§ 6. Mr. Edward Lyons
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he is taking to promote industrial activity in West Yorkshire.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. MacGregor)
I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 9 February.
§ Mr. Lyons
In view of the doubling of unemployment in Yorkshire and Humberside between May 1979 and January 1981, and the fact that in Bradford alone an average of over 100 jobs weekly were lost in 1980, will the Minister again consider the problem of investment incentives for Yorkshire and, indeed, for Britain generally, so that we can create more employment? Is not the present situation tragic, and deteriorating rapidly?
§ Mr. MacGregor
On the question of investment incentive generally the answer is that tax incentives available for investment are the best in the world, and are heavily taken up. On the question of investment incentives 604 specifically for Yorkshire, I imagine that what the hon. and learned Members has in mind is assisted area status. He will know that the Bradford travel-to-work area will continue to have intermediate area status after 1982. The levels of unemployment are roughly on a par with those in intermediate status areas across the country as a whole. I do not think that there is a case for changing the present preferential status of Bradford.
§ Dr. Summerskill
Will the hon. Gentleman give careful consideration to the representations that were made personally to his right hon. Friend last month by the West Yorkshire county council for selective assisted area status, especially in view of the decline of the textile industry and the plight of manufacturing firms? In that connection will he bear in mind the fact that unemployment in Calderdale has risen by 145 per cent. in the last year?
§ Mr. MacGregor
I know that my right hon. Friend has received the deputation and is giving consideration to all the points that were raised. He will reply in due course.
§ Mr. Sheerman
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether you can help those hon. Members who tabled questions this aftermoon on certain aspects of regional policy? On Question 6, relating to West Yorkshire, several Opposition Members wished to ask supplementary questions. I realise that you wish to be fair to both sides of the House, but as no Conservative Members were in their seats to ask supplementary questions you cut off questions from Opposition Members when many of us from West Yorkshire wanted to ask them. May I ask for your guidance on the matter?
§ Mr. Speaker
I thought that I had done my usual exercise of calling hon. Members from both sides. I am always anxious that hon. Members should speak on constituency questions, but when West Yorkshire is involved at least 12 minutes would necessary forme to call everyone from that area.