HC Deb 12 December 1974 vol 883 cc754-6
21. Mr. Radice

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent in his Budget proposals he took account of regional employment trends.

Mr. Joel Barnett

Regional employment was one of many important considerations taken into account in framing the proposals in my right hon. Friend's two Budgets this year, and in the 22nd July measures.

Mr. Radice

Does my hon. Friend accept that despite all that the Government have done, unemployment in the development areas, particularly in the Northern Region, remains unacceptably high? Will he give an undertaking that if the situation in development areas worsens the Government will take appropriate action?

Mr. Barnett

Of course the level of unemployment is wholly unsatisfactory in the Northern Region. I entirely accept that. We stand ready to take any other measures that will be necessary.

Mr. Wigley

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the time of both the present Government and the previous Government one problem has been that industries attracted to development areas have tended to be factory-floor industries, and branch factories? Will the hon. Gentleman consider bringing to his right hon. Friend's attention the possibility of introducing a dual rate of corporation tax, as recommended by the Welsh Council two years ago, to encourage companies to move their head offices lock, stock and barrel into development areas?

Mr. Barnett

I am always prepared to consider anything that anybody puts to me, but I am not sure that what the hon. Gentleman suggests would be the best way to help the regions.

Mr. Lawson

On the subject of unemployment, whether it be in the Northern Region or anywhere else in the United Kingdom, will the hon. Gentleman now withdraw the disgraceful remark he made a little time ago, to the effect that many hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House relish increased unemployment? Does he not agree that it would be equally bad if Opposition Members were to say that the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends relish increased inflation?

Mr. Barnett

The answer to both of those points is "No, Sir."

Mr. Duffy

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite the measures taken by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, redundancies are now beginning to appear in the Yorkshire Region, notably in the Sheffield area, which, as my hon. Friend knows, is an intermediate area? Will he watch the position very closely?

Mr. Barnett

Yes, Sir.

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