HC Deb 09 December 1974 vol 883 cc13-5
9. Dr. Hampson

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to publish details of his proposed planning agreements with industry.

41. Mr. Moonman

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to publish details of his proposed planning agreements with industry.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Eric S. Heffer)

We are at present engaged in the consultations on planning agreements with both sides of industry which were promised in the White Paper. We shall be able to give a fuller explanation of the proposals when the Industry Bill is before the House.

Dr. Hampson

I am sure that the Minister has given some thought to the general objectives. Will he, therefore, say whether his Department will collect information so that Ministers will be better informed about private industry, or will the development and investment plans of companies be scrutinised in the light of ministerially-determined tests of acceptability?

Mr. Heffer

The White Paper clearly outlines the whole procedure by which planning agreements will be proceeded with, and at this stage, until the proposals are actually published, I cannot go beyond that.

Mr. Moonman

In view of the perhaps ambiguous way in which planning agreements were initiated, and to overcome this, in the light of what we know to be my hon. Friend's great concern to see that they are successful, has my hon. Friend contacted ICI, which has had considerable experience of planning agreements? Also, what rôle does my hon. Friend see Sir Don Ryder playing in the possible integration of some of these planning agreements?

Mr. Heffer

My right hon. Friend has had consultations and discussions with representatives of ICI, and continuing discussions are taking place with representatives of the CBI, of industry in general and of the TUC. I assure the House that the fullest consultations are taking place.

Mr. Rost

Who will take the decisions from now on—the Secretary of State or Sir Don Ryder?

Mr. Heffer

My right hon. Friend is responsible to the House as Minister. Sir Don Ryder has been appointed as an industrial adviser in the Cabinet Office.

Mr. John Garrett

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the planning agreement system will be voluntary? If that be so, will he tell us how he plans to enforce the accountability of private industry for the use it makes of public funds?

Mr. Heffer

The planning agreements will be voluntary. We have explained this from the word "Go", contrary to what Opposition Members believe. The whole question of the future investment and location of industry will be decided through the planning agreement system between the Government and the various industrialists concerned. No industrialist need enter into any discussions with the Government on this matter. I assure the House that it will be a voluntary arrangement, although I am sure that, once industry understands the benefits to be gained from it, many industrialists will be only too happy to participate.

Mr. Heseltine

Will it not be slightly embarrassing for the Secretary of State if he has to accept the responsibility and the chief industrial adviser to the Government is in the Cabinet Office?

Mr. Heffer

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will not be embarrassed by anything, neither by anything that Sir Don Ryder may tell him nor by any of the advice which he is constantly getting from the Opposition. My right hon. Friend is quite capable of dealing with all situations when they arise.