HC Deb 08 July 1992 vol 211 cc331-2
16. Mr. Harvey

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what recognition he will give in conducting his recently announced review of assisted areas boundaries, to the cases made by black spot areas within or overlapping travel-to-work areas.

Mr. Sainsbury

The Government made it clear in the consultation document that the assisted area map will continue to be designated on the basis of travel-to-work areas. We will, however, take full account of the problems of any black spot areas within these travel-to-work areas or overlapping their boundaries.

Mr. Harvey

Does the Minister accept that travel-to-work areas are a useful guide, but should not be a straitjacket for this process? Does he also accept that travel-to-work area boundaries are long overdue for review, in that separate communities can be thrown together artificially and bear no relationship to true patterns of travel to work? Is he aware that the town of Ilfracombe in my constituency is a long-term unemployment blackspot, with unemployment higher than Liverpool and, indeed, higher than all but two of the existing development areas? Can the Minister confirm that those problems will be recognised, either by making entire travel-to-work areas which include blackspots into development areas, or by fragmenting the travel-to-work area map?

Finally, will the Minister take this opportunity to comment on suggestions in The Guardian that the Government intend to use the review to featherbed marginal Conservative parliamentary constituencies at the expense of those held by Opposition parties?

Madam Speaker

Order. I caution hon. Members that this is Question Time and they should not make such long speeches.

Mr. Sainsbury

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The hon. Gentleman's last remark was unworthy of him. I am, of course, aware that travel-to-work areas are not a perfect measure, but they are an indication of the areas within which people move around to seek employment opportunities. The areas will be reviewed when the data from the most recent census become available, but that will not be until 1994 and I do not think that we should delay the review of the assisted area map until then.