HC Deb 11 June 1973 vol 857 cc1000-127
Mr. Speaker

Before calling upon the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin), to move the motion, I have to inform the House that I have selected the amendment standing in the names of the Prime Minister and of his right hon. Friends, to leave out from 'House' to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'welcomes the vigorous regional policy of Her Majesty's Government, which is now reducing unemployment and improving living standards in the Northern Region'.

3.52 p.m.

Mr. T. W. Urwin (Houghton-le-Spring)

I beg to move, That this House, deeply concerned at the persistent social inequalities, low household incomes and lack of job opportunities in the Northern Region, demands urgent action from Her Majesty's Government in activating a positive regional policy which will create new jobs, sustain economic growth, expand the social services and improve the environment, thus closing the gap between the more prosperous areas and the Northern Region. I begin from the very firm basic premise that experience of post-war years sharply reveals the vast difference of attitude between Labour and Tory Governments towards the deeply entrenched disparities existing between our richer and poorer regions. Following the example set by the Attlee Government of 1945–51, the Wilson administration of 1964–70 determinedly attacked the intolerable imbalance by introducing a number of measures deliberately weighted in favour of expanded development areas, and by 1970 the total amount of preferential aid to those areas amounted to an annual sum of £314 million, whilst other forms of indirect aid increased the total value of assistance to well over £750 million.

The Northern Region, battling as we almost always have done against unprecedently high job losses in coal mining, agriculture and railways, benefited enormously from these policies. New job opportunities generated at a faster pace than ever before. In April 1970, significantly, 42,700 jobs were estimated to accrue in manufacturing industry alone, including 31,000 male jobs. Over the next four years, between 1966 and 1970, arising directly from industrial development certificate approvals, 56 advance factories were provided. In addition, a rapid expansion of industrial floor space involving 9.9 million sq. ft. in 1969, following the record 11 million sq. ft. in 1968, was provided. In the industrial training centres there was an increase in capacity to over 3,000 places per annum, and 30 per cent. of the total national investment in new construction was allocated to the Northern Region.

That was indeed a legacy of progress, unfortunately compulsorily bequeathed to the incoming Tory Government, but nevertheless requiring continuity and stabilisation. A real opportunity was given to the present Government and their supporters to capitalise on the work which had already been done but this opportunity unfortunately was sacrificed on the altar of doctrinaire Toryism and the dogma of the free market——

The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

If the hon. Gentleman is coming to the end of his review of the past, there is just one statistic which he has left out. One of the achievements of the Labour Government between 1966 and 1970 in the Northern Region was that they nearly doubled unemployment and left it on a rapidly rising trend.

Mr. Urwin

The right hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity of defending the intolerably high levels of unemployment which his Government succeeded in inducing over a period of only three years. Had they taken advantage of the opportunity I have described there is a distinct possibility, indeed the certainty, that unemployment would not have reached those levels. There was, instead, preoccupation with the Selsdon promise to end "wasteful" expenditure of public money on industrial development in the development areas and reliance on what one Government spokesman described as the begging bowl. Those almost endless months of arid Tory thinking following the General Election, relieved only by the positive decision to end investment grants and to phase out REP from 1974, imposed an unnecessary and wholly unjustifiable restriction on the economic development of the Northern Region.

Faced with the impending descent of the sword of Damocles on the differential grant system IDC approvals fell to 7,359 sq. ft. of factory space in 1970, with estimated provision of 15,389 jobs. In 1971, it fell further to 4,249 sq. ft., an abysmally low level creating on estimate only 4,459 jobs. To July 1972 it fell further still to 1,619 sq. ft. and only 3,108 jobs. I must suggest to the Government that the lack of effective monitoring since the abolition of IDCs in July last year tends to disguise the present situation. It is, however, a fact that enormous publicity is given to what is described as an inundation of applications under the Industry Act, yet to the end of March 1973 only 24 firms have received grant assistance in the Northern Region, to a total of a mere £412,000.

This most certainly does not justify the lofty claims by the Government about the efficacy of that Act. What we do know is that over the past three years IDC approvals in the overcrowded South-East are estimated to create 41,153 new jobs—a gross and most unwarrantable perpetuation of imbalance in new job creation, and one which is highly detrimental not only to the Northern Region but to other development areas, too. Far from asserting control in such matters, an official of the Department of Trade and Industry has admitted to a sub-committee of the Expenditure Committee that only 10 per cent. of IDC applications in the South-East are refused. Additionally, the fact that the present system of incentives to industry considerably reduces the differential element introduces a further deterrent to firms which, in the pre-1970 package, were encouraged to move to the development areas. This is fully endorsed by Mr. Dearing, the DTI's Northern Industrial Director, who, in evidence to the same sub-committee, admitted that there is now less money available to industrial developers than there was in 1969 and that the system is now much less favourable to the attraction of incoming industry.

The Government's amendment to this censure motion is clearly one of self-praise. I suggest to the Minister for Industrial Development that the Government's recovery from the high unemployment level for which they were responsible has been achieved very largely in spite of the Government's regional policies rather than because of them. Ironically, the Government have now expressed their determination to phase out the regional employment premium from September 1974, a decision which can result only in the further undermining of confidence of industrialists who may be thinking of investing in the development areas.

Regional employment premium was introduced by the Labour Government in 1967. Let there be no mistake about this and no room for misunderstanding. Our policy was to review the position in 1974 and to determine the efficacy of REP and the necessity or otherwise of renewing the operation for a further period. During the past three years, the ravages of rampant inflation have heavily eroded the value of the premium, to such an extent that upward revision is the more sensible alternative.

Now, despite the pleas of local authorities—I have in mind Durham County Council, Sunderland County Borough Council and many others—which warned the Government of impending job losses in the North, and the claim of the CBI that if the REP is stopped the result could be a loss of between 20,000 and 50,000 jobs in the development areas, the Government intend to phase out REP next year. The figure for job losses is now estimated at 10,000 in the northern Region. Compared with the £300 million tax hand-out to richer taxpayers and the £15 million subsidy to private house buyers, at £100 million a year REP represents a very sound investment towards the reduction of unemployment. We urge the Government to think again before it is too late.

The time has arrived when the Government must begin seriously to approach the question of regional policies much more constructively than hitherto, even to the extent—dare one hint—of further intervention—distasteful as that is to them—in industrial affairs and activities.

The Northern Region and the steel industry certainly could not afford the long- drawn-out negotiations with the British Steel Corporation—30 months of wrangling, resulting finally in a cut of £1,000 million from the industry's proposed investment. Mindful of the fact that one-third of the estimated job losses in steel will occur in the North, we must have planned alternative industries to take up the displaced personnel.

Diversification of our industrial base cannot be fully achieved unless and until a large section of the car industry is located in the Northern Region, providing a large number of new jobs, new apprenticeships which are badly needed in diversifying skills and a tremendous boost to the region's morale.

The Leyland expansion project offers an appropriate challenge to the Government to persuade Lord Stokes to site this development in the Northern Region, which offers excellent port facilities, suitable sites, and an abundance of labour supply with a proven ability to adapt following training.

There are still 50,000 men unemployed in the Northern Region, only 5,000 of whom have established skills. Nevertheless, they are certainly adaptable to training if training opportunities are provided. An additional advantage in the siting of this major project in the region is that the region already supplies ready access to steel supplies.

Assuming, perhaps, that the Prime Minister is really concerned about the future of the Northern Region, he may well seek to emulate the successful intervention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition which resulted in the establishment of the British Leyland national bus plant at Workington and has since proved the wisdom of the British Leyland decision to settle in Workington on that basis.

I also remind the Government of the increasing urgency attached to the evolvement of a co-ordinated national energy policy, especially in the light of the onset of world fuel shortages, a policy which would firmly establish and maintain the position of coal as a major commodity, thus ensuring the future of the industry as the largest employer of labour in the North, despite continuing vulnerability to pit closures.

In the shipbuilding world, the growing world demand for new ships undoubtedly brought new stimulus to the industry. Large orders are being won, presenting an exciting challenge to the northern yards. But there are problems. They are especially highlighted in the Booz-Allen Report, which requires immediate Government decision, especially arising from the forecast that there will be large-scale redundancies in this industry.

Meanwhile, the Government must take an early decision on the application, which has been filed for some time, of the Doxford and Sunderland groups for loans to build a new covered yard at Pallion and provision of finance to Austin Pickersgill and the Court Line in order to assist them with their modernisation. Swan Hunter, despite its splendid record, is in the queue for financial assistance for modernisation and wishes to convert the Hebburn Repair Yard, which the right hon. Gentleman's predecessors lost no time in closing when they took office shortly after the 1970 General Election. The intention of Swan Hunter is to convert this yard to shipbuilding purposes in order to be able to compete in the growing world markets for new ships. These are imperative requirements and must at least be equated with large amounts which have been allocated to shipyards in other areas.

The Government must seriously consider intervening in the exploitation of North Sea oil to ensure that full benefits flow to the Northern Region. I am deeply mindful of the appointment of Lord Polwarth as oil supremo. This places him in a position to make vitally important decisions which may well detrimentally affect and influence the position in the North.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the North is not very well served in direct representation, certainly not in comparison with the two other major development areas. The right hon. Gentleman should consider appointing a co-ordinator for the Northern Region as a whole to oversee the oil industry to ensure that the region is fairly treated.

The right hon. Gentleman may feel that references to the construction industry are not quite in accord with the terms of the motion, which censures the Government for their failure to apply a radical and sensible regional policy. But there are all sorts of components in a regional policy, and the construction industry reveals yet another area where planning, even of an elementary nature, is conspicuously absent. In the midst of absolute chaos, there is an escalation of wage drift, almost all materials are in desperately short supply, the industry is in chaos and labour bottlenecks exist alongside an unemployment figure of 11,000 men, while building costs have almost doubled in the three years of the present Government.

Yet in housing Government policies have ensured a drastic reduction in new houses for rent—it is not unusual for the Government to regard council housing in this way—with increasing emphasis on building houses for sale, even though the average wage earner cannot obtain a building society mortgage on a new house. Yet the Government used their full weight to prevent the Sunderland Corporation from building houses for sale, presumably because this would present a challenge to the supremacy of private builders.

We can proudly and justifiably claim that there has been a vast improvement in communications in the Northern Region, especially during the period 1964–70. We frequently boast that we have the best system of communications of any region in Britain, but there is no room for complacency. More needs to be done.

I draw the Minister's attention particularly to the A66 into West Cumberland, a remote area which is vital to industrial development and which would be infinitely better served if this road were to be programmed and built. Especially in view of the recent cuts in capital expenditure, one is concerned to ask the Minister what is the present position as regards this road.

Another predominant weakness of this administration is their lack of co-ordination of the work of Government Departments. Here I refer specifically to the disgraceful situation which has developed over the Kielder water project. The inspector's report presented to the Secretary of State for the Environment indicates to him all the known requirements for water supply and conveys to him all the information that he could possibly need to make a decision. On the basis of that information there could have been only one decision for him to make. It is within the Secretary of State's knowledge that the Durham County Water Board will be in shortage by 1974. The Secretary of State has had the very strong and distinct advantage of expert opinions from all people including economists, in the water world; but his decision, which was received with bewilderment, shock, frustration, and indeed anger, in some parts of the Northern Region, was not one favourable to Kielder, even though the inspector had said not only that it should be authorised but that the situation was so urgent that the work should begin immediately.

However, the Secretary of State chose to defer a decision and to reconstitute the inquiry, which I understand reopens on 19th June. Meanwhile, the Northumbrian River Authority has informed the Government that the cost of this project, which was estimated at £9,050,000 in 1969, has escalated in 1973 to £13,340,000, an increase of 40 per cent. Worse still, every hour that the Minister dallies is estimated to add another £120 to the bill for Kielder water.

I emphasise the lack of co-ordination between Departments. Evidently the Department of Trade and Industry has no influence over the Department of the Environment, because the former Department must surely recognise, even though the Secretary of State for the Environment does not, that the adequate supply of water is vital to industrial development as well as to domestic users in the badly hit Northern Region. It is a known fact that one industrialist so far has refused to embark on an expansion of his business in the Northern Region because of the uncertainty about water supplies.

I turn, in much the same vein of coordination, to the outstanding need for office development in the Northern Region. Again I urge the Minister who is to reply on behalf of the Government to speed up the presentation of the Hardman Report. The Government must recognise that the North is woefully short of Civil Service jobs. There is the heavy concentration in London and the South-East, even though London reputedly is the most expensive office rental centre in the world. Yet only one out of 300 employed persons in the Northern Region is a civil servant as compared with one in 49 in London and the South-East.

I remind the Minister of the decision taken some time ago by his Government that the PAYE centre which the Labour Government had planned to be built in Washington New Town. It has not been replaced by an equal number of Civil Service jobs. Not only was this regarded as a prestige product, but a minimum of 2,500 white collar jobs would have been provided in an area which is sadly lacking especially the employment opportunities for young people.

Another field in which the Government might well consider intervention, and in which the next Labour Government most certainly will consider intervention, is the investment of multi-national companies. It is essential in the interests of even regional development that new disciplines should be adopted by multi-national companies to ensure that their industrial development takes place in the right places. It is equally important to ensure that such investment is not scattered indiscriminately around Europe as a result of our entry into the European Economic Community.

In much the same strain the right hon. Gentleman should address himself perhaps a little more strongly than he appears to have done so far to the Economic Community's proposed development fund. I refer to the definition of "peripheral area". The Minister for Local Government and Development, speaking in Sunderland a few days ago at a ceremony organised by the Design Centre—I think I have his words correctly—said that he had been with representatives of the EEC discussing this very question of peripheral areas and their designation. The right hon. Gentleman said, They were very impressed with the progress made in the North and with its competitiveness. I hope that I am not being ultra pessimistic and that I am wrong in deducing from those few words, on which the Minister did not expand, that he had not fought for the inclusion of the Northern Region in these areas or that, if he had fought, he had been defeated.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that that is not true. He should not read that into the words which I used.

Mr. Urwin

Perhaps when the right hon. Gentleman speaks at the Dispatch Box he will tell us what he said. This is of great concern not only to the Northern Region but to Scotland, Wales, the South-West and Merseyside as well. If the Government are impressed with the competitiveness of the North it is reasonable to assume that we may well not be included in the peripheral areas and eligible for what money may be made available from the Community's development fund. I suggest that we can no more afford to lose out to the EEC than we can to the more prosperous areas of Britain in the matter of development.

In the interests of the Northern Region as well as the other development areas, the Government ought to begin to assert more rigorous control over industrial development both within and outside the development areas. They ought to revise the incentive system in order to restore the differentials between the SDAs, the DAs and the non-development areas. They should begin to plan development in accordance with the requirements of the region. They may even be bold enough to consider the establishment of joint State-private enterprises where private industry has failed to measure up to its responsibilities. The right hon. Gentleman might be still a little bolder and, in the best interests of the Northern Region, consider setting up new publicly-owned industries. This is something which a Labour Government will most certainly be considering when we return to office.

The North is admittedly recovering, despite the euphemisms in the amendment to the motion. But the Northern Region is recovering much more slowly from economic depression than the rest of the country, and it is incumbent upon the Government to ensure that there is a continuous policy of development in the North. I say that deliberately because we have already had cuts in public expenditure amounting to £600 million. Inevitably we shall be faced with an autumn Budget, with unquantifiable results for the Northern Region.

The new chairman of the Northern Economic Planning Council, whom I congratulate on his appointment, is quoted as having said last week that the present boom will flatten out in six months. I say to the Government that when the boom does flatten out, as it surely will—whether six months is the correct estimate or not—we in the Northern Region, having made a major contribution to the economic well being of this country, need make no apology for expecting to be cushioned against those economic effects.

4.24 p.m.

The Minister for Local Government and Development (Mr. Graham Page)

I beg to move to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'welcomes the vigorous regional policy of Her Majesty's Government, which is now reducing unemployment and improving living standards in the Northern Region'. Towards the end of his speech the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) called for a continuous policy of development in the Northern Region. I hope I shall be able to satisfy him that that indeed is the policy of this Government. The policy and the actions of the Government have resulted, are resulting and will continue to result in exactly what the motion demands. They are creating new jobs; they are sustaining economic growth; they are expanding the social services and improving the environment. Indeed, the policy and the actions of the Government, as the amendment asserts, are reducing unemployment and improving the living standards in the North.

I say at once that, although the Government are entitled to take credit for achievement in the Northern Region, we are in no way smug about it in the face of the very considerable problems presented in the region by changing industries and changing industrial processes. Those changes can, if not handled correctly, be disastrous but they are, on the other hand, the opportunity for very substantial improvement in the quality of life in the North.

To ensure that the results of change are not disastrous but that the opportunities are seized, I see the basic job of government, whether central or local, as that of providing the foundation and the background for industry and commerce, and indeed the trade unions, to recognise those opportunities and to exploit them, in the best meaning of the word.

The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring said that there were different aspects of this problem, and indeed, I think one of the basic aspects—perhaps the basic aspect—is what one might refer to as the infrastructure, or the amenities, or the public works, or the environment generally, some parts of which are the responsibility of central government and some the responsibility of local government.

I do not want to refer back too far because it is the present and the future with which we are concerned in this debate, but so far as one important piece of infrastructure is concerned—the roads, communications and transport of the Northern Region—the Hailsham plan, started a decade ago, carried out by both Governments, set in motion what I would call a decade of 100 motorway and trunk road schemes, 50 of which have been executed and 50 of which are still in hand. The best regional road network in Europe has given us a wonderful springboard for the next decade. I hope that we can really take advantage of it.

Dr. John A. Cunningham (Whitehaven)

While the right hon. Gentleman is talking about roads and the infrastructure of the Northern Region, will he confirm that, in spite of the recently announced cuts, the A66 trunk road proposals will proceed as planned?

Mr. Page

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to work out my own argument and explanation, I will come to that in due course.

First-class communications both within the region and connecting with areas outside it are vital to its prosperity. We have just completed £90 million worth of roads under the Hailsham plan, and we are now building on to that. We have repaired the omission from the plan—that is, in the western part of the region—by dealing with the 64 miles, at a cost of £62 million, of the M6 north of Carnforth. We are going ahead—I now come to the point raised by the hon. Gentleman—with the improvement of the A66 from Scotch Corner to Penrith and on to Workington. That is a project which, incidentally, will provide 800 jobs. [An HON. MEMBER: "When?"] While it is being constructed.

We have just had an inquiry. We have said that this is the preferred route. One then has to go through the all-too-long procedure—it is seven or eight years before one see the traffic moving on a road—but it is our way of doing things in order to protect those through whose land the road is being laid, those who wish to put the amenity points, and so on. We shall get on with that as quickly as the procedure allows, and not only will it provide this number of jobs during the actual construction work but when it is built it will, of course, assist the Leyland National bus factory to get up to its capacity of 350 employees in Workington. Then there is the A69 from Newcastle to Carlisle.

The road strategy of the North has been based on the A1, the A1(M) and the A19. The A19 construction north from Dishforth through Teesside, bypassing Sunderland and Washington, connecting with Tyneside, and then on to the new road from Newcastle to the A1 at Seaton Burn is really the lifeline of the North-East. Links with the other regions are vital too. I forecast that the M1 extension which bypasses Leeds will become just as famous as the Northern link as is the Midland link between the M1 and the M6.

Many urban schemes are just as important as the inter-city schemes. There is the Central Motorway East in Newcastle, the Western Bypass to Gateshead and the A19 diversion at Teesside—a £20 million job. The southern bypass of Stockton and Thornaby will cost £8 million and the Billingham diversion some £5 million. There is also the Northern Loop road bypass to Middlesbrough. All these projects in themselves mean extra employment for a considerable period during construction, and then they serve the great industrial areas and increase the employment potential there. The average of nearly £50 million expenditure on roads in the region every year since 1969 cannot fail to have some good effect upon employment and productivity and, therefore, upon earnings.

It is clear that the Northern Region is not merely benefiting from the significant upturn in the national economy but is progressing in its own right. In the last year the number of unemployed has dropped by 20,000 and outstanding vacancies have doubled.

Mr. George Grant (Morpeth)

The Minister talks about the reduction in unemployed. Will he tell us what the figure would have been had the criteria remained the same as they were in 1970? I am referring to the possibility of large numbers of unemployed being passed on to social security, invalidity benefits and so on. Do the figures show an improvement, and what connection is there between the fall in numbers of unemployed and the numbers who have been passed on to social security?

Mr. Page

The hon. Member is asking me a hypothetical question and one which he knows I cannot answer off the cuff and which I would not try to answer. Unemployment has dropped substantially and not merely because of the upturn in the national economy. There is an improvement in the Northern Region in its own right.

Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

The Minister is being as preposterous over the regional figures as was the Secretary of State over the national figures. If a Government allow unemployment to rise to 1 million and then reduce it to 600,000, and if they allow unemployment in the Northern Region to rise to 100,000 and then they reduce it to 61,000, is it not a preposterous cheek to claim that that is a success?

Mr. Page

It would indeed be a preposterous cheek if that had been the case, but it is not. The figure is now the same as it was in early 1970, but then it was rising and now it is falling.

The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring mentioned that 50,000 people were unemployed and only 5,000 of them were skilled. This is a problem we are endeavouring to put right by the extension of Government training centres to a further 1,600 places. This has helped to resettle redundant men and to cope with the shortage of skilled labour, and it will help still further when the current extensions are completed and the centres can train nearly 3,500 workers in 40 different trades. That is what is happening in the Government training centres. Add to that the technical colleges and the private firms training capacity and we calculate that there will be 6,000 to 7,000 trainees passing through annually.

Unfortunately, the inconsistency of the trade union attitude towards Government training centres is a hindrance. On Tyneside and in Cumbria trade unions will not accept trainees in the fitting and turning trades, yet in the building and construction trades the unions are giving encouragement to the GTCs. The northern area has not done badly out of the proportion of training places to the employed population. Over the whole of the country the proportion is one in 1,095. In the Northern Region it is as low as one in 488, so there has certainly been a substantial increase in training places.

The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring raised the question of the employment of civil servants in the Northern Region. The region has done pretty well out of Government dispersals. There are 11,000 staff at the Department of Health and Social Security at Longbenton. [Interruption.] It is no good hon. Members complaining. I am giving the figures of the numbers employed there. There are 1,800 employed in the Savings Department at Durham. There are 600 in the Department of Education and Science at Darlington. Three thousand seven hundred non-industrial Civil Service posts have been dispersed to the Northern Region in the last 10 years, and further dispersals of 700 posts are in the pipeline.

Mr. Urwin

How many civil servants have been dispersed into the Northern Region since June 1970? Will the Minister also tell us when he proposes to take action to fill the vacuum created by the loss of the proposed PAYE centre with a potential 2,500 jobs in Washington?

Mr. Page

The hon. Member must be aware of the difficulty that the Civil Service is finding in recruiting within the area. The problem is quite clear from the administration which is there already. We must guard against putting too many Civil Service jobs there. [Interruption.] Newcastle at present has the largest number of Civil Service jobs of any city in the country outside London.

Mr. Geoffrey Rhodes (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)

Will the Minister give way? He is referring to a matter concerning my constituency.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Miss Harvie Anderson)

Order. I hope that hon. Members will realise the number of people who are hoping to take part in the debate and will restrict their interventions accordingly. It is not a matter for the Chair but it would be in the interests of the House to restrict interventions.

Mr. Rhodes

I am not one of those who have asked to speak in the debate. I merely ask the Minister to give way because he is talking about a large Civil Service complex in my constituency. Is the Minister aware that staff at the Civil Service centre who are not qualified have been laid off because of the surge of young people leaving school who are qualified, and coming forward for jobs? Jobs must be found for these young people but the Minister must admit that there is no shortage of skill in the area for the staffing of Civil Service Departments? His statement on that matter is a complete deception.

Mr. Page

It cannot be a deception when Newcastle has more civil servants than any other city outside London. One cannot go on dispersing civil servants into areas of that sort.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Shocking. Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Page

I have given way to the hon. Gentleman once. I cannot give way to him when he is sitting down heckling me.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) has made a valid point that civil servants at Longbenton have been dismissed because they are unqualified, in spite of having given many years' service at Longbenton, because there is a surfeit of youngsters wanting jobs. I do not complain about the youngsters who want jobs. However, the Minister said that the Civil Service was having difficulty in attracting recruits. Will he withdraw that misleading statement?

Mr. Page

It is not a misleading statement. We expect the Hardman Report in a few days, and I hope that we shall discuss the matter in more depth when we have it before us. I am prepared to leave my statements for discussion when we have the report.

I return to the transport side. I should like to mention two interesting and exciting projects—the Tyneside rapid transit system and the possibility of the new crossing of the Tees. The Tyneside rapid transit system is the largest project so far accepted for infrastructure grant, and the largest provincial urban transport scheme to be prepared in the United Kingdom this century. It involves 34 lines, with bus and rail services, electric trains, tunnels under Newcastle and Gateshead, a new bridge over the Tyne and 46 stations, building to start next year and, we hope, completion by 1979. There will be the creation of many jobs by its construction and a massive increase in employment possibilities by improved accessibility when it is completed.

With regard to the new crossing of the River Tees, we await the consultants' report on the preferred route, which I hope we shall have in August, so that there can then be further study.

There are many interesting and exciting projects on Teesside, including the Ekofisk oil terminal near Graythorpe, an £80 million scheme involving 2,000 jobs in its construction and 200–300 permanent jobs in its operation; an iron ore terminal at Redcar; the new potash and phosphates terminal at Tees Dock; the reclamation of Seal Sands for industrial development and the proposals to expand the European container traffic.

In other North-East coast ports there are similar exciting development projects in hand—the industrial sites on coal trade land and the expansion of the roll-on, roll-off facilities on the Tyne; and rebuilding of the, fish dock at North Shields, with a 60 per cent. grant from the Government. At Blyth there are the terminal facilities for the Alcan smelter, and at Sunderland there is Doxfords' covered ship factory at Pallion Yard. We have only recently received the Booz-Allen Report, which is being studied in connection with assistance to such schemes.

There are severe problems for certain other ports. In Workington and Hartlepool, we have adopted a new and exceptional way of dealing with the problems so that we can quickly bring expertise to bear on them. We have adopted the system of a task force to examine the issues quickly and act quickly on what is advised. At Workington there is the loss of iron ore imports as a result of the cessation of the steelmaking there, with the possible loss of 440 jobs, and the closure of the Solway Colliery, with the loss of 550 jobs. The task force there has reported, and we hope to act on its recommendations as quickly as possible.

The same method has been adopted at Hartlepool. The task force has given its advice. We face the loss of perhaps nearly 3,000 steelmaking jobs there, but the task force has disclosed a number of manufacturing industries which may produce at least a thousand new jobs in the area.

We have then to look at the advancing road schemes, dock improvements, training and town improvements in Hartlepool.

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartlepools)

The right hon. Gentleman has spoken of a thousand new jobs. Will he bear in mind that there are 2,300 male unemployed in Hartlepool now, and that 2,450 will become unemployed in 1975? If we add those two figures together and take away the right hon. Gentleman's 1,000, we see that our net unemployment level increases considerably. On the right hon. Gentleman's figures, Hartlepool will have 4,000 people out of work by 1975.

Mr. Page

I am not minimising the problem. I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has made that point. I just mentioned the round figure of a thousand which has been thrown up on first report by the task force to show that we are obtaining immediate value from the system we have adopted.

Perhaps I should now deal with the point about Kielder, which was raised by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring. I fully accept the urgent need of all the new industries within the North-East for a massive new water supply, and that Kielder could provide that supply. But the proposal is that we should create the biggest man-made lake in Europe by flooding seven miles of one of the most picturesque valleys in the country. One must be certain that there are no adequate alternatives before making such an irretrievable decision.

On a careful study of the evidence given at the inquiry—I have read through every word—it was clear that, although the alternatives had been argued, the expert evidence on their feasibility was incomplete. The time-scale of the need for the water is such that there seemed to be sufficient time to obtain the complete evidence. That is why my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State decided to reopen the inquiry and obtain that evidence. When it is possible to set like by like, which was not possible in the course of that inquiry, my right hon. and learned Friend will give his decision, and the North-East will be assured of the water it needs within the necessary time.

I turn to other transport questions. I have mainly mentioned the roads, but there are problems with the railways. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Transport Industries made it clear earlier this year that the Government are committed to continued support in general for the loss-making railways in the area. The contribution is about £3 million at present.

I have mentioned construction and new industries, but these must go hand in hard with the provision of new homes and new jobs; perhaps new homes a little in advance of new jobs. The renewal of industrial life must be preceded by the renewal of residential life.

The trouble with the house-building industry in the region is that in many parts it is already at full stretch. The success of the improvement grant system is partly to blame. As a result of the 75 per cent. grant for development areas, improvements are running at the rate of 56,000 a year, compared with less than a fifth of that rate four years ago. The Northern Region's share of approvals for local authority house improvements is a quarter of the total for England and Wales. That means that this one region, out of nine in England and Wales, has had improvements to the extent of a quarter of the total.

New house completions—19,500 for 1972—are recovering dramatically. I am glad to see that in that progress in house-building there has been attention to design. The region walked off with more medals than any other in last year's RIBA competition for house designs. The hon. Gentleman mentioned the meeting called by the Design Council that I had the honour to address last week. It was very gratifying that the Design Council chose to have its annual presentation in the Northern Region, at the Civic Centre in Sunderland, where His Royal Highness Prince Philip presented the awards.

Housing must be backed up by adequate social services. Fortunately, the recently announced restrictions on public expenditure do not apply to the health and personal social services in any area. In fact, hospitals in the Northern Region have done better than the average hospital in England.

I was surprised to learn, when I looked at the figures, that the Northern Region contains only just over 7 per cent. of the school population of England. However, the allocation of national resources for schools in the Northern Region is very much more than 7 per cent. of the whole. That is deservedly so because the school accommodation in the area is in general outdated. The score of 114 schools to be built in the region by 1976 should go a long way to replace outdated school accommodation.

Last January I had the honour to preside over a meeting of the Northern Region Economic Planning Council and the 14 local planning authorities forming the North Regional Planning Committee. The meeting was to launch a study by a professional team leading to the production of a regional strategy. That is a strategy which will provide a rational framework for local and national decisions for the Northern Region—investment decisions particularly—and which will provide guidelines for the local planning authority's structure plans.

I found no depression amongst those at the meeting either about the future of the Northern Region or about the assistance given by central Government. I admit that the North East Development Council was not present. It has chosen to circulate to right hon. and hon. Members a paper crying "Woe, woe." I should have thought that a development council should be preaching boom and not doom. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

If we continue with the present programme of construction work on roads, rail and ports, of attracting new industries to the region, of pressing on with the housing and improvement progress that has already been made, of expanding and renewing the hospitals and schools, and of grasping the nettle quickly when difficult problems arise and when industries in the area have to close, I am sure that it it will be a boom story for the Northern Region.

4.45 p.m.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley (Middlesbrough, East)

The right hon. Gentleman has been given an impossible task. I think that he knows in his heart that the material which he has presented in support of the Government amendment is weak.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Teesside in passing and gave a list of development items. He seemed to indicate that the Government have been responsible for those developments. That is quite untrue, except in the case of the British Steel complex. The Government can claim no credit for any other development. All the people who are knowledgeable about the steel industry were agreed that the only economic site where the complex could have been put was on Teesside.

The right hon. Gentleman in passing referred to an educational development in the North-East. I wonder whether he is aware that on Teesside there are still more children per teacher per class than in any other part of England, Wales or Scotland. Further, why did he not mention Teesside in connection with the dispersal of civil servants? I know why he did not do so. There is still no Government office of substance in the area. I hope that when the Hardman Report comes out next week we shall get some result. I should have been pleased if the right hon. Gentleman had been in a position to tell us something about that matter.

The Prime Minister and about half of the Cabinet have at one time or other been to Teesside. For what good they have done they might as well have stayed away. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Knutsford (Mr. John Davies), when he was Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said that he was well aware that the industrial problems of the North-East were deep-seated and could not be abolished as though by a magic wand. We did not expect him to produce a magic wand but we expected some help. During the right hon. Gentleman's period of office, we received precious little help.

The right hon. Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr), when Secretary of State for Employment, opened a Government training centre. We were very glad that he was able to do so. When he opened the centre and when he was in the area subsequently he was approached about a scheme which has been operated by the Teesside Youth Employment officer and the personnel officer of ICI. In Teesside, as is well known, young men and women find it difficult to get jobs. Those with lower academic standards tend to roam the streets. The two gentlemen I have mentioned decided to produce a craft scheme in addition to the ICI training scheme. Young men can join this scheme for 12 weeks. They should go for longer. Pressure has been put on the Ministry to allow the scheme to run over a longer period. Young men are taught the basic elements of a craft. At the end of 12 weeks they are able to do jobs. They can undertake jobs, for example, at their friends' homes and some can find employment. That is a good scheme. But what is the Secretary of State for Employment doing? He is doing nothing about it.

I am told by one person who is knowledgeable about these matters that an application for the scheme to be extended has been under consideration for some time and as yet no answer is forthcoming. Perhaps we were hoping for too much in expecting such help from the present Secretary of State for Employment.

The Minister for Industrial Development has said that, as far as possible, decisions on Government assistance for industrial development in the North-East should be taken in the North-East. I could not agree with him more. Perhaps he will tell us when decisions on industrial development in the North-East will take place.

Industrial development in the North-East will be held back, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin), by the decision of the Secretary of State for the Environment. But for his action the Kielder Dam could have been in operation in April of this year. The Northern Region's thirst for water is an urgent problem.

The Secretary of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has declined to make a grant to provide Teesside with a new fruit, vegetable and flower market. The need arose because of the clearance of slums and derelict areas. I am assured by knowledgeable people that if a new central market at Teesside is not forthcoming, not only will the cost of goods go up but produce such as fruit and vegetables will be less fresh. That is not a pleasant outlook for those on Teesside.

The people of Teesside have precious little for which to thank the Government. The area wants many things. I have no doubt that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) will mention the university. In the hope that he or one of my other hon. Friends will do so, I shall not pursue that matter further. The fact is that far too little has been done not only on Teesside but in the North as a whole to overcome our basic problems.

To replace the decaying houses, roads and schools is a heavy burden. The average personal income in the North-East is only 79 per cent. of the national average. The people of the North-East prefer to be self-reliant but the handicaps caused by being pioneers of the industrial revolution are too great to be overcome without Government assistance.

If the North-East is to be brought up to the higher standard prevailing in other parts of the country, what is needed is a Cabinet Minister with a Department of State to back him. It can be argued that this Government and the Labour Government have been more generous to development areas than other parts of the country, but that is not good enough, because to overcome the difficulties caused by the North-East having been the cradle of industrial development, substantial Government grants are required. After all, the basic wealth of the country comes from these industrial areas.

There are many other problems in addition to those which I have mentioned. For example, the environmental hazards in the North are higher than in many other large areas of the country. Because of the heavy concentration of industry on Teesside, it has a larger level of pollution. Firms such as ICI, the British Steel Corporation, Head Wrightson, Power Gas and Warner Brothers, and many others, spend large sums of money in trying to control pollution of the area caused by their manufactures. They are under constant pressure from myself and other Teesside Members of Parliament, and I know that these firms sometimes spend beyond what they consider to be reasonable economic limits.

It is essential for these firms to produce as cheaply as possible, because most of them are exporters on which the country's economy and success depends. The Government should consider creating a special fund, and other parts of the country ought not to mind being taxed additionally in order that Government grants—not loans—can be given to help overcome the environmental problems in areas such as the North-East Region. The same is true of the waterways. The River Tees is heavily contaminated by industrial effluent and to put the entire burden on port, harbour and local authorities is unjustified. Grants, not loans, are required to meet the cost, which can amount to millions of pounds.

One must recognise that the North-East cannot benefit unless investment improves in the country as a whole. We are told that this is now taking place. But we have not yet seen in the North-East the effects of this measure of economic development, in which we should benefit substantially, as we have a right to expect. For example, because of rationalisation—and one cannot argue against that if it will make industry more efficient—Teesside has lost about 10,000 jobs, which can never be replaced. The unemployment must be soaked up, and for this purpose it is not only necessary to encourage new industry to come to Teesside but the Government must consider giving grants to expand existing industry.

In looking forward, we must face the fact that, although we have argued for employment now, the time is not too distant when work will be a privilege in this age of automation, computers and technical improvements. It is inevitable that there will be fewer jobs, not only in the North-East but in the country generally. This must compel the Government and all of us to consider now how to bring about shorter working hours, longer holidays and a shorter working life. People will retire earlier and provision will have to be made for further education slanted towards helping them to enjoy their increased leisure, to travel, to understand the arts and culture, and to learn new crafts. In the meantime, we must recognise that our im- mediate and urgent problem is to achieve for the North-East the same opportunities and standards as are enjoyed in the rest of the country.

5.8 p.m.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

When I seek to catch your eye in a debate of this kind, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I find myself in a slight quandary, because the problems of the North-East are so vast and require so much attention. I find myself wishing to discuss certain proposals and to find out from the Government what progress is being made. Yet at the same time, as a very good supporter of the Government, I feel that it ought to be my opportunity to discuss the relative proposals and actions of my Government compared with those of the Labour Party. Inevitably, however, what I have to say often carries with it some criticism of my own Government. I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friends will forgive me if I do criticise them, because I do so from the basis, "Thank God, the Labour Party is not in power and the Conservative Party is." I hope that my right hon. Friends will accept that as my view.

I am most interested in the motion. The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) did his best, as he always does. But his best does not get us very far. He concentrated, quite naturally, on the industrial problems and did not mention the social services aspect, although that is included in the terms of the motion. That was very reasonable of him. Sometimes the Opposition show a little sense—not always—and it was certainly sensible of the hon. Gentleman not to mention the social services aspect because we could massacre the Opposition by pointing out the progress made in the social services since the present Government took office. It was very wise of the hon. Gentleman not to enter into that aspect.

However, I often feel that when we are discussing such problems some good ideas do come from the Opposition. Much better ideas come from the Conservative Party but the Opposition do have some good ideas, and I always pay my tribute to the hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Alfred Morris) for his Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act, which has been implemented by the present Government. That is an example of a very proper co-operation. If Labour Members had embarked on that part of the motion dealing with social security we could have massacred them. I do not want to massacre them on this occasion. It is, however, important to discuss the problems of industry.

I was in the House of Commons during the last war. When war was declared, the assessment was that the enemy would bomb the North-East Coast and part of Scotland. The edict went forth that we were to have no new industry or development. We were not able to build new schools and things like that. That has added very much to our problems. Any Government ought to give us the maximum amount of money.

A place such as Birmingham was extremely lucky—although I am glad that I do not have to represent it in the House of Commons. During the war much of the new development which helped us in our victory was carried out in Birmingham. It had the development of the motor car, radio and television industries and, a little further north, there was the development of the man-made fibre industry.

The people of the North-East Coast have a great genius for invention. We could have made a great contribution which would have helped our area as well as the country. Most people in the House today do not have that background knowledge, but it is worth emphasising.

I do not agree with what is said in Cambridge or elsewhere about regional employment premium. I have my own views. At the last General Election I did not subscribe to the policy set out in our manifesto. I left myself free to do what I thought was right when the time came. I am not against the Government's policy on this but they are inclined to talk in general terms.

Before the Government finally take their decision they ought to make an analysis of the small businesses on Tyneside, Teesside and in Cumberland to discover what their problems will be if REP is phased out. Among the many good speeches that have been made recently by members of my Government has been one dealing with small businesses. I am in close touch with what goes on in Tyne- side and I know that there are many small businesses there which in recent years would have been making a loss but for regional employment premium. Governments have to present an overall policy without filling in the detail. I am not prepared to support the Government in phasing out regional employment premium until that analysis has been made to my satisfaction.

If that phasing out is disadvantageous to the small businesses it may be possible to withdraw the premium from some areas and industries while at the same time maintaining it for others until they are in a position, under a Conservative Government, to do without it. I am certain that we shall win the next General Election. I know that the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring kept talking about "when we win". His party has not won yet and I do not think it will. If small businesses cannot operate without the premium I want to know what the Government intend to do to ensure that these businesses carry on. I beg the Government to pay some attention to those who are in close touch with small businesses.

I have a great admiration for the Secretary of State for the Environment but sometimes when I like Ministers that does not mean that I like their policies. It was a little unwise of my right hon. and learned Friend to embark on the Kielder project. He said that flooding the Kielder Valley would destroy a lovely valley. I am years older than he is and I do not suppose that anyone else in this House has walked that valley, ridden on a bicycle up it, driven up it. During the war I used to go there quite often because there was an establishment there where we used to send our Naval personnel to recover from some of the terrible experiences they suffered during the war. I know the valley very well indeed. I have come to the conclusion that my right hon. and learned Friend is a conservationist. He appreciates the wonderful constituency which he represents. But I have been in the House of Commons for a long time, and I have always fought to ensure the economic survival of the North-East Coast and the provision of jobs.

The Member for Houghton-le-Spring asked whether the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry had made any representations about the Kielder project. Last Friday I attended a meeting of the North-East Development Council at which the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made a first-class speech. He was asked whether any representations had been made by his Department about the Kielder project and the provision of jobs. He answered that, although it was not his responsibility, his Department had made representations, and I was glad to hear him say that. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development who spoke this afternoon speaks for the environment and not for trade and industry.

I wonder whether hon Members have seen the beautiful new dam at Derwent Water, which has given a great deal of pleasure to sportsmen and the young. I see no reason why a similar beautiful dam cannot be constructed at Kielder. It was unwise of my right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development to embark on this subject. I could tear him to shreds. I am sometimes regarded as a rebel, and I enjoy being a rebel. I have asked to attend the inquiry to give evidence. I have sufficient evidence from industry to show that the industrialists and trade unions concerned are determined so far as is within their power that the Kielder project shall be accepted. Parliament usually comes to the right decision.

I have received from the CBI a list of the people who will be affected if the Kielder project is rejected. We have in the North the ICI, the river board, many big industries and the Scottish and Newcastle breweries. I ask my right hon. Friend to consider what a commotion there would be if the British working man were unable to get his beer because of a lack of water. I have a long list of important firms which have already made representations, and I have made representations on the subject to Lord Carrington. There seems to be no constitutional reason why I should not give evidence to the inquiry.

The new inspector who has been appointed, Sir Robert Scott, had a distinguished administrative career in the Far East. I am delighted that he has been appointed. Those who are familiar with his work know of his ability, integrity and understanding. I do not think that we shall have any difficulty in explaining to him the needs of industry. I wonder how much knowledge the Secretary of State for the Environment or the Minister for Local Government and Development have of the industrial needs of the North.

Mr. Graham Page

The need for a new water supply for the North-East is not in question in any way. We want to see whether the need can be met by the alternative sites which were put forward, and we think that there is time to find out in the short period of the new inquiry.

Dame Irene Ward

That sounds a reasonable argument, but I know enough about civil servants—whom I very much admire—to know that they are often dogmatic. I also know about dogmatic Ministers, among whom I include the Secretary of State for the Environment. He is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but, having lived with an industrial background all my life, I prefer to be guided by the industrialists who know their own business.

I am terribly sorry about the few people who will lose their houses if the Kielder project goes through, but there is no reason why they should not be properly rehoused. The Secretary of State for the Environment has allowed an awful mess to be made of Newcastle. Many lovely houses have been pulled down and many splendid trees. The Secretary of State has allowed Eldon Square, of which I am very proud, to be spoiled.

When I start to fight, I fight and if I lose, I lose. The Secretary of State knows about all the representations that have been made. I will not go into detail now because I do not believe in stating my case until it is necessary to do so. I do not think that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry or the Minister for Local Government and Development have much knowledge of the industrial needs of the north. They certainly do not have as much knowledge as that which was contained in the representations made by the river boards, the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company and all the industries in my area in seeking to stress the anxiety which has been caused by the Government's decision.

I have in my Division one particularly good firm which won the Queen's Award for Industry, and we are very proud of that company. On the very occasion when the Secretary of State wrote to tell me that the Queen's Award had been given to that firm I received a letter from the firm——

Mr. Robert C. Brown

Too long!

Dame Irene Ward

I can talk for as long as I like. I know that certain hon. Gentlemen opposite do not want to hear me, but that does not worry me. The firm wrote to me in favour of the Kielder project. The firm wants to expand, but unless it receives an absolute assurance it will have to consider moving to Europe—perhaps to Belgium or to Holland. My comment, which perhaps was a little cynical, was that perhaps they would rather have been given the water to assist them to promote their activities and to help them in their expansion than to have been given the Queen's Award.

The North-East is benefiting under a Conservative Government, because we have produced plans for the area and we also have the economic resources in the Treasury to meet the various grants. I could probably spend much more money on various projects than many Labour Members, but the point is that I have faith in the Conservative Government because against the background of its economic and financial policies we can supply the money. Those policies are vastly superior to the sort of stupidities which often arise from the activities of various Labour Governments. I am happy to have had the opportunity of making these remarks, and I shall support the Government's amendment because it is in the best interests of the North-East.

5.32 p.m.

Mr. David Reed (Sedgefield)

I do not propose to take up the conversations of the hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) about the Kielder Valley or to dwell for long on the speech made by the Minister for Local Government and Development. Both speakers went back to earlier years to find examples of projects in the Northern Region—projects which were started before I was born—to demonstrate that a Conservative Government are able to bring real benefit to the region. I do not wish to go back many years to that sort of experience but want instead to get down to what this debate is really about.

I wish in my remarks to limit myself to saying that from an industrial point of view we must find the means to attract private enterprise investment into the Northern Region. Labour Members have many projects in mind which we should like to see brought into the region and which would involve public investment, but faced as we are with the present Conservative Government, there is very little point in spending much time on that topic.

On the question of private enterprise investment, I remember the words of a former boss of mine, the then chairman of the North-East Development Council. His view was that industry was a question of people and money working together and that we must persuade the Government to come up with the money to support our people. This is what successive Governments seem to have done over the last 10 or 15 years. There have been various forms of stick-and-carrot policies aimed at attracting industry to the Northern Region and other development areas. One of our criticisms of the present Government is that they seem to have weakened both the stick and the carrot at the same time.

I want to concentrate on the other side of the argument, and that is the question of having the right sort of skilled people in the Northern Region. Even with the advent of the Conservative Government's Industry Act, the estimated figure to be spent on industrial incentives in the development regions is £314 million. Up to a point the investment incentive argument is being dealt with, but what is not being tackled is the question of the provision of skilled labour and training facilities in the Northern Region. With over 50,000 men unemployed in the region, it must be remembered that only about 10 per cent. have skills to offer to new industry. Despite what was said by the Minister for Local Government and Development about the expansion of Government training centre places, GTCs, technical colleges and all the rest, including private industrial training, there will be a throughput of only 6,000 people per year as a result of all the schemes lumped together—and that is not enough.

I should like to see the Government taking a much more sophisticated approach to training, to the business of finding which skills will be in demand in the coming years and to providing places for people to be trained. A useful start to such an exercise would be to carry out a scheme such as that which was conducted by the consultants who produced the Leyland-Chorley development plan. In that plan the consultants took the existing industrial base of the area and carried out an analysis to try to discover what investment would be likely to be attracted in future. They used an industrial complex analysis to demonstrate clearly the sort of new industry that was likely to be attracted. I should like to see such an exercise carried out for the Northern Region as a whole.

For far too long in the region we have accepted indiscriminate investment on the basis that it is better than nothing. From the long-term point of view that is not the right approach. I should like to see some forward thinking being carried out in terms of the industrial future in the region so that it can be translated into the training sphere and so that we shall know the sort of skills which will be needed in the future.

I wish to put forward one specific case related to my constituency in which such an exercise would be valuable. There is one operating pit in my constituency, at Fishburn. It is a short-life pit which, because of its geological condition, has probably three or four years of working left. There is no doubt in most people's minds that that pit must eventually close. The people who are employed in that pit amount to some 600 and they are a tremendous asset to the region as a whole. What worries me is that if that pit is allowed to close without some form of compensatory scheme, then that valuable asset of labour will be dissipated and we shall never be able to recreate it.

The cost to central government of running down that pit, in terms of social security and similar benefits, would probably be in the region of £500,000 to £750,000 a year. If those workers are not enabled to find new employment soon after the pit closes, then there will be an enormous loss unless some sort of compensation is built into the situation.

I return to the question of training. If the Government first carry out an industrial complex analysis of the region as a whole, we shall have a clearer idea of the kind of skills which will be needed. The Government could then phase in a training scheme and could use the Fishburn pit as a guinea-pig project to try to discover whether the coherent working force of 600 people in the area could be kept together for the benefit of the region. I think that such a scheme could work extremely well.

I envisage a mass training programme keyed in to a rundown at the pit. Such a programme would mean that 600 people in my constituency would escape the prospects of immediate redundancy. There are many attractions in such a scheme, including the availability of skilled labour in an area which may well attract new investment. There would be obvious benefits for the region as a whole and not merely for my constituents—although, of course, that aspect to me is of vital importance.

The Minister for Local Government and Development was somewhat snide in his remarks about the reaction of the trade union movement in the Northern Region to retraining schemes. It is a pity that the right hon. Gentleman has left the Chamber. He might like to know that when I was in my constituency working out what I would say in this debate I talked to officials of the trade union movement with a view to obtaining their reactions to this new approach to industrial training. In every single case I was told, "Yes, we will accept it, given certain very minor safeguards". I also talked to the people themselves, especially to those employed in that pit. They, too, said that they would accept a scheme of that nature, again with very minor safeguards. The trade union movement now accepts the need for this kind of training to meet the requirements of industry in the future, and it does not behove the right hon. Gentleman to criticise it from a very inadequate knowledge of the current situation.

I appreciate that the proposed scheme is a departure and that there could be many snags which would have to be worked out in advance. But it is in an area where new thinking is needed and where we need to start developing new and more sophisticated methods of training people in line with the real demand for them from industry. I hope that we shall hear from the Minister that he intends to see whether it is possible to conduct a feasibility study in the area with a view to discovering whether a scheme of this kind can be introduced.

5.41 p.m.

Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

I first became a Member of this House in 1964. In all my years here it has been my experience whenever we have discussed the Northern Region to hear the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) making a marathon speech. Today has been no exception.

When we discuss the Northern Region there is always a tendency to concentrate on the north-east side of the region. We are apt to forget that the Northern Region stretches across to the Cumberland coast.

In what I have to say I make no apology for talking about parish pump politics. After all, it is the people in the region who count and, like other hon. Members, I was sent here to speak up for those whom I represent.

The area which I represent and the county of Cumberland as a whole have always been regarded as a low-wage earning area. Sometimes I wish that the Department would produce a table district by district so that we could see whether there was any truth in the supposition. It is accepted that ours is a low-wage earning area. That being the case, one of the problems facing Cumberland is the lack of job opportunities. There are no prospects, and many of our young people, after receiving their education, have to seek fresh pastures in other parts of the country with the result that their knowledge and skills are lost to their home county.

We hear a great deal from this Government about the way in which they are improving living standards in the Northern Region. That is the suggestion in their amendment today. However, Ministers ought to come to my part of the country. They will find there and in the county of Cumberland that living standards are not being improved but that, on the contrary, as the result of increased prices the people of the area are having to go without a great deal and are finding life very difficult.

Recently in Cumberland we experienced the closure of the Solway Colliery. That in itself was a tragedy. I believe that it was a mistake that we shall regret in years to come. In the past, we have been dependent upon coal and, during the last war, the mining communities of Northumberland, Cumberland and Durham made a wonderful contribution to the war effort with their coal production. Now we have just closed Solway Colliery, which has left nearly 500 people in the area without jobs.

Coming nearer to my own part of the county, I wish to refer to Spadeadam, where we have a number of highly skilled technical personnel. A few weeks ago, like a bolt out of the blue, the management was told by the Government that Spadaedam was to be closed completely by the end of the year. I have been in correspondence with the Ministry of Defence about it. I hope that in the course of the debate some assurance will be given to those who are to be displaced as a result of the Spadeadam closure that job opportunities will be created for them in the area and that they will not be forced to leave as so many of our young people have had to do.

There are also rumours that the axe is to swing on the railways. I am not unmindful of the fact that ours is a very important railway centre. Last week the Guardian reported that the Government had decided to go ahead with certain branch line closures. If there is any truth in that report, I hope that there will be second thoughts. If the Carlisle-to-Whitehaven line and the Carlisle-to-Newcastle line are closed, the result will be redundancies on British Railways.

A couple of years ago, this Government decided to hand back to private enterprise the Carlisle District State Management Scheme. That in itself has left its problems in Carlisle. However, immediately after the sale was completed, some of the firms which bought premises put them on the market again. It is rumoured that properties have been sold at enhanced rates and that fat profits have been made. However, that is rumour. I have no evidence to substantiate it. The fact remains, though, that we are still suffering the effects of the Government's decision to denationalise the Carlisle District State Management Scheme.

Since we are looking at the Northern Region as a whole, I hope that the Minister will help us to ensure that Cumberland is not allowed to die.

5.50 p.m.

Mr. R. W. Elliott (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)

I am pleased to follow the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ron Lewis) for one reason above all others. As I told him earlier today, I cannot remember a debate on the Northern Region when he did not interrupt me after I had been speaking for no fewer than two minutes.

Mr. Ron Lewis

There is plenty of time.

Mr. Elliott

However, I imagine that we may depart from precedent today in that the hon. Gentleman preceded me for once. I agree with what the hon. Gentleman said at the beginning of his speech, that so often in debates we are inclined to think of the Northern Region as being solely the eastern half. Of course, there is the western half. Those of us who are of the Northern Region try to remember and take due account of it. We recognise to the full the problems associated with the Spadeadam development.

I should like to refer to the thoughtful speech by the hon. Member for Sedge-field (Mr. David Reed) who preceded the hon. Member for Carlisle. That which he suggested is sound in theory. The hon. Gentleman began by suggesting that he could not go as far back as some hon. Members either in years of experience in this House or in years in which he has lived. That is so. As a comment on his suggestion of pre-thinking before 600 miners become redundant, the matter of training, and particularly retraining, is something that we have had to face in quite recent times. I can recall in my time in this House when there were merely 699 Government training places in the Northern Region and we had difficulty in filling them. That was not so many years ago. Indeed, it is not so many years ago that unskilled labour could find employment quite easily. Although we have known the enormous need to increase our skills, this need has come upon us quite suddenly, and it is a problem with which we are not yet fully prepared to cope. Nevertheless, I found the hon. Gentleman's contribution most interesting.

One of the great benefits of such a debate as this is that emerging from it should be some forward thinking. An industrial complex analysis, as the hon. Gentleman called it, is something that we would all commend. It may be of interest to the hon. Gentleman that in a debate of this nature a number of years ago I appealed to his right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), when she had responsibility in this context, to instigate a full inquiry into the needs and reactions of new industrialists who had gone into development areas. I felt at that time, and still feel today, that we do not know enough about the problems of those who have accepted the invitation, have responded to the incentives to go to the development areas, and have found a variety of problems which I have found in visiting them. The new industrialists—I had an example of this last weekend—are finding considerable difficulty in obtaining the new and necessary skills for their developments.

The attitude of the trade union movement, to which the hon. Gentleman also referred, is much better now. But, with respect to the trade union movement, there are those of us who remember when its attitude was extremely awkward, particularly regarding retraining. It was an attitude which one fully understood, but it was awkward nevertheless. I pay tribute to the trade union movement in this regard in that it has shown an enormous advance and improvement particularly in recent years.

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) delivered a most thoughtful speech. I was pleased that he resurrected the ghost of a university of technology on Teesside. It is high time that we started thinking about that again. The right hon. Gentleman rightly emphasised the enormous burdens in our areas which are an inheritance of the industrial revolution.

I think that we might pause for a moment to appreciate to the full the promise of regional aid which will come from membership of the EEC. I am convinced that such areas as the north-east of England will benefit enormously when the Community gets round, as it will, as its next big stage of development, to aid to areas which have out-of-date industrial plant, machinery and buildings. I am convinced that the Northern Region will benefit enormously when we get to that stage.

Mr. Rhodes

This question is not designed to embarrass the hon. Gentleman. Is he aware that in priority terms it has been announced in both Strasbourg and Brussels that the three criteria for priority aid are the movement of labour out of an area, the per capita income, and the unemployment in the area? On those criteria, we in the North compare very well with the South of Italy, the South-West of France, parts of Scotland and parts of Ireland. I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman, in saying "when the Community gets round to it", is speaking with some inner knowledge that perhaps we shall not be in the first batch, but in a year or two or perhaps three or four years.

Mr. Elliott

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's views on the Common Market in general and the Community's plans for development areas elsewhere. We have debated this matter on televsion and in other places. I am still, without pausing too long on the point, optimistic.

Mr. Rhodes

I hope the hon. Gentleman is right.

Mr. Elliott

I think that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East was right to take full note of technological advance. Although it is possibly casting forward into the future a little, I think that those of us who are here this afternoon will have to think more in terms of a shorter working week and and of technical advance and its effects on redundancy generally. Redundancy is an enormous problem of our time. At the annual meeting of the North-East Development Council in Newcastle on Friday of last week, it was a rather moving moment when the director, in presenting his report, said that he had talked just a few days previously to some good, honest working men on Teesside who had been made redundant for a second time. Those of us who have tried to study and follow the problems of our region for some years do not need to have emphasised the psychological effect of being made redundant once. It was a disturbing thought that there are those still in the prime of life who have been made redundant twice. Therefore, we need to think more in terms of technological advance and its effect on redundancy and employment as a whole.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) made an extremely good contribution to the debate. I should like to take this opportunity, having worked with her so happily for many years, to congratulate her most warmly, as I am sure everyone in the House would wish, on the substantial honour that she has just obtained. It gave us all a great deal of pleasure.

This is one of many debates on the Northern Region in which I have taken part over some years. On this occasion I think that we should once again welcome the opportunity sensibly to discuss our region's continuing problems—but I must express dismay at the terms of the motion.

First, the past year has seen an enormous improvement in the affairs of the Northern Region. We have 20,000 fewer people unemployed, investment is flowing to us, and production is rising. The success of the Industry Act is already most spectacular. Again, if I may recall the North-East Development Council's annual meeting on Friday, the Secretary of State said that 40 new applications under the terms of the Industry Act had been made in the month of May alone. This, in addition to the other jobs which have come from this legislation, gives a promise of 3,000 extra jobs. Also, 32 factories and factory units have been allocated in the last six months. In other words, at last there is a bright prospect for the Northern Region.

I cannot remember taking part in any debate here on the Northern Region when the prospects have been better. Those prospects can be summed up no better than in the words of the Chairman of the North-East Development Council when, giving his report on Friday last, he said, The prospects for the Tyne, the Tees and the Wear are brighter than they have been for many a year. That is why, however much a discussion of our continuing problems is desirable, I find the terms of the Opposition motion, to say the least, most surprising.

I am also dismayed because the motion does not help us in our region in one very important respect. For far too long we have derided our region and have suggested that the quality of life there is lower. I myself have for years advocated an end to what I believe the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) referred to as the "begging bowl" attitude. I have for years advocated an improvement generally in our approach to the nation's economic affairs by suggestion that the North-East of England has an enormous amount to contribute to our national good.

The amendment quite rightly refers to the vigorous policy of the present Government overcoming our region's problems and bringing us into economic and social balance with the rest of the country. But it cannot be said too often as a lesson from the past for the future that regional balance can be achieved only if the central economic policy of the Government of the day is working.

We cannot get any better illustration of the fact that grants and aid alone will never solve the problems of a development area than we had in the 6½ years of Labour Government because grants and aid were given then with the best will in the world and with all possible sincerity. I have never doubted the sincerity of Opposition Members in wanting to solve the region's problems, but it was no good pouring in grants and aid when the Government's central economic policy was not working. However, unpalatable it is to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite the hard fact is that from the dawning of that July morning in 1966 when the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) announced his freeze and squeeze, unemployment rose—as taxation rose—in the North of England. It has taken 2½years of Conservative Government—as taxation has fallen—to reverse that trend.

We need further to strengthen our position. It has already been stressed that shortage of skill in the Northern Region is at this time quite serious. No fewer than 32,000 of our unemployed have no skills, and principals of new industry having come to our region—and, as I say, I talked to one such principal only this weekend—count this as a major problem which faces them in the development of their business and industry.

We cannot afford any complacency here. We need more training, more training places. For instance, does it not seem deplorable that we still have twice the national average of unemployment when we have 2,000 unfilled vacancies in the building industry alone? The building industry is just one example. There must be something we can do about it. The number of training places has increased dramatically in my time in the House but it must increase further. I make the suggestion to my right hon. Friend.

We also need more encouragement to firms to undertake their own training. Much more can be done in sponsored courses, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will be able to give us some encouragement in this respect. We need more area research and development into the needs of new industries, and we need more inquiry into the linking of knowledge in the educational system as a whole.

We also need more encouragement to be given to unemployed youth. In company with the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), who I am pleased to see in his place, I took part in a recent BBC broadcast in Sunderland in a series called "Man Alive". There are many unemployed people in Sunderland, and I found it somewhat depressing to appreciate the level of self-sympathy existing there, not so much on the part of young people but on the part of fellow members of the panel, and I also found it distressing to realise that the young people of Sunderland—and of other places in the region—were unwilling and unhappy about going beyond the boundaries of Sunderland, to find employment. We do not want them to have to go too far but we must get over this feeling that the job must be brought to the very door of the unemployed person.

It will just not happen in that way. I can remember in early debates on our regional problems that hon. Members now in opposition but at another time on the Government side used to advocate a new industrial pattern in our region—a pattern of factories being constructed where the pits had been. That just will not do, and we now all have to learn to adhere to the growth area complex. There are certain parts of the region to which new industry will come, and young people particularly have to realise that they must set forth from Sunderland and other places and go to that new industry, having fitted themselves with the required skills.

The northern part of our region, up on the borders of Northumberland, is badly served by Government training centres. For instance, an unemployed young person or a redundant person in the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed has to travel as far as Galashiels before reaching a Government training centre. The region needs more service industries, as we all appreciate, and we would like to show them that we have a great deal to offer. We welcome the decision of the Thorn heating firm to move from Crawley to Tyneside—a splendid example; the move of McFarlane Foods from Lincolnshire to The Hartlepools; and we very much welcome the increase in investment of the Ever-ready firm in its Tanfield-Lee complex.

We must make further effort to benefit to the full from the oil boom. In this respect I draw attention to an urgent problem which faces us, and to the surveys conducted by the Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority. I know that the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) will, Mr. Deputy Speaker, also wish to draw this matter to the attention of the Government if he succeeds in catching your eye. That authority has expressed grave concern about shortages of land on Teesside. There is urgent and immediate need for reclamation of additional land for industry at the mouth of the Tees if we are to get full benefit from the Ekofisk development.

Mr. Leadbitter

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees that the sooner we have a survey of the land required there for industrial needs the better it will be. It is essential that a survey and immediate consultation should take place.

Mr. Elliott

I agree, and I hope that bringing this matter forward will mean that my right hon. Friend will take some note of it.

I join with those who have suggested that our region would very much welcome any dispersal to it of Government office personnel from the Metropolis. Nevertheless, having been fortunate enough, as was the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier), to go on a deputation to the Minister concerned, I do not think that we should place very great hopes in this eventuality because the number of civil servants who can be dispersed to the region is not enormous. Nevertheless, there are possibilities, and we await the Hardman Report with enthusiasm and interest. Among other things, this debate should be used to express our desire to have offices of Government Departments in our region, if that is possible.

Finally, it would be wrong for the debate to pass without some expression of the dismay of some of our major concerns in the Northern Region at the possibility of the alternative Government nationalising major businesses. For firms such as Swan Hunter and Austin Pickersgill, for all firms associated with the North Sea oil industries, proposals by an alternative Government about public ownership can only be wholly discouraging at a time when they need every encouragement.

6.10 p.m.

Mr. Frederick Wiley (Sunderland, North)

I shall not be provoked by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) as I am anxious to be brief and to afford some of my colleagues an opportunity that they might otherwise miss.

First, for the reasons given by the Minister and others, I think that the outlook for the North-East Development Area is probably more promising than that for any other development area. But that is not the issue. The point at issue is the Government's complacency. What worries me is that the Minister refers with satisfaction to a level of unemployment that is quite intolerable. We are not prepared to hear this from Ministers who do not represent constituencies in development areas.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke with equal complacency about training. I should have thought that it was obvious to anyone that the fact that nine out of 10 of the men unemployed in the region have either no skills or skills that are redundant is a very grave discouragement to industry coming to the North-East. We should tackle this problem with a determination which reflects our determination to bring work to the North-East Coast.

Similarly, I complain about the relaxed attitude of the Government towards development area policy. We have repeatedly heard this. It is a recurring pattern. When things are very bad we are told that we cannot do anything because it is impossible to attract industry to a development area; but when there is an upturn we are told that we need not do anything because things are in any case going very well. That is the dilemma. This is the time when development area policy is most important and must be made effective.

I mention one or two further points merely as headings. It is very important to remove any uncertainty about regional employment premium. The Government talked about phasing out REP next year. We must have some certainty about what is going to be done because the one thing that discourages industry is uncertainty.

The same applies in relation to the Common Market. I believe that we shall benefit and that the region will be advantaged by our membership of the Common Market. I know that this is not only in the hands of the Government, but as long as there is uncertainty, industry will be discouraged. Industry will put off and procastinate.

Two aspects of development area policy are increasing in importance and it is recognised that they ought to become much more significant. The first is the importance of service industries and the second is the importance of office employment. We are told that we shall be getting the Hardman Report in a few days. We are also led to believe that it will not be a very encouraging report. Let us have it as soon as possible and let us get effective Government action as soon as possible.

My main purpose is to call attention to the shipbuilding industry. Shipbuilding is very much in the same position as development area policy. It is a cyclical industry. When things improve we are told that all is well and that we need not do anything. That is exactly what happened about Geddes. We no sooner start to congratulate ourselves on the fact that we are implementing Geddes than we are congratulating ourselves that there is no need to do anything when the order books are full. It is important that we have the Booz-Allen Report when we have a boost in the order books. We should recognise the basic importance of Booz-Allen, which is saying to the industry that whereas hitherto it has emerged from each boom relatively worse off than it was prior to the boom, this time it will emerge absolutely worse off. It warns us that whatever aid is given to the industry there will be substantial redundancy.

I have previously recognised the interest which the Minister for Industrial Development has shown in the Sunderland shipyards. I now beg him to come to an early decision. In our last debate on the subject six months ago, the Secretary of State said that there was an agreed formula and that we would have a speedy decision. We have been waiting for Booz-Allen, but we have not got Booz-Allen and we need a decision. I cannot complain that we have been seriously prejudiced during our wait of six months by this lack of decision, but we will be if there is any further delay. We cannot wait any longer.

The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) mentioned in our previous debate the question of the marine engine Seahorse. Equally, we need a decision about that. These two matters are vitally important in the context of development area policy and of shipbuilding. I hope that we have a decision very soon.

The other consequence that follows from this is that we must get every patent obvious support from the Government to get British Leyland into the North-East Coast, preferably in the area between the mouths of the Tyne and the Wear. As Booz-Allen points out, the whole structure of shipbuilding has been perverted because massive Government aid has gone into three of the eight major yards in this country. The further significance of the Booz-Allen Report is that unless something is done, if things are left as they are, this will probably affect the future of British shipbuilding to the detriment of the North-East Coast. As we are told in this report that there will be redundancies and the report repeatedly points out that Government money has been poured into three yards in particular and that the North-East is the only shipbuilding district which has not had this Government support, the least that we are entitled to claim is that support now. We are entitled to special and exceptional aid to persuade British Leyland to come to the North-East Coast. I hope that the Government will make it clear that they are trying to do that.

Finally, although we have been talking in economic terms, the real state of affairs in the North-East is found in social terms. It is the social differences. The average wage is far less in the North-East than it is in the South-East. Every indicator of affluence, except one or two which illustrate the overcrowding of the South-East Coast, shows that the North-East Coast is a deprived region. We are tackling a question of two nations. That is why it is desperately important that now that the Government have the opportunity they should take it.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. William Rodgers (Stockton-on-Tees)

I very much endorse what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). The fact that we can see that conditions are better in the North-East than they have been for some years does not mean that there should be any let-up. On the contrary, the next three, four or five years may provide the very oportunity which was lacking during the 1960s.

In a debate of this kind we all suffer from a kind of schizophrenia. On the one hand, we want to make the case for the North-East and the Northern Region as a whole. On the other hand, all of us who live there or whose constituencies are there know that there is a great deal to recommend the region. There is sometimes an inclination to be cautious in pressing our case against the Government on the ground that this might somehow prejudice the area which we represent. But, on the contrary, with the very positive credits which stand in the balance sheet, there is nothing inconsistent in urging upon the Government a very firm priority in the period immediately ahead. My concern is that a euphoria about growing manufacturing investment, if this is maintained, about the Chancellor achieving—for a short time at least—his 5 per cent. growth, may lead others in the Government, if not the right hon. Gentleman, to urge strongly that the North-East and other regions no longer require priority.

This has happened before. We know that from the mid-1930s right through until the late 1940s attention was paid by successive Governments—grudgingly by some, enthusiastically by others—to taking work to the workers, in the then familiar phrase. The plain fact is that in the 1950s Governments were so conscious of the extent to which standards of living were rising because of the very different post-war environment that they believed that the regional problem no longer existed. So at the end of the 1950s the disequilibrium between the development regions and the rest of the country was precisely the same as at the end of the 1940s.

I go further. In 1950 there was a real chance that within 10, perhaps 20 years—I know that seems a long period, but the problem was deep-seated—we could cure the differential disability of the Northern Region. Then failure throughout the 1950s set back the hope of changing the position for a substantial additional period. That is why I say now that I hope that there will be no slackness of endeavour, no break in the continuity, but that the Government, whatever their inadequacies, will continue to give the North-East the priority it deserves.

The key remains industrial development certificate policy. Already there has been a dangerous relaxation. We all know the pressures to which the Secretary of State will be subject. The temptation will be to allow further relaxation in the Midlands and the South-East as the necessary price to maintain 5 per cent. growth. It will be put to the Secretary of State that because the unemployment problem is not so acute in the Northern Region or in Scotland or in Wales and because industrialists are pressing very strongly for IDCs for the Midlands and the South-East, there can be further relaxation. I hope that the Minister, and through the Minister the Secretary of State, will be brutally tough. There is no better measure of the seriousness of purpose of the Government than their continued control of IBC policy.

Next—this has been mentioned by my right hon. and hon. Friends, but I wish to emphasise the point again—there is no doubt that all informed opinion takes the view that the regional employment premium makes a larger positive contribution than any other incentive to maintaining employment. I hope that the Government will not only change their minds about phasing it out but will argue strongly—I would not deny the necessity for this—that a regional policy in which a regional employment premium plays its part is not incompatible with competition policy within the European Economic Community. This Government would be in a much better position to argue in Brussels for a regional employment premium or the equivalent if they made clear that they had changed their minds and wished to maintain one at home.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) referred to a number of specific concerns on Teesside. I endorse them all. I want to ask the Minister first, as his colleague in opening the debate sought to make a point about the Civil Service being unable to recruit in the North-East, how many vacancies there are on Teesside which the Civil Service is unable to fill. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman in winding up will make clear that, whatever the circumstances may be on Tyneside—and my hon. Friends dispute the information given to the House earlier—circumstances are very different on Teesside and that we can claim legitimately that we can have no significant employment of Government Departments.

Secondly, I support what my right hon. Friend said about youth training. There is an inadequate number of opportunities, particularly in semi-skilled occupations, for young people, and I hope that the Government will support local endeavour on this.

Thirdly, there is the question of the university. It is now 10 years since my then hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West and I put forward a plan for a university on Tyneside. We understood fully that events intervened and the estimates made of the need for university population meant that national resources could not best be used by creating a new university on Teesside. I would not now raise the case if it seemed to me that that was still so, but I greatly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will say that he will continue to make representations to the Secretary of State for Education and Science that when the time comes to create a new wave of university places, Teeside will have a priority as the last of the major conurbations without a university.

My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) referred in his opening remarks to the possible rôle of public enterprise in the regeneration of the development areas. I will not be provoked by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) but I greatly hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not reject a rôle fot public enterprise because to do so would be as doctrinaire as to assume that nationalisation provides all the answers to our economic and industrial problems.

For my part—I can only speak for myself—I see no reason why the nationalisation of ICI, for example, would contribute materially to the solution of slow growth and unemployment in the North-East. I am sure that there is much in the long-term investment plans of ICI, and perhaps something in its day-to-day management, with which I would quarrel. I am concerned about its apparent opposition to white-collar trade unionism. But to nationalise ICI today, tomorrow, or in the foreseeable future would be silly in terms of economic and social priorities, and I would oppose it.

I say that to enable the Minister to make it clear that he is equally undoctrinaire. If I reject a blanket approach to nationalisation in favour of recognising that public enterprise has a constructive rôle to play, I hope that the Minister will equally acknowledge that there is scope for public enterprise in dealing with the problems of the development areas.

I see much to commend it in the proposal made by my hon. Friend the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. David Reed) when he spoke of industrial complex analysis. I should like to see an attempt made, perhaps within the Industry Act, to consider the needs of sub-regions in the Northern Region in terms of investment and of manpower and to produce plans upon which action could be taken. I do not ask for blueprints and tedious ministerial decisions, but a fast-moving and aggressive industrial operation. It is a mistake to assume that merchant banks and management consultants between them can deal with all the problems of small firms, which may have a very substantial contribution to make to employment and growth.

Secondly, on public enterprise, I hope that the existing nationalised industries—I think particularly of coal and steel—will not be checked in any way if they seek to diversify in ways which will provide further employment. If we can have private conglomerates I have never understood why we cannot have public conglomerates as well. There is a unique opportunity in the next 10 years to remedy for all time the problems of the Northern Region. I hope that the Government will seize it.

6.28 p.m.

Sir Paul Bryan (Howden)

I start on a harmonious note by congratulating the Opposition on allotting one of their Supply Days to debating a regional subject. We had a similar debate last year on the Yorkshire and Humberside area. However, that occasion was spoiled to an extent, as this occasion is being spoilt to an extent, by a three-line Whip being imposed—in other words, by the attempt to turn regional policy into a political issue.

Anybody who has seriously followed regional policy over the years knows in his heart of hearts that this is absurd. Obviously Governments of both political complexions have made tremendous efforts to solve this highly intractible problem. The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) said that many of the projects that are now coming to fruition were started by the Labour Government. This is no doubt true. Should the Labour Party ever come to power again, I dare say that the same type of speech could he made by one of my right hon, or hon. Friends. But I think the useful question is not "which party did best? ". It is how better to tackle the regional problems today which have persisted—I underline the word "persisted"—in face of massive efforts by successive Governments.

Whether the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) likes it or not, this is the week in which the national executive of the Labour Party has told an incredulous public that 25 major companies are going to be nationalised. [An HON. MEMBER: "Oh."] The hon. Member may well groan, but this is extremely serious. The public assume that the national executive is a body of standing, especially when its sayings are backed up by one of the leading Opposition speakers on industry—the right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn).

I am not surprised that my successor at the Department of Employment, the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) protested in a Sunday newspaper, because he of all people would certainly know how this sort of threat—for it is a threat—does damage the regions.

Mr. Leadbitter

Who is making party political points now? Is not the hon. Gentleman aware that if he makes such a statement, if he is an honourable man, he will also say what the interpretation of that communication has been. In addition, he will bear in mind the views of the Leader of the Opposition, as well as what has been said by one of my hon. Friends on one aspect of that matter.

Sir P. Bryan

I am treating the hon. Member's intervention seriously. What does he think the attitude of ICI in the Northern Region is likely to be to this sort of policy? If ICI takes it seriously, is it going to believe that this is a policy which will encourage it to expand its business in the Northern Region? The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East frequently says that the working people should be consulted. What about those who work for ICI? Would they prefer their firm to be nationalised? I have had experience of this company mainly in connection with training, and I know that the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East also has a high regard for it. I am talking about a very serious matter, and not mere politics.

The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, over the last few weeks, has been belabouring what he calls the multi-national companies. Those are the very companies that we are trying to get into the regions in order to bring employment to them. Go to Scotland, where I have been, and see IBM. That is the sort of company that we want in the regions—a highly modern and sophisticated firm, paying high wages and giving good employment. Those people do not know our politics here but they know a threat of that sort. Is it likely to come about or is it not? That is a question which they seriously ask not merely as a debating point.

The Opposition are on weak ground in the timing of this debate. Surely, however biased one is, one must recognise that the Government are doing more than has ever been done before. The powers given to the Minister in the Industry Act are quite unprecedented. Look at the amount of money spent on infrastructure and the amount of effort put into training. The measures may or may not be exactly right, but nobody can deny that the effort is there on a scale as never before.

We know about the short-term results. Whether or not they are entirely attributable to our policies, the short-term results are clearly good. Unemployment is declining at a great speed.

I should like to read from the survey on Teesside in the Financial Times, which at least takes an extra-regional view. This is what it says: Business is certainly picking up. The region has won its fight for a new steelworks, oil will almost certainly come to the Tees, bringing a variety of immediate and spin off jobs … and the number of inquiries last month from firms wanting to move to the region was the best for a very long time. When the new roads are complete (leading not only into Teesside but out into the splendid surrounding countryside), when the new buildings are up and when inroads have been made into the unemployment problem, Teesside might be able to forget about being a development area and look forward to becoming a bridgehead into Europe. Hon. Members opposite must concede that great strides are being made, and surely this picture in the article is not one of a Government who simply do not care.

I leave the amendment and turn to ask the Minister for a progress report on some of the problems that have beset and baffled his predecessors for so long. If one tries to take a balanced view of this problem over the years, it is, as the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) implied, depressing that now, almost 40 years since the first special areas legislation of 1934, after the application to the development areas of an increasing volume of legislation, finance, major efforts by local and central government, the same problems persist—the problems that we know so well and which are listed in the amendment—of low wages compared with other areas, comparatively high unemployment—by that I do not mean moderately high, but high in comparison with other parts of the country—comparatively poor housing and the consequent problems of abnormal emigration. These problems seem now as intractable as ever.

This does not mean that we should not have gone in for regional policies, or that they are futile. The situation would be disastrous without them. But it is worth reminding ourselves of the longterm reasons. We know of the run down of the traditional industries. We must bear in mind why the new industries did not come to the North. The reason was that they were no longer tied to mines or railways. The markets for the new industriesv—cars, consumer goods and the rest—were in the Midlands and the South. Apart from the rich markets being in the South and the Midlands, there are other attractions there. They have the banking and services of London. They have the major airport of this country, an advantage which I do not think is fully appreciated. It is not only the largest airport; it is the third largest port in the country, with a capacity for creating employment and skills around it. An additional fact is that communications in the South have been so much better. All these things added together have acted as a counter-magnet to the North and Wales which has been hard to resist.

The truth, as the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees said, is that the only time we have been successful in attracting new industries to the development areas has been in a time of general boom and labour shortage.

What I should now like to hear from the Minister is how successful we are being now, at the beginning of this period of expansion, in creating employment and, secondly, what his plans are for prolonging this period of progress to a very much higher degree than ever before. I am confident that the period of expansion of the whole economy will be prolonged, but we want to get roots down in such a way that when a depression or a recession comes—as some day it must—the regions shall have the roots to withstand it. I saw in The Times the other day that an official of the Yorkshire Regional Industrial Development Board said: It was the policy of the Board to encourage companies that were Yorkshire controlled, using Yorkshire management. This was within the Board's concept of building up the region as a management centre with decision-taking headquarters. In turn this would spawn financial centres and legal centres to act as a counter-poise to the South-East. That seems to me the direction in which he should be going. I should like to hear what thinking the Government are giving in that direction.

Finally, on the question of employment, I believe we will have to do far more to attract foreign business than we have in the past. There is a limit to the amount of foot-loose industry in this country. All progressive local authorities are trying to attract that limited total. Recently I have travelled around the world a great deal and I have been impressed by the entirely new attitude of national companies regarding erecting factories abroad. In Singapore there are five new factories owned by German companies, by British companies like Beechams and by the Japanese. They have gone there not because the labour is cheap. It is getting more expensive and soon it will be as expensive as ours. They are there in order to get their manufacturing operations near the market. These factories are easier to manage from afar now that air communications have become so efficient.

We will have to think far more in terms of attracting companies, for example from Japan, which have heavy reserves of currency but a shortage of labour and wage levels higher than ours. I believe that Sony has started up business in Wales. We need these companies and we should not be ashamed to need them. They can give good employment. The Germans are in the same position. They have the money and a labour shortage and we could do with some of their industry as well. These opportunities must be considered seriously.

6.43 p.m.

Mr. James Tinn (Cleveland)

Twenty-eight years after the war, unemployment remains a major problem in the Northern Region, but it is also a national problem and I should like to concentrate first on that aspect. It is a scandalous waste of our most valuable economic resource—labour—as well as an offence against human dignity. An active regional development policy, far from being a kind of charity dispensed from Whitehall at the expense of the taxpayer, is hard common sense from any point of view. As overheating has appeared in such areas as the South-East and the Midlands, successive Governments have applied the brakes before the development areas have ever been able to achieve full employment. As a result, the inherent productive resources, of these regions have never been fully used in peacetime.

The Cambridge Economic Policy Group, in its medium-term forecast, has already begun to warn that a sustained annual growth rate of 5 per cent. from 1972 to 1976 would require further devaluations in that period amounting to at least 30 per cent. According to its calculations, even if the fast growth policy were once again to be abandoned, as has happened so often in the past, and a 2 per cent. target were substituted, it would still involve unemployment rising again to 1 million—that miserable milestone of economic ineptitude that we have already experienced. Even so, the pound, it reckons, would fall to 2 dollars, or perhaps even lower.

If, as the group forecasts, unemployment is allowed to reach a national level of 2½per cent. and the balance of payments could be assumed to remain at least in a small surplus, output could grow at 3.3 per cent. per annum. But even for this dismal outcome to be achieved we should have to ensure that exports rose by at least 9 per cent. per annum in volume, and I doubt that we could have great confidence in being able to achieve that in present circumstances. That is a measure, in national terms, of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Let us consider the 2.5 per cent. figure and the lower target that is apparently more attainable. That was the figure attained in 1970. If we use that as the comparison it would mean that in the Northern Region unemployment would amount to 4.7 per cent., or nearly 62,000 people. However, what the forecasters do not always seem to realise when considering unemployment rates in national terms and relating them to national conditions, the balance of payments, and so on, is that unemployed labour in the regions is already a heavy direct financial cost on the community. Selectively directed measures to bring this labour into production are not expensive in real terms and need not increase the inflationary or balance of payments problems. On the contrary, in the long and the short term, they help to solve them by increasing supply to a greater extent than they increase demand. That is why regional unemployment is not only a social crime but an economic nonsense.

Yet in this century the Northern Region has never been allowed to pull its weight, in peacetime. Our unemployment rate has been higher than in any other region of Great Britain, other than Northern Ireland, in any year since 1966, except for 1971, when Scotland achieved the dismal distinction of topping us by 0.1 per cent. Our problem is not unique, but nowhere else in the United Kingdom has it been felt more heavily or more persistently. It is our misfortune not to have a Cabinet Minister able to drive home the facts to his colleagues.

Even in the Northern Region we are already running into a shortage of skilled labour. Of our 50,000 unemployed only 5,000 have any industrial skill. That is why we find it a savage irony that only a short time ago Teesside MPs were pressing the Government to accept an offer of unused training capacity by large firms in the area which would have enabled at least some of the unemployed youth to gain the skills the nation needs. That sort of thing is so typical of the shortsightedness from which we have had to suffer. What price the Government's vaunted policy of selective help to those most in need? Who needed help more at that time than the unemployed youth of Teesside, help to gain the skills that the area and the country need?

On the contrary, the Government have actively worked against us. The arbitrary and pigheaded withdrawal of investment grants has endangered the only major industrial development in East Cleveland since the war—the Boulby Potash Mine—and still the Government are not giving that area the roads it needs for the industry it already has at Skinningrove, much less what it hopes to attract to Skelton and Loftus.

If the Government have finally and belatedly reversed the policy in some respects and, for instance, reintroduced the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation in a disguised form, they remain adamant that the REP must go, in spite of all the arguments from all sources and despite the fact that this is the one instrument of regional policy that encourages labour-intensive industries.

We on Teesside have suffered under both Governments from the failure of regional policies that have not avoided the trap of encouraging capital-intensive industries where it is work that is needed and the spurious prosperity, such as in oil and chemical plants which take up large areas of valuable land while making little or no contribution to the solution of the unemployment problem. We need to encourage labour-intensive industries. I have the gravest doubts about the hopes expressed of these oil and chemical plants. We have heard of the Tees and Hartlepool Port Authority expressing concern about the amount of land available. I hope that the Government will give any necessary aid to reclaiming land, but I also hope that the aid will not be squandered on storage farms for chemicals and oil which may be a few miles inland.

I hope that, instead, enough of the land will be kept in reserve for plant such as Leyland's, if Lord Stokes should decide to site a plant in this area. I take this opportunity of inviting Lord Stokes to Teesside to see what we have to offer. We have what I believe to be the unique coincidence of deep-water access, flat sites increased by reclamation and excellent labour relations, as seen in the activities of the Port Authority.

Very briefly—because others want to speak—I want finally to draw the Minister's attention to the recently published Annual Report of the National Ports Council. It refers to marine industrial development areas, or MIDAS, and sees the time scale for its introduction to these areas as being shortened because of technological developments that I have not time to discuss now but which are described in paragraph 44. Then, in paragraph 45, having said in the previous paragraph that the Tees is well situated in this respect, it says: For these reasons the Council are disposed now to adopt a somewhat shorter time-horizon for what they regard as practical MIDAS development and to concentrate attention on those areas already under development or where there are proposals for development, in particular the Tees-side, the Cromarty Firth and the Hunterston area of Ayrshire, all of which appear to the Council in different ways to offer unique potentialities for IMEG development in the next decade and a half. I hope we may hear from the Minister some encouraging announcement about his intentions in this regard.

6.57 p.m.

Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)

I start by saying that I get very tired of hearing leading Tory speakers telling us, all over the country at the weekends, that the economy booms and that in the development areas all will then be well again, and that in the North-East there is nothing to worry about because this clever Government have now got a boom coming. Apparently we are in the midst of a boom now. It amazes me that anyone should have the temerity to suggest that with 600,000 pairs of hands without work at present we are in the midst of a boom. If that is the midst of a boom there is something sadly wrong with this country. There are 600,000 unemployed in the country, and 10 per cent. of that number are in the Northern Region. There is something still very sadly wrong with the economy of the region.

We have been told by Tory Members this afternoon that unemployment is receding rapidly. They can have learned very little, if anything, from nature. If they had lived close by the banks of a tidal river, as I have all my life, they would have known that after a spring tide the tide recedes rapidly from its extremely high peak. That is precisely what is happening with unemployment at present. I am not being wise after the event, because it is now about 18 months since, in my constituency, I made a speech in which I said that this Government would let unemployment rocket to about the 1 million mark, and that the tide of unemployment would then inevitably recede as a spring tide does from its high peak. So unemployment has been reduced from 1 million to 600.000, but the Government have the temerity to claim, as I suggested they would, that this is a great victory for their policies. They do that in spite of the fact that in the Northern Region unemployment is still in excess of what it was when the Government came to office in June 1970. The Minister is looking anxious. Does he want to intervene?

Mr. Chataway

I was just wondering what sort of time span the hon. Member has in mind as the likely delay between action being taken and its reflection in the unemployment figures. Does he think it is a year or 18 months, or that the effect is absolutely immediate? I assume from what he says that in spite of the fact that unemployment was rising steadily through the period of the last Parliament, and was on a rapidly escalating trend, he would regard the Labour Government as in no way responsible for any of the increase that followed.

Mr. Brown

Unemployment reached I million as a direct result of the policies pursued by this Government in the immediate post-June 1970 period, and the Minister cannot deny that.

Mr. Chataway

So the time scale in the hon. Member's mind is six months, or three months, is it?

Mr. Brown

It is not a question of six months or three months at all. I am not going to bandy words with the Minister. He knows well enough that Government policies determine the unemployment levels to a large extent.

Mr. Chataway

About 18 months later?

Mr. Brown

I am not going to be pinned down to 18 months or 12 months or six months. I remind the Minister, as my hon. Friends are reminding me, that it was his leader who was elected to office as Prime Miinster on a pledge to deal with unemployment at a stroke. If, indeed, the Minister is suggesting to me that it takes many months of Government action to produce results was not his right hon. Friend being damned dishonest in the election of 1970? Of course he was.

Mr. Chataway

The hon. Member has not even read what was said.

Mr. Brown

I think we have gone on long enough discussing this issue. The point I was making to my constituents 18 months ago was that this Government were quite prepared to insult the intelligence of the electorate by that sort of confidence trick, and we see it happening now.

I want to ask some specific questions of the Minister. I shall not refer at length to the special environmental assistance scheme—Operation Eyesore. None of us would deny that that scheme has been a tremendous benefit to our area, but we have more than our share of eyesores as a result of the Industrial Revolution, which has already been referred to by some of my colleagues, and we in the Northern Region are not likely to be able to undo in a short time all the evils of generations of haphazard industrial development.

I ask the Minister to give serious consideration, at least in the special development areas, to introducing or again extending this scheme. I know that he has extended it by three months, but it is not sufficient; it is just chicken feed. I hope the Government will see their way clear if not to make it a permanent arrangement at least to allow it to run on for some years to give the development areas time to catch up on clearing these eyesores. It is not good enough to extend it by only three months.

My second point is one that I have put to successive Ministers over and over again since 1970, as I did to Ministers of my own Government before 1970. It concerns the need for a major research and development organisation in the North—the only region without such an organisation. Within 30 miles of London, research and development organisations, many of them State-financed, are found like mushrooms. It is not right that there should be multitudes of them down here, in the already overheated South-East, when we know that a major research and development organisation has a tremendous spin-off effect in terms of ancillary industry and would be of great value in the Northern Region.

Swan Hunter, which has already been mentioned, is enjoying a boom. Its order books are full. But I am anxious for the future. When the shipbuilding industry has full order books there is a tendency to think that there is nothing to worry about, but now is the time and the opportunity for the Government to give Swan Hunter an injection of funds to bring about some modernisation and rationalisation, so that at the end of the present long order book we shall be in a better position to compete in the already keen international competition for new shipping orders.

I do not want to dwell at length on Kielder, but the Secretary of State will go down in the North-East as the architect of industrial stagnation there. The Minister for Local Government and Development shakes his head, but it is not good enough simply to say that the North-East is doing better. Of course we are doing better than we were 12 or 18 months ago, but we have needs not just for today and tomorrow but for the day after tomorrow. That is what causes my concern about the water supply.

No Minister can put his hand on his heart and deny that the lamentable decision on Kielder water has not already deterred new industry from coming to the North-East. It is sad that the Secretary of State, who has the decision to make, represents a constituency where Kielder water will be situated. The general opinion in the North-East is that he has caved in to constituency pressures. That might be an unkind suggestion, but I would not disagree with many of the suggestions made in the area.

What distresses me more than anything is that the Secretary of State, with this tremendously important decision to make, cannot—or his Department cannot, though he must take responsibility—even organise a successful public inquiry. He arranged it to open next Monday and did not bother to find out that the inspector is fully engaged with previous engagements in his own home town. It is incredible——

Mr. Graham Page

The hon. Gentleman is misrepresenting the facts. It was best to start the inquiry on 19th June, the earliest date that the inspector could manage, even if he was engaged elsewhere for a few days during that week, and then resume again on 26th June, rather than leave the inquiry to start on 26th June.

Mr. Brown

There is no question of misrepresentation. The Minister is confirming the novice way in which the Department approaches matters. It gets a ministerially-appointed inspector to open the inquiry when the Minister knows well enough that the first day of a major inquiry is taken up simply with the formalities. Therefore, the inquiry will be opened and nothing will be done for another week until Sir Robert Scott returns from the hills of Scotland, where he has been cavorting about. No doubt he is entitled to do so, because he arranged it months ago, but it would have been far better if the Minister had accepted that Sir Robert had those engagements and had put back the inquiry for a week, rather than waste people's time in dealing with the formalities and then doing nothing for a week.

Mr. Page

I cannot leave the matter there. The first two days of an inquiry of this sort are spent in dealing with preliminaries, arranging the programme, and so on. Therefore, why not get rid of those first two days as early as possible? That is what we did by fixing the opening on 19th June.

Mr. Brown

I do not accept the Minister's half-hearted apology.

Mr. Page

It is not an apology at all.

Mr. Brown

If the position is as the Minister has stated it, why did not the Department tell the Northumbrian River Authority that the inquiry proper would not start until 26th June, and give it an extra week to provide its evidence, instead of its having only six weeks in which to prepare it?

The Minister mentioned the Newcastle-Carlisle road briefly. He said nothing more about it. He forgot about it, or else he must have thought that it was not worth saying anything about. I concede that the Hailsham plan laid the framework, but the Labour Government did massive work on roads in the North-East. As a result, we have the best local road scheme in Europe, but much remains to he done. Among the things that need to be carried out is the Newcastle-Carlisle road scheme, not least the Throckley-Horsley bypass, in my constituency, which should have been started several months ago. There is no sign of any action. My constituents and I wonder whether it will fall victim to the recently-announced spending cuts. It is nonsense for the Department to suggest that where public footpaths cross what, in effect, will be a motorway, there should be a stile at each side of the dual carriageway. I am thinking of Footpath No. 33, in respect of which that is precisely what the Department suggests. I hope that the Minister will look into that.

I should have liked to say a great deal about roads, but many other hon. Members wish to speak, and I shall now conclude my speech.

7.8 p.m.

Mr. John Sutcliffe (Middlesbrough, West)

A great deal of what I had intended to say seems to be common ground on both sides. We seem to be engaged in a great deal of shadow boxing.

One thing that has clearly emerged from the debate is that the motion does not mean what it appears to mean. It sets out to castigate the Government for their total lack of a positive regional policy. One would deduce that the motion was very critical of the Government, but we have heard sentiments that run somewhat as follows: that the situation is improving; that unemployment is down, and has been falling dramatically in the past few months; that registered vacancies have been rising, and have more than doubled since May 1972. Whereas in May 1970 there were six adults looking for every vacancy, and two years later there were 12, now there are four.

The Opposition seem to be saying, "Yes, shipbuilding orders are at a better level, steel is showing a recovery and engineering and allied industries are in a better way." The Opposition seem to accept that forecasts for new orders and output generally will be more buoyant in the months ahead than anyone could have conceived last autumn. They seem to be admitting that investment in the Northern Region has begun to show signs at last of moving forward.

A number of Opposition hon. Members have said, "This is good progress but this is the time to keep up that progress." We have been advised that the Government must not let up on their present policies. That seems to be a different line from the apparent critical line of the Opposition motion. That motion does not acknowledge by one word the progress which has been made over the last few months, which represents a remarkable change.

For at least three years I have had a sticker on my car which says, "Teesside—growth point of the North-East." I have no doubt that other hon. Members have displayed the same sticker. We have talked for a very long time about the potential of Teesside. It has always been a matter of the future. However, there is now a feeling that the prophecy is being fulfilled. My hon. Friend the Member for Howden (Sir P. Bryan) quoted an extract from the Financial Times about the optimistic prospects for Teesside. The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Bottomley) said that the Government must not claim the credit for that situation. I do not mind where the credit lies. It is the fact that we are on our way that matters.

The Middlesbrough Evening Gazette reported last week: The pessimists who have decried the strenuous efforts which have been made to bring prosperity back to the area are in for a black eye, for all the indications point to a boom the like of which Teesside has never seen. It then goes on to refer to the £200 million steel complex, the £100 million oil terminal, the coming of Cleveland County and the bustling new shopping centres. The Middlesbrough Evening Gazette concludes: all point the way to a period of unprecedented prosperity. Let us hope that the local paper, which the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) has clearly read, is right.

Mr. Tinn

The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) may have seen the statistical memorandum from the North-East Development Council. I draw his attention to the fact that the memorandum indicates that the ratio of unemployed men to vacancies is still 12 to one on Teesside. That is higher than the ratio at Tyneside or Wearside. We do not want so much wonderful piein-the-sky visions on the horizon. What about the position here and now?

Mr. Sutcliffe

I take the point which the hon. Member for Cleveland is making. I fully endorse what he said and I shall come later to the point which he made. But let us keen the matter in perspective. We must not consider only the oil terminal and the steel complex. The local Press has reported that ICI has recently announced a multi-million pound investment project. Nor does such development relate only to Teesside. The North of England Development Council made it clear that in the last three months there has been considerable industrial expansion from the North Riding to the Scottish border. There has been expansion throughout the Northern Region. If the number of visiting industrialists is any indication of what is taking place, the prospects are good. Inquiries about prospective sites have doubled recently. In a full year the number of inquiry visits will be running at the rate of 294.

Also encouraging—the hon. Member for Cleveland mentioned this matter—is what the Government can do to decrease the misery and degradation of being unemployed. The hon. Gentleman referred to the social cost of unemployement. Under the Industry Act the Government, by means of selective assistance, have ensured that more firms in the Northern Region have received loans and grants. The total value of such assistance to the Northern Region amounts to about £2 million and is more than any region in the United Kingdom except Scotland. The Government, in doing something about the social cost of unemployment, are taking valuable action.

All hon. Members attach the greatest importance to the fact that the Government have at last understood the disastrous effect on regional policy of chopping and changing the measures and incentives applying to the regions or cutting them off altogether at the whim of Government or because of a change in the economic climate. The present assurance of continuity is of the utmost importance to any credible regional policy.

The message which has come from both sides of the House appears to be that progress is being made but that that is not enough. Although we are making progress we must now reinforce our regional measures. We should not let up on regional policy. There are few hon. Members who sit for constituencies in development areas who do not feel strongly that that must be the right message for the Government. That has been the message which has been hoisted during the debate.

To ensure that the change in the face of the Northern Region, which we hope is beginning to take place, is permanent, there ate a number of things which many would like the Government to do. I find myself repeating various points which have already been made.

One of the matters about which I feel strongly is training. Industry is now in the most receptive mood ever for training. There are huge shortages building up of skilled craftsmen in the Northern Region and, I have no doubt, in other regions. It seems foolish in the extreme that we should cut back instead of expanding the opportunities for training. I say "cut back" because we have had notice of cuts in public expenditure. There have been many rumours. In effect, we have been told that such cuts will affect training. It has already been said—and I say it again because the matter needs emphasising—that there are in the Northern Region 45,000 unemployed men who have no skills, and that the annual throughput of Government training centres, technical colleges and private firms provides 6,000 trained personnel. This is far too great a gap and we need far more training to bridge it.

Although the expansion of the community industrial scheme is something which I welcome, because it combines employment for young people with improving the environment of the North, I would not welcome it if I thought that it was at the expense of extending training and increasing the use of available spare capacity, wherever it is, in the training of young people.

I made a plea on the Report stage of the Employment and Training Bill that consideration should be given to creating opportunities in training for as many young people—after leaving school and between the ages of 16 and 19—as we possibly can, because these are the people who may not have an academic bent but who could be given skills which could be of immense value in the Northern Region. Unemployment among the young in Teesside, and generally, is still very high—far too high.

I pressed some time ago, in an Adjournment debate that I was fortunate enough to be allotted, for a better analysis of unemployment and of the gap between unemployment and unfilled vacancies. It would help us to pursue more relevant measures towards resolving this problem if the Manpower Agency, which is being set up, had a far better idea how many registered people are actively seeking work, what percentage are capable of working in modern industry, how many in the older age bracket could be retrained, and how many who have been retrained are offered employment. This is the kind of information which would greatly help us and would enable the Government to formulate an effective policy.

I will refer to the progress being made in building advance factories in the Northern Region. Seventeen of these factories are promised. I am particularly interested because two factories of 15,000 sq. ft. each are to be built in my constituency at Thornaby. I ask my right hon. Friend to say when these factories will be started and when they will he completed, because there is a great deal of inaction in respect of advance factory building and the uncertainty is undoubtedly hampering the efforts being made in the region to promote industry in the area.

I add my voice to those of so many others in the debate in making a plea for work in the service industries. When our economy in the Northern Region is lopsided—and the Government know this to be the case—and is geared to industrial development, unbalanced by white collar work, is it too late in the day to ask that the dispersal of the Civil Service should be a little more radical than one suspects it will be? I feel that it is important. It is an opportunity which will perhaps not come again for many years and which we shall very greatly regret missing. May we have some positive and specific incentives, which were omitted by the Industry Act, to give some hope of greater office dispersal into the region?

According to the North-East Development Council, only seven out of 50 major companies established in the region have their headquarters there. I have no doubt that if there were better encouragement from the Government to industry to move office work into developing areas, that work would be moved to a far greater extent than it is now.

Much has been said in the debate—and certainly by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—about the effect on the Northern Region of ending the regional employment premium. I hope that the Government will seriously consider what has been said on both sides of the House, and especially the importance of not, for the anticipated loss of jobs, terminating the premium suddenly or without ensuring that employment is in some other way sufficiently bolstered for the anticipated loss of jobs to be offset within the context of the EEC.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Robert C. Brown) mentioned Operation Eyesore. There is no question that this Government initiative has been immensely valuable. The use to which funds have been put in the region, particularly in Teesside, which alone has spent over £1 million, is impressive. It reflects great credit on the Government and also on the efforts of local authorities in the region. Like the hon. Gentleman, I wish that, as long as there were worthwhile schemes to be approved, Operation Eyesore had been continued. I hope that there will be money for it again and that the impetus towards creating an altogether better environment will not be lost as a result of bringing the scheme to an end.

We cannot possibly be complacent as long as there is a rate of unemployment in the Northern Region higher than the rate in the more prosperous part of the country. We cannot possibly sit back or be smug as long as there is a continuing disparity in the level of income per head between the North and other development areas and the more prosperous areas of the country. I urge the Government to take the message of this debate and to see that regional policy is now geared up rather than allowed to slacken.

When shall we have in the Northern Region an effective regional body to devise and implement a regional strategy? My criticism of the document initiated by the Department of the Environment, at the moment called "An outline specification for a study of the Northern Region", is that it does nothing to unify regional policy functions of the two major Departments, Trade and Industry and Environment, and of the too-many other bodies which are working with far too little cohesion of effort in the same direction. It is not so much a positive regional policy that we should be debating, in the terms of the motion; it is much more a positive regional body which we now most need.

I hope that this debate, if it serves no other purpose, will make the Government consider what steps can be taken towards a more positive policy for a concentrated effort within the region so that we do not overlap in our attempts to achieve success for our aspirations.

7.30 p.m.

Mr. Robert Woof (Blaydon)

In following the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) I want to apply my mind to the meaning of the the motion before the House. I promise the hon. Member that I will not shadow box, to which he referred at the beginning of his speech. It is not too late to say that after the shivers and shocks that we experienced on 18th June 1970, after the television celebrities had demonstrated their euphoria to almost giddy heights. after countless newspapers had informed the world of their unrestricted glee at the downfall of the Labour Government, not least after the basket-shopping voters had helped the Tories to make a fundamental shift in the language of finance, one would have thought that we could now have sat back in comfort and ease and receive and taste with delight all the good things of life.

Whatever drummed-up explanations were made in the comforting thoughts, while completely and deliberately ignoring the underlying trends, it was evidently the view of how the electorate felt about being reassured on the hastening of transformation to improve the quality of life and brighter economic prospects. We have heard some rosy pictures painted this afternoon from the Financial Times about the wonderful things being done on Teesside. I assure the House that has not been fully applied to my constituency of Blaydon.

We know perfectly well that the state of the economy is always held to be one of the most powerful influences on the minds of people, particularly when they are faced with paying higher prices and when there is less money in the weekly income through jobs disappearing one after another.

In frequent conversations and communications which I had with many earnest and conscientious constituency workers they have often asked me, "How is it that industrial development is so slow in the Blaydon area?" I have had to explain that when I have had the good fortune to speak in economic debates in this House, from both sides of the Chamber, I have endeavoured to concentrate attention on the restricted industrial development in Blaydon. I have appealed for appropriate measures to be taken to offset the serious lack of industrial occupation.

With great respect to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, I have many times left this honourable House thinking to myself that I might as well have talked to the cows in the field for all the notice that Ministers took of me. That even applied to Labour Ministers—I might as well be laceratingly frank about it, because it is true. To recount in detail the public misfortune which emanated from industrial slaughter and decay would take much more time than I wish to devote to the subject now.

However, I can say there has been a bewildering metamorphosis consequent on circumstances entailed by adverse changes in industrial activity. We always wish to recognise things in their true existence and what relative truths we have to face, and the truth is that practically in every aspect the main decayed industries in Blaydon have been so much localised and specialised, so much so, that in the daily experience of such rapid decline certain significant facts have caused understandable anxiety.

We realise that in any economic calamity, when upheavals bring worrying problems, the undeserved loss of livelihood spreads into all age groups. It is this disturbing thought that is one of the greatest dreads and aversions. As a consequence of natural apprehensions it will be found practical in some circumstances that migration to other regions tends to influence people's minds, to better themselves.

This involves fundamental decisions. Such breakaway steps, in many instances I do not doubt for a moment, seem to be justified. On this account it is perhaps correct to say that there are advantages and disadvantages in trying to acquire the material wants of life. Before any deductive interpretation can be made in this respect there remains the general induc- tion of comparing populations in their geographical context with what they have to cope and contend with.

It is almost startling to be reminded of the great and varied contrast between the industrial growth in the south of England and areas such as the one that I have the honour to represent—where the livelihood of so many people is continually threatened by the shifting of the competitive system, posing, as it does, the most acute and economic social problems for the families concerned.

Unlike the nomadic tribes of the Arabian Desert who follow a pastoral life with the love of liberty to fold up their tents and disappear in the night, I must make the special point that it is not a question of the continuance of those deep laws of human nature involving people's habits and routine. It is that of necessity. Something more is required whereby the means of industrial readjustment to meet the challenge of changing conditions can be brought into existence.

What is at stake is the weekly livelihood and the worry accompanying the housekeeping revenue of families placed in adverse circumstances through the modern doctrine of economy in the long chain of serious events. This has been happening in Blaydon for many years. Such rapid changes which have a hurtful bearing on economic and social life prove to be the precursor of so much misfortune.

If we are to avoid frustration as a result of decaying industry, particularly at a time when we need all our energies to establish the British economy on a secure foundation in world trade and exchange, then assuming the foreknowledge that the present purpose of the Government is to promote recovery, there would be some consolation if some serious attempts were made to solve the under-utilisation of industrial labour, especially when men have to look to other avenues for employment, only to be impeded in their attempts through lack of alternative employment.

It necessarily follows, in trying to abridge this account of the vicissitudes and reaction in my constituency, that it is impossible to look round without perceiving how far-reaching is the process of change. Such large problems cannot escape the duties of hon. and right hon. Members in becoming more and more preoccupied with all the immense issues ultimately involved.

Whatever else is disagreeable that puts us in the mood which disposes us to conceive what adversity means, first and foremost as a national necessity it is a time when we are continually being drilled that economic improvement must in the main be effected through massive expansion and that such a high rate of growth depends on the British people in the exercise of their responsibilities. With such a premium to be paid on vital needs and for what I have taken the trouble to outline for the desire of a fuller life and brisker existence are motives that are not to be deplored or deprecated.

It has often been asked whether economics is more correctly described as a science or an art. I would not know the difference between them, but I believe that the art of good government lies in ensuring that industry should gradually be replaced so that the productive capacity of all those affected can be exerted to the full. I therefore appeal to the Government once again to exercise their responsibility for much greater and valuable co-ordination and co-operation with the North-East Development Council, to be equally shared by public interest, from which any industrial development would play a major part in promoting the prospects of employment opportunities in the Blaydon area.

7.41 p.m.

Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)

As is customary, my hon. Friend the Member for Blavdon (Mr. Woof) has torn the guts out of the subject. He is saying that until this nation begins to devote, through the Press, the media and Parliament, as much attention to the loss which arises from unemployment as is now devoted to the days lost through strikes we shall not have done our duty. If we recognise that there is no wealth except that which comes from work, then the 600,000 people who are denied the dignity and self-respect which come from work are not only themselves suffering but are also reducing the total wealth of the community.

I want to deal with some relevant constituency matters. First, I welcome the community work project. While it is second best to being able to offer worthwhile prospects to boys and girls, it is better than the Government standing on the touch-line doing nothing, with these boys and girls knowing all the frustration that comes from not having a place in society.

Secondly, there are major industries in my constituency which are made viable only by the regional employment premium. Their balance sheets show that if the regional employment premium were to disappear tomorrow they would be in the red before the end of the year. Before finally deciding to phase it out, I hope that the Government will listen to what the CBI and the TUC have to say.

Thirdly, I wish to refer to Palmers Shipyard which was the first victim of a Government's "no help for the lame duck" policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) said that the Government had to change their policy. Swan Hunter now intends to make Palmers former shipyard one of the most up-to-date yards in the country, but to do that it will need Government help. I hope that Government help will be as forthcoming to Swan Hunter and on no less generous a scale than the help made available to the Upper Clyde, Harland & Wolff and others. The Government should take into account that Palmers was closed by National Shipbuilding Security Limited under a conversant that ships would never again be built in that yard. I know that Swan Hunter has been discussing this matter, but if there are any hon. Members who believe that the decision of dead men should stand in the way of men earning their living, I hope they will get up and speak now. No convenant should be allowed to stand in the way of Swan Hunter being able to provide at Palmers the work which Hebburn and Jarrow badly need.

Fourthly, Reyrolles four or five years ago employed 10,000 in Hebburn. I have discussed the matter with the Minister for Industry and have taken to see him a deputation of management and men. I wish he were here this evening. Today, Reyrolles employs 6,000 and at present there is a complete shutdown of the works because of a strike. I will not go into the merits or demerits of the strike, but undoubtedly the uncertainty that has overhung this great complex for the past year or so has something to do with the men's attitude. If men are not certain that their jobs will be there three, six, nine or twelve months hence, they will not be as responsible as people would like them to be. I have discussed the problem with the Minister and I should like him to give me some information tonight on what help he can give to Reyrolles in reply to the representations we have made to him.

Fifthly, I wish to refer to coal. What is happening now in the world is the best possible pointer for the Government to accept the proposals of the NUM and the TUC for an energy policy. If the Government do not accept those proposals they will be acting very stupidly, in view of the world energy crisis, and a future generation will condemn them. There should be no further contraction of the coal industry. If necessary there should be a substantial expansion. Coal is the one indigenous fuel which we can provide for ourselves without the necessity of being so dependent for our energy supplies upon foreign sources.

Sixthly, are the Government able to help Sterling Foundry? Sterling Foundry has just secured a contract with Russia for £1 million. If that contract is successfully fulfilled, further contracts are likely to follow. The foundry needs steel, but the British Steel Corporation is overwhelmed with orders. If Sterling Foundry gets the steel supplies it needs, additional employment will be provided in Jarrow for between 100 and 200 people and, in addition, the Government's export drive will be helped. I hope that the Minister will do what the Labour Government of 1945–51 did and see to it that when there is a shortage of raw materials the needs of those in the development areas are met first.

Seventhly, the Government have announced public expenditure cuts. They may or may not be justified, but it would be stupid if public expenditure cuts were to be made right across the board. This is an area in which the Government can act sensibly to help the regions. After all, it is not the regions of high unemployment which have caused overheating in the economy, because those regions have unused resources and still need additional employment. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will exempt the development areas from public expenditure cuts.

We must always remember that the Government are the largest single cus- tomer of British industry. There is not a thing that is manufactured—from nappies and pins, from tanks to bombs, from motor cars to beds, from bed linen to shoes—which the British Government in one form or another, through the nationalised industries, the hospital service or the Armed Forces, do not buy. Every large customer of which I have had experience uses its economic bargaining power to further its own ends. Therefore, the Government should use their great economic power as the biggest purchaser of what the nation produces to see that those goods are produced where they can best suit the Government policy and serve the greatest social need. This is something which the Government could do if they so determined, and this is one instrument which they have at their command and it is almost all-powerful.

I have been in this House a long time and I have taken part in many debates of this nature. Unfortunately, I now discern a cynicism which is spreading and which is dangerous for democracy. The unemployed have a right to be cynical if we do not give them the opportunity to take their place as dignified citizens following employment in the proper way. If employment is not available to them, they may well listen to those voices which are the enemies of democracy, and those antidemocratic forces may grow.

For that reason, if for no other reason, I hope that the Government will renew their efforts to improve the situation in the development areas. Since the Government forced the unemployment figure up to 1 million and then brought it down again, they cannot even now take any comfort from the situation because in my constituency at present the figure of unemployment is still 25 per cent. higher than it was in 1970, despite the fact that we are now, in the words of the Government, enjoying the fruits of a booming Britain.

7.53 p.m.

Mr. James Ramsden (Harrogate)

I am glad to be called following the speeches of the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) and the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof), who for as long as I have been in this House have both talked a great deal of sense on behalf of County Durham—long before it began to be called the Northern Region.

I hope that Labour Members who sit for seats in the Northern Region will forgive me, as a mid-Yorkshire man, for intervening briefly in this debate. I lived for a slice of my life in County Durham, almost within sight of Fishburn pit which was mentioned by the hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. David Reed). Mr. Harold Macmillan once said that the further north you go the nicer people get, and that touches a chord in my heart.

In a debate such as this, in what amounts to a censure motion, we tend to overestimate the recent character of the kind of problems we have been discussing and underestimate the extent of the efforts which have been made in past years to get to grips with them. This does not need saying to those hon. Members who are now present in the House, but I still believe that it is worth emphasising.

As far back as the 1930s, when I first remember County Durham, problems of a similar character were being experienced because of the cyclical nature of the coal trade and heavy industry. Equally, even then quite a lot was beginning to be done in recognising the problems and in helping to cope with them. Unless my memory is at fault, the trading estate at West Auckland dates back to before the war and it marked a first step towards an attempted diversification of the industry there.

A good deal was done to improve the roads, and indeed the roads in County Durham before the war were probably the best in any county in the country. Then the war came along and naturally investment slowed up. After the war we saw the beginning of a rundown in the coal industry which intensified the problem. Steps were then taken to cope with the situation, beginning with the establishment of the Aycliffe New Town.

I also remember, since I was working in Halifax at the time, what was then regarded as a somewhat novel and unprecedented move by Paton and Baldwins knitting yarns from the West Riding to Haughton-le-Skerne, near Darlington. People at the time said that it would not work because one could not get women in the North-East to go out to work and they said there would be difficulty in obtaining the labour. But that forecast proved to be nonsense. Indeed, I was surprised that more has not been said today about increasing opportunities for women to find jobs in the various plans which have been discussed. The motion talks about "low household incomes", and today it is true that there is a high household income by modern standards only where both the man and wife are at work or where a daughter or son of the family has the opportunity to find work and to bring money into the family.

A good deal has been said about the possibilities of employment inherent in the Government policy of dispersing the Civil Service. I am all for this suggestion and believe that they should get on with the job faster than has happened up to the present. I must be a little careful in what I say because my own constituency is a strong contender in providing this sort of employment and is anxious to obtain its share of any dispersal that is to take place. I am certain that hon. Members who press for more administrative jobs in the regions are on the right lines.

Reference has been made to the initiative of my noble and learned Friend Lord Hailsham in the early part of the 1960s. Not enough credit has been given to him for the very positive results which flowed from that. I remember it well because I was a member of the Government at the time. My noble and learned Friend did a good job in the North-East, cap on his head, boots on his feet and all. I will not weary the House with them, but I have in my possession some figures which measure the positive results which flowed from his initiative. Over the eight years or so since then, they amount to an impressive total. Great credit is due to the Government of the time.

Today the Opposition have moved a motion which on the arguments which they have put forward so far does not warrant what amounts to a vote of censure and a three-line Whip tonight. Perhaps briefly I may say why.

First, I think that there are in the North-East genuine signs of confidence returning to the heavy industrial sector and confidence that the present boom is a reality and that there is a good prospect of its continuing. Whatever one says about the relative performances of the Labour Government and the present administration, it must be true that measures taken for the relief of a region and designed to promote economic growth have much more hope of success against the background of a 5 per cent. growth rate than they do or did against the background of fairly consistent stagnation or at any rate growth at a very much slower rate.

Secondly, the Opposition's arguments very much underrate the effects of the Industry Act. The present grants and assistance available are not only more in total than they were under the Labour Government but are better conceived and directed. They are better grants in themselves in that they are so devised as to benefit the more potentially profitable industries and, instead of being indiscriminate in their effects, to be of direct and specific help to regions such as the Northern Region where they are needed.

Reference has been made to the future of the regional employment premium. For what it is worth, I should prefer to see the money spent in other ways. It could be used more usefully in improving and extending training facilities and even in encouraging people to move to where jobs are more readily available. I am aware that others of my hon. Friends take a different view. Mine is only a personal view.

Thirdly, the Opposition motion does not recognise sufficiently how long it takes for a boom like the present one in the heavy industries to get going and how long, inevitably, it takes for Government assistance to the regions to work itself through and to be evidenced in what is actually happening in industry. Grants are made available, but they have to be processed. They have to go through the bureaucratic machine. The industries themselves have to decide whether to take advantage of them.

It is comparatively easy to stimulate a consumer boom. It is much more difficult, and requires the instillation of a great deal more confidence, for that to spread through and have its effect upon the basic industries producing capital goods. I believe that that is now happening. The Opposition have given insufficient credit to the Government for the fact that it is happening, and I believe that the North-East can look forward with every confidence to its continuance.

I come now to the subject of amenity. Several hon. Members have mentioned Operation Eyesore. I am not certain about the present position on this. But I am certain that every penny spent in the context of Operation Eyesore has been very well worth while. A great deal of work has been done on clearing slag-heaps and on urban renewal both in County Durham and to the north of Newcastle. It is extremely important, if what might be termed middle-management is to be attracted to an area and if wives and families are to be happy there when they are used to the South. The North-East has unrivalled opportunities for outdoor recreation. It is a wonderful part of the world. Anyone should be glad to go there. But over the course of years it has collected a bad image. This can be corrected and to a very large extent it has been corrected. But it costs money to do it, and any more money by way of grant aid advanced to county councils by my right hon. Friends will have my support. It will pay dividends in the beneficial effect that it will have in the North-East.

My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Development spoke about roads and referred specifically to the road from Leeds which is to finish up in the North-East. In the context of this debate, I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend was thinking of the northern end of the road. As a Yorkshire Member, I am bound to think of the southern end. Before the final route for this road is determined, I hope that my right hon. Friend will ensure that there is the fullest consultation with local people who will be affected and the fullest inquiry, even extending to whether a road in that direction is required at all or whether an improvement to the existing A1, which will have to happen anyway, will not be sufficient. Like my right hon. Friend, I am inclined to feel that there will be a need for such a road as a link between Leeds and the North-East. But it is very important that the route should be right and that it should do the least damage to a stretch of very beautiful and valuable Yorkshire countryside.

I leave the matter there, having much enjoyed the debate and having come thus far with the conviction that the House would be right to reject the Opposition's motion, since I do not think that a case has been properly made for it.

8.10 p.m.

Dr. John A. Cunningham (Whitehaven)

There are two points about regional policy that matter more than anything else. The first is the Government's commitment to the policy and the second the confidence of people in industry in the Government's commitment to that policy.

I think that the Opposition could be forgiven for believing that converts are people who most strongly defend the faith. Throughout the debate we have heard many Government supporters defending the faith of regional policy. Yet one does not need too long a memory to think back to the autumn of 1970 when that same policy was being crucified by the same right hon. and lion. Gentlemen.

Some of the general points that have been made about the efficacy of regional policy are very interesting. The right hon. Member for Harrogate (Mr. Ramsden) talked about better grants. We can remember when grants were abolished altogether by the present administration. The story then was that grants were too costly and that too much money was being spent on creating jobs in the regions. We are now told that more money is being spent on better grants under the Industry Act. That is an interesting about-turn by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Government side. By and large, we welcome this conversion not only of back-bench Members, but of Ministers. However, we are a little suspicious of the Government's commitment to regional development policies, particularly in the Northern Region.

We also remember the incoming Conservative administration cutting back on the advance factory programme. In no way was this more damaging than in the town of Millom, in South-West Cumberland, where the commitment to build a second advance factory was delayed to such effect that that building is still not available to a new industry, even if one were found, coming into the town.

One matter that concerns us about the Government's lack of commitment is their seeming inability to obtain any firm decision from the European Economic Com- munity on the direction that its regional policies will take. It seems that most of the questioning and probing about the Commission's intentions in the regional development sphere is coming from the Opposition.

It is interesting to recall that we have, so we understand, a Cabinet Minister who speaks for the Northern Region. We are not quite sure who he is. Perhaps if he is here he will stand up and let us know. So far as we remember, it used to be the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Peter Walker). He is patently not here. Whether this responsibility has been transferred with the exchange of jobs to the right hon. Member for Hex-ham (Mr. Rippon) is not clear. It would be interesting to know whether the Government have this commitment to the Northern Region and which of these two worthies, or which other Minister, now assumes this mantle of responsibility. It would also be interesting to know when any one of them last made a speech about what is happening in the Northern Region.

Mr. Graham Page

Last Monday

Dr. Cunningham

By whom? Several Ministers made speeches. The right hon. Gentleman is not really answering the question.

One matter which seems not to have been discussed today is the effect of the Government's policies in other regions. It is astonishing that the Government should think that they can mount realistic regional development policies to attract industry to the Northern Region and at the same time pursue the Maplin development, involving the investment of thousands of millions of pounds in an international airport, a deep water terminal and industrial building land, without realising that this will pre-empt a huge percentage of industrial development finances in the next decade. It is staggering that that point does not seem to have dawned on Ministers.

If we add to that the bone-headed idea of pursuing the Channel Tunnel project—again in the South-East—we see that, despite whatever well-intentioned Ministers might say and do about providing regional incentives, the South-East will develop at a far greater rate with this kind of investment. So, however hard Ministers may run to provide growth in the Northern Region, the differences will grow wider, not narrower.

This seems to be quite straightforwardly what right lion. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have always argued—namely, the effect of market forces on the development of the British economy. Indeed, on the one hand they are telling us that they have this great commitment to regional development, to the creation of one nation, to a more even balance of growth in Britain, whereas, on the other, they are pursuing these policies in the South-East.

It is interesting to learn that by the mid-1980s some 400 multi-national companies will control about 75 per cent. of assets in the western world. Can we believe that, without some kind of serious Government intervention, industrial development in Britain, or within the EEC for that matter, will not be continually distorted in the next decade by this tremendous concentration of assets in such a small number of industrialists' hands? This will be one of the biggest single challengers not only to this Government but to the European Economic Community.

It is astonishing that the Government should deride what I accept may have been some stumbling attempts by members of the Labour Party to devolve a policy on this issue, but it is reprehensible that they have not recognised the need for a policy in this sphere.

I turn now to the situation in my constituency. The Minister opening the debate for the Government mentioned the situation in West Cumberland and the creation of a task force. -He said that this was something new. As I understand it, the task force is a collection of civil servants who report privately to the Department. I have called for publication of not only the report but its main recommendations. I am told that it is not available. What is new about civil servants reporting on possible courses of action to Ministers? It is a public relations exercise, unless the Government publish the task force's report so that the proposals and ideas in it can be publicly debated. That would be new, but that is not the Government's intention.

The bare facts are that in the next few months, already begun with the closure of Solway Colliery, we shall lose 1,000 male jobs in West Cumberland. That is 3 per cent. of all men presently employed in that area. Male unemployment will inevitably edge up towards 8 per cent. or 9 per cent. At the time that I met the task force, there were fewer than 100 new jobs in the pipeline. No announcement since has made any significant difference to that total.

I understand that people in the Department believe that the main hope is to bring forward firms' expansion programmes to try to close the gap. That is fine, and understandably the quickest way to make some improvement. The only trouble is that it is a once-for-all policy because, in terms of local firms, next year's seed corn and the seed corn of the year after has been used up. This is no substitute for the location of new industry in the region. This will be the crucial test of the Government's commitment; not that a boom produces an expansion but that new jobs should be located in the special development areas. I hope that as a result of the Hardman Report a Government establishment will be located in West Cumberland. The most crucial shortage of all is in administrative technical jobs for young people.

I welcome the Government's apparent commitment to regional development policies, but the Government have commitments to certain firms in my constituency at the present time. The Minister for Industrial Development knows all about the Sealand hovercraft situation. That company is still in Millom, and still trading, and the project is worth saving. I do not intend to castigate the Minister about his previous behaviour or his apparent penchant for losing his temper on television—that is a matter for himself—but there are two other firms in the area which have had outstanding claims for investment grant since before October 1970—almost three years.

The firms are Millson Engineering of Whitehaven and Slacks of Millom. I invite the Minister to look at those two companies' applications. Let us have a decision here and now. It is inexcusable that small businessmen setting up in a special development area should have to wait three years for a Government decision on what, in terms of Government expenditure, are matters of small finance. Let us have no more apologies but more muscle in the Government's approach to regional development, and let us see some location of new industry in the special development areas.

8.23 p.m.

Mr. David Watkins (Consett)

In the interests of brevity I propose to restrict my remarks to problems in my constituency, and to concentrate particularly on the lack of job opportunities which exists to a very serious extent in the Consett and Stanley areas of County Durham.

This is an area the entire future of which is threatened by the closure or projected closure late in this decade of the British Steel Corporation's works at Consett—one of the remaining sources of large-scale employment in the area. It employs between 6,000 and 6,500 people and injects certainly not less than £30 million a year of spending power into the economy of a very large area—not only the area of Consett and Stanley but that of west and north-west County Durham. There is no other comparable industry in the whole area in terms of the numbers employed or the amount of earning power provided. Yet within the terms of the Government's White Paper it is proposed that that place should be closed down late in this decade.

I was told by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry—who has not attended the debate—when he made his long-delayed statement on 21st December last on the future of the steel industry that there was a possibility of some manufacture continuing at Consett as a supplementary source of steel billet making. The White Paper, published after that statement, indicates that there is only one chance in four of that happening because Consett has to be considered with three other places as a possible supplementary source of billet manufacture. But even if that one chance in four is realised, it will still mean a vast reduction of jobs in the area, and repercussions affecting the living standards of every family.

When the Secretary of State made his statement he talked of the massive advantages of his proposals for the steel Indus- try. There are no massive advantages for Consett. Furthermore, we are not talking here about closing down an old works but closing down a modern and highly efficient plant in which a new 150-ton basic oxygen steel vessel has been commissioned within a matter of weeks prior to this debate. We are in fact talking of the closing down or projected closing down of a works currently operating at record levels of production and efficiency. All this is projected to happen to an area which has already been hit savagely by a huge rundown in the coal mining industry, and savagely hit not only by that rundown but by a whole series of redundancies in those very industries which were supposed to have been introduced into the area to solve the problems created by the run-down of the coal mining industry.

For 15 years my constituency has lost an average of 1,000 jobs every year. Last year, in one ever-to-be-forgotten seven-week period, 1,100 redundancies were announced. Whilst Government supporters talk about the booming North-East, the situation in my constituency is that on 6th October next, one of the only two remaining collieries is to be closed down, and another 500 jobs will disappear as a result.

That is the measure of the problem not only of Consett and Stanley but of a wide area of north-west and west County Durham. When Members of the Government talk about a booming Britain, I must tell them that the only boom they have produced in my constituency is that of prices.

Because of the extent of the problems I have outlined and also because of its geography and location, this is an area which requires special status if it is to attract new industry. It used to have a special status which gave it an advantage over other parts in the Northern Region, and which it required, but the present Government wiped out that advantage. It is interesting to recall the method of that wiping out.

On Friday, 19th February 1971, my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Dr. John A. Cunningham) initiated a debate, on a Private Member's motion, on the Northern Region. The day before that debate took place the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the extension of special development area status to Tyneside and Wearside, no doubt to try to pre-empt my hon. Friend's motion. I do not deny that there then existed and now exist serious problems on Tyneside and Wearside, but what the Government's action then did was to wipe out—at a stroke to use a famous phrase—such advantages as West and North-West County Durham possessed in seeking to come to terms with quite exceptional problems. Since that action was undertaken by the Government there has not been one major development in the area. There have certainly been minor developments—there have been advance factories—but they have done no more than scratch the surface of the problems which there exist.

If Consett and Stanley and West and North-West Durham are not to be turned into totally depressed areas, the Government will have to do far better in relation to those areas than they have done. Furthermore, they will have to jerk themselves out of the complacency which we have seen accepted so far in the debate.

I conclude with some positive suggestions as to what might be done. A number of my hon. Friends have referred to the announcement by the British Leyland Motor Corporation of its longterm investment proposals, including a proposal to build a completely new motor-car plant in an area of the country where one does not currently exist. A number of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin), have drawn attention to the necessity of that plant coming to the Northern Region. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) pointed out that it was necessary for that plant to come within the triangle bounded by the Tyne and the Tees, in effect, the triangle of County Durham. I support him in that. It should come to the western point of that triangle in order to nullify the catastrophic effects which will take place from the run-down of the iron and steel industry in Consett. Something of that sort is the only hope of avoiding ghost towns and villages in a very large area.

The Minister must use his powers under Section 7 of the Industry Act. For all the talk we have heard during the debate we have had little evidence as yet of the application of those powers to West and North-West Durham. The Minister must use those powers to restore to that area the advantage which it needs in order to overcome its particular problems and which was wiped out by the present Government primarily to secure debating points in the House in an earlier debate rather than to look after the interests and livelihoods of people in the Northern Region.

8.31 p.m.

Mr. Wilfred Proudfoot (Brighouse and Spenborough)

Before coming to the main body of my speech I should like to refer to the unemployment figures nationally. One or two hon. Members of the Opposition have done exactly that. Over the last two years I have not found any individual in business outside the House who believes the unemployment statistics. Many hon. Members of the Opposition and certainly many of my hon. Friends do not believe the statistics about unemployment. In the last 12 months we have had a departmental look at these figures, undertaken by the Department of Employment. I am not satisfied with the figures. One finds in business and industry the idea that no one can trust these figures. They are high, but they involve many people who will never work again. Today, with better benefits, people between jobs take longer to choose their next job than they ever did previously.

That does not mean that there is nothing to talk about within the regions. There is. But the trouble with these regional debates is that they are all incestuous. As I look around the Chamber I see nothing but hon. Members representing North-Eastern constituencies and the Northern Region. As Members of this House, it is our duty to go out and drag in some of the Members from the South-East. The problems of the regions are every bit as much theirs as ours. The best thing that has happened in the last two months—perhaps it is not the best thing—is that the control of the Greater London Council has changed hands. The GLC colleagues of hon. Members of the Opposition have given a great fillip to the regions. They have stopped the ring motorway around London. I should have thought that that was great news for the regions. The congestion is to continue in the miserable South-East, for years longer, because they have not started on a peripheral road around London.

That is good news for the regions. It is simple logic. We should bring in the South-Easterners and tell them what we think of the miserable living conditions and the congestion in the South-East. This is the distressed area environmentally. We read newspapers and watch television programmes produced by South-Easterners who are all involved in this terrible congestion. Some journalists were saying a few months ago that we should not go for economic growth because it ruins the environment. Let me tell those journalists and hon. Members from the South-East that we in the North can do with lots of economic growth. It will not harm our environment. It will be good, and there is plenty of room for this kind of expansion. This is what regional policy should be about. It is not turning it on its head but looking at it through correct and logical eyes.

One or two hon. Members have poured scorn on this boom. I am glad to say that only one or two have done so, because others have said that when the boom is on, the regions benefit. That is the time when unemployment drops. All hon. Members should ask the Government to continue to go for growth, for a continued policy of growth and not stop-start.

I know that the bottlenecks will start. Hon. Members opposite have talked about overheating. There is overheating in the South-East. I should prefer to see the Government and businessmen, who are more important, anyway, tackling the problems of bottlenecks rather than worrying about the problems of no growth and no sales. We want to keep on with continued growth. Let us tackle the bottlenecks. Let us have growth as a habit. If boom goes on and on, this will be the best help that the regions can get.

I am reminded of President John Kennedy's famous precept that the time to mend the roof is when the sun is shining. The sun is shining economically in Britain right now. The time to mend the roofs in the regions is right now. This is what the debate has been about in its multiplicity of ways.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) is not here. He is a very sincere Member from the North-East to whom I enjoy listening. His sincerity shines in the Chamber. I should have liked to ask the hon. Member whether he believes that the document which his party produced last week, which I presume he will support, and which calls for the nationalisation of more and more companies, will bring any more jobs to Blaydon. If he does believe that, he is sincere, but he is mistaken.

The Northern Region has more than its fair share of nationalisation. The steel industry, the electricity industry and the railways are overmanned. The Northern Region produces a high proportion of electricity. Out-of-date industries must be run down. The people in the regions will not be helped by our pretending that we cannot allow out-of-date industries to be run down. If those industries are not run down we hurt our competitive position in the world. That would be the worst thing we could do for the people in the regions.

In this debate my mind goes automatically to the question of regional policy in Europe. I have looked with almost a shock at the map of Europe which was produced by the Financial Times. A few moments ago the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development in Europe came in and talked to another Member of the House. It is good to know that Members of the House are in Europe working for regional policy.

I plead with hon. Members opposite to urge their party leaders to send some of their own Members to Strasbourg to work for the regional policy which is being developed there by an ex-member of the Labour Party who is now a European Commissioner. I will not describe Mr. Thomson as our member there. He is a member for the whole Community. There is a great job of work to be done in Europe, and the North-East, with its proximity to Europe, is very concerned in this aspect of regional development—[Interruption.]—when I was the hon. Member for Cleveland I believed in our entry into Europe and I still believe in it. I still believe that it is correct for the North and the North-East.

It has always been said that there are not enough skilled men in the regions. The Government have introduced additional training schemes, but there is resistance to the schemes—legitimately and probably rightly from the point of view of the unions. It is now said that the attitude of the unions is more liberal than ever before. I believe that this is so and that self-help can take place within the regions.

Hon. Members should ask the trade unions in the development and intermediate areas to reduce the term of apprenticeships. Nowadays an apprenticeship of four years is not necessary. Last week a boy to whom I gave a lift told me that he was on a four-year apprenticeship. He was going to training school every day, travelling 90 miles, and he was bored stiff. The pace of his training was too slow. I was once a technical training instructor and I know that people can absorb skills and information much more rapidly than they have to. I hope that in these areas the trade unions will make their rules more liberal and will reduce apprenticeship periods to two years.

This approach is absolutely in line with today's world. As a result of training board levies, employers will send people for short courses of a week or a fortnight, and the employees will be able to adapt their skills to the changes in industry. The trade unions within the Northern Region should reduce the period for training apprentices.

The Humber and Yorkshire Economic Planning Council has made a suggestion which is worthy of consideration. I do not know whether the planning council has made this suggestion publicly, but I have certainly heard it discussed. The M62 motorway opens on 5th July, at long last. It runs from Liverpool to Hull. The suggestion is that it should be called the central British motorway. For years we have nagged about being too far north. "The Midlands" means only the middle of England. That band across the country is the centre of Britain. For a European looking at Britain, this suggestion makes good sense. Also it brings the Northern Region psychologically much nearer to this complex where many of the firms are, in London. I think this is a sensible suggestion and I hope that the Minister of Transport will bear it in mind when he opens the motorway, and will call it by that name.

My last point is one which I am surprised has not already been made. I listened to the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ron Lewis) who reminded the House that the Northern Region extended across the country and included Westmorland and Cumberland. I listened to the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Dr. John A. Cunningham), and I was amazed that he did not make this point. We have had the Water Resources Bill before the House. There have been at least three schemes for putting a barrage and motorway across Morecambe Bay. This is a scheme which surely hon. Members representing this region ought to urge upon the Government. An industrial boom needs more and more water. There has been a scheme for Solway Firth, but I believe that the Morecambe scheme is much more attractive because it opens up Barrow-in-Furness which is difficult to get to.

I make one last plea, namely that we should not knock the boom. It is a time when unemployment drops in the regions. We must make progress while the boom lasts so that we can obtain lasting benefit in the regions.

8.44 p.m.

Mr. Bernard Conlan (Gateshead, East)

The motion refers to a number of extremely important matters, such as social inequality, the social services, and so on. I feel that one may be forgiven for concentrating on the question of unemployment because this problem has been with the region for a long time. Successive Governments have made various attempts to solve this problem. As one of my hon. Friends said earlier, they have used the carrot and the stick. The carrot has taken the form of extremely generous incentives and investment grants but, in spite of these generous provisions, the problem of unemployment remains with us.

One of the most tragic and distressing features of unemployment is the way in which it affects young people. It is distressing that youngsters, having completed their schooling, are unable to find suitable employment to accord with their educational background. As a result, school-leavers are taking on menial jobs for which their educational attainments make them unsuited. That is a waste of talent for the region and the country. Since 1969 the problem of youth unemployment in Gateshead has been progressively worsening, until now the figure is double what it was in that year. The Government claim—and I accept the point—that the problems of youth unemployment will not be resolved in isolation. Clearly, the issue is also wrapped up with the total unemployment figures. Therefore, we should devise policies which attempt to ensure that greater inroads are made into the total unemployment figure.

There has been an improvement recently, but any such improvement on the vast increase of unemployment in the last two years is an improvement that makes little progress. Therefore, the policies that have been tried before and have failed have to be replaced. I take the point mentioned by the hon. Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot). There must be greater governmental intervention in the regions, and if that means public ownership, so be it. We do not advocate public ownership merely for ideological or doctrinaire reasons. We advocate it for good, sound, solid social reasons. Obviously, the Government are failing to intervene sufficiently in industry, and they are failing to obtain greater investment and create more jobs.

I want to give one example of what I mean. The Government are probably the largest customer of equipment and services. Therefore, they should take powers directly to intervene in the companies providing equipment and services, to ensure that those companies do their work in regions with the greatest unemployment problem. Unfortunately, the Government are not using the powers they possess. I cite the case of Marconi Radar Systems. Much defence expenditure is being wasted because of purchases that are being made abroad for the Services—purchases that could have been made here, in the regions and in my constituency. Marconi Radar Systems is a good example. The company manufactures high quality radar, and in the domestic market it provides equipment to the three Services and to the Civil Aviation Authority. The Government have said that they cannot intervene in the affairs of the company and that it must be left to the company to use its commercial discretion in deciding where it will do its work.

There is no problem here, because the company has undertaken to me that if the Government are prepared to put work into the company it will be done at Gateshead. But in spite of many representations by me—I have written to the Minister for Industrial Development several times, asking him to use his good offices to put work into this company, which is threatened with closure and whose work force has been reduced by 50 per cent. in two years—there has been no satisfactory response. I wrote to the Minister asking him to do what he could. Nice polite letters were received, full of sympathy. I have also been in correspondence with the Minister for Defence Procurement, as he was, asking him to examine the programmes of the three Services in order to provide essential work for this factory. Again, I received lots of sympathy and nice polite replies. We do not want nice polite replies and we do not want lots of sympathy. We want work and jobs.

It may be of interest if I also explain that when I wrote to the right hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Chataway)—who, I understand, will wind up this debate—in his capacity as Minister for Industrial Development, his interest was such that I did not even get a reply. Tonight he will proclaim his great interest in the regions and in providing jobs, but he did not even reply to the letter that I sent him on 14th October 1972.

Mr. Chataway

I am, of course, extremely distressed to hear that the hon. Member did not have a reply, but I cannot believe that he was so uninterested in the subject about which he was writing to me that he did not write another letter to ask whether the first arrived.

Mr. Conlan

It was perfectly clear that the Minister was uninterested in the situation, and I had to leave Government responsibility to his two hon. Friends.

I want now to turn to the problem of the Civil Aviation Authority. It was asked to bring forward programmes. "We are very sorry," was the reply, "but we cannot do this. We cannot give any assistance." At the same time, during the period of the problems of this company in my constituency, where three sets of redundancies have been declared, the CAA, presumably with Government approval, was able to enter into contract arrangements for five sets of radar equipment with the German firm Standard Elektrik Lorenz. If the Government were determined and keen on providing jobs in the regions they could have used their veto on this contract to ensure that it was given to the region.

Industry in the North-East is doing a fine job, in providing excellent products at the right price and the right time. Unfortunately, there is not enough industry to provide more jobs. What is required is greater investment and diversification. The Opposition's determination is to reduce the threat of insecurity and to remove for all time the scourge of large-scale, long-term unemployment.

8.53 p.m.

Mr. George Grant (Morpeth)

I, too, welcome this opportunity to debate the problems of the Northern Region. My hon. Friend the Member for Houghtonle-Spring (Mr. Urwin) started by outlining the regional aspects of the problem. I will seek to relate these problems to my constituency. Many other hon. Members have sought to relate the problems to their constituencies.

Male unemployment in the Northern Region is 6.4 per cent. This is 10 per cent. of national unemployment. My own constituency, Morpeth, which is in the mid-Northumberland exchange area, has a male unemployment figure of 6 per cent. I am very pleased that there has been an improvement in the unemployment situation, but I do not accept that this "boom" is totally responsible for the reduction in the figures. I feel confident that in my constituency civil servants have reduced the number to some extent by changing men from the unemployment list to the social security list, men who because of the pit closure programme and reorganisation in the pits, have no jobs to do, men who were incapacitated but fit to do some types of jobs—but the jobs which they were capable of doing were just not there.

Apart from what it has done in the mining industry, mechanisation has taken many jobs on the farms away. Most road building work is now done on the drawing board, and the manual labour required is much less. Work is done in the main by machines. Even road sweeping is mechanised.

In the Northern Region the figure for male unemployment is 54,000, of whom it is reckoned that 32,000 are classified as general labourers. It is imperative that a new approach be made to training. I am the first to agree that many men in the dole queues are not material for training, but there are many men in jobs which they could do and who have potential to be trained for other work. Men will not volunteer for training if they are in jobs. In the national interest and the interests of our long-term investment, the Government should pay to attract men to take up training. New skills are required in the region.

In the building industry in the region there are 323 vacancies for bricklayers and 526 vacancies for carpenters. In my constituency a fine scheme has been introduced by the Home Office in which prisoners are trained in building skills. If it is possible for prisoners to be trained in that way, a much more realistic approach should be made in the region to fill vacancies and widen the scope of training. What is wrong in the Government's paying men to be trained on a building site so as to fill vacancies? What is wrong with colliery surface plant being used for training?

Men who are in jobs will not put forward their names for training. If they were paid to undergo training, men with potential, who might be in dead-end jobs, would leave the way clear for those men who have not got the skills and unfortunately cannot be trained.

Professor Dennison of Newcastle University, backed by Northumberland County Council, recently made a survey of the Ashington area. The survey highlights the problems in my constituency. In 1958 there were 58 pits in Northumberland. Today there are only 12. In the Ashington area in 1961, when Ashington was probably the biggest colliery village in the world, 69 per cent. of the male population was employed in mining. Today the figure is 48 per cent. The present unemployment figures for the area show that 64 per cent. of the unemployed men are over the age of 55. That is a real problem.

In his report, Professor Dennison makes a serious prediction. He says: In 1960 there were 17 working pits in the Household Survey Area. By the beginning of 1971 only 6 remained open. We have assumed that a further 4 pits will close by the end of 1975. On the basis of a number of assumptions not all of which are likely to be fulfilled, we estimate that male registered unemployment will rise beyond 15 per cent. by 1975. Already one pit has closed. That is the Bedlington pit which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Milne). Recently the National Coal Board proposed the closure of Netherton colliery. The only two pits that could be classified as long-life pits are Ellington and Lynemouth collieries. I do not accept the prediction which has been put forward that the other two pits will close by 1975. I have discussed this matter with the National Coal Board.

The fact is that they are not long-life pits. The survey talks about unemployment amounting to 15 per cent. It is time that the Government did something about the matter.

Earlier this year the Government announced 17 advance factories. There was not one such factory in the Morpeth constituency. This weekend the Secretary of State, when he was in Ashington, made an announcement that there was to be such a factory. Of the 17 factories that were announced, not one brick has yet been laid.

A serious statement was made by John Hobbs, the chairman of the North-East Development Council. The Evening Chronicle of 29th May says: The shortage of advance factories is seriously hampering efforts to attract new jobs in the region. Mr. John Hobbs, director of the North of England Development Council, said today. Because of the extreme shortage many industrialists who want a factory in the North-East for immediate use just can't have one, he said. Only last week a German firm came to us wanting a factory which would have provided 100 jobs but there was not one available. In my constituency there are 108 males who are registered for sheltered work. There is a Remploy factory in the area. However, when the position is reached when there are 108 men registered for sheltered work it is time that the Government were looking for an expansion of Remploy in the district.

It might be argued that Remploy is not a paying proposition. It must be considered that these men will not claim social security. They pay their stamp. They pay income tax and, most important of all, such employment gives these men an interest in living and restores their pride.

I shall stress briefly the serious water situation in the Northern Region. The way the Government have dithered and been indecisive about the water supply must represent one of their biggest failures. The Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company and the Tynemouth Water Board both expect to reach the limit of available resources in 1974. The Teesside Water Company expects to be fully committed by 1976. The Northumbria River Authority brought forward the imaginative scheme of Kielder. If that had been started this year it would have provided, by 1976, 15 million gallons of water a day. It would have been completed in 1978. By that stage it would have been bringing 200 million gallons a day to the area.

The county council, the North-East Development Council, the local authorities and the majority of hon. Members were in full support of the Kielder scheme. It is unfortunate that the present Secretary of State for the Environment had to deal with the problem. He looked at the objectives from within his own constituency. The Government inspector who dealt with the inquiry also came out with his support for Kielder. I realise that the inquiry will be reopened on 19th June. I hope that the Government realise the importance of the scheme to the whole of the Northern Region and that they will give the matter the urgency which it demands.

9.5 p.m.

Mr. A. G. F. Hall-Davis (Morecambe and Lonsdale)

As only half my constituency qualifies for the regional incentives of the Northern Region I shall endeavour to make my speech take only half as long as usual, in the hope that another hon. Member may catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker, before the close of the debate.

The part of the area that comes within the scope of Northern Region industrial incentives is Furness and North Lonsdale, and in that area are two main sources of employment—manufacturing industry and tourism. They are equally dependent on road communications. They are equally dependent on the same communication route—the A590, which can truly be described as an artery for Furness and North Lonsdale. If my right hon. Friend were to ask, "Is there one thing that I can do to ensure the economic development of the western side of the new county of Cumbria?", I would say, "Yes—press on with adequate improvements to the A590." That would be sufficient, and would be recognised as sufficient, by everybody in the area.

There has been no argument that improvements to this line of communication are urgently necessary. What has happened is that, due to a weakness in administrative procedures—or, perhaps, to what I hope will be the last time that inadequate administrative procedures were followed—there has been unnecessary delay in bringing about this improvement.

There were only two ways to improve access to the area. One was by building a new road across the head of Morecambe Bay, which came to be known on the drawing board as the link road. The other was by improving the existing A590. About six years ago, Lancashire County Council put the link road among its four principal priorities for road improvements in the county. In 1967, the Ministry of Tranport put the link road in the preparation pool. At that time it was generally assumed that the question was only when it would be built and not whether it would be built.

Due to increasing concern about environmental matters, there were objections to the proposal and in 1970 a public inquiry was held. That, I think, is where the administrative weakness showed itself. Unlike the case with the A66 in Cumberland, as I understand it, the two alternative routes were not evaluated together. Nor, as far as I can see, was any serious contingency planning done for work to commence as quickly as possible on the alternative—the only alternative route—if the link road proposal were rejected as a result of the inquiry.

It was rejected after a wait of practically two and a half years. We have had experience of delays in getting results from public inquiries, but hon. Members can appreciate the feelings of my constituents who had to wait two and a half years for a verdict and then found that it was against their project, for which they had been waiting eagerly for many years.

What I am asking is that, so far as can be done within the limits of the administrative resources available, the area should not be penalised by unnecessary delay or by an inadequate alternative route because the proposal which it wished to see adopted was rejected on environmental grounds. If one is to make an environmental decision for the benefit of the community as a whole, then the community as a whole should meet the cost and not those locally who have been affected by the decision.

That there was not contingency planning is clear from the fact that the comparatively minor design modifications to the Lindale Bypass—itself a major improvement but requiring these small modifications as a result of the decision—will not be completed to allow the statutory notices to be published much before the end of the year. There are several projected improvements on which planning work has already been done. There is the Greenodd Bypass diversion on the A590, which I understand is now awaiting a report from the Lancashire County Council—what, I believe, is known as a firm programme report. The same applies to stage III of the Ulverston improvement.

There are improvements envisaged to what is known as the Haverthwaite cross roads. It is accepted by the Department of the Environment that there must be substantial improvements to the A590 between Levens Bridge and Lindale. Local bodies, industrialists and citizens who use the road frequently, of whom I am one, are pressing that as much of that length as possible should be dual carriageway. What I am pressing for is the recognition of the fact that because we now appreciate, where there are alternatives, that it would be more sensible to consider them together, because this is perhaps the last major road improvement where such a process was not gone through, and because the new improvements will not show the same return on capital as those which were rejected on environmental grounds, the Government should not expect Cumbria to pay the price for an environmental decision taken on much broader grounds.

I hope that the Government will press on with these improvements with all rapidity, will make them effective and so help industry in the area and help the Lake District environmentally. At present small geographical areas are being choked with tourists while there are other large areas which could accommodate more visitors if only the road access was much better. We are delighted to see visitors. We can accommodate them. They go away and leave the Lake District much as it was. At the moment there is a grave imbalance between the way they choke certain parts of the Lake District and do not reach other parts.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Robert Grant-Ferris)

Mr. Bagier.

Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)


Mr. Ted Fletcher (Darlington)

This has been a wide-ranging debate——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry. I called Mr. Bagier. I am sorry I cannot call the hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher).

Mr. Bagier


Mr. Fletcher


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member whom I have called—I thought I pronounced his name correctly—is the hon. Member on my extreme left.

9.13 p.m.

Mr. Bagier

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For the record, my name is Bagier. Sometimes it is pronounced "Badger"—sometimes it is a lot worse. I am grateful for the opportunity to take part briefly in this debate. I regret that my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Ted Fletcher) has been pipped by me.

One of the most difficult jobs at this late stage is to condense into a few minutes a speech which has taken a week to prepare. I hope the House will bear with me if I hurry along and put my remarks into a few short sentences. I represent a part of Sunderland and it was remarkable to read in this morning's paper the suggestion that because Sunderland has won the FA Cup that has done great things for its industry. It is said that everyone is working happily, that industrial relations are much better and so on. I am afraid that this is so much newspaper talk. Pleased as I am about the Cup, I am afraid it is a rather secondary matter.

We are still left with a town that is far from happy, with about 7,500 unemployed and a male unemployment figure of 8.9 per cent. It is against that background that we approach this debate in serious tone.

I wish to underline one or two remarks about shipbuilding made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey). The Minister has been quite forthcoming in holding meetings, but I ask him to have a quick look at what can be done for Doxford and the Sunderland shipbuilders. The Minister for Local Government and Development said that the Booz-Allen Report would need to be studied. Surely the success story of the Wear shipbuilders does not take much studying. According to the Booz-Allen Report, out of about £160 million poured into shipbuilding, the Sunderland area as a whole has had about £13,000 in Government grants. We are not asking for a great deal. We mention the success story and suggest that it might be prudent for the Government to invest in a success story. The report says that Doxford of Sunderland is now controlled by the successful Appledore management. What more justification do the Government want for making a quick decision?

The report also says that Appledore and Austin Pickergsgill have good delivery arrangements and that the latter company has for several years been successfully taking part in the SD 14 scheme. According to information available to us, when it can get the go-ahead it will build the most modern indoor shipbuilding complex in Europe, and it will make a success story of it. This would help to reduce the high unemployment in Sunderland.

I ask the Minister to use his good offices to short-cut this thorough examination right across the board.

I ask him to think again and to be selective. If there are problems with Cammell Laird and with Glasgow, they should be examined in detail, but Sunderland should also be examined in detail. Investment in Sunderland would be an investment in a success story and not a bolstering up of a lame duck.

It is ludicrous that a cut of £20 million should be made in the training scheme, particularly when there are 50,000 unemployed men in the region and only 5,000 training places. The Government must again think in terms of being selective and not just do things right across the board.

The Minister may say that one difficulty is that not all the training positions are taken up, but a married man with two children often cannot afford to take up training particularly if he does not know for what he is being trained. Industry is not in a position to say to a man that in six or 12 months' time he will start at a certain place. He has to explain to his wife why she must accept a reduction in income while he does his training. Perhaps some of that £20 million might go to genuine hardship cases where a man wants to better himself but cannot afford to do so.

I ask the Government to consider extending Operation Eyesore. I am the first into battle in defending my region as a beautiful region, but it has suffered from the ravages of the past industrial vandalism of the rivers, the river banks and the environment. Much more money could be spent on Operation Eyesore, and I ask the Minister to extend the scheme beyond September.

I shall not mention the 17 advance factories that have not been started. The Government should bear in mind that the square footage of factory space includes factory space which is broken down, old factories and factories which are unacceptable to industries which might come into the region. Is it possible for local authorities to be given a go-ahead to examine the property to see whether it is usable? The direct works department in Sunderland might do that. I cannot miss this opportunity of deploring the fact that the Government have seen fit to put a specific embargo on the direct works department building houses for sale.

The Government are supposed to believe in the idea that everybody should be able to own their own houses. Their reasons for so believing are remarkable. In one section of the town where they have been building houses for sale they are half way through the development. But now the Government have said that for policy reasons they are to disallow the direct labour organisation the opportunity to tender.

The wording of the letter to the Town Clerk of Sunderland is priceless. The letter says that the Department of the Environment will not allow Sunderland to go in for the completion of the second half of the 26 houses for sale. I will quote the precise wording: I appreciate the problems experienced by your Council in trying to obtain competitive private tenders for the earlier competition but the fact that the Direct Labour Organisation is unable to compete in the next stage should go a long way to persuading private firms to submit competitive tenders for the next phase. … No longer will the direct labour organisation be allowed to build cheaper houses, for they are to be debarred from such tenders. I hope that the Minister will have a word with his right hon. Friend about this important matter. Indeed, I hope the Government will take note of all I have said.

9.22 p.m.

Mr. Ernest Armstrong (Durham, North-West)

We have had a wide-ranging debate, but I was interested to hear the Minister for Local Government and Development say that this was not the right time for such a debate. Since we are now apparently doing better than we were 12 months ago and are at what is described as the beginning of an economic boom, it is said that this is the wrong time to debate regional policies. I suggest that this is exactly the right time to consider this problem.

We have had a regional problem for at least half a century. I grew up in West Durham, and we know from the figures that in November 1934 although unemployment in London and the South-East of England was 4 per cent., in West Durham unemployment was running at 50.6 per cent. of the population—in other words, in that area in November 1934 there were more men unemployed than there were men at work.

The consequences of that kind of imbalance are still with us. Despite all the regional resources which have been put into the regions, particularly the Northern Region, we still have social inequalities, lack of job opportunities and all the other items which are mentioned in the motion. There has been a constant transference of families to the more prosperous areas, and the gap between the more affluent areas and the Northern Region during the past 50 years has never been closed. It is interesting to note that even at peak times of prosperity in the last 20 years unemployment in the Northern Region has always been almost twice the national average.

To depend on the idea—and this was the theme of the speech made by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in Newcastle on Friday, and indeed it was echoed by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Local Government and Development in his remarks today—that because the country is now seeing an upsurge in the national economy there is less reason to be anxious about regional policies is to deny the evidence of the past half century.

I am pleased and privileged tonight to represent the folk in the Northern Region. I wish to tell the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) that I do not come armed with a begging bowl. There is no question of my proffering a begging bowl for people in the North. No region has contributed more to the well being, prosperity and wealth of the nation than the Northern Region and its people. They have suffered from a rundown in jobs in the basic industries but, as my hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. David Watkins) said, in many of the new industries which have come to the region over the past 15 years they have experienced serious job losses in the past three years.

We in the North assert the right to work. We assert that we have also the right to a decent return for that work. We have the right to be able to provide by our own efforts the necessities for good family life and that we should be able to do it in the place of our choice.

I was disturbed to hear the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North pouring scorn on the desire of folk in the North to have the opportunity to work in the North. He talked about people wanting jobs on their doorsteps and so on. The truth is that during the whole of my lifetime there has been direction of labour for many people in the Northern Region. As a schoolmaster my first job in 1937 was to work at Felling. There were then 300 school teachers unemployed in Durham. I went to what was called the dole school. It was the junior instruction centre for youngsters who had left school. I seem to remember that they received two shillings a week unemployment pay. We were persuading them to come to the affluent South to work in hotel kitchens and to do all kinds of menial jobs which they came and did rather than join the dole queue.

Mr. R. W. Elliott

I apologise for interrupting the hon. Gentleman. I do so only because, with great respect to him, he has taken my words completely out of context. My point was that we in the Northern Region should all now recognise the growth area situation and realise that jobs cannot be brought to every pit village. There must be growth areas. That is all that I was saying.

Mr. Armstrong

I am not suggesting that jobs should be brought to every pit village. However, the hon. Gentleman should make speeches like that in Consett or West Durham. Views of that kind explain why it is that no Tory ever represents that part of the country.

The availability of work is still the basic problem in the Northern Region. We all know that unemployment anywhere and at any time is a waste of human resources. But career destruction and redundancy amongst the middle-aged when there is no alternative is a human tragedy.

Let us look at the unemployment figures. In mid-May 1973 there were 50,921 men unemployed in the Northern Region. That was 2,200 more than in June 1970. We get no satisfaction therefore from speeches such as that made by the Secretary of State in Newcastle on Friday. It was a complacent speech making it appear that we had nothing to worry about, that because unemployment had dropped drastically during the past 12 months we need not be fearful about the future.

We are today almost back to where we were in June 1970. If we look at the notified vacancies and the numbers of unemployed men available in May 1973, for every 100 notified vacancies in the South-East, there are 68 unemployed men. In the middle of what the Secretary of State declared to be an economic boom and what the Minister for Local Government and Development described today as "Boom, boom, boom," for every 100 vacancies in the North-East there are 350 unemployed men. That is a great improvement on the position two years ago. At that time the Government had destroyed their regional policy alogether. But it is still a very serious matter for those unemployed in the Northern Region who seek regular work.

In the course of his speech on Friday, the Secretary of State reviewed the prospects for the future and talked about 6,000 jobs over the next three years. A total of 6,000 jobs is a drop in the ocean compared with the real needs of the Northern Region.

My hon. Friend the Member for Morpeth (Mr. George Grant) referred to the 17 advance factories which were announced in January this year. When will the construction of the first of those factories commence? They were announced in January, but not a single start has been made during the intervening period. We know now that shortages of land and material are preventing the programme going ahead. No wonder Malcolm Crawford, the economics editor of the Sunday Times, last week headed his article, Jobs flood in yet regions are still on the dole. There is no room for complacency here. Of course regional policy has helped. We have succeeded in conducting a holding operation and there has been some improvement in the structure of our industries.

One of the greatest needs in the Northern Region is positive encouragement to service industries. It is estimated that over the last 12 years for every three jobs created in manufacturing industries five service jobs have been made available. Today, I understand that the manufacturing sector employs only 38 per cent. of the work force. This makes it essential that investment incentives are made available for service industry jobs as well as manufacturing industry jobs.

I suggest that the Minister, when considering with the CBI and the TUC the future of REP, should take account of two matters. First, on the evidence submitted by the CBI, it is essential that REP or something like it should be continued in the Northern Region. I suggest as strongly as I can that for the health of the Northern Region, and in order to sustain the economic growth which we now welcome, the Minister should extend REP, or something like it, to both service and manufacturing industries. This, indeed, would be a great contribution.

The Government are relying far too much on expansion of the national economy for the solution of regional problems. We cannot possibly begin to solve our problems unless we have sustained growth in the economy. We readily acknowledge that. Unemployment in the development areas falls when it falls nationally, but the gap between the regions remains in times of both recession and boom.

I should like to mention the inequalities and injustices that persist, which have been skirted over by right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the Government side. I remind the House that we have not been talking about a geographical location on the borders of Scotland that anybody south of Potters Bar knows little about and where strange people live; we have been talking about families who are anxious to provide a good and rising standard of living.

At the latest count—I was amazed when I was reminded of the differences—the average household income in the South-East was £43.67 per week, compared with £34.56 in the Northern Region. With that differential it is no use preaching about boom, and so on. People in the Northern Region know that they cannot provide for their families the resources and facilities which are taken for granted in other parts of the country. In the Northern Region 7.2 per cent. of full-time male workers employed in manual work take home less than £20 a week, as against 5.7 per cent. in the South-East. I ask the Minister to note that at the last count 21.4 per cent. of men in full-time work in the Northern Region were taking home less than £25 a week.

Work is a human need. Not only is it a means of livelihood; it gives social status and function. When a man working a full week is paid less than he could expect to get from social security, no incidence of means-tested benefits is any substitute for the indignity of receiving a wage of that kind. No means-tested benefits can make up for the loss of dignity and of self-respect implied in such a state of affairs.

Another sad feature of regional inequality—and this comes to the point made by the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott)—is the withering and breaking up of existing communities. This is something which has made a great personal impact on me. At the end of the war I was all for people moving to areas where there were better facilities and amenities, swimming baths, new towns and cities, and so on. I have changed my mind. Miners and their families have always lived in closely knit communities. Today, many of those communities have been broken up, and even where they have dreary rundown environments great social and psychological costs are involved when we allow villages to wither away.

In far too many communities of the North our brightest youngsters, having made the grade in higher education, can find no outlets for their skills and talents except by moving to more affluent areas. This is a great wastage and a great social loss, and provides many of our social problems. We have to strike a balance between planning for reasonable mobility and the preservation of established and cherished communities. Large cities, and even new towns, do not offer the attractive life style for which many people look today.

Let us examine the educational facilities. Here I have time only to give one figure. At the last count 65.1 per cent. of children in the South-East stayed on after the statutory school leaving age. The equivalent figure in the North was 48.5 per cent. In the health services, a general practitioner in the North has far more patients than has the corresponding general practitioner in the South. Much publicity was given last week to patients suffering from arthritis, who had to wait twice as long for a bed in the North as they would have done in the South. It is the kind of "two nations" about which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) spoke.

The truth is that we have to face a situation today where living standards have improved in the North and where there has been a change in the environment. Much has been done, but much remains to be done. The gap is still there and cannot be closed without positive regional policy. The Government's attitude has been far too negative. When they came to office they believed that if they let loose market forces they would solve the problems, but even the Prime Minister and others have changed their minds about that and are now standing on their heads in that respect. Tonight we are making a plea—indeed, a demand—for positive regional policies.

Regional problems are stubborn and persistent. That is what the motion says. They are a source of waste to the nation and bring inequality and injustice to thousands of decent families in the development areas. The South-East has a regional problem no less serious than that of the Northern Region, but it is of a different kind. It is a problem of overdevelopment in the South-East, and I must say that the Government seem to be quite prepared to allow it to go on—when we think of some of the prestige projects coming along. Over-development increases congestion and, indeed, inflation, and leads to ever-increasing demands on the public purse to cope with the social and human problems created, and to make life tolerable, let alone civilised, in the modern complex industrial society that we are creating.

The plea in our motion is in the best interests of the whole nation. It is not a plea for the Northern Region alone. We are asserting the right of men and women in every part of the country to regular and satisfying work. We are asserting the right of every youngster—above all, of every youngster—to have equal educational opportunities wherever his family may live, and the full development of his talents. We are asserting the right of every family to improved living standards. We believe that only a positive regional policy offering consistent preferential treatment will abolish the imbalances in areas like Northern Region, which, in the past, through no fault of their own but because of rundown in basic industries, have suffered deprivation. We must give them more and more preferential treatment. I can assure the House and the Minister that we do not come saying, "Give us these things"; we say, "Give us the opportunity." It is not a matter of being handed things on a plate. We want an opportunity provided by exploiting all our resources.

I remind the Minister, too, that the Northern Region includes some of the most beautiful parts of Britain. We have an improving environment. We want the opportunity to improve it further, so that our people may have equal access to the quality of life that other regions take for granted.

9.40 p.m.

The Minister for Industrial Development (Mr. Christopher Chataway)

I believe that this is the first time that the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) has spoken from the Front Bench. I hope that he will not think it presumptuous of me if I congratulate him very warmly. In education debates I used to enjoy very much listening to him, and I think that the whole House has listened with considerable enjoyment to what he has had to say tonight.

Inevitably, in winding up a debate, one concentrates on areas of disagreement. I shall be disagreeing a great deal with what the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members have said. I agree with him fundamentally on a number of the major propositions that he asserted. First, I agree that over a very long period the Northern Region has had to undergo major structural changes. Although Governments have certainly made their mistakes about regional policy, I have not the least doubt that if there had not been a regional policy over the past decades we should be faced with a situation which was even more serious than it is today.

Secondly, I agree with the hon. Gentleman—this point was also made by the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. William Rodgers) and my. hon. Friend the Member for Brighouse and Spenborough (Mr. Proudfoot)—that this is very much the time to be concerned with regional policy and that the opportunities when the economy is going well are far greater than in times of difficulty. As my hon. Friend the Member for Brigh-house and Spenborough said, the time to mend the roof is when the sun is shining. That most certainly is the Government's attitude. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear in his Budget speech that for just this reason we intend to maintain to the full our regional incentives. The House will have noted that despite cutbacks in Government expenditure there is no change in the system of regional incentives that we are operating in the regions.

There is no doubt that the effect of the Industry Act and of these measures is helping with a very substantial upturn in investment in the Northern Region today. Looking simply at selective assistance—I was asked about Section 7 of the Industry Act—it has been decided by the Regional Industrial Development Board to offer assistance for over 70 projects which are expected themselves to create 6,000 jobs in three years. The hon. Gentleman need not worry that that is the limit of the jobs which we intend to create in the next three years, because the board is now considering a substantial number of further applications and hopes, by the end of July, to have secured the first century of positive decisions. It has to be remembered that each of these jobs is in manufacturing industry and is likely to create a number of other jobs in the service industries.

There has been a great deal of emphasis in the debate on the importance of service industries and of office accommodation. I have been very anxious to look at the present arrangements for encouraging service industries and particularly office jobs to the regions in the hope of supplying still more effective incentives. Although I cannot make an announcement on this subject tonight I hope to be able to do so fairly shortly.

It is important that we should realise the extent of overseas investment in the Northern Region. There has been some discussion by my hon. Friends and the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin) about attracting foreign investment. I hope that there will be no doubt in any part of the House about the importance of continuing to attract foreign investment. It has been the policy of successive Governments that we welcomed overseas investment and went out to get it. One detects an unfortunate tendency on the part of some hon. Members of the Opposition these days to characterise any company that works in more than one country as a multi-national and to use that as a term of abuse. The right hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) is perhaps the worst offender in this respect.

This is of fundamental importance to the debate, because there are 35,000 men employed in the Northern Region already in firms from overseas. We are seeing at the moment—I have a list here—a very substantial number of firms attracted into the region by virtue of its excellent location in relation to the Common Market. I therefore hope that there will be no doubt in any part of the House that we want to see that investment attracted and I hope that such notions as are contained in the recent Labour proposals for trying to insist—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We have had this reaction once or twice, but the Labour Party has produced its proposals.

Mr. Urwin


Mr. Chataway

The fact is that in relation to overseas investment, which is of fundamental importance to the North Eastern region, the Labour Party has said that when in government it will seek to appoint directors not only to United Kingdom subsidiaries but to the parent companies of multi-nationals. If hon. Members think that that is helping to attract overseas investment they should think again.

Mr. Urwin

I am grateful to the Minister for at last giving way. Will he accept from me, if his hearing betrayed him during the course of the contributions from this side, that neither I nor any of my right hon. or hon. Friends attempted in any way to denigrate the activities of multi-national companies operating in the Northern Region or, in- deed, those of any firms coming from outside this country? What I said was that there was some scope for saying that discipline should be introduced on the investment of multi-nationals so that it is directed to the areas where it is most needed.

Mr. Chataway

I am delighted that the hon. Member has said that. If he could get those views translated into this document in due course, it would be very helpful.

My hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe) and the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. George Grant) referred to the advance factory programme. I was able to announce the biggest ever advance factory programme for the Northern Region earlier this year of 240,000 million sq. ft. We have seen a very rapid take-up of advance factories over recent months. We still have advance factories available—a good many of them older ones. A further half-dozen will become available shortly, when their modernisation is completed.

I accept completely the importance of moving quickly with the new factories under the advance programme. Three factories are now under construction and will be completed by October. Three more will be started by July this year, and eight more in August or early September. It is hoped to start up to eight more by the end of November. I accept entirely the importance of pressing ahead with this programme, in view of the strong demand for factory space in the Northern Region.

The hon. Members for Cleveland (Mr. Tinn) and Sedgefield (Mr. David Reed) and my hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) and Brighouse and Spenborough stressed the importance of training. There can be no question about the growing importance of training in the Northern Region. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of places in general training centres. Whereas 10 years ago there were only 80 places, today there are 1,642. That will be pushed up to over 2,000 very shortly. Thirty per cent. of people who completed courses in 1972 did so under schemes for sponsored training for workers nominated by employers. That is expanding steadily.

It is important that we attempt by every means to persuade more people to take advantage of these opportunities. There is a substantial difference in the occupancy rate of general training centres between the Northern Region and the rest of the country. In the United Kingdom as a whole it is 82.9 per cent., whereas in the Northern Region it is 73.7 per cent. I know that there arc reasons why it is difficult for many people to train, but there is undoubtedly a job to be done in persuading many more people to take advantage of these expanding opportunities.

The right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough), with whom I should like to continue discussions on one or two of the matters he raised, and the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) all stressed the importance of an early decision on shipbuilding. They will appreciate that we have only recently been able to put out the Booz-Allen Report for consultation, and that raises a number of very difficult issues for all of us, such as the size of the industry that we should aim for and the scale of secure employment which it will be right to aim for over the years. It involves issues of weighing claims for limited resources.

We have to consider what means there are of speeding up the introduction of better management in some of the areas where this is lacking, and promoting better labour relations. I think it would be unrealistic to suppose that a decision can be taken totally in isolation from Booz-Allen. I accept that there may be opportunities to be taken in the present buoyant state of the shipbuilding industry, and it is important that we should reach decisions as soon as we can. I give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that there will be no unnecessary delay.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

How quickly will a decision be reached?

Mr. Chataway

I cannot give a date yet, but every effort will be made to do so as quickly as possible.

The right hon. Member for Sunderland, North on a number of occasions mentioned Seahorse, as did my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), and we hope to satisfy ourselves whether this proposition is commercially viable and technically sound. We have been examining the project with the Court Line and will come to a conclusion as soon as we can.

This is a pretty curious motion in a number of ways. A good many who have spoken have recognised the scale of the improvement that there has been in recent months. The motion refers to "persistent social inequalities" and "low household incomes." The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring referred to some figures which are two or three years old. The House may like to know that average weekly earnings of men manual workers are £35.12. That is the figure for October 1972, the latest date for which we have figures, and that is an increase in real terms since October 1969 of 14.5 per cent. The previous three years under the former administration showed an increase of 9 per cent. We have a good way to go, but we are going a good deal faster than hon. Members opposite did. What is more, that increase is somewhat larger than the increase for the United Kingdom as a whole. So a start has been made in closing the gap.

The motion talks in strong terms of "lack of job opportunities." It does so without a word of apology, and the House ought to know that registered vacancies in May 1973 are nearly 50 per cent. greater than in May 1970. The Opposition motion calls upon the Government to institute action to create new jobs. I think we should have the picture clear. In the course of the last Parliament the then Government succeeded in almost doubling unemployment in the Northern Region and, what is more, as they will know—because I do not think there can be many who believe in totally instant economics—they left a very rapidly rising trend. That rose in 18 months to record levels in the winter of 1971–72. We have turned that trend round. Whereas they left unemployment rapidly rising, we have it back today to the May 1970 figure, and it is falling rapidly, with a far higher level of vacancies.

Mr. Urwin


Mr. Chataway

Perhaps this is the key to so much of the debate. The hon. Member and the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees recognised that while regional policy is enormously important and has to be sustained—and this Government will sustain it—it is sustained national growth that provides the only opportunity for making real progress in the regions. Therefore we have a right to ask whether Labour Members are still committed to the notion of sustained economic growth.

Mr. Bagier

Are you?

Mr. Chataway

We have seen proposals issued in this last week which we do not believe can be consistent with maintaining economic growth, but, nor, of course do a good many Labour Members. Some of them actually believe that the whole purpose of setting up what is called the National Enterprise Board is to put a stop to the pursuit of economic growth.—[Interruption.] This week we had——

Mr. Urwin


Hon. Members

Give way.

Mr. Chataway

The Opposition should not be so ashamed of their policy documents that they will not hear any criticism of them. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) in extolling the proposals for a National Enterprise Board has given as his main argument, in his words The pivot of the alternative economic … strategy —the hon. Gentleman is spokesman from the Opposition Front Bench— is a slackening of the voracious and never-ending demands of growth.

That is what he says the National Enterprise Board is about. We have had discussions on the proposals to nationalise 25 companies and about whether those proposals may or may not be a firm part of the Labour programme. Certainly the 50,000 people in the Northern Region who are employed in some of the 25 largest companies will examine the proposals with a great deal of anxiety. Any hon. Member who believes that it is simply the 25-companies proposal which is likely to slow growth should read what the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Dell) has said, or the analysis in the New Statesman this week.

In short, therefore, this motion, which is backed by all the forces of a three-line Whip, demands of the Government that they should do what the Government manifestly are doing, and what the Opposition manifestly failed to do in Government and now make it absolutely clear that they would fail to do again. We have a long way to go in the Northern Region but we have today the opportunity of pulling back on some of the ground that was lost in the last Parliament. The motion must set some sort of record for effrontery but I would suggest to the House that that is not sufficient reason for supporting it.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 291, Noes 275.

Division No. 144.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Braine, Sir Bernard Cormack, Patrick
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Bray, Ronald Costain, A. P.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Critchley, Julian
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Bruce-Gardyne, J. Crouch, David
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Bryan, Sir Paul Crowder, F. P.
Astor, John Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Dalkeith, Earl of
Atkins, Humphrey Buck, Antony d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry
Awdry, Daniel Bullus Sir Eric d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen.Jack
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Burden, F. A. Dean, Paul
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Campbell, Rt.Hn. G. (Moray & Nairn) Digby, Simon Wingfield
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony
Batsford, Brian Carlisle, Mark Dixon, Piers
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Cary, Sir Robert Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas
Bell, Ronald Channon, Paul Drayson, G. B.
Bennett, Sir Frederick (Torquay) Chapman, Sydney du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Dykes, Hugh
Benyon, W. Chichester-Clark, R. Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Berry, Hn. Anthony Churchill, W. S. Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Biffen, John Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Biggs-Davison, John Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.)
Blaker, Peter Cockeram, Eric Emery, Peter
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Cooke, Robert Eyre, Reginald
Body, Richard Coombs, Derek Farr, John
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Cooper, A. E. Fell, Anthony
Bossom, Sir Clive Cordle, John Fenner, Mrs. Peggy
Bowden, Andrew Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Fidler, Michael
Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampslead) Lamont, Norman Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) Lane, David Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Langford-Holt, Sir John Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Fortescue, Tim Le Merchant, Spencer Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Foster, Sir John Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Fowler, Norman Lloyd, Rt.Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'field) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Fox, Marcus Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Loveridge, John Rost, Peter
Fry, Peter McAdden, Sir Stephen Russell, Sir Ronald
Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. MacArthur, Ian St. John-Stevas, Norman
Gardner, Edward McCrindle, R. A. Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Gibson-Watt, David McLaren, Martin Scott, Nicholas
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Scott-Hopkins, James
Glyn, Dr. Alan McMaster, Stanley Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)
Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Macmillan.Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham) Shelton, William (Clapham)
Goodhart, Philip McNair-Wilson, Michael Shersby, Michael
Gorst, John Maddan, Martin Simeons, Charles
Gower, Raymond Madel, David Sinclair, Sir George
Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Skeet, T. H. H.
Gray, Hamish Marten, Neil Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)
Green, Alan Mather, Carol Soref, Harold
Grieve, Percy Maude, Angus Speed, Keith
Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Spence, John
Gryils, Michael Mawby, Ray Sprout, Iain
Gummer, J. Selwyn Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Stainton, Keith
Gurden, Harold Meyer, Sir Anthony Stanbrook, Ivor
Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Miscampbell, Norman Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.)
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Moate, Roger Stokes, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Molyneaux, James Stuttaford, Dr. Tom
Hannam, John (Exeter) Money, Ernle Sutcliffe, John
Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Monks, Mrs. Connie Tapsell, Peter
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Monro, Hector Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Haselhurst, Alan Montgomery, Fergus Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)
Hastings, Stephen More, Jasper Tebbit, Norman
Havers, Sir Michael Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Temple, John M.
Hawkins, Paul Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm. Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret
Hay, John Mudd, David Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Murton, Oscar Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)
Heseltine, Michael Nabarro, Sir Gerald Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)
Hicks, Robert Neave, Airey Tilney, John
Higgins, Terence L. Nicholls, Sir Harmar Trafford, Dr. Anthony
Hiley, Joseph Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Trew, Peter
Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Normanton, Tom Tugendhat, Christopher
Hill, S. James A. (Southampton, Test) Nott, John Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin
Holland Philip Onslow, Cranley van Straubenzee, W. R.
Holt, Miss Mary Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally Vaughan, Dr. Gerard
Hordern, Peter Orr, Capt. L. P. S. Vickers, Dame Joan
Hornby, Richard Osborn, John Waddington, David
Hornsby-Smith.Rt.Hn.Dame Patricia Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby) Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)
Howell, David (Guildford) Page, John (Harrow, W.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Parkinson, Cecil Wall, Patrick
Hunt, John Percival, Ian Walters, Dennis
Hutchison, Michael Clark Peyton, Rt. Hn. John Ward, Dame Irene
Iremonger, T. L. Pike, Miss Mervyn Warren, Kenneth
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Pink, R. Bonner Wells, John (Maidstone)
James, David Pounder, Rafton White, Roger (Gravesend)
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Wiggin, Jerry
Jessel, Toby Price, David (Eastleigh) Wilkinson, John
Johnson Smith G. (E. Grinstead) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L. Winterton, Nicholas
Jones Arthur (Northants S.) Proudfoot, Wilfred Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Jopling, Michael Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Quennell, Miss J. M. Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Kaberry, Sir Donald Raison, Timothy Woodnutt, Mark
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Worsley, Marcus
Kimball, Marcus Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
King, Evelyn (Dorset. S.) Redmond, Robert Younger, Hn. George
Kirk, Peter Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Kitson, Timothy Rees, Peter (Dover) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Knight, Mrs. Jill Rees-Davies, W. R. Mr. Walter Cleeg and
Knox, David Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Abse, Leo Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Booth, Albert
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Boothroyd, Miss B. (West Brom.)
Allen, Scholefield Baxter, William Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Beaney, Alan Boyden, James(Bishop Auckland)
Armstrong, Ernest Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Bradley, Tom
Ashley, Jack Bennett, James(Glasgow, Bridgeton) Broughton, Sir Alfred
Ashton, Joe Bidwell, Sydney Brown, Robert C.(N'c'tle-u-Tyne, W.)
Atkinson, Norman Bishop, E. S. Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Blenkinsop, Arthur Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)
Barnes, Michael Boardman, H. (Leigh) Buchan, Norman
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Padley, Walter
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Huckfield, Leslie Paget, R. T.
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Palmer, Arthur
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Panned, Rt. Hn. Charles
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Pardoe, John
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Roy (Newport) Parker, John (Dagenham)
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northleld) Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Janner, Greville Pavitt, Laurie
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Jeger, Mrs. Lena Perry, Ernest G.
Coleman, Donald Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.
Concannon, J. D. Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Prescott, John
Conlan, Bernard John, Brynmor Price, William (Rugby)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Probert, Arthur
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Radice, Giles
Crawshaw, Richard Johnson, Walter (Derby S.) Rankin, John
Cronin, John Jones Barry (Flint, E.) Reed, D. (Sedgefield)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Jones, Dan (Burnley) Rees. Merlyn (Leeds, S.)
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen) Rhodes, Geoffrey
Dalyell, Tam Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Judd, Frank Roberts, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Davidson, Arthur Kelley, Richard Robertson, John (Paisley)
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Kerr, Russell Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Kinnock, Ne'. Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lambie, David Roper, John
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Lamborn, Harry Rose, Paul B.
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Lamond, James Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock)
Deakins, Eric Latham, Arthur Rowlands, Ted
de Freltas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lawson, George Sandelson, Neville
Delargy, Hugh Leadbitter, Ted Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)
Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dempsey, James Leonard, Dick Short, Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Doig, Peter Lestor, Miss Joan Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N.E.)
Dormand, J. D. Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Lipton, Marcus Sillars, James
Driberg, Tom Lomas, Kenneth Silverman, Julius
Loughlin, Charles Skinner, Dennis
Duffy, A. E. P.
Dunn, James A. Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Small, William
Dunnett, Jack McBride, Neil Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Edelman, Maurice McCartney, Hugh Smith, John (Lanarkshire. N.)
Edwards, Robert (Bilston) McElhone, Frank Spriggs, Leslie
Edwards, William (Merioneth) McGuire, Michael Stallard, A. W.
Ellis, Tom Machin, George Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
English, Michael Mackenzie, Gregor Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)
Evans, Fred Mackie, John Stoddart, David (Swindon)
Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John
Ewing, Harry Mackintosh, John P. Strauss Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Maclellan, Robert Summerskill Hn. Dr. Shirley
Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B' ham, Ladywood) McMillan Tom (Glasgow, C.) Swain, Thomas
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McNamera, J. Kevin Taverne, Dick
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Mahon, Simon (Bootle) Thomas, Rt.Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Marks, Kenneth Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Foot, Michael Marquand, David Tinn, James
Ford, Ben Marsden. F. Tomney, Frank
Forrester, John Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy Tope Graham
Fraser, John (Norwood) Mayhew, Christopher Torney, Tom
Freeson, Reginald Meacher, Michael Tuck, Raphael
Galpern, Sir Myer Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Urwin, T. W.
Garrett, W. E. Mendelson, John Varley, Eric G.
Gilbert, Dr. John Mikardo, Ian Wainwright, Edwin
Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) Millan, Bruce Walden Brian (B'm'ham All Saints)
Golding, John Miller, Dr. M. S. Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Milne, Edward Wallace, George
Gourlay, Harry Mitchell, R. C. (S'hampton, Itchen) Watkins, David
Grant, George (Morpeth) Molloy, William Weitzman, David
Grant, John D (Islington, E.) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Wellbeloved, James
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) White. James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon) Whitehead, Phillip
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Moyle, Roland Whitlock William
Hamling, William Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Murray, Ronald King Williams Alan (Swansea)
Hardy, Peter Oakes, Gordon Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Harper, Joseph Ogden, Eric Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) O'Halloran, Michael Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith O'Malley, Brian Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Oram, Bert Woof, Robert
Heffer, Eric S. Orbach, Maurice
Hilton, W. S. Orme, Stanley TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Horam John Oswald, Thomas Mr. Michael Cocks and
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Mr. Tom Pendry

Question accordingly agreed to.

Main Question, as amended, put;—

The House divided: Ayes 290, Noes 273.

Division No. 145] AYES [10.13 p.m.
Adley, Robert Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead) Loveridge, John
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton) McAdden, Sir Stephen
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles MacArthur, Ian
Amery, Rt. Hn. Julian Fortescue, Tim McCrindle, R. A.
Archer, Jeffrey (Louth) Foster, Sir John McLaren, Martin
Astor, John Fowler, Norman Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Atkins, Humphrey Fox, Marcus McMaster, Stanley
Awdry, Daniel Fraser,Rt.Hn.Hugh(St'fford & Stone) Macmillan. Rt.Hn. Maurice (Farnham)
Baker, Kenneth (St. Marylebone) Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, Michael
Baker, W. H. K. (Banff) Galbraith, Hn. T. G. D. Maddan, Martin
Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord Gardner, Edward Madel, David
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gibson-Watt, David Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Batsford, Brian Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Marten, Neil
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Glyn, Dr. Alan Mather, Carol
Bell, Ronald Godber, Rt. Hn. B Maude, Angus
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Goodhart, Philip Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport) Gorst, John Mawby, Ray
Benyon, W. Gower, Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Berry, Hn. Anthony Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Biffen, John Gray, Hamish Miscampbell, Norman
Biggs-Davison, John Green, Alan Mitchell. David (Basingstoke)
Blaker, Peter Grieve, Percy Moate, Roger
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Molyneaux, James
Body, Richard Grylls, Michael Money, Ernle
Boscawen, Hn. Robert Gummer, J. Selwyn Monks, Mrs. Connie
Bossom, Sir Clive Gurden, Harold Monro, Hector
Bowden, Andrew Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley) Montgomery, Fergus
Braine, Sir Bernard Hall, John (Wycombe) More, Jasper
Bray, Ronald Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Hamilton, Michael (Sallsbury) Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Hannam, John (Exeter) Mudd, David
Bryan, Sir Paul Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Murton, Oscar
Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M) Harrison, Col. Sir Norwood (Eye) Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Buck, Antony Haselhurst, Alan Neave, Airey
Bullus, Sir Eric Hastings, Stephen Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Burden, F. A. Havers, Michael Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Hawkins, Paul Normanton, Tom
Campbell, Rt.Hn.G. (Moray & Nairn) Hay, John Nott, John
Carlisle, Mark Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Onslow, Cranley
Cary, Sir Robert Heseltine, Michael Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally
Channon, Paul Hicks, Robert Orr. Capt. L. P. S.
Chapman, Sydney Higgins, Terence L. Osborn, John
Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)
Chichester-Clark, R. Hlley, Joseph Page, Rt. Hn. Graham (Crosby)
Churchill, W. S. Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.) Page, John (Harrow W )
Clark, William (Surrey, E.) Hill, S. James A.(Southampton,Test) Parkinson Cecil
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Holland, Phillip Percival, Ian
Cockeram, Eric Holt, Miss Mary Peyton, Rt. Hn. John
Cooke, Robert Hordern, Peter Pike, Miss Mervyn
Coombs, Derek Hornby, Richard Pink R. Bonner
Cooper, A. E. Hornsby-Smith, Rt.Hn. Dame Patricia Pounder, Rafton
Cordle, John Howe, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch
Corfield, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick Howell, David (Guildford) Price, David (Eastlelgh)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.) Prior, Rt. Hn. J. M. L.
Costain, A. P. Hunt, John
Crouch Hutchison, Michael Clark Proudfoot, Wilfred
Critchley, Julian Iremonger, T. L. Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis
Crowder, F. P. Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Quennell Miss J. M.
Dalkeith, Earl of James, David Raison, Timothy
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid,Maj.-Gen. Jack Jessel, Toby Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter
Dean, Paul Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead) Redmond, Robert
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)
Digby, Simon Wingfield Jopling, Michael Rees, Peter (Dover)
Dixon, Piers Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Rees-Davies, W. R.
Dodds-Parker, Sir Douglas Kaberry, Sir Donald Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Drayson, G. B. Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Kimball, Marcus Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Dykes, Hugh King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Eden, Rt. Hn. Sir John Kirk, Peter Roberts, Michael (Cardiff, N.)
Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke) Kitson, Timothy Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Knight, Mrs. Jill Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Knox, David Rossl, Hugh (Hornsey)
Emery, Peter Lamont, Norman Rost, Peter
Eyre, Reginald Lane, David Russell, Sir Ronald
Farr, John Le Merchant, Spencer St John-Stevas, Norman
Fell, Anthony Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.
Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Lloyd, Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'field) Scott, Nicholas
Fldler, Michael Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Scott-Hopkins, James
Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby) Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.) Walters, Dennis
Shelton, William (Clapham) Tebblt, Norman Ward, Dame Irene
Shersby, Michael Temple, John M. Warren, Kenneth
Slmeons, Charles Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret Wells, John (Maldstone)
Sinclair, Sir George Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth) White, Roger (Gravesend)
Skeet, T. H. H. Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.) Wiggin, Jerry
Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington) Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.) Wilkinson, John
Soref, Harold Tilney, John Winterton, Nicholas
Speed, Keith Trafford, Dr. Anthony Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Spence, John Trew, Peter Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Sproat, Iain Tugendhat, Christopher Woodhouse, Hn. Christopher
Stainton, Keith Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin Woodnutt, Mark
Stanbrook, Ivor van Straubenzee, W. R. Worsley, Marcus
Stewart-Smith, Geoffrey (Belper) Vaughan, Dr. Gerard Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.
Stodart, Anthony (Edinburgh, W.) Vickers, Dame Joan Younger, Hn. George
Stokes, John Waddington, David
Stuttaford, Dr. Tom Walder, David (Clitheroe) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Sutcliffe, John Walker, Rt. Kn. Peter (Worcester) Mr. Walter Clegg and Mr. Bernard Weatherill.
Tapsell, Peter Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Wall, Patrick
Abse, Leo Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund Jeger, Mrs. Lena
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Dempsey, James Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Allen, Scholefield Doig, Peter Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis) Dormand, J. D. John, Brynmo
Armstrong, Ernest Douglas, Dick (Stirlingshire, E.) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Ashley, Jack Douglas-Mann, Bruce Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Ashton, Joe Driberg, Tom Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)
Atkinson, Norman Duffy, A. E. P. Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)
Boothroyd, Miss B. (West Brom.) Dunn, James A. Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Bagler, Gordon A. T. Dunnett, Jack Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)
Barnes, Michael Edelman, Maurice Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Edwards, Robert (Bilston) Judd, Frank
Barnett, Joel (Heywood and Royton) Edwards, William (Merioneth) Kelley, Richard
Baxter, William Ellis, Tom Kerr, Russell
Beaney, Alan English, Michael Kinnock, Neil
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Evans, Fred Lamble, David
Bennett, James(Glasgow, Brldgeton) Ewing, Harry Lamborn, Harry
Bidwell, Sydney Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E. Lamond, James
Bishop, E. S. Fisher,Mrs.Doris (B'ham,Ladywood) Latham, Arthur
Blenkinsop, Arthur Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lawson, George
Boardman, H. (Leigh) Fitt, Gerard (Belfast, W.) Leadbltter, Ted
Booth, Albert Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Leonard, Dick
Boyden, James (Bishop Auckland) Foot, Michael Lestor, Miss Joan
Bradley, Tom Ford, Ben Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Broughton, Sir Alfred Forrester, John Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Brown, Robert C. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne,W.) Fraser, John (Norwood) Lipton, Marcus
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Freeson, Reginald Lomas, Kenneth
Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury) Galpern, Sir Myer Loughlin, Charles
Buchan, Norman Garrett, W. E. Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Gilbert, Dr. John McBride, Neil
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Ginsburg, David (Dewsbury) McCartney, Hugh
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Golding, John McElhone, Frank
Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.) Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. McGuire, Michael
Cant, R. B. Gourlay, Harry Machin, George
Carmichael, Nell Grant, George (Morpeth) Mackenzie, Gregor
Carter, Ray (Birmingh'm, Northfield) Grant, John D. (Islington, E.) Mackie, John
Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Mackintosh, John P.
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maclennan, Robert
Clark, David (Colne Valley) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)
Coleman, Donald Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) McNamare, J. Kevin
Concannon, J. D. Hamling, William Mahon, Simon (Bootle)
Conlan, Bernard Hannan, William (G'gow, Maryhill) Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hardy, Peter Marks, Kenneth
Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.) Harper, Joseph Marquand, David
Crawshaw, Richard Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Marsden, F.
Cronin, John Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Healey, Rt. Hn. Denis Mayhew, Christopher
Grossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Heffer, Eric S. Meacher, Michael
Cunningham, Dr. J. A. (Whitehaven) Hilton, W. S. Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert
Dalyell, Tam Horam, John Mendelson, John
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Mikardo, Ian
Davidson, Arthur Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Millan, Bruce
Davies, Denzil (Llanelly) Huckfield, Leslie Miller, Dr. M. S.
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Milne, Edward
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hughes, Mark (Durham) Mitchell, R. C. (S'hamplon, Itchen)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.) Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.) Molloy, William
Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove) Hughes, Roy (Newport) Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)
Deakins, Eric Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Janner, Greville Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)
Delargy, Hugh Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)
Moyle, Roland Robertson, John (Paisley) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Roderick, Caerwyn E.(Brc'n&R'dnor) Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Murray, Ronald King Rodgers, William (Stockton-on-Tees) Tinn, James
Oakes, Gordon Roper, John Tomney, Frank
Ogden, Eric Rose, Paul B. Tope, Graham
O'Halloran, Michael Ross, Rt. Hn. William (Kilmarnock) Torney, Tom
O'Malley, Brian Rowlands, Ted Tuck, Raphael
Oram, Bert Sandelson, Neville Urwin, T. W.
Orbach, Maurice Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne) Varley, Eric G.
Orme, Stanley Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) Wainwright, Edwin
Oswald, Thomas Short, Rt.Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)
Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton) Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton.N.E.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Padley, Walter Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Wallace, George
Paget, R. T. Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich) Watkins, David
Palmer, Arthur Sillars, James Weitzman, David
Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles Silverman, Julius Wellbeloved, James
Pardoe, John Skinner, Dennis Wells, William (Walsall. N.)
Parker, John (Dagenham) Small, William White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)
Parry, Robert (Liverpool Exchange) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale) Whilehead, Phillip
Pavitt, Laurie Smith, John (Lanarkshire, N.) Whitlock, William
Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Spearing, Nigel Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick
Perry, Ernest G. Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg. Stallard, A. W. Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Prescott, John Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham) Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Price, William (Rugby) Stoddart, David (Swindon) Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Probert, Arthur Stonehouse, Rt. Hn. John Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Radice, Giles Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. Woof, Robert
Reed, D. (Sedgefield) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.) Swain, Thomas TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Rhodes, Geoffrey Taverne, Dick Mr. Michael Cocks and Mr. Tom Pendry.
Roberta, Albert (Normanton) Thomas, Rt.Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)
Roberta, Rt.Hn.Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Question accordingly agreed to.
That this House welcomes the vigorous regional policy of Her Majesty's Government, which is now reducing unemployment and improving living standards in the Northern Region.
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