§ 8. Mr. John Townend
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in view of the current level of unemployment, he will make a statement on development area status for the Bridlington travel-to-work area.
§ Mr. Tebbit
I have written to my hon. Friend explaining that, having regard to all the statutory criteria laid down in the Industry Act 1972, I am satisfied that Bridlington is appropriately graded as an intermediate area.
§ Mr. Townend
Is my hon. Friend aware that his reply will be greeted with disappointment in Bridlington, which is an intermediate area, because as recently as April there were no fewer than 50 special development and 51 development areas with lower unemployment rates than Bridlington? Despite the seasonal improvement, is the Minister aware that Bridlington still has a higher rate of unemployment than adjoining Hull, which is a development area? Does the Minister agree that the percentage of unemployed, rather than the numbers, shows the impact of unemployment on an area? Do not 100 unemployed in a community of 500 have as great an impact as 10,000 unemployed in a community of 50,000?
§ Mr. Tebbit
My hon. Friend slightly overstates his case, since in June the unemployment rate in Bridlington was 13.4 per cent. while in Hull it was 13.3 per cent. The numbers concerned were 1,387 in Bridlington and 24,311 in Hull. One has to take account of the absolute numbers of unemployed, as well as the percentages, before one can come to the right conclusion.
§ Mr. Allan Roberts
Will the Minister tell his hon. Friend the Member for Bridlington (Mr. Townend) that his constituents can greet the refusal to grant development area status for Bridlington with equanimity, because, even if that status were granted, unemployment would continue to increase dramatically unless the Government changed their economic and industrial policies? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, if my experience in Merseyside is anything to go by, development area status for Bridlington would merely provide Ministers with the excuse of blaming the people of Bridlington for the Government's disasters?