HC Deb 06 July 1982 vol 27 cc138-9
7. Mr. Allan Roberts

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will meet the officers and board of the Merseyside urban development corporation to discuss measures to reduce unemployment on Merseyside.

Mr. Waddington

Although my right hon. Friend has no plans at present to meet the Merseyside development corporation he would be most interested to discuss with it how this major initiative can contribute towards making Merseyside more attractive to industry and employment.

Mr. Roberts

Will the Minister consider three specific proposals when he meets the Merseyside development corporation, bearing in mind that my constituency has 16 per cent. more unemployed now than at this time last year? First, will he consider giving it urban aid powers to give grants in the same way as local authorities? Secondly, will he consider extending the area covered by the Merseyside development corporation, especially in my constituency? Finally, will he consider with it giving development area grants in Merseyside to service industries and commercial concerns related to the docks, as well as to manufacturing industries?

Mr. Waddington

The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that these are matters far more in the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, but I shall study the points that he has made. I should not like it to be thought that the Merseyside development corporation was not already doing some very important things in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. I have in mind the 45,000 sq ft of advance factory units already put up and the reclamation of 27 acres at Langton goods depot and the Rimrose improvement area.

Mr. Alton

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that many of these factory units are empty and that, however desirable trees and shrubs may be, they are no substitute for the 89,000 jobs that have been lost in Liverpool over the past 10 years, where there has been a 200 per cent. increase in unemployment? Is he further aware that the city planning officer estimates that in four years' time a further 30,000 people could become unemployed in Liverpool? What will he do about that? Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that youngsters on Merseyside—

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is more than enough.

Mr. Waddington

The hon. Gentleman is aware that there is no part of the United Kingdom where more Government incentives are available than in Merseyside. There is the Merseyside development corporation, which has already been referred to. There is the special development area, the Speke enterprise zone, the Liverpool inner city partnership area and my right hon. Friend's task force. Abundant aid is being made available, and Liverpool and Merseyside will benefit with the revival of the economy, as will other parts of the country.

Mr. Tom Benyon

Further to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle), is my hon. and learned Friend aware of the plight of the disabled and handicapped who are trying to get work? Will he ask the Treasury to revise the rules for people, especially those who have multiple sclerosis, who are trying to work and who are in danger of losing their invalidity benefit because there is no scaling down for people who suffer from this disease and who wish to take part-time work?

Mr. Waddington

I should point out to my hon. Friend that the question is about the Merseyside urban development corporation. I shall, of course, note all that he says and do what I can.

Mr. Parry

Does the Minister agree that the Mickey Mouse gimmicks introduced by his right hon. Friend the Minister responsible for Merseyside, like the development corporation and the enterprise zone there, will in fact produce few jobs? Will he have a word with his right hon. Friend to see whether he will introduce measures that will make a positive attempt to reduce the 20 per cent. unemployment on Merseyside?

Mr. Waddington

It is difficult to follow what the hon. Member for Liverpool, Scotland Exchange (Mr. Parry) is saying. I thought that most Opposition Members believed in assistance for the regions, and if one looks at the area one sees that it is getting more of that assistance than anywhere else.