HC Deb 25 June 1979 vol 969 cc22-3
29. Sir Anthony Meyer

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that the present classification and determination of assisted areas corresponds to the economic and social needs of the areas concerned.

Mr. David Mitchell

My right hon. Friend is currently reviewing regional industrial policy and a statement will be made in due course.

Sir A. Meyer

Will my hon. Friend give an assurance that in carrying out this review my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will pay close attention not only to existing unemployment figures but to the possible unemployment figures should very large industrial changes that are contemplated take place?

Mr. Mitchell

That is one of the factors that my right hon. Friend is taking into account.

Mr. Heffer

Before the review, can the Minister give an assurance that Merseyside will remain a special development area, with all the assistance that is necessary to create employment in that area?

Mr. Mitchell

It would be quite wrong to pre-empt the decisions in one particular area before the results of the whole survey were announced.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Is it not apparent to my hon. Friend, from supplementary questions put to him on this question and on previous questions, that industrial subsidies, like other forms of political bribery with the taxpayers' money, fail to satisfy those who receive them and cause grave dissatisfaction to those who do not? Will my hon. Friend draw the appropriate conclusion when he announces the results of the review?

Mr. Mitchell

We shall take account of the views that my hon. Friend has expressed.

Mr. Alton

May I return to the question of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) about special development area status for Merseyside? When does the Minister expect to give a decision? It is fair to say that in an area with 11 per cent. unemployment this is a burning issue.

Mr. Mitchell

It would be wrong of us to complete the review without visiting the areas concerned. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have visited the area, and all these matters will be taken into account as soon as the review is completed. I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish us to complete a review without consulting those in the areas concerned. As soon as the review is completed an announcement will be made.