HC Deb 27 February 1978 vol 945 cc8-9
2. Mr. Edwin Wainwright

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that the existing inducements to industrialists will bring more jobs to the South Yorkshire area.

The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Bob Cryer)

Regional selective assistance to South Yorkshire has already brought 10,447 jobs to the county and safeguarded a further 4,240. I am confident that the incentives available will continue to help attract new jobs to the area, although this will be affected, as is every other area of the country, by the current level of economic recession.

Mr. Wainwright

In spite of what my hon. Friend has said, he had better not go to Mexborough and district and make that kind of statement. Unemployment there is still running at 10 per cent. and it has not fallen for many years. The people in Mexborough and district are greatly upset and disturbed. What will the Government do now to reduce unemployment there, and what will they do to assist with the redundancies that are taking place at the Manvers Main chemical plant?

Mr. Cryer

I understand that at the Manvers Main chemical plant 140 redundancies have been agreed. My hon Friend raises a serious matter. He has made strong representations on the issue in the House in the past. We have already constructed several advance factories in the area, which has intermediate area status. We give 100 per cent. tax allowance for investment in plant and machinery, and we give stock appreciation relief. These inducements are designed to encourage private enterprise to invest in the area. If there are any failures in this matter, they are not of the Government but of private enterprise, which has failed to invest.

Mr. Stan Crowther

Is not my hon. Friend aware that it was amply demonstrated long before unemployment became a national problem that the so-called inducements to industrialists had miserably failed to solve the problem in areas such as South Yorkshire where existing industries are reducing their manpower requirements? In spite of the figures quoted by my hon. Friend, which are a mere drop in the ocean, will he do as he promised me and talk to the National Enterprise Board about its getting directly involved in manufacturing industry?

Mr. Cryer

The NEB is already involved in manufacturing enterprises. However, general assistance to the regions has unquestionably stopped unemployment from going much higher, and that applies to South Yorkshire, North Humberside and all other assisted areas where, but for Government intervention, unemployment in a largely private enterprise capitalist society would have been a great deal worse.