HC Deb 15 July 1987 vol 119 cc1129-30
12. Ms. Armstrong

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to set up an urban development corporation for Consett; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ridley

I have no such plans.

Ms. Armstrong

I am sure that the Secretary of State will be aware of the progress that has been made in towns such as Consett due to the dedicated commitment of local authorities to do what they can by working with private industry to rebuild opportunities. The right hon. Gentleman is undermining the local authorities and excluding towns such as Consett from any additional aid. The opportunity for such towns to overcome the appalling social consequences of the large-scale unemployment that has been brought about by the Government's industrial policy is limited. What will he do for such towns that will not come within his inner city policy?

Mr. Ridley

When I visited Derwentside last Friday I was told by business men that the hon. Lady's constituency was extremely grateful for the £10 million that has been spent by the Government on derelict land grant and the £12.5 million worth of factory building by the English Industrial Estates Corporation. As a result, although 3,500 jobs were unfortunately lost when the steelworks closed, 3,300 of those jobs have been replaced since 1980. That is a fantastic performance and it is time that the hon. Lady stopped trying to talk the north down and proclaimed the achievements of the Government.