HL Deb 17 June 1985 vol 465 cc8-10

2.55 p.m.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords I beg leave to ask the second Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new jobs have been created in the Dockland area since the advent of the Dockland Development Corporation, and how many are in an enterprise zone.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the corporation was formed in July 1981. Between then and 30th November 1984, 4,129 permanent new jobs had been created in the Docklands areas. Of these 1,302 were located within the enterprise zone. In addition, an average of 1,500 people were employed on construction work at any one time.

Lord Nugent of Guildford

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that welcome Answer. Is he aware that in that particular part of London, the derelict Dockland area, where there has been a steady rundown of employment now for decades, to get an increase of over 4,000 jobs is really a complete transformation? May I ask whether he is aware that it is immensely to the credit of the Government? Is he also aware that this was done in the teeth of the most fierce opposition from all the local authorities there? Is my noble friend aware that that is all the more to the credit of the Government for going ahead with it?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I am always happy to answer any question to which the answer can only be, "Yes".

Lord Bellwin

My Lords, are the Government aware of this fact and, if so, will my noble friend take steps to ensure that it is more generally publicised? The areas to which my noble friend's questions are directed actually cover an area half the size of Manhattan Island. Is my noble friend aware that it is fast becoming the greatest example of urban regeneration that the world has ever seen? Is he aware that it is a magnificent example of what the private and public sectors can do when working together, to turn areas which were for many years previously sterile and derelict into something which is becoming a great success story all round?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I believe a very great deal of what my noble friend wishes is achieved by the annual report and accounts which are generally available. I shall make further copies available if they are needed.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, are any figures available to show how many new jobs are really new? If it is felt satisfactory to produce figures to record the number of employees on enterprises operating in enterprise zones as newly-created jobs, may we be told how many of the jobs are simply transferees from enterprises outside the zones? Those are enterprises such as distribution and warehousing, which have moved into the enterprise zone simply to take advantage of the rate and planning benefits, which of course are real benefits but which are unfair to those operating outside.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the jobs which I referred to as new jobs are new jobs. I am not aware that there is any evidence to show that there is a kind of vacuum being filled in the zone, represented by vacancies around it.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, is my noble friend aware that people would be surprised, and it is inexplicable, that an Opposition which puts unemployment figures on the top of its list should be so sour and lukewarm about the help that the Government have been able to give in that particular field?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I remember from my days in Opposition that one never had much joy from giving credit to the Government of the day.

Lord Northfield

My Lords, since we are talking about development corporations, is it not the case that this side of the House has been fully in favour of these kinds of development corporations throughout the 'sixties and 'seventies, and even the 'eighties? Is not the Docklands corporation another example of showing how the success of the new towns is now being applied in the urban situation in a special form? Since it is now an ongoing success, are the Government giving consideration to applying this success in a purely urban regeneration situation to other parts of Britain that could do with some help from development corporations?

Lord Elton

My Lords, I acknowledge at once the noble Lord's special experience and authority in the matter of new towns. However, it is not for me to answer for the policy of previous Governments. I accept that this is a very major development in existing urban renewal. I do not doubt that we shall continue to profit from the lessons therein. I hope opportunities will arrive for us to do so on a wider scale.

Lord Bruce of Donington

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware, if only for the avoidance of doubt, that we on this side very much support any effort that is made by Her Majesty's Government, whether in collaboration with a development corporation or with a local authority, to increase employment in this country? The fact that they have only just made a modest beginning in this respect, which we hope will be extended, does not mean that our full enthusiasm is not behind the efforts by way of Government intervention that have been made.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I look forward with great pleasure to the enthusiasm which the noble Lord promises us in support of our efforts.

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