HC Deb 20 March 1972 vol 833 cc1057-9
12. Mr. Laurance Reed

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish the Report of the Central Policy Review Staff on Regional Policy as a Green Paper.

Mr. John Davies

It is not the practice to publish internal advice to Ministers.

Mr. Reed

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate the great disappointment caused in the North-West Region when the last Government refused to implement the proposals of the Hunt Committee? Has the Central Capability Unit been asked or will it be asked to look once again at these proposals?

Mr. Davies

My hon. Friend can remain assured that the matters in question, particularly those raised in the Hunt Report, are being borne in mind in considering the problems of regional policy As he knows, when he accompanied a delegation from Bolton with others of my hon. Friends this was referred to and I gave that same assurance.

Mr. Bob Brown

Will the Secretary of State accept my assurance that we in the development areas, having seen the position go from bad to worse in the last 18 months or so, realise that the time is long overdue for the announcement of a positive new policy for the areas rather than the constant repetition of "I am urgently reviewing the policy for the regions"? Will he give a definition of his meaning of "urgency" since he has been using that term for 18 months?

Mr. Davies

"Urgency" means very shortly.

Dame Irene Ward

The development areas in general are waiting avidly for the report and it will be a bad job for the "think tank" if it does not produce a good policy. Presumably shipbuilding policy will also be reviewed, and my right hon. Friend should remember that England has quite as much an interest in this as Scotland. We have heard too much about Scotland and I should like a bit more assistance given to England.

Mr. Davies

Whether or not the regional policy changes, when they emerge, are considered good will be a matter for which I will largely bear responsibility and I will take that responsibility. The whole weight of shipbuilding does not reside solely north of the Border but south of the Border as well.

Mr. Benn

The C.B.I. has published its regional proposals, the T.U.C. has included detailed proposals in its economic review and Lord Rothschild has been permitted to publish his own Green Paper on research and development. Is there any reason, therefore, why the House should not have made available to it broadly the same advice as was made available to Ministers so that we can judge whether the Government's policy meets the requirements of the proposals which have been brought forward?

Mr. Davies

I think the Green Paper on research and development is a different matter which is not germane to this issue. But I have the feeling that the House will have very full access to information upon which it can judge the validity of the new policies.