HC Deb 30 April 1974 vol 872 cc931-2
Ql. Mr. Loyden

asked the Prime Minister if he intends to make an official visit to Merseyside.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Wilson)

I regularly visit Merseyside, Sir.

Mr. Loyden

I thank my right hon. Friend for that detailed and informative answer. Does he not agree that there are problems on Merseyside, of which he is aware, which require the attention of the Government, and that such a visit would be productive in establishing that something ought to be done about unemployment in the area—now running at 5.8 per cent.—about the tremendous housing problem and about the uncertainty of industry in that area, particularly in relation to Shotton?

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the period of the previous Government the situation on Merseyside deteriorated and that the expectations of the people on Merseyside are that a permanent solution will be found by a Labour Government?

The Prime Minister

I confess that I did not hear the last few words of what my hon. Friend said, but I should like to thank him for his informative question and to say that what I did hear of it entirely confirmed my assessment of the situation. It is only fair to say that Merseyside, for reasons which the House appreciates, has suffered a great deal from the problem of unemployment for many years. It is a fact that the problem has intensified in recent years, and it is also a fact, as my hon. Friend said, that a radical solution is required to overcome some of these difficulties.

Mr. Bray

On the next occasion when the right hon. Gentleman visits Merseyside, will he arrange to make his peace with the unfortunate bondholders of Mersey Docks and Harbour Board stock who, unfortunately, suffered severe financial losses by virtue of a promise or a proposal by his previous administration to nationalise the docks industry, as a result of which the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board rather gave way to wishful thinking? Many constituents in the North-West have lost severely as a result of that, and I sincerely ask the right hon. Gentleman to make his peace with them.

The Prime Minister

I regret the myopia of the hon. Gentleman. The Minister responsible is sitting almost in front of the hon. Gentleman. He will be aware that during the lame-duck period of the previous Government the first sufferer was the whole group of investors in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and that we on the Opposition benches strongly condemned the repudiation by the then Government of what had been understood to be the rights of the stockholders.