HC Deb 17 May 1976 vol 911 cc950-1
16. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what projections he has made of the likely level of industrial activity in the South Yorkshire area.

Mr. Alan Williams

The level of industrial activity in South Yorkshire will depend largely on the success of our policies for reducing inflation and on our international competitiveness.

Projects for which industrial development certificates have been granted since January 1974 were expected to provide some 5,200 jobs over a period of three years from the time of the approval of the certificates. In addition, further jobs will arise from smaller investments which do not require IDCs.

Mr. Wainwright

Is my hon. Friend aware that, in spite of what he says, the number of jobs available in South Yorkshire, especially in my constituency of Dearne Valley, over the past few years has declined? Is he further aware that industrialists have applied to his Department for help but that it has not been forthcoming? Will he make sure that a special report is called for from his officials in Yorkshire about the lack of jobs in South Yorkshire, with special reference to the Dearne Valley constituency?

Mr. Williams

My hon. Friend will bear in mind that altogether about 8,000 jobs have been created under the Industry Act. He will also bear in mind that we have been going through a recession, and loss of job opportunity has faced large areas of the country and is a feature that we want to reverse. If my hon. Friend will let me have details of any particular industry to which he would like to call my attention, I shall be happy to examine them.

Mr. Michael Marshall

Does not the hon. Gentleman appreciate that the level of industrial activity in South Yorkshire will certainly be improved if his right hon. Friend will get on and make a decision about Port Talbot? Is he aware that such a decision would provide additional employment for the plant makers, many of whom are in South Yorkshire? What is the reason for this delay, now amounting to 18 months? It is disgraceful. What are the Government doing about it?

Mr. Williams

It is important that we get the decision right.

Mr. John Mendelson

My hon. Friend is quite right to say that the general recession has much to do with the position in South Yorkshire. Will he convey to his right hon. Friend the urgent need to change Government policy and to see to it that in South Yorkshire more jobs are provided in industries like the construction industry by a policy of controlled reflation? Does he realise that there can be no easy-going way to improve the position in South Yorkshire or anywhere else if the Government stick to their limited negative policy?

Mr. Williams

I am afraid that there is no easy-going way to improve the prospects for the country as a whole. The upturn has to be export-led and we must take advantage of it when it comes. I cannot offer easy-going instant solutions to the problem.

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