HC Deb 14 July 1975 vol 895 cc1053-4
25. Mr. David Watkins

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what expansion he expects to provide for male employment opportunities in Consett and Stanley, Co. Durham, in the current financial year.

Mr. Gregor Mackenzie

North-West Durham has special development area status, which means that the full range of incentives is available to attract new projects. We shall continue to give the area high priority in our steering efforts.

Mr. Watkins

Is my hon. Friend aware that the unemployment level in my area, particularly in Stanley, is among the highest in the country? Is he aware that 1,000 jobs are currently under threat in the British Steel Corporation plate mills at Hownsgill, Consett, and that if those jobs go the effect on the area will be devastating?

Mr. Mackenzie

I am conscious of the problem raised by my hon. Friend. The advance factory programme has been of some help. Some 17,500 sq. ft. of space is complete and ready for allocation, three factories totalling 50,000 sq. ft. are under construction and two totalling 50,000 sq.ft. are awaiting construction. I am conscious of the problem mentioned by my hon. Friend involving the steel industry. These matters are the subject of discussions and we shall be reporting on the situation at a later stage.