HC Deb 03 July 1997 vol 297 cc406-7
9. Mr. Andrew George

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the impact of the closure of the St. Ivel creamery at Rose-an-grouse on local industrial and economic development. [5212]

The Minister for Small Firms, Trade and Industry (Mrs. Barbara Roche)

I fully recognise that the closure of the St. Ivel creamery must have an adverse impact on the economy of an area with already high unemployment. A task force of local agencies has been working on an assessment of the impact and on measures that might be taken in response to strengthen the local economy.

Mr. George

I thank the Minister for that answer. In view of the problems that the closure has created in west Cornwall—Cornwall already has high unemployment, the lowest average earnings in the country and very low gross domestic product per head—does the Minister agree that Cornwall should be making a strong case for objective 1 status to the European Commission, which her Department should support? Does she also agree that, rather than just being listed in these papers, which have been placed in the Library today, Cornwall should be given priority for Nomenclature of Units for Territorial Statistics—NUTS—II status?

Mrs. Roche

I certainly share the concern about high unemployment in Cornwall and the loss of valuable jobs as a result of the closure. The Government office for the south-west and local agencies will continue to work closely with the local authority-led task force and we shall see what we can do to alleviate the impact. The Employment Service has granted major redundancy, status, which will provide immediate access to training and job-seeking programmes for the employees who have been affected.

The hon. Gentleman raises the issue of the European statistical areas, commonly known as NUTS. He will be enthusiastic about the fact that the copy of the full set of proposals, which as he says has been placed in the Library, includes, among other things, the suggestion that Cornwall should be a separate NUTS level II area.