never allow others to do so.

The region suffers from the frequent historical reference to the dark Satanic mills of the time of Friedrich Engels as if those days still prevail. It is, I regret, insufficiently appreciated that there is a wide gap in industrial and technical terms—indeed, in all terms—between the conditions to which Engels referred during the Industrial Revolution and the revolution which has been taking place almost imperceptibly in the North-West during the last 25 years. Urban renewal, for example has been taking place, not necessarily because of Governments—indeed, some of us might say that it has taken place despite Governments—and the extent of that renewal cannot but impress those of us who knew the North-West of 30 years ago, even though it has perhaps been a somewhat painful process. Many of us—and here I declare an interest—are also aware of the restructuring which has taken place in the industry of the North-West. Perhaps too frequently there have been critical comments about the history of the cotton industry over the last 20 years. Let us not forget that in the North-West we still have a substantial textile industry—I call it that and not the "cotton industry" because the old cotton industry has restructured itself in the modern idiom of a textile industry, all-embracing and covering the whole range of fibres and modern technology in its processes.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) referred to the expansion of the pharmaceutical industry. That is only one in a large variety of new enterprises which have been growing up and expanding in the North-West, changing the character of its industry and making a massive contribution towards influencing and improving conditions in which people live and work. The computer and electronics industries are all relatively new and each in its way has made a contribution towards improving the North-West.

But lest any hon. Member on either side of the House is tempted to suggest that my comments imply a feeling of excessive satisfaction, I hasten to add that the progress in the last 25 years is only part of the road along which the North-West and its industry have to travel. A great deal has been done. I urge upon the local authorities, the county authorities and particularly the Government the need to intensify the process of clearing the dereliction—the legacy of the Industrial Revolution, examples of which still linger in various parts of the region. Progress is markedly visible and it is there for those who wish to identify achievements. But we still have a long way to go.

The progress, which has been considerable, in providing and extending the network of new roads and motorways should be accelerated as fast as possible. I recall that 40 years ago there was talk about the plan for an east-west motorway from Liverpool to Hull. Yet still today little more than 50 miles of that road has been constructed. But there is progress, which is contributing substantially to the changing character and the improvements in the environment, especially the industrial environment, of the North-West.

I earnestly hope that the Government, and the leaders of industry and of local government in the North-West, will press for the renewal of existing towns rather than concentrating their minds and ours on green fields and leaving behind a pile of rubble in some of the older towns. In those towns, however old some may be, however drab some may have been in the past, there is the soul of the North-West—the people—and therein lies the finest and most rewarding investment which we in the North-West must cash in on and stimulate.

I urge not only my right hon. Friend and the Government but particularly those engaged in industry to press for and do all they can to promote further expansion of industrial training. One has only to compare the figures of unemployment with those of vacancies which have been announced to find that the one thing that stands out a mile is the extent to which those who are unemployed are to far too tragic a degree unskilled or semi-skilled.

It is in the best interests of the North-West and of industry in particular that skills should be stimulated and training intensified. I earnestly hope that when in perhaps a month or so we debate industrial training we will not underestimate the importance to industry of a skilled people. This is the one commodity, probably the only commodity, with which we can compete effectively in the world. The provision of Government training centres is important, but there is still a gap between what can be done by those training centres and what industry itself, through various agencies established and controlled by itself, can promote in the way of training.

Again declaring my interest, I must refer to the rather "stinking fish" kind of comment which only too frequently is made about the North-West and the cotton industry. I have indicated as clearly as I can that the cotton industry of yesterday is dead and that today we have an industry which has expressed to the Government and to the world its firm belief that Britain's future best interests lie with our entry into the Common Market. Of that there can be no doubt, despite the comments of supporters of the Labour Party.

But we must ask, and we have a right to expect, that the conditions under which we as an industry will be expected to trade shall be comparable with those facing other members of the Common Market. The greatest danger lies in the Government negotiating special exclusive non-similar trading arrangements for Britain and leaving the other nine countries of the Common Market operating on a formula which is completely different from that with which our industry has been faced.

In one respect the North-West is no different from the rest of the country. We depend upon a viable expanding economy of the country as a whole and we cannot expect, and have no right to receive, special treatment other than that which is appropriate to the best interests of promoting the economy of Britain as a whole.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)

The House should concentrate on the Motion on the Order Paper, and I hope that the Minister will reply to it. Briefly, the Motion says that the House is alarmed at the serious state of unemployment in the North-West. It names the steel industry, heavy engineering, cotton and coal mining. The Government's Amendment states that the House: welcomes the recent decision of Her Majesty's Government to schedule the whole of the North-West Region as an Intermediate Area; recognises the extensive action already taken to produce greater economic growth and improvement in environmental conditions; and endorses the regional policies of Her Majesty's Government designed to spread national prosperity more evenly. What has the Minister for Industrial Development done about the environmental conditions? Recently I had an Adjournment debate on that subject, but I have since seen no improvement in my constituency, where there is a chemical industry pouring waste chemicals into Sankey Brook which runs through the centre of the town, passing the ends of streets and schools, and out at the other end of the town. The smell from those chemicals is the worst that it is possible to experience. Only last Sunday I passed within several hundred yards of Sankey Brook on the leeward side, and the obnoxious smell coming from those gases was such that if any industrialist came to survey the town with the object of setting up a new industry there the experience would be enough to turn job prospects away from my constituency.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. McGuire) spoke about development associations throughout the country which received Government grants towards the cost of administration and advertising. Time and time again we have been told that the North-West Development Association receives no such grant. Will the Minister tell us why such discrimination is practised and whether the Government will provide a similar grant to the North-West Development Association for the same purpose?

Going back to environmental pollution, did the Minister take note of the statement on the BBC that St. Helens was the worst spot in the world for cancer deaths? I did not hear that statement myself, but I have received fairly heavy correspondence from people who said they had heard it on a BBC programme. If that statement is true, it is time that the Government did something about the promise contained in the Amendment. I appeal to the Minister to do all in his power to take action on the important matter of environmental pollution.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Before I call the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Eric S. Heffer), I hope the House will forgive me if I say that the brevity and excellence of the speeches this afternoon have been a model for all to follow.

9.10 p.m.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

I respectfully agree with your comments, Mr. Deputy Speaker, about the brevity and excellence of the speeches in this debate, and it applies to hon. Members in all parts of the House.

This has been a wide ranging debate. It throws up the fact that the North-West cannot be considered as experiencing the same sort of problems throughout its various divisions. The North-West is a diverse area and has many differing problems. For example, the problems of Merseyside are not identical to the problems of Manchester, nor are North-East Lancashire's problems the same as those in the South-East. Therefore, it is obvious that in a debate of this nature many of the speeches were bound to reflect the various constituency and area interests in the North-West as a whole.

Hon. Members opposite appear to believe that because the Opposition have tabled this Motion, and because many of my hon. Friends have rightly made critical speeches about Government policy, we have been seeking to denigrate the area and the people of the North-West. This is a ridiculous argument. We are concerned with the fact that over the past two years unemployment has grown to almost double the level at which it stood when the Labour Government went out of office. As a result many good North-Western people, highly trained skilled people, sound, working-class, warm-hearted folk, have been thrown out of work unnecessarily as a result of Government policy. This is all that my hon. Friends have been concerned to emphasise. They have not by any means said that the North-West is a bad place to live in or that it has a bad environment. It is our concern about these highly skilled workers being thrown out of work which hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to evade.

The right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Industrial Development made an interesting but complacent speech. It appeared to give the impression that all problems in the North-West were on the verge of solution, that we were about to see an upsurge and a boom in industrial development, and that unemployment would rapidly decrease. My impression was that the right hon. Gentleman was attempting to avoid the awkward issues which he knew would be raised in this debate. The right hon. Gentleman tried conveniently to forget the 14 months immediately following the publication of the Government's first White Paper on their regional policy. In that time the Secretary of State had been making various speeches saying that all this idea of helping the various regions by grants and by policies of the sort that had been pursued by the Government's predecessors would stop and that no longer would "lame ducks" be helped over stiles. Then we had this year's Budget proposals and the Industry Bill, both of which were a complete contradiction of what right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite had said in October, 1970. The Minister for Industrial Development wanted to forget that period which led to so much unemployment and misery amongst good honest citizens in the North-West and others in the various cotton towns and big cities of the area.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke as though our unemployment problems were almost over. However, unemployment levels in the North-West and in the country as a whole are far too high. There cannot be any complacency about them.

In the course of the debate we heard references to the first phase of the closure of the Irlam steel works. It was said that it was not too bad after all since, although it had appeared at first that 1,900 jobs would be lost, it ended with only 280 unemployed. That is marvellous for anyone who is not among the 280. Anyone who is will not be pleased about it being only 280 who are unemployed. What is more, it is not only the Irlam steel works which has faced this redundancy problem. It is multiplied throughout the whole North-West Region. Firm after firm has been getting rid of 280 here and there. Anyone among that group who is thrown on to the streets is not very happy about the situation.

The right hon. Gentleman must take note of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee). The Irlam steel works is in my right hon. Friend's constituency. I thought that he made a very important contribution to the debate. He stressed the need for the Minister to use Section 15 of the 1967 Act. That provision was put in the Act precisely to stop the sort of mini-development in the steel industry that we see taking place in various parts of the South-East. I hope that we shall get an answer from the Under-Secretary of State to this very important question.

We on this side of the House have been pressing for this debate for a long time. We have done so because of our feeling that it was vitally important that the problems of the North-West should be aired and discussed in this House, so that we might see the future plans required to deal with the problems that we face.

Are we in a position to talk about future planning for regional development when we have hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles the whole future of regional policy in relation to the European Economic Community?

The Under-Secretary brushed this question aside in a complacent manner. He said that it amounted to the West German Government asking for information. Why does one usually ask for information? I do not go round asking for information unless I want to build up a case. I want the information because I am preparing something for which the information will be used. The hon. Gentleman said they were only inquiring. What are they inquiring for? The very fact that they have inquired must make the businessmen in the North-West and other regional areas ask "Are we to continue with the grants? Are we to be allowed to have the kind of support that the Government are giving us at the moment?"

The hon. Gentleman is muttering away. Perhaps he will tell the House today, because he was not very forthcoming earlier, quite clearly and mildly that we may have a guarantee on three simple matters.

First, if—I stress the word "if"—we are subjected to any pressures from Common Market countries concerning the Industry Bill, will the Government say that under no circumstances will we change the Industry Bill in line with what these people are suggesting?

Secondly, if areas like the North-West, and Merseyside in particular, are included in the central area—if they are, the results would be totally disastrous for an area like Merseyside—will the Government resist Merseyside being included in the central area and in no circumstances succumb to pressure of that kind?

Thirdly, may we be assured that the Budget proposals which were again outlined in the debate—the Minister referred to the three measures—will not be touched and that the Government will stand up to the kind of pressures we are likely to get from the European Commission or any of the Member States in this regard?

The Under-Secretary can tell us that this will be the position on the Industry Bill, the central area and the Budget proposals. If he does not give assurances on those questions, industrialists and workers not only in the North-West but in other regions will be extremely worried about our future regional policy. This is what the whole argument has been about. This is what my right hon. and hon. Friends who spoke from the Opposition Front Bench on the European Communities Bill were arguing about. They have been saying that at a certain stage we would be subjected to Community law and our law would be subordinated to it. If that happens in relation to regional policy it will be disastrous for people in the regions. We have pressed for answers on these matters, and we are entitled to them. If the hon. Gentleman is able to give satisfactory answers he will reassure everyone.

The North-West Region is the oldest industrialised area in the world. It has enormous problems in its great cities and large towns with their derelict areas and blighted landscapes. Some people, particularly those living in the South-East, who never travel to our area have the impression that we still have blue woad on our faces, that we are Ancient Britons and that the whole of our landscape is nothing but a mass of derelict land, with coal tips, and so on.

That is just not so. There are beautiful areas in the North-West. We have some of the most beautiful countryside in the whole of Britain, and, incidentally, the best, most warmhearted, most generous and most highly skilled people in the land. It is important for everyone to understand that despite all our problems and adversities ours is an absolutely wonderful area.

The Hunt Committee said on page 47 of its report: the legacy of the Industrial Revolution is apparent throughout the region. The industrial structure which in the nineteenth century was the foundation of its rapid growth in prosperity has proved a wasting inheritance in the twentieth. As the Government's White Paper of March, 1972, said, the problem of the older industrial areas is deep-seated and long-term. Everyone accepts that, and I am not denying it. No one is suggesting that all the problems have been created by the Government's policies but—and this is the important "but"—it was recognised by the Labour Government in particular that we have these problems and they brought forward a whole series of proposals to deal with them. The present Government inherited from their predecessors regional policies which from October, 1970, to March, 1972, they chose to throw away quite deliberately and with malice aforethought. In 1963 the unemployment rate in the development areas was more than double the rate in the rest of the country.

Although large amounts of financial and other aids were poured into Mersey-side, what happened was that we were merely running fast in order to stand still on the same spot, and the condemnation of the Government is that because they have stopped the aid provided by their predecessors and reversed their policy we no longer stood on the same spot but began to go backwards.

Let me give an example. We have been told that everything is pretty good and that we are advancing. Let us look at one sector of the Merseyside situation—the construction industry. In June, 1970, there were 5,873 unemployed workers in the construction industry. In June, 1971, the figures had gone up to 6,977. Now we are told that there is a boom in the building industry and that things are really moving. The present level is 9,024 workers unemployed in the construction industry on Merseyside.

Reference was made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) to the wooden schools in his constituency and in mine.

Mr. Marsden

And in mine.

Mr. Heffer

They are to be found also in the constituencies of other hon. Members from Liverpool.

In addition, there are still thousands of people on the waiting list for houses. We desperately need houses on Merseyside. Yet at this moment we have 9,024 workers unemployed. That is a disgrace, a scandal, a shame and an indictment of the present Government's policy. [An Hon. Member: "And they laugh."] Of course, one expects them to laugh. They have got nothing else to do except laugh to cheer themselves up in the situation that they have got themselves into. So I would not worry very much about them laughing.

I want to make another point arising from what I said about running fast to stand still. In 1959 the labour force in the Huyton-Bootle area was 485,000 and in 1968 it was 480,795. In other words, the workers had gone from the Huyton-Bootle area to the outskirts. In fact, in the travel-to-work area the number had gone up to 814,000. So the labour force working on Merseyside had increased by 69,369 in 10 years. Yet the level of unemployment remained the same. We were running to stand still.

I will now omit many of the things that I wanted to say, but I should like to say something about the future. The Minister seemed to be absolutely terrified at some of the proposals in the Labour Party discussion Green Paper. He seemed to think that if these proposals are put forward particularly in relation to the multinational firms, growth and development will be halted, that we shall be faced with a very serious problem, that we shall not bring them in and so forth. We as a party are determined to redress the balance between the regions, and, in particular, we intend to stop the continual trend of employment opportunities to the South-East and to bring them into the North-West and other regions that require this employment.

Our Green Paper is based on two things—the 1971 Labour Party conference resolutions and the 1970 report on regional planning policy. We are making a number of serious proposals to deal with the problem of regional imbalance. We suggest that there should be four zones to replace the present development and intermediate areas, and that these should be designated as follows. (1) development areas, (2) intermediate areas, (3) neutral areas, (4) congested areas. Incentives should be provided over and above any regional investment grants. This would be in the form of a payroll subsidy, replacing the regional employment premium, and paid in respect of all employees, with the highest rates paid in the development zones.

We should have a congestion levy imposed on all employment in the congested zones. Also, we should look again closely at the application of the industrial development certificate policy and the question of office development permits, a matter raised by hon. Members on both sides tonight. Obviously, we want office employment—not office development, for there is plenty of that. For example, we have a great skyscraper of an office block in Liverpool, but there is no one working in it.

We shall develop public enterprises, doing it through a State holding company, through the development of existing public enterprises, and by the creation of new public companies and publicly-owned industries. Also, we shall develop a new manpower policy.

We condemn this Government for their policies since they have been in office because they have created mass unemployment unnecessarily. We accept that they have now begun to move rapidly in the right direction, but we are not convinced that they are the people to carry through the right policy, for it is they who have caused the unemployment, and they have reversed their policy only under pressure from the situation and from the people.

9.37 p.m.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Environment (Mr. Eldon Griffiths)

Many hon. Members have referred to the late Jack McCann, the former Member for Rochdale. I wish at the outset to associate all my colleagues with the warm tributes which have been paid to him, tributes all the more impressive because they come from both sides of the House.

The debate has been both good and, in a sense, curious: good because so many hon. Members have spoken—no fewer than 26, and I hope that they will understand if I am unable to reply to all their points in the time available—but curious in the sense that the Opposition Motion is peculiarly bitter in its language, yet the debate has for the most part been singularly calm.

I think that the Opposition's difficulties has been, first, that the Government are doing most of the things which they themselves ought to have done and wish that they had done. The measures which we have taken have been generally welcomed in their constituencies, and they have found it difficult to condemn the Government when their own constituents are rather in favour of our measures. From both sides of the House, moreover, there have been reports of signs of improvement—in Lancaster, in Rossendale, in Sale, all across the North-West there are welcome signs of improvement—so that it has been difficult for hon. Members opposite to sustain the bitter language of their own Motion.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) did his best to get down to it with those who actually drafted the Motion. I shall refer to only two points in his speech. First, I take the question of the German Government's inquiry about the regional measures being taken by my right hon. Friend. The facts are simple. The German Government made an inquiry of the Brussels Commission and they were sent a reply—no more and no less than that. The package of measures before the House stands. As and when, as I hope, those measures go through the House, they will be brought into effect, and no change can take place in any case until 1973.

I very much hope that the hon. Member for Walton was not trying by his questions to convince industrialists contemplating a move to the British regions that somehow they will not be able to obtain the benefit of the measures that my right hon. Friend is introducing, for if that were his purpose he would be doing nothing but damaging the confidence of those whose investment we urgently need to meet the problems about which he has been complaining in the House today.

Mr. Heffer

Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to give us the guarantee for which I have asked: that the Industry Bill will not be amended under pressure from the Common Market, that the Budget proposals will be accepted in full and that Merseyside and other towns will not be included in the central areas?

Mr. Griffiths

The only guarantee I can give the hon. Gentleman is that if the Industry Bill is passed by the House, it will be applied in this country in the manner that the House of Commons determines.

The hon. Gentleman spoke particularly about Liverpool. He will recall that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, in pursuance of his policy of developing a total approach to the problems of the cities, especially those urban areas with particular stress arising from industrial obsolescence and inadequate social services, announced his intention to select six towns, including three inner areas of the great metropolitan areas, for an intensive study for the purpose of working out ways and means of improving their total environment. I am glad to say that two of those towns will be in the North-West. As my right hon. Friend has already announced, Oldham will be one. The other, I hope the hon. Member for Walton will be pleased to learn, will be Liverpool.

The details of this in-depth study, which I am sure the House will welcome, are now being worked out with Liverpool Corporation, on whose ready co-operation a great deal will depend. I am happy to say that, as a measure of his concern that the Liverpool study should be conducted at the highest level and with the maximum of local knowledge and concern for ordinary people, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has asked my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development, who of course represents the constituency of Crosby, to take the chair of the ministerial steering committee which will be in overall charge of the Liverpool survey. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is pleased by that.

The picture that has been painted in the debate today, particularly by the hon. Gentleman, has been of the North-West in grievous decline. I say at once, and I think I carry hon. Members on both sides of the House with me in this, that the North-West is not an area that is sliding hopelessly into decline. Having myself grown up in South Lancashire, I can say with conviction that it is an area of great resource and great potential. In recent months it has had its difficulties, the seeds of which were sown during the time of the last Administration, but recently there have been welcome signs that the downward trend has been halted and that a positive upward surge is now emerging.

I want first to deal with unemployment. No one in the House will doubt that this is a deadly serious matter. All who have seen what unemployment can mean, as I have, know that it can gnaw away at individual dignity. But there is no doubt that the problem of unemployment in the North-West is a structural problem, that it is not the property of the present or the last Government but is the consequence of secular changes in the nature of the industry in the area. During the four years between 1966 and 1970 unemployment in the North-West doubled. It has gone up under the present Govern- ment, too, and we all regret that. But we should recognise that by June this year unemployment in the North-West area had fallen by 11,000 compared with the corresponding April figures, and that fall is continuing, while the number of unfilled vacancies in the North-West is steadily rising.

I come next to industrial investment. Partly in response to the new measures of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, industrial confidence in the North-West is now picking up. At the end of last week more than 1,130 firm inquiries about the new financial measures were on record in the regional office in Manchester of the Department of Trade and Industry. These are not casual inquiries, but positive indications of interest.

Another important indicator of the interest being shown by industry in expansion is the number of applications for IDCs since mid-March this year. The number of approvals in the North-West has risen by one-third. The area of factory space is 100 per cent. higher, and, most important, the estimates by the applicants of the number of new jobs that will be created is nearly double the number of a year ago.

Mr. Charles R. Morris

We are all encouraged by the news of the inquiries now in the Department, but can the hon. Gentleman indicate what those inquiries mean in terms of jobs?

Mr. Griffiths

I have just said that the estimate is that the number of jobs will be more than doubled—[Hon. Members: "From what?"]—from those that were in the Department's office a year ago. Service industries are also proving responsive. Partly this is due to a welcome recognition by employers—[Interruption]. If the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) wishes to intervene, perhaps she will rise and do so.

Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)

We are all asking what the figure is—not what the rate is, and whether it is being doubled, but from what to what? What is the figure?

Mr. Griffiths

I repeat that the number of inquiries in the Department of Trade and Industry's office is more than 1,130. The number of jobs that it is estimated by those making the applications will arise is more than double the number that was estimated at this time last year.

Mrs. Castle

What is the figure, the number of jobs?

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. Lady should realise that an inquiry from a firm seeking to invest in an area is an inquiry. Many things will happen before the factory is actually built. Those are now firm inquiries in the Department of Trade and Industry's office, and I very much hope that the jobs will be available.

The benefits which the assisted area status are bringing to the North-West region are not the only ones. With assisted area status, other Departments of Government bring in new jobs, too. For example, training is being increased from 20,000 to 100,000 trainees a year in the country as a whole, and I am glad that two of the new training centres will be in the North-West, one at Trafford Park and another in North Manchester.

I will turn soon to some of the work of my own Department in the North-West, but perhaps I should deal now with some of the points raised by the right hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Frederick Lee). He was rightly concerned about Irlam, as are my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Sir R. Cary) and a number of other hon. Members. The right hon. Gentleman's concern was with the effect of the British Steel Corporation redundancies in his constituency. I have looked up the answer to the question about Section 15 of the Act. It is difficult in a short time to deal with all of that. The advice I have is that the Section 15 powers are not, as we see it, appropriate to be used in this matter. The crucial point is that the chairman and board of the British Steel Corporation must make their own decisions. There can be no independent operation by any nationalised industry if every detailed decision about management is transferred to Whitehall. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Newton, recalling his own speeches when the Bill went through this House, will accept that there cannot be effective management if every time a nationalised industry reaches a decision this House insists on walking all over it a second time.

Mr. Frederick Lee


Mr. Griffiths

I should like to say one other thing. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman does not know, but my right hon. Friend has agreed to meet the Irlam Council together with members of the county council and hon. Members of this House, no doubt including the right hon. Gentleman. This meeting is to take place shortly and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me if for that reason I say no more now, although it would be quite wrong if I were to raise his hopes in any way on that account.

Mr. Lee


Mr. Griffiths

I must deal with the questions raised by the hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) about the social problems in his constituency. I was moved by what he said about the situation in the Broom Lane area of Levenshulme. I will certainly follow up his suggestion and get in touch with the chairman of British Rail to see whether any improvement can be effected. Similarly with the subject of playgrounds, I can give the hon. Member the assurance for which he asks.

I turn now to the work of the Department of the Environment. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) asked about the strategic plan for the North-West which was jointly commissioned by the Government, the economic planning council and the local authorities in the region. It is being prepared by a professional team working from Salford. Work started in July, 1971, following a launching meeting attended by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. I am glad to say that the work is up to schedule and it will be published, we hope, in July, 1973. Once it is available it will give the North-West an opportunity to work out some if not all the answers to its problems and will show how the available resources can best be deployed to meet particular problems. I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that the plan is up to schedule and we hope to publish it when it becomes available.

As for the infrastructure in the North-West Region, I think the hon. Gentleman will agree that it now has one of the finest road systems in the country. There are the M6, the M62 across the Pennines, the new link from the centre of Liverpool via the new Mersey Tunnel to North Wales, the M56, the M55, which shortly will be started to link up Preston with Blackpool, and looking further ahead we have it in mind to provide a Manchester-Sheffield motorway, a Calder Valley highway linking North-East Lancashire to the M6. In addition, in the two metropolitan areas of Lancashire, the Government have made provision for additional principal roads at a cost of more than £200 million. I think it will be accepted that the North-West now has one of the finest road systems in Europe.

On the railways there has been the electrification of the west coast main line to Glasgow at a cost of £55 million; there has been the £40 million investment in the new Seaforth docks and the whole range of environmental policies which my right hon. Friend has introduced.

The Motion speaks of "reactionary policies". The House will agree that it is in no way reactionary that we should have increased the rate of slum clearance to the highest on record. We are now introducing 75 per cent. grants so that there will be no reason why local authorities should not finally clear, by improvement or replacement, the whole of the slums of the North-West by the end of the present decade. The same is true of home improvement grants. The extension of intermediate area status means an automatic increase from 50 per cent. to75 per cent. in the grants for these improvements. As a result, the amount of work on home improvements, most of it labour-intensive, that is currently going on in State-assisted home improvements in the North-West is now more than three times greater than it was in 1969–70 and the level is going up sharply.

I wish to say a few words about environmental pollution. There is no doubt that the condition of the rivers in the North-West, to which the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Spriggs) referred, is not good enough. I know something of that problem because as a child I grew up in the area and there are etched on my memory recollections of the slag heaps and collieries and smoke-laden air throughout South Lancashire. Looking back, I realise that in those days one did not regard eyesores as being in any way abnormal. They seemed to be part of the natural order of things which one accepted. But we accept them no longer, for we have all become sensitised to the quality of our environment. That is why I derive so much satisfaction from the policies of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State who is now seeking to clean up the environment of the North-West in a fashion and at a speed which has never happened before.

Clean air is one example. Fifty-five per cent. of the so-called black areas of the North-West is now subject to smoke control orders in respect of about 1 million premises, and we have been able to say to all local authorities "Go full steam ahead". Seventy-two North-West authorities have brought forward, at great cost, derelict land schemes covering 2,600 acres. The derelict land clearance programme is going forward rapidly.

Mr. Heffer

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that all the things in the long list which he has given were either done orinitiated during our period of office?

Mr. Griffiths

The improvement grants are three times greater. Operation Eyesore, which was never heard of when the hon. Gentleman's party was in government, is now proceeding at a rapid rate, and all over Lancashire eyesores are being removed. The great River Mersey, which remained dirty throughout the period of office of the hon. Gentleman's party, is now being cleaned, and it will be clean within 10 years.

Having looked at all these problems I have asked myself, in response to the Motion, what right hon. and hon. Members opposite would do if they should be in office. I have looked up the answer in the paper which the hon. Gentleman used in his speech. I find that the Opposition have two proposals to make. The first is that multi-national companies investing in this country would be subject to the appointment of directors by hon. Members opposite who would not only be made directors of the subsidiaries in this country but would be required to be directors on the main boards of those companies in their own countries. We used to talk of "jobs for the boys". This is a question of jobs for the boys on an international scale which has rarely been seen. I can well imagine a situation in which the hon. Member for Walton was on the board of General Motors—and that would put General Motors in deep difficulty—and the hon. Member for Ardwick was a member of the board of, say, United Corn Products. The Opposition's suggestion for improving the situation in the North-West can do nothing better but deter foreign investment in this country.

The other gem in the Opposition's document is that May-Day would be made a statutory national holiday. I am informed by one of my hon. Friends that it is to be known as "St. Wedgie's Day".

The Motion seeks to condemn the Government. I prefer to rely on someone

who has been quoted with deep respect by hon. Members on both sides of the House; namely, the head of the North West Development Association. On 2nd June this year, following the measures announced by my right hon. Friend, he said: The gloom of the past year seems to be giving way to an atmosphere of confidence in the future. Broadly speaking, the industrial development policies now being applied in the North-West are much more appropriate to the problems and the needs than they have ever been in the past.

Question put, That the Amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 283, Noes 259.

Division No. 300.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Crowder, F. P. Havers, Michael
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutstord) Hawkins, Paul
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian d'Avigdor-Goldsmid.Maj.-Gen.James Hicks, Robert
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Dean, Paul Higgins, Terence L.
Astor, John Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)
Atkins, Humphrey Digby, Simon Wingfield Hill, James (Southampton, Test)
Awdry, Daniel Dixon, Piers Holland, Philip
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebene) Dodds-Parker, Douglas Holt, Miss Mary
Balniel, Lord Drayson, G. B. Hordern, Peter
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Hornby, Richard
Batsford, Brian Dykes, Hugh Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)
Bell, Ronald Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Hunt, John
Benyon, W. Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Hutchison, Michael Clark
Berry, Hn. Anthony Emery, Peter Iremonger, T. L.
Biffen, John Eyre, Reginald Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Biggs-Davison, John Farr, John James, David
Blaker, Peter Fell, Anthony Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Jennings, J. C. (Burton)
Body, Richard Fidler, Michael Jessel, Toby
Boscawen. Robert Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)
Bossom, Sir Clive Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Bowden, Andrew Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Jopling, Michael
Braine, Sir Bernard Fookes, Miss Janet Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Bray, Ronald Fortescue, Tim Kaberry, Sir Donald
Brewis, John Foster, Sir John Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine
Brinton, Sir Tatton Fowler, Norman Kershaw, Anthony
Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher Fox, Marcus Kilfedder, James
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Kimball, Marcus
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Galbraith, Hn. T. G. King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Bryan, Sir Paul Gardner, Edward King, Tom (Bridgwater)
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M) Gibson-Watt, David Kinsey, J. R.
Buck, Antony Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Kitson, Timothy
Bullus, Sir Eric Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Knox, David
Burden, F. A. Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lambton, Antony
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Goodhew, Victor Lamont, Norman
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Gorst, John Lane, David
Carilsle, Mark Gower, Raymond Langford-Holt, Sir John
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Cary, Sir Robert Gray, Hamish Le Marchant, Spencer
Channon, Paul Green, Alan Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Chapman, Sydney Grieve, Percy Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Longden, Gilbert
Chichester-Clark, R. Grylls, Michael Loveridge, John
Churchill, W. S. Gummer, J. Selwyn Luce, R. N.
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Gurden, Harold McAdden, Sir Stephen
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) MacArthur, Ian
Cockeram, Eric Hall. John (Wycombe) McCrindle, R. A.
Cooke, Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. McLaren, Martin
Coombs, Derek Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Macmillan. Rt.Hn.Maurice (Farnham)
Cooper, A. E. Hannam, John (Exeter) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Cormack, Patrick Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maddan, Martin
Costain. A. P. Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Madel, David
Critchley, Julian Hastings, Stephen Marten, Neil
Crouch, David Mather, Carol
Maude, Angus Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Mawby, Ray Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Redmond, Robert Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Mills, Peter (Torrington) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Tebbit, Norman
Miscampbell, Norman Rees, Peter (Dover) Temple, John M.
Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire, W) Rees-Davies, W. R. Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Moate, Roger Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Money, Ernie Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Monks, Mrs. Connie Ridsdale, Julian Tilney, John
Monro, Hector Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.) Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Montgomery, Fergus Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Trew, Peter
More. Jasper Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Tugendhat, Christopher
Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Rost, Peter van Straubenzee, W. R.
Morrison, Charles Royle, Anthony Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Mudd, David Russell, Sir Ronald Vickers, Dame Joan
Murton, Oscar St. John-Stevas, Norman Waddington, David
Neave, Alrey Sandys, Rt. Hn. D. Walder, David (Clilheroe)
Nicholls, Sir Harmar Scott, Nicholas Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Scott-Hopkins, James Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Normanton, Tom Sharples, Richard Walters, Dennis
Nott, John Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Ward, Dame Irene
Onslow, Cranley Simeons, Charles Wells, John (Maidstone)
Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Sinclair, Sir George White, Roger (Gravesend)
Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Skeet, T. H. H. Wiggin, Jerry
Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Wilkinson John
Page, John (Harrow, W.) Soref, Harold Winterton, Nicholas
Parkinson, Cecil Speed, Keith Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Peel, John Spence, John Wood. Rt. Hn. Richard
Percival, Ian Sproat, Iain Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Stainton, Keith Woodnutt, Mark
Pink, R. Bonner Stanbrook, Ivor Worsley, Marcus
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Younger, Hn. George
Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Stokes, John Mr. Walter Clegg and Mr. Bernard Wetherill
Quennell, Miss J. M. Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Raison, Timothy Tapsell, Peter
Abse, Leo Crawshaw, Richard Golding, John
Albu, Austen Cronin, John Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gourlay, Harry
Allen, Scholefield Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Grant, George (Morpeth)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)
Ashley, Jack Dalyell, Tam Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)
Ashton, Joe Darling, Rt. Hn. George Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Atkinson, Norman Davidson, Arthur Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.
Barnes, Michael Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamling, William
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill)
Baxter, William Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hardy, Peter
Benn, Rt Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Deakins, Eric Harper, Joseph
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Bidwell, Sydney Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dempsey, James Hattersley, Roy
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Doig, Peter Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis
Booth, Albert Dormand, J. D. Heffer, Eric S.
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Horam, John
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Douglas-Mann, Bruce Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Driberg, Tom Huckfield, Leslie
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Dunnett, Jack Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Eadie, Alex Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Edelman, Maurice Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)
Buchan, Norman Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Hunter, Adam
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Ellis, Tom Irvine, Rt.Hn.SirArthur(Edge Hill)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James English, Michael Janner, Greville
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Evans, Fred Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Cant, R. B. Ewing, Harry Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Carmichael, Neil Faulds, Andrew Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) John, Brynmor
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Johnson,Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Foot, Michael Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Cooks, Michael, (Bristol. S.) Forrester, John Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Cohen, Stanley Fraser, John (Norwood) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Coleman, Donald Freeson, Reginald Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(Wham's.)
Concannon, J. D. Galpern, Sir Myer Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Conlan, Bernard Garrett, W. E. Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Gilbert, Dr. John Judd, Frank
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Kaufman, Gerald
Kelley, Richard Molloy, William Sillars, James
Kerr, Russell Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Silverman, Julius
Kinnock, Neil Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Skinner, Dennis
Lambie, David Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Small, William
Lamborn, harry Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Spearing, Nigel
Lamond, James Moyle, Roland Spriggs, Leslie
Latham, Arthur Murray, Ronald King Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Lawson, George Oakes, Gordon Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Leadbitter, Ted O'Halloran, Michael Strang, Gavin
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick O'Malley, Brian Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Leonard, Dick Oram, Bert Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Lestor, Miss Joan Orbach, Maurice Swain, Thomas
Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Oswald, Thomas Taverne, Dick
Lewis, Arthur (W.Ham, N.) Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Thomas, Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff, W.)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Padley, Walter Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Lipton, Marcus Paget, R. T. Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Lomas, Kenneth Palmer, Arthur Tinn, James
Loughlin, Charles Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Tomney, Frank
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Parker, John (Dagenham) Torney, Tom
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange) Tuck, Raphael
Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Pavitt, Laurie Urwin, T. W.
McBride, Neil Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Varley, Eric G.
McCartney, Hugh Fentland, Norman Wainwright, Edwin
McElhone, Frank Perry, Ernest G. Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
McGuire, Michael Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Mackenzie, Gregor Prescott. John Wallace, George
Mackie, John Price, J. T. (Westhoughton) Watkins, David
Mackintosh, John P. Price, William (Rugby) Weitzman, David
Maclennan, Robert Probert, Arthur Well beloved, James
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Rhodes, Geoffrey White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Richard, Ivor Whitehead, Phillip
Marks, Kenneth Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Whitlock, William
Marquand, David Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon) Willey, Rt. Hn Frederick
Marsden, F. Robertson, John (Paisley) Williams. Alan (Swansea, W.)
Marshall, Dr. Edmund Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Mayhew, Christopher Roper, John Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Meacher, Michael Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Mellish. Rt. Hn. Robert Rowlands, Ted Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Mendelson, John Sandelson, Neville Woof, Robert
Mikardo, Ian Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Millan, Bruce Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Mr. Ernest Armstrong and Mr. James Hamilton
Miller, Dr. M. S. Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Milne, Edward Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put:—

The House divided: Ayes 282, Noes 259.

Division No. 301.] AYES [10.12 p.m.
Adley, Robert Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. James
Alison, Michael (Barkslon Ash) Bruce-Gardyne, J. Dean, Paul
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Bryan, Paul Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M) Digby, Simon Wingfield
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Buck, Antony Dixon, Piers
Astor, John Bullus, Sir Eric Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Atkins, Humphrey Burden, F. A. Drayson, G. B.
Awdry, Daniel Butler, Adam (Bosworth) du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray&Nairn) Dykes, Hugh
Balniel, Lord Carlisle, Mark Eden, Sir John
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Batsford, Brian Cary, Sir Robert Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Channon, Paul Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)
Bell, Ronald Chapman, Sydney Emery, Peter
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Eyre, Reginald
Benyon, W. Chichester-Clark, R. Farr, John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Churchill, W. S. Fell, Anthony
Biffen, John Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Biggs;-Davison, John Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fidler, Michael
Blaker, Peter Cockeram, Eric Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Cooke, Robert Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)
Body, Richard Coombs, Derek Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Boscawen, Robert Cooper, A. E. Fookes, Miss Janet
Bossom, Sir Clive Cormack, Patrick Fortescue, Tim
Bowden, Andrew Costain, A. P. Foster, Sir John
Braine, Bernard Critchley, Julian Fowler, Norman
Bray, Ronald Crouch, David Fox, Marcus
Brewis, John Crowder, F. P. Fraser, Rt.Hn.Hugh (St'fford & Stone)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford) Galbraith Hn. T. G.
Brooklebank-Fowler, Christopher d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Gardner, Edward Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Gibson-Watt, David Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Longden, Gilbert Royle, Anthony
Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Loveridge, John Russell, Sir Ronald
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Luce, R. N. St. John-Stevas, Norman
Goodhew, Victor McAdden, Sir Stephen Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Gorst, John MacArthur, Ian Scott, Nicholas
Gower, Raymond McCrindle, R. A. Scott-Hopkins, James
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) McLaren, Martin Sharples, Richard
Gray, Hamish Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Green, Alan McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Simeons, Charles
Grieve, Percy Maddan, Martin Sinclair, Sir George
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Madel, David Skeet, T. H. H.
Grylls, Michael Marten, Neil Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Gummer, Selwyn Mather, Carol Soref, Harold
Gurden, Harold Maude, Angus Speed, Keith
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Mawby, Ray Spence, John
Hall, John (Wycombe) Meyer, Sir Anthony Sproat, Iain
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Mills, Peter (Torrington) Stainton, Keith
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Miscampbell, Norman Stanbrook, Ivor
Hannam, John (Exeter) Mitchell, Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire. W) Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Moate, Roger Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Hastings, Stephen Money, Ernle Stokes, John
Havers, Michael Monks, Mrs. Connie Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hawkins, Paul Monro, Hector Tapsell, Peter
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Montgomery, Fergus Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hicks, Robert More, Jasper Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)
Higgins, Terence L. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Tebbit, Norman
Hill, James (Southampton, Test) Morrison, Charles Temple, John M.
Holland, Philip Mudd, David Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Holt, Miss Mary Murton, Oscar Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Hordern, Peter Neave, Airey Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Hornby, Richard Nicholls, Sir Harmar Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon. S.)
Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Tilney, John
Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate) Normanton, Tom Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Nott, John Trew, Peter
Hunt, John Onslow, Cranley Tugendhat, Christopher
Hutchison, Michael Clark Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Iremonger, T. L. Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) van Straubenzee, W. R.
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
James, David Page, John (Harrow, W.) Vickers, Dame Joan
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Parkinson, Cecil Waddington, David
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Peel, John Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Jessel, Toby Percival, Ian Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Pink, R. Bonner Walkers, Dennis
Jopling, Michael Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Ward, Dame Irene
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Price, David (Eastleigh) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. White, Roger (Gravesend)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Wiggin, Jerry
Kershaw, Anthony Quennell. Miss J. M. Wilkinson, John
Kilfedder, James Raison, Timothy Winterton, Nicholas
Kimball, Marcus Ramsden. Rt. Hn. James Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Redmond, Robert Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Kinsey, J. R. Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.) Woodnutt, Mark
Kitson, Timothy Rees, Peter (Dover) Worsley, Marcus
Knox, David Rees-Davies, W. R. Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Lambton, Lord Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Younger, Hn. George
Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Lane, David Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Mr. Walter Clegg and Mr. Bernard Weatherill
Langford-Holt, Sir John Ridsdale, Julian
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Le Marchant, Spencer Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Abse, Leo Bidwell, Sydney Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Albu, Austen Blenkinsop, Arthur Cant, R. B.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Boardman, H. (Leigh) Carmichael, Neil
Allen, Scholefield Booth, Albert Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)
Ashley, Jack Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara
Ashton, Joe Broughton, Sir Alfred Clark David (Colne Valley)
Atkinson, Norman Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Cocks, Michael (Bristol, S.)
Barnes, Michael Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Cohen, Stanley
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Coleman, Donald
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Buchan, Norman Concannon, J. D.
Baxter, William Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Conlan, Bernard
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton) Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)
Crawshaw, Richard John, Brynmor Parker, John (Dagenham)
Cronin, John Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Pavitt, Laurie
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Cunningham, G. (Islington, S.W.) Jones, Barry (Flint, E.) Pentland, Norman
Dalyell, Tam Jones, Rt.Hn.Sir Elwyn(W.Ham, S.) Perry, Ernest G.
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Davidson, Arthur Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Prescott, John
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Judd, Frank Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Kaufman, Gerald Price, William (Rugby)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Kelley, Richard Probert, Arthur
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Kerr, Russell Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Deaking, Eric Kinnock, Neil Rhodes, Geoffrey
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lambie, David Richard, Ivor
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lamborn, Harry Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Dempsey, James Lamond, James Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Doig, Peter Latham, Arthur Robertson, John (Paisley)
Dormand, J. D. Lawson, George Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Br'c'n&R'dnor)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Leadbitter, Ted Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roper, John
Driberg, Tom Leonard, Dick Ross. Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Dunnett, Jack Lestor, Miss Joan Rowlands, Ted
Eadie, Alex Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold Sandelson, Neville
Edelman, Maurice Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Edwards, William (Merioneth) Lipton, Marcus Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Ellis, Tom Lomas, Kenneth Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
English, Michael Loughlin, Charles Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Evans, Fred Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Sillars, James
Ewing, Harry Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Silverman, Julius
Faulds, Andrew Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Skinner, Dennis
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McBride, Neil Small, William
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McCartney, Hugh Spearing, Nigel
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McElhone, Frank Spriggs, Leslie
Foot, Michael McGuire, Michael Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Forrester, John Mackenzie, Gregor Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mackie, John Strang, Gavin
Freeson, Reginald Mackintosh, John P. Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Galpern, Sir Myer Maclennan, Robert Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Garrett, W. E. McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Swain, Thomas
Gilbert, Dr. John Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Taverne, Dick
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, Rt.Hn.George (Cardiff, W.)
Golding, John Marks, Kenneth Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Marquand, David Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)
Gourlay, Harry Marsden, F. Tinn, James
Grant, George (Morpeth) Marshall, Dr. Edmund Tomney, Frank
Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Torney, Tom
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mayhew, Christopher Tuck, Raphael
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Meacher, Michael Urwin, T. W.
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Varley, Eric G.
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Mendelson, John Wainwright, Edwin
Hamling, William Mikardo, Ian Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Millan, Bruce Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Hardy, Peter Miller, Dr. M. S. Wallace, George
Harper, Joseph Milne, Edward Watkins, David
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Weitzman, David
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Molloy, William Wellbeloved, James
Hattersley, Roy Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Heffer, Eric S. Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Whitehead, Phillip
Horam, John Morris, Rt. Hn, John (Aberavon) Whitlock, William
Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Moyle, Roland Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Huckfield, Leslie Murray, Ronald King Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Oakes, Gordon Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Hughes, Mark (Durham) O'Halloran, Michael Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) O'Malley, Brian Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Oram, Bert Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hunter, Adam Orbach, Maurice Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Irvine, Rt.Hn.Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Oswald, Thomas Woof, Robert
Janner, Greville Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Padley, Walter Mr. Ernest Armstrong and Mr. James Hamilton.
Jeger, Mrs. Lena Paget, R. T.
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Palmer, Arthur
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles

Question accordingly agreed to.


That this House welcomes the recent decision of Her Majesty's Government to schedule the whole of the North-West Region as an Intermediate Area; recognises the extensive action already taken to produce greater economic growth and improvement in environmental conditions; and endorses the regional policies of Her Majesty's Government designed to spread national prosperity more evenly.

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