HC Deb 04 July 1978 vol 953 cc230-2
Q3. Mrs. Renée Short

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with coordination between the Departments of Industry and Employment in connection with procedures for issuing industrial development certificates.

The Prime Minister


Mrs. Short

Is my right hon. Friend aware that it is part of the Opposition's mythology that IDCs are difficult to obtain, especially in the West Midlands? But, if I mention firms such as Laystall Engineering, Lucas Aerospace and Bilston Steel he will be aware that in Wolverhampton, as in other parts of the West Midlands, there is a considerable reservoir of skill and experience. Is there any possibility that the National Enterprise Board will set up new, modern industries in the West Midlands based on new techniques, such as micro-electronics?

The Prime Minister

During the past two years, few IDCs have been refused in the West Midlands. I believe that only one has been refused. That is because of the changing situation there. The National Enterprise Board is always ready to consider enterprises out of which productive improvement can take place, if the company is taken over and has a fresh injection of capital, or if there is a new feature, such as micro-processing, which can help the country.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Is the Prime Minister aware that an IDC was refused in Stafford and that this led to the loss of 300 jobs, not only in Stafford but in the country as a whole? Will he examine the question of IDCs to see whether they serve a useful purpose today? Will he either abolish them and stop all the nonsense about co-ordination or, at least, raise the level to 20,000 sq. ft., especially in the West Midlands?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure to which company the right hon. Member is referring. No doubt he will table a Question about it since he has not mentioned its name. I have asked myself why it is necessary to keep this control when so few IDCs are refused. There is a case for saying that the Department of Industry needs to keep surveillance on the situation so that genuinely mobile new enterprises can be directed to areas with heavy unemployment.

Mr. Christopher Price

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many areas of inner London, which also have difficulty in obtaining IDCs, are in as bad a position in terms of attracting industry as many of the development areas? Will my right hon. Friend examine this problem, not only from Birmingham's point of view but from the point of view of London, particularly dockland?

The Prime Minister

I understand the problem. As was made clear in the White Paper on the inner cities, London —where partnership agreements exist—ranks immediately after the assisted areas for the issue of these certificates.