HC Deb 03 July 1985 vol 82 cc329-30
16. Mr. Fallon

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many new businesses have been established in the north-east since 1979.

Mr. Norman Lamont

In the north-east, an estimated 18,632 new businesses started up in the four years from 1980 to 1983.

Mr. Fallon

Does that figure not show the north-east to be a region of opportunity, and should not that fact be shoved down the throats of the doom and gloom merchants in the north? How many of those businesses still exist, and what is the net surplus?

Mr. Lamont

From the end of 1979 till the end of 1983, taking into account the demise of businesses, the stock of businesses in the region increased by about 8.4 per cent. That is the effect of the creation of new businesses. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Too often, the north-east is portrayed as an area where people do not wish to start new businesses and where there are no entrepreneurs. Those figures show that there is much inventiveness and innovation in the area.

Mr. Dormand

Will the Minister tell the House how many businesses in the north-east have collapsed since May 1979? Although I realise that it is not his direct responsibility, does he agree that it would be much more beneficial to the region to keep pits open—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going a little wide of the main question.

Mr. Dormand

The next part of my question will be relevant, Mr. Speaker. How many new businesses of the sort about which the Minister is talking will be needed to absorb the 1,200 miners who were made redundant from Hordern colliery in my constituency, and the 250 coke work employees who were made redundant at Hawthorn in my constituency? Will he ask the Secretary of State for Employment to do something about it?

Mr. Lamont

As I have said, there is a substantial surplus of new businesses—of births over deaths. There has been an 8.4 per cent. addition to the stock of businesses. The answer to creating more jobs to cope with redundancies in the coal industry is not keeping open uneconomic pits, but creating new enterprises and new viable jobs that can last without subsidy.