HC Deb 10 March 1986 vol 93 c658
12. Mr. Boyes

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much money has been invested in the borough of Sunderland by NCB (Enterprise) Ltd.; if he will name the projects; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Walker

At the end of February 1986, NCB (Enterprise) Ltd. had invested £227,000 in nine projects in the borough of Sunderland to assist in the creation of 93 new job opportunities. Details of the projects concerned are a commercial matter for the company.

Mr. Boyes

That is really unsatisfactory: just over £200,000 for a borough with unemployment—even on the Government's figures—of 27 per cent. There are some areas, such as the area of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Clay), where unemployment is approaching 60 per cent. Is the Minister aware that between 1981 and 1985 the number of those unemployed for more than a year has increased from 36 to 60 per cent. in this area, and that the number of unemployed women has increased from 22 to 37 per cent.? When will he do something serious for the borough of Sunderland, and when will he give a few billion pounds to cope with that level of unemployment?

Mr. Walker

Well, well, well. The hon. Gentleman seemingly regrets that, in the few months in which NCB (Enterprise) Ltd. has been in being, nine new projects have already begun in the borough. Secondly, I trust that he will do a little bit more to promote activity in the borough to make applications.

Mr. Fallon

Is not the best investment by the board in the Sunderland area the provision of guaranteed places at pits for all the workers made redundant at Bates and Hordern collieries? Will my right hon. Friend refute the allegation by NACODS at the weekend that those places are not guaranteed?

Mr. Walker

The allegations made at the weekend are totally wrong. The statement by NACODS that NACODS members at Bates were not being offered an equivalent job at another nearby pit is totally untrue. Almost half the NACODS members at the pit expressed a preference for redundancy and the National Coal Board will have no difficulty in placing the 48 who prefer to be transferred to equivalent jobs.