HC Deb 13 November 1978 vol 958 cc21-2
16. Mr. David Price

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many planning agreements have now been completed between his Department and individual companies.

Mr. Alan Williams


Mr. Price

As the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry have made a great deal about the importance of planning agreements in promoting our economy and expanding industrial investment, can the right hon. Gentleman explain why so far only one such agreement has been entertained?

Mr. Williams

I think that this is because there has been a genuine misunderstanding in industrial quarters about the intentions of planning agreements. A planning agreement process is intended to be a continuation of the dialogue which already exists between Government and industry. It is intended to try to establish that the decision-making processes of industry take account of the objectives set and aspired to by the sector working parties. There is nothing mandatory about such agreements. They can be highly flexible, contrary to the view of the CBI. I know that Tory Members have been somewhat derisory about the Chrysler agreement. If anything, that shows that planning agreement processes are flexible.

Mr. John Garrett

Can my right hon. Friend explain why he has not yet signed or initiated a planning agreement with the footwear distribution industry when such an agreement was proposed by the footwear study group on which manufacturers, trade unions and Labour and Conservative Members of Parliament were represented? Is my right hon. Friend aware that all those people came to the unanimous conclusion that a planning agreement should be drawn up?

Mr. Williams

I have no objection whatever to the drawing up of a planning agreement where there is a meaningful intention on both sides to do so.