§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Alfred Robens (Blyth)
I beg to move,That this House regrets that the list of Development Districts issued by Her Majesty's Government fails to include many places for which the special powers under the Local Employment Bill are needed.I notice that the Government had tabled an Amendment to our Motion, which seems to indicate that they are perfectly satisfied with the list of development districts that they have published as being a list of districts where the advantage of the Local Employment Bill is most needed. In the time at my disposal, I want to show that the list is inadequate and that it leaves out a number of places where the powers in the Bill are needed. I am certain that I shall be fortified by many hon. Members on this side, and, I feel, by some hon. Members opposite, in my contention that the list is inadequate.
I should like to know what a number of hon. Members opposite propose to do about this matter this evening when we vote in the Division Lobbies. For example, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) asked the Minister of Labour about Plymouth and expressed anxiety at the fact that Plymouth was not included in the list. She passed that anxiety on to the Minister of Labour in the hope that he would persuade his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to include Plymouth in the list. I take it that we can count on the hon. Lady's presence in the Lobby in support of our Motion If not, she will show that she is not prepared to back up the anxiety that she professed to have the other day by making it clear to her constituents that the list is inadequate.
In case there are too many smiles on the Government benches about what I have said, I should say that I have a complete list of Tory Members of Parliament whose constituencies contain places which were in the old development areas or D.A.T.A.C. areas, but which are not in the list. I shall be most interested to hear from some of them—[An HON. MEMBER: "The right hon. Gentleman will."] I am delighted to learn that we shall hear from some hon. Members opposite and I hope that we 208 shall have their support in the Lobby. I hope that they will say in the House that they are perfectly satisfied with the list although they represent areas which were formerly D.A.T.A.C. areas, but which are now excluded from the list, and cannot, therefore, get any help to mitigate their unemployment problem.
For example, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. L. Thomas) there are areas with 6.3 per cent. unemployment. In the constituency of the hon. Member for Conway (Mr. P. Thomas), there are areas with 5.8 per cent. unemployment. Both of those were D.A.T.A.C. areas, but neither of them is in the list. The hon. Members for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Woodnutt), Torquay (Mr. Bennett), Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) and a number of other hon. Members opposite have areas in their constituencies which were formerly D.A.T.A.C. areas, but which are now completely excluded from this list.
If those hon. Members are satisfied with the high rate of unemployment in their areas, they will agree that the list published by the Government is adequate. But if they feel that they want assistance in reducing local unemployment, it seems to be that they have no alternative but to vote against the Government's Amendment.
The Government produced the idea of the Local Employment Bill at the time of the General Election. It was one of the mainstays of their argument that they would dispense with the Distribution of Industry Acts and put in their place a single Measure. Judging from the words used by many prominent Ministers, very high hopes were held out in many parts of the country that there was to be a vigorous approach to dealing with local unemployment.
In The Times of 16th September there is a report of a speech made by the former President of the Board of Trade, in Lancashire. I think it important to quote some of his words to show how the high hopes which he raised in Lancashire before the election have not been fulfilled. The report reads:Sir David Eccles told his audience, which included cotton operatives, that the measures would help the Government to bring new industry into Lancashire to fill any gaps left by the cotton industry reorganization".There is not a single cotton town in the list—not one, Blackpool and Liverpool, neither of which is a cotton town, 209 are in the list. There was undoubtedly an attempt by the former President of the Board of Trade to utilise this Measure as a means of seeking support for Conservative candidates in cotton towns in Lancashire.
The Minister said that… the Government would publish a single list of places to which they would like industry to go. Help would be concentrated on the most deserving places, but the Government would take a new power to add to the list those places where there was a clear and imminent threat of high unemployment".The right hon. Gentleman went on to give an example. He said:For example, if it was known in advance that any locality in the cotton belts was likely to be seriously affected by a mill closure an investigation could begin at once to find and help a new firm to come into the district".The Government have paid substantial subsidies in the closure of mills. They have stated that in relation to mill closures they were prepared to render assistance.
I repeat that there is not one Lancashire cotton town in this list. I think that that is disgraceful, and I have no doubt that many of my hon. Friends will want to know precisely why they should be denied the opportunity, under the Bill, to deal with unemployment in their areas. Oldham, Blackburn, Burnley, Rochdale, Accrington, Middleton, Prestwich, Nelson, Colne, Barnoldswick, Ryton, Shaw, Todmorden, Padiham and Littleborough were places on the D.A.T.A.C. list. They were badly hit by unemployment. Not one of them is included in the Government's list. I hope that hon. Members who represent these areas will have the opportunity to deal specifically with the grave problem of unemployment in Lancashire.
It is very important that areas of high unemployment should be on the list, because, now that we are getting rid of the Distribution of Industry Acts, if an area is not on the list it can do nothing about dealing with local unemployment. This is very serious. In the days when, as the Government said, there may have been some overlapping, at least there was a chance of an area, if it was in a development area, getting some help to deal with unemployment, but now there is no chance at all. The advantages of the Bill are completely denied to a large number of places where, if one reads the 210 Bill, it was intended that assistance should be given.
On Second Reading, the President of the Board of Trade said:We must recognise the need for change"—that is, change in industry—and grasp the opportunities for change and not flinch from them".Those are brave words.This also means that in our legislation on this subject we must be prepared to deal rapidly, if possible in advance, with the consequences of the changes to which I have been referring.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that one of the most important words in the Bill was the word "imminent". He said:Under the Bill, the Government will have power to deal with the situation not only where a high and persistent rate of unemployment exists, but also where one is imminent".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 360.]The list excludes many places where there is already a high proportion of unemployment, where, indeed, it is as high as, and in some cases higher than, in the places which are already on the list. Based upon the imminence of unemployment, a large number of places should be on the list, but are not included. Here again, I have no doubt that many hon. Members will be able to cite what is happening in declining industries in their constituencies.
I want, therefore, to quote as an example the County of Northumberland, which has had remarkably generous treatment from the Government inasmuch as, apart from a few areas on Tyneside, the only place in the whole county that is on the list is the village of Haltwhistle, where 81 people are unemployed, but where, I agree, special steps require to be taken because of the decline in the coal industry.
The decline in the coal industry is a serious matter for Northumberland as a whole. Northumberland, however, is merely an example, because the decline in the coal industry extends throughout the country, as it does in other industries. This is merely an example of the kind of thing which the Board of Trade should have been considering. It should have included places in the list so that they can derive the advantages of the Bill.
211 One of the problems that was discussed when the Bill went through the House was the way in which areas like London, the southern counties and the Midlands were being severely congested by the availability of work and new buildings and because, for this reason, large numbers of people were emigrating from other parts of the country to the already congested areas.
It is, I take it, the considered view of the Government that it is important not to add greater confusion to the chaos in traffic and everything else which exists in the congested areas. Part and parcel of the object of the exercise of curing local unemployment should be to try to keep people in their own areas rather than have them emigrating to the already heavily congested areas.
In the inter-war years, about 350,000 people emigrated from the North-East and are part of the cause of the congestion of the other areas to which reference has been made. Even between 1951 and 1957, over 60,000 people left the North-East. These 60,000 people have had to be provided with all the social services that they require—houses and everything else—in the areas to which they have gone.
One of the problems of a place like Northumberland is that about 33 per cent. of the insured population living on Tyneside and in the county is engaged in the basic industries of coal mining, shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engineering. In these areas the whole pattern of coal mining is changing repidly, dramatically and alarmingly and there is a grave shipbuilding and ship-repairing problem.
Northumberland, for example, must cut its coal production by 1 million tons, so that the whole of the people employed in producing that 1 million tons will no longer be required in the industry. In addition, as year by year the output per man-shift increases, the number of jobs in the mining industry required to produce the remaining 10½ or 11 million tons will decline. We have, therefore, a situation in which thousands of people who today are employed in mining will not have jobs. By about 1970, 7,000 jobs in mining in Northumberland will have gone.
212 If ever there was a case which exemplifies the use of the word "imminent" in the Bill, it is that of Northumberland. It is not a question of what may happen. The plans of the mining industry are such that these changes will happen. Indeed, in one small area—the Seaton Valley Urban District Council area—in my constituency, there were 6,400 mining jobs in 1948, but by 1971 there will be only 2,500. Ten years from now, there will not be a coal mine operating in Northumberland except along the coastal strip. Clearly, therefore, the word "imminent" applies. There can be no question of "perhaps" concerning the number of jobs that will go. The Coal Board has had drastically to cut its production and it is now known exactly what the figures will be.
There are two problems in connection with Tyneside. There is, first, the very congested condition of Tyneside itself and the necessity for the big overspill from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The second problem is the need for the comprehensive development of the coalfields to provide opportunities for the introduction of new industries.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The whole of my right hon. Friend's argument so far on this Part of the Bill has been based on the definition in the original Bill and as amended in Committee, when the criterion wasa high rate of unemployment exists or is imminent.My right hon. Friend may remember that the Government were pressed hard for an alteration of that definition and that, because an Amendment was accepted on Report, the definition no longer uses the word "imminent" but now has a much looser form of words which makes my right hon. Friend's argument all the stronger. It is:a high rate of unemployment exists or is to be expected within such a period that it is expedient to exercise the said powers".
§ Mr. Robens
I am obliged. As my hon. Friend says, that strengthens the argument considerably. I was basing my argument on what the President of the Board of Trade said on Second Reading.
What is required, therefore, is not only the relief of congestion, but 213 advance and forward planning for the area. If a plan of this character is to be carried out, it is no use waiting until the unemployment is high. What will happen is that if there are no prospects of jobs for the people who will come out of work because of a decline in their industries, they will begin to emigrate and the consequent large amount of emigration will cause greater congestion in the congested areas simply because the people see no sign of action to provide employment in their own areas.
I cite Northumberland merely as an example—other hon. Members will be able to cite their own constituencies—but it is one of the best examples of where forward thinking and planning could be of enormous value and where it would be possible, for instance, to deal with the problem of overspill from the congested Tyneside area of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which will have to spill a population of about 40,000 within the next few years.
In the area adjacent to the small town of Cramlington, whose building up from 6,000 to 20,000 people is envisaged, there is available for development up to 300 acres of suitable land which the council will want to see developed. There is available the new Tyne Tunnel, the railroad from London to Edinburgh and the rail tracks from the area to the Tyneside ports. This, therefore, is an area which should be dealt with upon the basis of the forward planning to which the President of the Board of Trade referred during the passage of the Bill.
I have cited this as an example because it is part of our case. I am not suggesting that the Government will do nothing, because the Local Employment Bill, inadequate as it seems to many of us, is, nevertheless, bound to do something. In fact, it gives opportunities to local authorities to provide themselves with the necessary finance from the Government to do a whole host of things.
Some of these powers are very important. It is very important that mining areas should get rid of some of the pit heaps and pithead workings which have been left derelict and which will stay there for all time unless help is given under the Bill. Therefore, unless a mining area such as this is put on the list, it cannot even start to do its job of planning the sites and of attracting 214 prospective industrialists because the sites are unattractive. Negotiations would take far too long if any industrialist were intending to use such a site.
It is important in Northumberland, and in similar areas throughout the country, that there should be some forward planning. These areas should be listed so that local and planning authorities can get on with the work of preparing sites, roads and facilities so that they can take advantage of the Bill and provide the jobs which will be required when it is known well in advance how many will be required because of the decline in the basic industries.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Is the right hon. Gentleman suggesting that a lot of other places should be added to this already formidable list? If so, does he not think that it would be better to concentrate on places which are most in need of help at this time?
§ Mr. Robens
I disagree with the hon. Member if he is telling me that the published list is a complete list. The whole purpose of our Motion is to show that the list is inadequate. It is no use, as I have been trying to explain in citing Northumberland merely as an example, waiting until all the mines are closed and all the young men have left the area. It is no use waiting until the damage is done. These places should be on the list now, so that we can prevent high local unemployment. In that way, we can prevent the emigration which causes the congestion elsewhere. The whole case which I am presenting this afternoon—and no doubt it will be fortified by many other hon. Members—is that the list is inadequate because it is preventing local and planning authorities from getting on with the job. Unless we can get these places on the list, nothing can be done in preparation for jobs for people who are likely to be out of work.
That is the gravamen of the charge which we make. The Board of Trade appear—I say appear—merely to have looked down the list of places where unemployment is over 4 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—may I finish?—places which are about or above 4 per cent. and it has put some of them down, but not all of them. Therefore, it is inadequate even on that criterion.
We should like to know from the Minister who produced this list in 215 the first place, and on what basis. What planning staff is there at the Board of Trade to ensure that some of this forward thinking is being done and on what basis are these towns included? That is not to say that any of us are saying that we should delete any of the places named on the list. What we are saying is that the list is inadequate.
I think that I have shown by examples of the places which I know best, Northumberland and Tyneside, that the list has been proved beyond doubt to be inadequate because a big job of that character in an area of that size cannot be done in five minutes. It will take years and it needs to be started now. I have no doubt that hon. Members can speak of other parts of the country that have similar problems. For these reasons we think that there is no real planning behind the compiling of the list and no forward thinking on the part of the Government. That is why we move this Motion and I hope that hon. Members who feel as we do will follow us into the Lobby and vote for it
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Reginald Maudling)
I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:supports Her Majesty's Government in their determination to ensure that assistance, as planned in their list of development districts, is made available where it is most needed as part of a comprehensive policy for the progressive solution of the local employment problem".I shall endeavour to explain the reasons why I am urging on the House the acceptance of this Amendment, which is designed to express as succinctly as possible the Government's policy in this matter.
Perhaps I should begin with a few general observations. This list, of course, has as its basis the areas in which the powers of inducement in the first part of the Local Employment Bill will be available. We must always remember, in dealing with these matters, the extent and nature of the Government's powers in dealing with the whole problem of local employment. Our first and most important power is the industrial development certificate 216 system. We cannot get people to go to the areas where we want them to go until we first compel them to expand other than in the crowded Midlands and the South. I would have thought that recent events had shown that we were sincere in our determination to ensure that further development in the crowded areas should not take place.
Having taken the first step to prevent development taking place in the crowded areas, what can we do to induce people to go to the areas of the country where there is the highest level of unemployment? Of course, it must be a question of inducement. It has been agreed on both sides of the House during the passage of the Local Employment Bill that there can be no question of ordering firms to go to particular districts. I think that some of the criticism which has been made from time to time of Government policy, and some of the feeling that individual districts have not been given what is called their fair share, is based on the assumption that the Government have powers of direction, which we certainly have not, and which the Opposition certainly have not proposed.
It would be impossible, in a system of free enterprise, to have such powers of direction. There are different cost penalties applying to different areas. The further a firm goes from its main base of operations the more expensive it may be for it. It would be impossible, in those circumstances, for a Government to say to firm A, "You must go where the penalty is small" and, to firm B, "You, although you are competing with them, must go to where the penalty is much higher". These considerations rule out any question of ordering firms to any particular district.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that he is making a serious mistake in suggesting that if a firm goes to any of these areas of unemployment it is, in fact, suffering a penalty?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is the whole point of the legislation. The House must be realistic about this. If we ask a manufacturer to move a large part of his operations to a remote part of the country, then, without any question at all, it carries some economic penalty, and it is solely because there is an 217 economic penalty involved, and for no other reason at all, that the House has authorised the expenditure of money in financial assistance to those firms. If they did not need financial assistance they should not get it. It has been called a bribe, but it is not a bribe. What it is designed to do is to mitigate the economic consequences of a firm having to split up its industrial activities.
Anyone who has studied the economics of large-scale industry will realise the degree of integration that exists today. We cannot expect many of our industries to be able to divide operations and set up new establishments. The cost of doing so is high and much greater than the cost of expanding on the existing basis. That is what the whole thing is about.
§ Mr. J. J. Mendelson (Penistone)
It is surely those who have studied the economics of integration who disagree. Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that many of these firms, though integrated, have some of their plants in different parts of the country without suffering at all?
§ Mr. Maudling
Of course, but if one has plant for the production of motor vehicles, for example, and one is asked to put one half of that plant in the North of England and one in the South, that must involve one in great expenditure. If there were no economic penalty involved in going to a development district, why is the party opposite anxious to give financial assistance to people to get them to go there?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is Clause 5 of the Bill, but I am dealing with major assistance—building grants, amortisation loans, B.O.T.A.C. loans, and so on.
Our first policy, clearly supported by every one, is to prevent people setting up in the already crowded areas. Our next step must be to use these inducements to get them to go to areas where there is a high level of unemployment.
§ Mr. Walter Monslow (Barrow-in-Furness)
Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to make the basis a high level of unemployment only, without due regard to other factors, such as some diversity of industry in an area which has had protracted unemployment?
§ Mr. Maudling
That was discussed during the passage of the Bill in the House and in Committee and in so far as it was not discussed then it will no doubt be covered in later remarks in this debate. Having created a movement of industry out of crowded areas, it does not follow that every firm will go to an area of high unemployment. There is a definite limit to the number of firms that can be induced by reasonable financial means to go to areas of high unemployment. I do not think that anyone would advocate a permanent subsidy to firms going to areas of high unemployment. We want to induce firms which are viable and on an established commercial basis to go there. We want firms to go to those areas if they can be induced to go there by the inducements contained in the Bill.
The real limit to what we can do under the Bill is the number of firms coming forward with expansion plans which can be induced to go to these areas. No matter how much wider or how much longer we make the list, we shall not create a single additional job, because the limiting factor is the expansion of industry among the firms that can be induced to go into the areas.
I should like to make quite clear the position of those areas which are not on the list. Cardiff and some of the Lancashire towns and many others have been mentioned. If industrialists wished to set up in one of those areas, we would not, in general, refuse them a certificate, but it is clearly our responsibility, first, to try to persuade them to go to a district where the situation is worse. If they will not go to places where there is a high level of unemployment, it is sensible that they should go where labour is available. Therefore, it does not mean that if a town is not on our list we would prevent people going there.
We are concentrating Government assistance where it is most needed. This seems to us a matter of priorities. I remember the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) once saying, in what I thought was a very striking sentence, that the language of priorities is the religion of Socialism. I do not say that I accept that religion, but I say that in this matter priorities are essential and I am surprised that the party opposite should not accept that, [Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Nelson 219 and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will get his priorities right and wait for what I have to say, he will be relieved of his anxieties. As I have said, by extending the list of places one does not extend the number of jobs. One merely extends the number of places over which the jobs will be spread.
I made our intention perfectly clear during the passage of the Bill. We intend to tackle this problem on a progressive basis by dealing, first, with the areas which are worst hit and then giving support to places which are less badly hit. That seems to us sensible, and to be in line with what the Select Committee said when it criticised the excessive spread of the development area cum D.A.T.A.C. provision and the fixity of a system whereby, once an area was on the list, it could not come off, even though some of the places had an unemployment figure of less than 1 per cent., which made nonsense of the whole system.
Our main purpose is to be flexible and changeable and to be able to meet changing situations. That is why, in our discussions on the Bill, we did not produce a list of places. The list was settled only after the Bill was passed. There is a complete change of system here. Whereas, previously, the principle was that, by Statute, certain areas should be marked out to be specially treated, the principle in the present Bill is that there should be a general qualification or criterion which should be applied administratively, and that such administration should be subject to challenge, as indeed it is being challenged today.
§ Mr. Frederick Lee (Newton)
The right hon. Gentleman said that the list was decided after the Bill was passed. Does he not recall that when asked about it on Report his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade immediately got up and said that the list would be announced on the following Monday?
§ Mr. Maudling
That is perfectly true. We decided to publish the list on the Monday, but we had not then got the list. There is no reason why I should say anything else.
The first principle, as I have said, is to concentrate help where it is most needed. The list represents about 12 220 per cent. of the insured population. On Second Reading, I said that the percentage of insured population then being actively assisted was about 14 per cent. and I thought that our list would not be very different. We have made it 12 per cent. to give us some elbow-room because, especially after this debate, we wanted to look at the matter again and consider whether there was an argument for adding other places to the list. We thought it wise, in preparing our initial list, to leave ourselves that elbow-room, but 12 per cent. of the insured population is not far away from the prediction which I made on Second Reading.
The other principle in setting up the list is that we should be concerned not only with the actual rate of unemployment in the course of the last year, but with the imminence of unemployment and the question of persistence, which has been raised today in an intervention. That is why the basic percentage on which we are working is rather higher than the 4 per cent. operated under the D.A.T.A.C. list. I am not going purely on a percentage basis, but percentage plus imminence plus persistence. I hope that the percentage will be brought down. If we can tackle successfully the problem in certain big areas and remove them from the list altogether, we can bring down the percentage and with application of the other criteria progressively bring about a solution of this problem.
§ Mr. Douglas Jay (Battersea, North)
Can the right hon. Gentleman say what percentage he is working on? Is it 4 per cent., 4½ per cent. or 5 per cent.?
§ Mr. Maudling
It is rather difficult to be precise. It is over 4 per cent. It is nearer 4½ per cent.
There are examples where this does not apply. I can quote four examples of places which are on the list solely because of the imminence of unemployment. They are Dundee, because of the difficulty with the mark-up in the jute industry; Haltwhistle and Bishop Auckland, where there is the imminence—or, rather, I should say the danger—of unemployment arising from pit closures and the employment position in the mining industry; and Pembroke Dock, where danger arises because one big project will be soon completed.
221 These are examples of places which are on the list because, although unemployment is not currently high, it looks as if it is imminent. There are other places not on the list where unemployment is higher than in those places, but where it will not be persistent because there are already jobs in the pipeline, as it were, to cure the situation.
I will now deal with the cotton towns and with the North-East. The reasons why the cotton towns should not be on the list are crystal clear.
§ Mr. Maudling
I hope that in a moment they will be clear even to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne, but perhaps that is too much to hope. I will quote a few figures, first, for unemployment in January, 1959, and, secondly, for January, 1960. Let us take Accrington. In January, 1959, unemployment was 4.3 per cent.; in January, 1960, it was 1.5 per cent. The number of unemployed was 369. The number of jobs already in prospect is 300 or 400. Now let us take Blackburn. Unemployment in January, 1959, was 4.9 per cent.; in January, 1960, it was 2.4 per cent. The number of unemployed was 1,331 with jobs in prospect for over 1,200. In Rochdale, unemployment in January, 1959, was 5.6 per cent.; in January, 1960, it was 1.1 per cent. There were 620 unemployed and about 400 jobs in prospect.
In the face of those statistics surely it is clear that we cannot classify these towns as places suffering from unemployment—
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
Can the Minister tell us where the jobs are in prospect? What is that based on? This is news to me.
§ Mr. Maudling
They are the number of jobs which are expected to accrue in that area as a result of projects which are in hand or in prospect. The projects in hand or in prospect are based on applications to my Department for industrial development certificates, so the hon. Lady can be fully reassured that she need not discount those figures. Altogether, in the cotton belt as a whole, there are about 14,000 new jobs in prospect.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
The right hon. Gentleman has been highly selective in 222 the places which he has quoted. Not a single one of those he has quoted is in the North-East Lancashire Development Area, yet the whole of that area has been taken out of his list.
§ Mr. Maudling
I was saving that one up for the hon. Gentleman. In the North-East Lancashire Development Area unemployment in January, 1959, was 4.1 per cent. and in January, 1960, it was 1.9 per cent. The total number of unemployed was 1,748. Jobs in prospect are up to 4,000.
§ Mr. Ernest Thornton (Farnworth)
Imminence appears to be very important. Has the right hon. Gentleman taken fully into account the imminence of unemployment at 31st March, when many firms must close down under the cotton reorganisation scheme?
§ Mr. Maudling
Absolutely, otherwise the figures I have given would give us more jobs being created than there are people unemployed, which would be absurd.
I am saying that we hope very much that with all the new jobs coming along there will not accrue in the cotton belt a high level of unemployment. If it arises it should be only temporary and should not persist, but we shall, of course, watch this closely. If it appears that, contrary to our expectations, there is danger of a higher persistent level of unemployment, we will take action, but on the figures quoted we could not justify including those towns in our list.
§ Mr. Charles Loughlin (Gloucestershire, West)
Would the Minister tell us whether he is referring only to jobs in the pipeline, or whether his information comes from his regional controller at the Board of Trade, and is based on inquiries made for that area which, as in my own case, might be based upon the assumption that the area was to be designated under the Act?
§ Mr. Maudling
No, these are firm prospects, based upon applications to the controllers for industrial development certificates.
§ Mr. Maudling
I cannot give way again. There will be plenty of opportunity to raise points later.
I am particularly concerned about the North-East and about Tyneside because, for many reasons, it is particularly difficult to induce industry to go to that area. I am myself clear that Scotland and the North-East are now outstandingly the two areas of the greatest difficulty—
§ Mr. Maudling
For the following reason. However many places in Tyneside we put on the list we would not get additional jobs. We are getting as many jobs to Tyneside as possible. It is better for industry to go to Jarrow, where there is 7 per cent. unemployment, than somewhere else where there is 1.5 per cent. unemployment. There is, of course, no limit to what local authorities can do outside the Bill. This list refers only to facilities available under the Bill.
In the North-East the particular problem to which the right hon. Gentleman referred is the prospect for the coal mines. [An HON. MEMBER: "And shipbuilding."] That is nothing like as imminent as is sometimes suggested. We have looked carefully at the position and I am told that 11 collieries in Northumberland and Durham, employing 3,500 people, will close this year, five of them in Northumberland. I am referring especially to those places because the right hon. Gentleman raised the point. Haltwhistle is, of course, listed. Backworth (Tyneside, North-East), at present employs 480 people and only 36 of these are expected to become redundant. The rate of unemployment there will rise by less than .1 of 1 per cent.
Dinnington and Seaton Burn (Tyneside, North-West), are at present employing 370 people, 102 of whom are expected to become redundant, which will raise the rate of unemployment once again by .1 of 1 per cent. Then there is Seaton Delaval, at present employing 380, of whom 61 are expected to become redundant. I gather that Seaton 224 Delaval is within travel-to-work distance of Whitley Bay and North Shields. So, in looking at Northumberland and Durham, we have looked closely at the prospects given us by the National Coal Board—
§ Mr. Robens
It is a fallacy to say that only 20 people will become unemployed because 280 out of 300 in a pit which is closed will be absorbed. With 300 jobs gone, 300 youngsters now at school in that area will not have those 300 jobs to go to.
§ Mr. Maudling
I am dealing with unemployment. If, for example, 300 people are likely to lose their existing jobs, there will be a proportion retiring through natural wastage and a proportion reemployed amounting to 250, so only 50 will be unemployed and will have to be dealt with. There is no fallacy there.
§ Mr. Maudling
The right hon. Gentleman is making a lot of noise while I am trying to deal with his argument.
§ Mr. Robens
Will the Minister address himself to this point? If the number of jobs in Northumberland declines by 7,000, although the unemployment rate may be reduced by wastage and no recruitment, what happens to the children leaving school when the jobs to which they would have been going are fewer by 7,000?
§ Mr. Maudling
New jobs are being introduced into the area. School leavers are one of the things we take into account in judging the list. This is another reason why I said earlier that the North-East Coast and Scotland seem to me to present a particularly difficult problem. We shall not get more industries to go from the South to the North-East merely by adding to the places on the list. We want to get more industries up to the North-East and to concentrate those who will do so where the need is greatest. I must always come back to this point, because it is the practical way of tackling this problem.
I said during our previous debate that we expect to be judged not on the Bill, but on what we do under the Bill, and I believe that we have made a certain amount of progress. There has been a great deal of talk recently about the 225 motor industry. There is an expansion taking place which will involve tens of thousands of new jobs.
§ Mr. Maudling
No, those in the industry certainly did not see this list, but they were shown every possible site in the area.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. If the right hon. Member does not give way the hon. Member must sit down.
§ Mr. Maudling
I have been accused of preventing people from going to Tyneside. I want to say that I have failed to get people to go there. I accept that accusation. I cannot accept that I have prevented them from going there. I have tried my best to do so and I intend to continue to try my best to do so. More than that I cannot do.
The point I was making is that of the tens of thousands of new jobs in the motor industry only a handful will be in the Midlands and the South, and the rest will go into areas of high unemployment. If that is not a clear indication of the determination of the Government in this matter, I do not know what more the House can possibly ask. We are determined to tackle this on a practical basis and not to allow industry to expand in the crowded areas; but at the same time we must not forget the economics of this. We cannot load additional costs on industry in a competitive world which would damage the export prospects upon 226 which every district, whether it be a development area or otherwise, depends.
We shall deal effectively with some areas as we hope to do and then move them off the list and add others. Our purpose in having a flexible list is first to tackle those areas where there is the greatest difficulty and dispose of them, and then to reduce the percentage that is our criterion so as to add to the list other towns which are at present excluded. Many people may be disappointed at this stage in being excluded from it, and I recognise and accept that disappointment, but the Government's determination with these new powers is to tackle this problem on a practical basis and to break the back of it. That we intend to do, and that we believe to be the will of Parliament.
§ Mr. Robens
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, will he apply himself to the point he has so far evaded, and that is to local authorities who have been making an enormous amount of preparations for industrial sites. If they are not on the list they cannot even begin. Will the right hon. Gentleman say how they are able to get on with the task of providing industrial sites if they are not on the list and have not the money to do it within their own resources?
§ Mr. Maudling
So far as I know, the only effect is that they will not be able to get grants under Clause 5, but in these cases as in all others the principle must be to concentrate the help available where it is most needed.
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Mrs. Barbara Castle (Blackburn)
My constituency is one of those areas, to which the Minister has been referring, which finds that it is not on this list which was drawn up under the Bill, and that its hopes of continuing help have been destroyed. Blackburn was an area classified for financial help under the Development Areas Treasury Advisory Committee, and it was a very great blow to us to receive the letter from the Parliamentary Secretary informing us that we were no longer to receive any kind of Government aid at all. I have listened 227 very carefully to the right hon. Gentleman's overtures this afternoon to try to assure us that all is for the best, in the best of all possible worlds, in the Lancashire towns, one of which I represent.
The reason he states for withdrawing the help which we have up to now received is that the Government have to concentrate assistance in areas where it is most needed, and that we are now classified with areas not claiming that kind of priority. The reason he has just given is that unemployment in Blackburn has fallen to 2.4 per cent., and we are very glad that there has been that reduction. However, that still leaves us above the average for England as a whole. Surely the right hon. Gentleman's calculation that this means, therefore, that we are not an area in which assistance need any longer be concentrated overlooks two considerations.
One of these has already been referred to by one of my hon. Friends, and that is the fact that unemployment is mounting in the cotton industry. Only a madman could have argued that we should withdraw assistance from an area on 1st April when on 31st March the final stages of the closing of a large number of cotton mills are to come into effect. On the face of it, it really is quite absurd. Why this hurry, at the very least, to withdraw help from areas over which a big question mark now hangs? It is not good enough for the right hon. Gentleman to say that all these people will be absorbed in the remaining mills or available factories. The cotton trade itself does not know the answer to that one, so I am sure he cannot speak with any certainty upon it. Under the definition of "imminent" we would have qualified to remain on the list for Government help.
Surely the right hon. Gentleman is also overlooking a second point, and that is that unemployment in Blackburn and towns like it has been reduced only because Government financial help has been forthcoming under the D.A.T.A.C. scheme. What the Government are now doing is to tell us that they are abandoning the policy which is helping to cure unemployment because it has started to help to cure unemployment. The last moment at which to stop applying a remedy is when it is just starting to have the effect one desires.
228 The right hon. Gentleman, in trying to justify this curious behaviour, brings forward two excuses. He tells us that there are 1,200 jobs in prospect in my constituency. When I asked him where he got these figures from he said they were firm prospects based on applications already made for I.D.Cs. I now ask him a question which I was not allowed to put to him when he was speaking, though I appreciate his courtesy in giving way so many times. How many of these applications for I.D.Cs. have been made because D.A.T.A.C. help had either been received or was anticipated? Are not these two things linked? Are not these prospects, which he tells us justify the change in Government policy towards Blackburn, based not on the new position of no financial help but on the position of financial help being available under D.A.T.A.C.?
The Minister also makes a second excuse, that if he proves to be wrong and, after 31st March, unemployment does rise in Blackburn in the reorganisation of the cotton industry, he will have a look at the position again, but there are at this moment firms who have applications for D.A.T.A.C. aid outstanding and they are the very people who want to expand inside my constituency to meet the situation which will arise after 31st March, if they can get Government help to enable them to do so. The future of these applications is very much in doubt.
This is the concrete point that I want to put to the President this afternoon. On 27th January this year an engineering firm in my constituency applied for financial help from D.A.T.A.C. to enable it to take over a cotton mill which is closing down. Surely this is one of the future prospects on which the Minister is relying in order to justify his saying that Blackburn has nothing to worry about. However, although the firm had made its application on 27th January, it received a reply from D.A.T.A.C. to the effect that… Treasury power to give financial assistance under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, is likely to be superseded by new legislation at the beginning of April.The letter continues:At the present time more applications under that Act are being investigated than can be 229 disposed of before the new legislation comes into operation. It has therefore, been agreed …It does not say by whom.… that it would serve no useful purpose to commence investigation of fresh applications under the existing legislation. In the circumstances, I regret that it will not be possible to give any consideration to your application.Here is an astonishing situation in which a firm in my constituency claiming assistance under an existing Act of Parliament is told that its application cannot be considered because a new piece of legislation may come into operation on 1st April.
I took this matter up at once with the Board of Trade. After my intervention, D.A.T.A.C. wrote to the firm in February saying, "We will consider the application provided that you send us immediately the further particulars for which we ask." The firm wrote to tell me that the further particulars were sent overnight. Still, the warning has been given to the firm that there is no guarantee that the application, while still lawful applications under the old Act, can be dealt with before 1st April, and that if the time lag is too great the application will be turned down, not on its merits but simply because suddenly overnight Blackburn is transformed into an area which no longer qualifies for Government help.
This is an intolerable and ridiculous situation. Here is a firm wanting to step in with an expansion to take the place of the contracting cotton industry. Here is a firm which will provide the future prospects on which my constituency's hopes are built. Yet, although its application has been made perfectly properly and within the specified time limit, it is told that there is no guarantee, whatever the merits of the case, that any financial help will be given.
Will the President of the Board of Trade give us a firm assurance that all outstanding applications for help under D.A.T.A.C. which have not been settled by 1st April, through no fault of the firms, will continue to be dealt with after that date on their merit and financial help given accordingly? Will he also look again at Blackburn's exclusion from the list? Is it not a fact that the future prospects about which he talks, which will help us reduce our unemployment figure from the still excessively high one of 2.4 per cent., are related to the fact 230 that applications have been made for financial help from a large number of firms, some small and some medium sized, in my constituency? They have been trying to get financial help under D.A.T.A.C. which has been invaluable to my constituents, and it is a tragedy to us that it should now be withdrawn. I protest against that and ask the President of the Board of Trade to reconsider the decision, and I most specifically ask for an assurance that outstanding applications at any rate will be given the consideration that they deserve.
§ 5.6 p.m.
§ Mr. J. M. Coulson (Hull, North)
As this is the first time that I have had an opportunity of speaking to the House, perhaps the first thing that I ought to say is how proud I am to be here following my predecessor, Mr. Austen Hudson, who represented Hull, North for nine years. Although over the last two years he was not able to be here very often because of ill health, his work for his constituents continued just the same as before, and I have very good reasons to be pleased with the legacy of good will that he left behind.
The immortal Jorrocks once said that none but a huntsman knows a huntsman's cares. I am sure that my right hon. Friend must, as he sits listening to the debate, turn over that sort of sentiment in his mind when he thinks of the cares of the President of the Board of Trade. I think that any fair-minded person must realise that, however the list of development districts was compiled, someone was forced to be disappointed, and now my right hon. Friend is attacked not only from in front but from behind about the names included in the list of development districts. However, one thing which is clear is that the very worst thing that my right hon. Friend could have done was to cast the net too wide, to include too many districts, for this would have resulted in merely the continuance of the status quo. Indeed, there would have been no compelling incentive to any industry to go to any particular place, and, therefore, the whole purpose of the Bill would have been voided.
I feel that the very shortness of the list is largely its merit, because that is the greatest guarantee that the provisions will be effective. It is, in fact, a 231 guarantee that the list will remain fluid, that the names of certain districts will be put on it and that the names of other districts will come off it. If the list was not short, that would not be possible. That is the very great thing about it.
Therefore, while I agree in principle with the list set out in OFFICIAL REPORT, I beg at the same time to differ in detail about it because I and my constituents are disappointed at the exclusion of Hull and Humberside. It is a very bitter pill to us. Whereas we were a district scheduled under D.A.T.A.C., we are now no longer a development district.
In asking the Government to reconsider their decision to exclude Hull and Humberside from the list, I would urge two things upon them. I would urge consideration not merely of percentages but of numbers actually employed. As I look through the list I see that of the 42 districts scheduled only 6 have a higher number of unemployed than Hull, and the average of the remaining 36 districts is only half that of Hull. This sort of thing should be borne in mind because it makes very disturbing reading for my constituents. Surely the actual number of jobs found is the best criterion of the success of the scheme. I say this with the greatest respect to the areas concerned and with only the very slightest hint of jealousy or malice, but surely it is very much better to provide a large number of jobs than, say, 60 in Haltwhistle or 200 in Southwold.
Another point stems from this. If one looks at the list of unemployment figures for the last eight years, there are only two conclusions that one can draw. The first is that during that period unemployment has been less than it was when hon. Gentlemen opposite were in office; and the second is that we have a hard core of unemployment. That is just the sort of thing that I thought the Bill was designed to remedy.
The second point that I want to mention is collateral action to solve unemployment problems. I want to be sure that my right hon. Friend and his colleague are not acting entirely on their own in this matter. Are they liaising with other Ministries? We cannot regard special unemployment in a district as something in a watertight compartment. We must look at the collateral 232 surrounding circumstances that are the cause of that unemployment.
Most hon. Members will agree, although this fact is lost sight of these days, that self-help is the best form of help, but it has its limitations. My local development committee has worked hard during the past two years to attract industry to Hull. It has met with success, but not with as much success as it would have liked.
If industry is to be attracted to areas like mine, the area itself can hold out inducements and attractions to attract industry, but the Minister can, in addition, hold out his inducements and thus go a long way to attracting industries which in turn will attract more industries into the area.
For example, quite a lot of the unemployment in my constituency is due to the decline in shipbuilding and ship repairing. Government Departments have helped with this problem before, and that is the type of collateral action that I have in mind.
Another important consideration is the question of road communications. I know that this is not the direct responsibility of my right hon. Friend, but to us road communications are one of the most important matters. If there was a better system of road communications between the West Riding and the industrial Midlands and the third port in the country, we should be in a better position to solve our problems, even without Government action, although Government aid would be welcome.
I want my right hon. Friend to assure the House that there is this co-operation between his Ministry and other Ministries. I trust that he will give urgent consideration to the inclusion of Hull and Humberside in any future list that he issues.
I thank the House for its indulgence.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. Coulson) on his excellent maiden speech. I have never before had the pleasure of being called to follow an hon. Member who has made a maiden speech. It is gratifying to be able to extend warm and sincere congratulations to the hon. Member. He had that easy conversational manner which is so agreeable to 233 the House. He was confident, and he chose wisely an occasion on which he could speak for his constituency and thus combine a maiden speech with supporting the interests of his constituents—surely an enviable combination for any hon. Member making his maiden speech. I am sure that the House will look forward to hearing future speeches by the hon. Member.
There is one respect in which he had the agreement of the whole House. None of us wants this list to be excessively spread, but it would be quite all right if our constituency was on it. That sentiment has the full support of the House. It certainly has my full support, because I am going to say exactly what the hon. Member said, that this list would not be too bad if my constituency was on it. I have no doubt that we shall hear the same thing said by my hon. Friends and hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House.
I shall take only a few moments to say what I have to say because the constituency I wish to speak about is one which is concerned in the general question of the cotton towns. I refer to Todmorden in my constituency which for years was left out of the North-East Lancashire Development Area for the simple reason that it is in Yorkshire. I suppose that is a good reason for omitting any place from Lancashire—that it happens to be in Yorkshire—but unfortunately that town is as much a part of the cotton belt as most places in Lancashire itself.
After years of anxiety, protests and representations, the Parliamentary Secretary was able to announce last July that Todmorden would be included in the area covered by the cotton towns. That announcement was greeted with great joy by the inhabitants of Todmorden. After a few months the ground has been kicked from under their feet and they now have the sharp disappointment of finding that they are out in the wilderness again.
It is only fair to say that they are out in good company. Last time, Todmorden was at the disadvantage that while it was out, Littleborough, Burnley, Rochdale and Nelson and Colne, and other more or less deserving towns, were in, but now they are all out in a bunch. If there is any comfort in mutual disappointment and dismay it has it, but it would be better if it were in.
234 This is the last moment at which the cotton towns should have been bundled out of the benefits of the D.A.T.A.C. list. It is only a few weeks to 31st March, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) said, no one knows quite what will happen then.
§ Mr. Houghton
My hon. Friend says that some of them know, but there are many uncertainties in these towns which have still to be resolved, especially in a town which came on the D.A.T.A.C. list so recently that many prospects and inquiries are only just beginning to gather force. The Minister might have waited to see the end of the closures under the cotton reorganisation scheme. He would then have been in a better position to judge how the cotton towns of Lancashire would stand.
We all see now why the Minister did not produce a list—
§ Mr. Silverman
I think that it will assist my hon. Friend if I point out that the President of the Board of Trade can find out the whole position now by the simple method of asking the Cotton Board. The statutory date for giving notice under the cotton reorganisation scheme has long passed.
§ Mr. Houghton
I understand that, and I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am saying that no one is yet certain what degree of unemployment will follow the closures. We know that many people will be thrown out of jobs. What we do not know is how many jobs will be waiting for them when they lose their present employment. In my constituency there is uncertainty about the position, and it has been a great shock to go off the list with this very big and not very favourable question mark overhanging the future of the town.
We all realise why the Minister refused to produce the list while the Bill was before the House. He knows that he would have had much more than a debate; he would have had a shambles. We discussed the Bill on the basis of which part of those areas which were already on the list would continue to be there. We now find that the centre of gravity has moved from the industrial areas to the seaside towns, to a quite surprising extent. I say nothing against 235 the claims of these towns; we must each look after the claims of our constituents. But the claims of the cotton towns, considered from the general aspect of the matter, are of importance and force.
The Minister has been unwise in his timing of the exclusion of these towns from the list. He cannot have understood the psychological effect of what he was doing. He has produced discomfort and dismay when efforts were going on to get the cotton towns through this crisis by the diversification of industry, the determination to be less dependent upon the cotton textile industry in the future than in the past, and the transformation of the composition of the industrial activity of these towns which is in progress. It is regrettable that he should have chosen this moment, and this way, to cast gloom upon them.
I hope that he means what he says about including in the list in future towns where the expectation of unemployment may exist. I hope that it will not take as long to get some towns on the list as it took Todmorden, and I hope that none will be bundled off it as quickly as was Todmorden, which had been on the list for only a few months. The unemployment position in some of these towns is less worrying at the moment than it was some months ago, but we do not know how much more worrying it may be in a few weeks' or months' time. It is a pity that we could not have been left alone to get on with the job for a little longer.
§ 5.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Donald Box (Cardiff, North)
During the twelve weeks that I have been sitting here absorbing atmosphere, or, as my more outspoken colleagues would describe it, plucking up courage before making my maiden speech, I have marvelled at the patience and fortitude of the more experienced Members when listening to the first speeches of so many new Members. I am acutely aware that this is the normal tolerance of the House towards new Members, and it is therefore my intention to make my contribution as brief and as painless as possible.
I am very grateful to the electors of my division for sending me here as their representative, especially in succession 236 to my experienced and able predecessor, Sir David Llewellyn. As a result, I am especially conscious that I have the honour to represent one of the three divisions of Cardiff, the capital city of Wales.
Cardiff is a remarkable and beautiful city. Thanks to the foresight and generosity of the Bute family, the citizens of Cardiff now own the historic Norman castle which runs along one side of the main street and which occupies roughly a quarter of the centre of the city. It is difficult to visualise any other place in the United Kingdom where, merely by crossing the road from one's hotel in the heart of the city, one can enjoy a country stroll in about 500 acres of the most beautiful castle grounds.
Although we who live there are all too inclined to take these unique amenities for granted, we are intensely proud of our heritage and are liable to speak about it with emotion. We have even been known to break into song when describing it, or showing visitors around. Hon. Members who have not yet discovered the beauty of Wales and the hospitality of the Welsh people should do so without delay, because they will be sure of a warm Welsh welcome.
Despite the fact that he has not included Cardiff in the first list of development districts under the Local Employment Bill, I can assure my right hon. Friend—he is not present, but I am sure that my invitation will be conveyed to him—that he would receive a warm welcome, in the nicest possible way, if he came to Cardiff. Any initial disappointment that was felt in Cardiff, and the area within a radius of twenty miles surrounding it, at the fact that it has been omitted from the list, has to some extent been offset by the knowledge that several areas that were originally embraced in Cardiff's claim for recognition have been included under their own names.
Among these are such places as Bargoed, Pontyclun, Tonyrefail, Ystrad Mynach and Blackwood, and we welcome the inclusion of such industrially historic names as the Rhondda and, only slightly further afield, Merthyr Tydfil. Although the inclusion of these well-known names covers an unemployment figure of nearly 3,000 men and women, and their prospects of employment have presumably improved considerably, there are still about 7,500 persons— 237 3,000 in Cardiff and 4,500 in the surrounding areas—who must be found jobs at the earliest possible opportunity.
In arriving at his decision not to include Cardiff in the first list of development districts my right hon. Friend was probably influenced by two important factors; first, that about 1,000 new jobs will be created in Cardiff in the next year or so as a result of new projects in hand or in prospect and, secondly that Richard Thomas and Baldwins' giant new steel works at Llanwern is less than half-on-hour's train journey from Cardiff. We recognise the significant rôle that these great projects will play in the future prosperity of South Wales, but we also welcome the information recently given by my right hon. Friend that the officers of his Department take every opportunity to bring the many advantages that Cardiff has to offer to the attention of suitable industrialists.
Bearing in mind the limitations that the Bill imposes on areas of high employment, we interpret this to mean that suitable applicants will have no difficulty in obtaining industrial development certificates if they wish to come to Cardiff. I sincerely hope that it also means that the large engineering concern which has currently expressed its desire to come to Cardiff will receive every encouragement to do so. It appears that Thursday of this week will be quite a day of destiny for the future of Cardiff.
Although it is understandable that the keen disappointment which is felt in some areas of relatively high unemployment should be expressed in the Opposition Motion before us, it must be admitted that the one great advantage that the Bill has to offer over all previous legislation dealing with the distribution of industry is its great flexibility. This should enable areas suffering from high unemployment now, or threatened with it in the future, to make urgent representations to the Board of Trade at any time in the light of new information or changing circumstances.
It is reasonable to expect that the need for the provisions of the Bill will tend to increase rather than decrease. The amount of capital investment required in industry in order to create each new job has risen, and continues to rise steadily. In the more prosperous areas, full employment is maintained 238 partly by the growth of service industries, catering for prosperity. By the nature of things it would be pointless to encourage these service industries to go to areas of falling employment. This virtually eliminates the service industries as a cheaper method of providing jobs in areas of high unemployment, and priority must, therefore, be given to the more costly provision of those consumer, manufacturing or capital goods industries which are best suited to the area.
The economic reasons that demand the replacement of out-dated methods of production by more modern techniques are becoming more urgent each day, and this should be sufficient reason for welcoming the first list of development districts. The Local Employment Bill will help to overcome the inevitable difficulties and hardships associated with a change from ancient to modern methods of production.
The people of South Wales have come a long way since the days of depression, dole queues and development areas. There is a new spirit abroad and we look forward to the day when by reason of the tremendous road improvements now taking place, by the excellent choice of sites and port facilities that we have to offer, by the adequate supplies of coal and steel available locally, and by the inherent adaptability and skill of Welsh workpeople, South Wales will become so prosperous that it will be entirely eliminated from the development districts under the terms of the Local Employment Bill.
§ 5.31 p.m.
§ Mr. Charles Grey (Durham)
It is a great pleasure to compliment the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) on his maiden speech. Like the hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. Coulson), he chose an appropriate time at which to make his maiden speech. He spoke about the glories of Cardiff, and perhaps some day we shall enjoy a visit to that part of Wales.
As the hon. Gentleman was speaking, my mind went back to the time when I made my maiden speech, and I can tell him that he did not appear to be half as nervous as I in fact was. He got through his speech fluently and well. Although I cannot wish him a long Parliamentary life, I do wish him a good life while he is here.
239 Although the Local Employment Bill is half way to becoming law we have had to have this debate today on local employment areas just to prove once again how inadequate that Bill really is, and also to bring to light more problems concerning local unemployment areas. I hope that in considering the Bill in the other place attention will be paid to what we are saying here and that the inadequacy of the Bill will be recognised and steps taken to remedy its defects.
I have always regarded the Bill as an inadequate Tory Measure. It has all the ingredients of other Measures which Tory Governments have introduced in an effort to deal with the problem. We cannot just tinker with the matter; it must be given serious thought. I wonder when the Government will be a little more effective in their effort to deal with unemployment, and when they are going to learn that a little bit of planning would have been far better than this method of pinpointing places here and there and having areas competing one with another.
There is nothing more humiliating than to have one constituency fighting against another to get on the list. That is what is happening today. We are demanding that our particular areas should be on the list. I wonder if everyone realises how degrading and belittling it is to Parliament to have to engage in that kind of struggle.
I am firmly convinced that this great human problem is only being tinkered with. If the President of the Board of Trade and the Government think that by dealing with the matter in this patchy way they are going to solve the problem then all I can say is that they have another think coming. It certainly is not any solution at all.
I readily admit that those areas which are on the list will feel satisfied because they have been mentioned and because they will receive financial assistance, but the fact that this debate has had to be initiated is a further proof of the dissatisfaction felt, especially by hon. Members representing North-East constituencies. I believe that I can include hon. Members opposite who represent constituencies in the North-East.
§ Mr. Grey
I think the hon. Gentleman is the odd man out on this side of the House.
I must concede that of the 45 or so districts in Britain that have been listed, eight are in the northern region. I do not think anyone would complain about that. But it must be remembered that for the past four or five years the North-East area has never had less than 40,000 unemployed. At the moment, the figure is well above 43,000. Therefore, to include only eight areas of the North-East is not sufficient.
We on this side of the House are extremely dissatisfied with the position, and we have good cause to be. I have some criticism to make of the President of the Board of Trade, and I wonder whether in making that criticism I can get the support of hon. Members opposite who represent North-East constituencies. An effort was made recently to get the car industry to come to the North-East. My hon. Friends and I were shocked when it became known that the representatives of the car manufacturers were not shown all the sites available when they came to the area. They were not shown the site at Seaton Valley and the site at Aycliffe.
Although I know that the President of the Board of Trade would probably say that the Government did not stop the car manufacturers from going to the North-East, I would point out that the emphasis is the wrong way round. The Government did not encourage them to go there. How can we hope to attract this kind of industry to the North-East when that sort of thing happens?
I do not think that anyone was informed about the good labour relationship which exists in the area and which has been a prominent feature of our industrial life in the North-East. No one on either side of the House can minimise the importance of this fact. Of course, it may be said—and I admit that it may be so—that even if the representatives had been told of these advantages they might still have gone elsewhere. But that fact is not proved. Therefore, we can only have the very strong suspicion that we in the North-East have been let down very badly indeed.
241 Another factor which annoys my hon. Friends and myself is that the President of the Board of Trade does not seem to know what is happening. Time and time again we have to tell him what the trends are in the area, but we get no response. We do not mind repeating these things, but to have to question him time and time again and then to get no response is extremely frustrating. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary will carry the message to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade when he comes back. I hope he is in a more receptive mood today than he has been hitherto. Then, may be, it is possible that after what we have said with real sincerity today we might get a better response.
The simple fact is, and I repeat it in simple language, that the North-East has to a large extent in the past depended upon three basic industries, namely, shipbuilding, ship repairing and mining. They are all contracting, and up to the moment there has been no replacement. The issue is as simple as that, and if the right hon. Gentleman cannot understand that I do not know what he will understand. Because it is as simple as that, I want to put to him some simple questions.
The first is: What does he intend for the North-East? Has he any kind of basic industries in mind which will cater for the skilled and unskilled labour force now available? Does he intend to do anything more than he has already done, or is he kidding himself that he has acted more or less like Father Christmas in listing these eight areas? I can assure him that we do not think that he has been Father Christmas at all, and when we looked in the stocking—it has been a rather big stocking—we have had nothing out of it, and we are extremely dissatisfied with his supposed gift. We now want to place on record how dissatisfied we are. This is one of those cases in which the right hon. Gentleman has sat back, done nothing and hoped for something to happen.
If I may deal with my own County of Durham, and particularly my own constituency, I want more or les to repeat what I have said about the North-East as a whole. I repeat that we have been let down about the kind of industry we should have and the attitude of mind towards the North-East generally. We 242 have not even been able to get anything out of the right hon. Gentleman. Here, again, we have the same problem in County Durham, and the right hon. Gentleman does not seem to have any knowledge of what is happening there. He might have the reports coming in from the various Employment Exchange areas, showing that there are so many unemployed today and that there were so many a month ago; he might have all the relative figures, but they do not mean a thing.
I hope he realises, when considering the County of Durham, that in 1960 six collieries will be closing, involving over 1,000 men, and that is not the end of it. This trend will go on, and if the right hon. Gentleman has not got all the knowledge, may I advise him on a certain course of action? I would suggest that, as I believe he is on speaking terms with the Minister of Power, he might arrange a meeting and have a talk with him. I am sure that he will get not necesarily advice but at least an accurate picture of the situation in the County of Durham. He would be told a pretty grim story of the continued contraction of the mining industry resulting in the closing of many pits, with serious social and economic consequences. If what he hears from the inister of Power does not stir him on to quicker and more effective action, I believe nothing else will.
In my own constituency, I suppose I ought to be satisfied, because two of the exchange areas which cover my constituency are on the list. But Durham is excluded and therefore I am not. Why it is excluded, I do not know. I do not know whether it is assessed on the current figures, but I have them here before me. On 11th January, there were 532 males out of work, and in this month, the figure has gone up to 577. I agree that that is not a tremendous figure for the area, and perhaps it is not a big enough figure to encourage the President of the Board of Trade to include it in the list of areas, but at least he should have taken into consideration the very short time that will elapse before we shall have a colliery and also a coking plant closed down. The colliery is at Ushaw Moor and the coking plant at Bearpark. If he had considered these factors when he made the list it might have been different, but I am certain that he did not. I therefore ask the 243 right hon. Gentleman to have another look at this area, not in the light of the position at the moment, but rather in the light of the shape of things to come.
My final point is quite relevant to this debate. It is this question of establishing a Government Department in Durham. This has been a long-standing argument which we have had with the Treasury. We were promised one in 1948, and now it is 1960. I have already had two Adjournment debates on the matter. We have met the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. I have asked many Questions about it, but, up to the moment, without any success. I wonder if we could get the support of the President of the Board of Trade on this matter. I hope he will realise that it is very important, because it will solve some of his unemployment problem by having a Government Department in Durham. I am certain that if he helped us in this way, he would certainly be helping himself.
Most important of all, there has not been too much emphasis on the youth side of the unemployment question, and we have a problem of youth unemployment in Durham. Here we have a chance of catering for the youth of Durham with the kind of employment suitable to their talents. I therefore ask the President of the Board of Trade to have a word with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury on this issue, because if he is successful he will be solving part of the unemployment problem in Durham. I am sure that if he does that, we shall be very pleased.
My last word is this. I understand that the President of the Board of Trade is to visit the North-East very soon. I hope that he meets as many people as possible, and that he meets a complete cross-section of the community, including the trade union leaders. I am certain—and here I am sure I have the unanimous support of both sides of the House—that he will be given a warm welcome. I tell him now, before he makes the journey, that if at the end of it he sets about the task of removing the fear of continued unemployment in the North-East the journey will have been worth while.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Clark (Antrim, North)
I should like to thank you very much, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for calling me in this debate, and also for calling me so soon after the other maiden speakers who have already spoken, because sitting on this bench, waiting to make a maiden speech, it not a thing which anyone can enjoy. I must ask the House to give me its usual indulgence. I apologise for the fact that I am the third maiden speaker in a row from this side of the House, but these things have got to be done some time.
Nobody who has been returned for Ulster can possibly keep quiet when unemployment is being discussed. Indeed, it took very considerable self-restraint on the part of Ulster Members, when the Local Employment Bill was being discussed, not to take part in the debate. Of course, they would have been out of order, as the Bill does not refer to Ulster, and, therefore, could not speak about Ulster when that Bill was being discussed.
Before I deal with the subject of unemployment in Ulster I take the usual opportunity of mentioning my predecessors and my constituency. Before I was returned for Antrim, North, at the last election, the county had been represented by the O'Neill family for very nearly one hundred years. The O'Neills were members of the Ulster Unionist Party in this House for a very long time indeed, and particularly in those heroic days of Ulster Unionism when our heroes, Carson and Craigavon, fought across this Floor against Tim Healey and John Redmond.
Not long ago one of the O'Neills became the Father of this House and he now sits in another place. The O'Neill coat of arms appears on one of the shields there by the door of this Chamber which commemorates those Members who fell in the Great War. The O'Neills have been popular in North Antrim for many years. They were often returned unopposed, and, when opposed, they have been returned with large majorities. It is also a tribute to the name and standing of the O'Neills in County Antrim, and the honest loyalty of the people of County Antrim, that when I, a comparative stranger, was nominated by the Unionist Party, I received exactly the same support that the O'Neills had always had.
245 County Antrim is probably one of the finest counties in the British Isles. It is very common for a maiden speaker to describe his constituency as a microcosm of the whole country. Although it is a hackneyed gambit, I say it again. North Antrim has got everything that is worth having in the United Kingdom, and I think that we have got it better. We have the finest whiskey, spelt with an "e", or spelt without an "e". It is made at Bushmills. We have Irish linen, and Irish linen shirts are made at Ballymena as well as anywhere in the world. We also have—what many people do not know—the largest eel fishery in the British Isles. We are not very fond of eels in North Antrim. We do not eat them, but we send them to Holland and to London. We prefer the salmon we catch in the rivers of the county and in the sea. We have beautiful scenery on the Ulster Coast Road, very fine farmland and some of the most solid farmers to farm it.
There is one thing wrong with the whole of North Antrim, and the whole of Ulster. It is unemployment. It is an absolute blot on the whole country. Ulster is a land running with milk and honey, but we have unemployment. If we could cure that we would have very little to complain about. We do not come under the new Act, but that Act will have a very serious effect on Ulster, because when assistance is stepped up in England and Wales, in local unemployment areas, immediately there will be very heavy competition with Ulster. We are trying to get industries to Ulster, but now we shall have the big guns in the other areas competing with us. We shall find it extremely difficult to get more industries into Ulster, but we need them very badly.
The overall percentage of unemployment in Ulster is very nearly 8 per cent. It was 7.8 per cent. at the last count. To bring this home to myself, I looked up the list. I found that Ballymoney, a very small market town, had about 1,100 unemployed; Ballymena had 900 and Larne had 500. Anyone who knows those areas knows that those are large figures for small, not thickly-populated, places. It is country unemployment. The majority of unemployment in Ulster is in the country and is not so apparent as in other places. One does not see people standing about at street corners smoking 246 "fag ends". If one motors through Ulster one does not see people standing around street corners, but there are unemployed in large numbers in the country even if they cannot be seen.
We have all been worried that firms will go to Scotland, Wales and the North-East of England and we shall not get them in Ulster. We definitely look for an assurance that Ulster will not be forgotten. I ask for an assurance that the name of Ulster, which has the heaviest unemployment of any area, will be read between the lines of this list of which we have been talking so much and that Ulster will always be thought of when new industries are to expand. I consulted my Ulster Unionist friends before deciding to speak in this debate. They asked me particularly not to demand, but to ask, of the Ministers two assurances.
One is that when the Ulster Government, at Stormont, puts up schemes to increase incentives for industry to go to Ulster they will receive a most sympathetic hearing in London for those schemes. The second assurance is that when a firm is refused a development licence in the Midlands, or in London, and is advised to go elsewhere, the claims of Ulster will be pushed just as much and as firmly as the claims of any place named on the list that we are discussing.
In turn, I can give an assurance that any firm which comes to Ulster will never have any reason to complain about its treatment there. We have never asked for charity in Ulster. We want firms to come there to make money. I can assure the House, and I can assure any firm which is contemplating coming to Ulster, that it will be no fault of the people of Ulster if it does not make money when it moves its factory over the Irish Sea.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
No one in the House can doubt that the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clark) has made a very valuable and notable contribution not only to the value of the discussion, but to the interests of his own constituency.
This, I suppose, was in some ways bound to be a rather sad debate, because it is one in which we are discussing problems of unemployment and industrial decay. The hon. Member, like most hon. Members making maiden speeches, has done his best for his constituency. 247 He has certainly painted a picture which moved everyone of us—a picture of a land flowing with milk and honey and whiskey, which seems to have something for everybody. I congratulate the hon. Member very much on his choice of constituency. I also congratulate his constituency on its choice of a Member.
As the hon. Member reminded us, he follows a long line of hon. Members of this House who not only have been valuable servants of the House, but also have been valuable representatives of the constituency. No one could doubt for a moment that the hon. Member is well worthy to succeed in that line. I would utter a word of warning to him, however. The last hon. Member whom I had the honour to congratulate on his maiden speech shortly afterwards joined the Government. I hope that the hon. Member will decline to do that in disgust at the way in which his constituency, and, indeed, the whole of Northern Ireland, has been treated by the Government.
It is rather ironical that at the beginning of the election campaign, when it became clear that the question of industrial location was to be a major issue in it, the then President of the Board of Trade, now the Minister of Education, made the keynote speech of the election in Lancashire announcing that this Measure was to be introduced. There is no great industrial area which has benefited less than Lancashire. If the then President of the Board of Trade knew what was to happen, I cannot understand how he could have had the staggering effrontery to make such a speech in Lancashire.
This is a rather degrading business. Here we are, like a lot of oriental concubines, parading our charms before the President of the Board of Trade in the hope that there may be something which one of us has which catches his eye and which the others lack. I do not know what it is. I am baffled to know what it is that appeals to the right hon. Gentleman, because I thought that I had everything. Apparently, I have not.
If I remember rightly, when Esther went into the presence of her husband, she knew that if the sceptre was pointed at her she would live, but that if the sceptre was not pointed at her she would pay for her effrontery with death. If 248 the right hon. Gentleman will point the Mace at me to indicate that Widnes will be included in the list of places to receive assistance under the Bill, I will at once sit down. The House will be spared a somewhat detailed speech and some of my hon. Friends who want to make their case will have a chance to do so.
I make no apology for making a constituency speech, because this is obviously a local question. The case for excluding Widnes from this list is impossible to discern and I cannot believe that the exclusion was seriously intended. When I asked the Parliamentary Secretary about it last week, he said that the position and the prospects were different. They are not, unless the hon. Gentleman has some information which I do not have, which the local council does not have and which the Industrial Development Association does not have. I cannot understand what he is talking about.
I am sorry to detain the House with this detail, but I want to run through the facts of the situation one by one. First, there is the question of unemployment. General unemployment at Widnes at 18th February was 4.3 per cent. The unemployment for Merseyside and Prescot, our neighbours, was only 4.2 per cent. and I should be extremely surprised to hear that Prescot had an unemployment figure of anything like that.
I have no quarrel with Prescot, which had the good sense to send my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) to the House as its representative. It is an admirable place, but its unemployment figures are fairly low compared with ours, which are higher than neighbouring areas which are being assisted. We also have the problem of diversification, because unemployment among women in Widnes is very much higher than our average unemployment, so that we have a special need to find light industries to give employment to women and young people.
We have not only immediate but imminent unemployment. Prospects are not good. The chemical industry has said again and again that it has no prospect of expansion in the area. Population is increasing and has increased over the past few years, so that 249 the potential is bound to be worse than the existing position.
We also come within Clause 5, in that we have derelict areas and factory sites which could be improved to offer sites to new industries, if we had financial assistance.
Even if it is said that for some reason, perhaps because Widnes had the ill taste to return me as its Member, it should be singled out in some way for not being included on its own worth, it has a right to be considered under Clause 1 (4, c) as aplace so situated that workers living in the locality … can conveniently work at that place";in other words, a reception area for overspill. For many months, the Widnes and City of Liverpool authorities have been discussing the prospect of Widnes receiving overspill from Liverpool. My latest information is that those conversations are now progressing with so me likelihood that they will soon be concluded. It is quite on the cards that Widnes will become a reception area in the comparatively near future, another argument for securing assistance for industrial location.
It might be said that Widnes will benefit because motor industries are moving into the area. Ford's have been mentioned, but I see in the papers today that there is some uncertainty about whether Ford's are to come. Even if they are—and I profoundly hope that they are coming into the area—that is not a reason for excluding Widnes while including Merseyside and Prescot. It may be an argument for not including anything, but, as the hon. Member for Antrim, North so rightly said, if an area is not included while its next-door neighbour is, the neighbour will get help in competition with one's own area. One will not even have fair competition in trying to attract industries to the area, since it is easier for the other areas getting help to offer better terms. In Widnes, we are having our hands tied behind our backs because advantages are being given to the rest of Merseyside.
Behind this argument is an important principle of town planning. Everyone knows that new industries coming into an area, quite reasonably, prefer to develop virgin sites. From the point of view of the community it is usually 250 better to develop old rather than virgin sites because services already exist and the sites are already developed industrially. I do not think for a moment that a vast motor undertaking will go into an old industrial town like Widnes, but I hope that industries ancillary to the motor industry, the small engineering firms, will find their way into the town where there are sites which they could use.
That will not be possible if we are unable to offer the same kind of terms offered by neighbouring areas. Widnes will have the same sort of problems as the rest of Merseyside, with which it will be competing in the offer of factory sites to the same kind of industries. If the position is improving I cannot see why either all the area is not excluded—which God forbid—or all included so that the industries can be evenly spread throughout the area.
The hon. Gentleman might argue that Widnes is howling and demanding to be spoon-fed by Government money. Northerners are sturdy, independent people, and when faced with a problem they put their backs into tackling it. Lancashire County Council has introduced a Private Bill to give Lancashire local authorities powers comparable to those in the Government's legislation so that local authorities themselves can do this sort of work without waiting to be spoon-fed by the Government.
Clause 12 of that Private Bill provides that the district and borough councils, as well as the county council, will have those powers. We have just had the staggering information that, while we are reeling under the blow that we are to be excluded from this Bill, although we are an old D.A.T.A.C. area, we will be unable to tackle the problem ourselves because the President of the Board of Trade has used his influence to compel the county council to delete Clause 12 from its Private Bill.
The Widnes Borough Council has a long record of industrial understanding and knowledge of business conditions. It is anxious to keep its industry in the area and provide employment for the people there. It is prepared to spend money and, if the Government will not help it, to help itself, and I should have thought that that would present an attractive picture to the party opposite. But we 251 are being ruthlessly and brutally told that we cannot have this power. The county council is being bullied to exclude Widnes from the provisions of the Bill, not because it will cost the Government a penny but because the Government are afraid that a vigorous local authority might get out of step with its policy.
It is scandalous to exclude one part of the Merseyside area and leave in the rest. It is scandalous not even to allow Widnes to do what it wants to do, to spend its own money and keep its own house in order. This is a disgraceful thing to do and I am staggered at the action of the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers.
§ 6.11 p.m.
§ Miss Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)
After what has been said by the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) I feel a little nervous about speaking in this debate, and I hope that it will not be thought that because of my sex I am trying "to put anything over" on my hon. Friend.
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) challenged me to say whether I should vote for the Opposition Motion. I do not think I should be any better off by so doing, because his Motion simply regrets that the list of development districts issued by the Government fails to include many places. It does not give me any definite assurance that Plymouth would be included. If it had, I might have fallen for the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. In any case I have the assurance of my right hon. Friend that he proposes to fulfil one election promise given by our party. He is going to bring in a Bill to help with employment fairly quickly which will help a great many of the districts in the country and so, although I regret that Plymouth is not included, I am pleased that my right hon. Friend proposes to act quickly so that other districts may benefit.
The composition of this list seems to me to indicate that preparations have been made to attend to the "very sick areas" and to deal with emergencies, but the "chronic sick areas" seem to have been neglected. Plymouth is a chronic sick area. I have referred to this matter on previous occasions. I had an 252 Adjournment debate on the subject and I have spoken in more than one debate upon it, including the debate on the question of juvenile employment. The problem in Plymouth is not new. The hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) will recall that unemployed workers organised marches from his city, and there have been similar marches from Plymouth in times of unemployment.
Plymouth was in a D.A.T.A.C. area and we had hopes of being included in the list of districts which will benefit from the provisions of this Bill. There were enormous advantages in being in a D.A.T.A.C. area even though the firms coming to the area did not necessarily apply for Government assistance. The fact that a district was a D.A.T.A.C. area indicated to firms that labour was available in that district. Firms which have come to Plymouth did not require Government help, but they came there because they had seen the list at the Board of Trade and knew that labour was available.
My right hon. Friend referred to the problem of distance, and this presents a special difficulty for Plymouth which is 230 miles from London. There is no major industry in Plymouth except the Admiralty, and therefore it is difficult for any new industry to co-operate with existing industries. Only an entire industry could come to Plymouth if there is any hope of it being successful.
Most industries coming to Plymouth have to train their labour. We have one small industry starting now which has a labour-training scheme. When a new industry comes to an area it is essential that its labour should be trained in advance, and, for example, the firm to which I have referred is training its labour in advance of putting up a factory. Though it will employ only a small number of people it is being put to the additional expense of having to train its labour before work can be started.
Like Widnes, Plymouth is a town which displays initiative. Last year we sent an officer of the Estates Development Office in Plymouth to America where he was able to tell industrialists that Plymouth was in a D.A.T.A.C. area and that if they decided to bring their industry to England, Plymouth was an area which needed employment and 253 where the advantages of going there were greater than in going to any other place with the exception of Northern Ireland. It is proposed to send this officer overseas again, but I think that this time his journey will be unnecessary for what can he say except that in Plymouth we have a problem of unemployment? Obviously if the situation in Plymouth is not considered to be sufficiently serious to attract Government support, it is therefore unlikely that more American industry will be attracted to Plymouth because, naturally, such industry will go to areas where it can obtain support from the Government.
Another difficulty which faces Plymouth is that we are dependent on one major industry. Of our male insured population 29 per cent. works in engineering and shipbuilding. There is a certain amount of female labour, but 29 per cent. of the insured male population is employed in that way, and 16 per cent. of the male insured labour works in distributive trades. Only 1 per cent. is engaged in fishing and working in the port and so on. Therefore, we have an unbalanced economy, and if the major industry dismisses a number of people there the people to whom goods may be sold have not the money to buy; so we are in a difficult position economically.
There is also the problem of the employment of youth. Not only has the school leaving "bulge" revealed itself later among the young people, but in Plymouth we have a great number of young people. I think the reason is that the city had to be rebuilt to a great extent after the war, and many people living outside were not included in the earlier figures. In 1961 we shall have 3,428 school leavers which represents a figure of 69 per cent. compared with the national average of 40 per cent. In 1962 we shall have 3,682 young people, an average of 82 per cent., compared with the national average of 52 per cent. In 1967 it will be 2,994, or 41 per cent. compared with the national average of only 19 per cent. So it is obvious that there is a great problem in the future. According to the latest figures which I could obtain, which relate to the year 1957–58, we were paying nearly £6,000 in unemployment benefit and National Assistance to young people, and I con- 254 sider that a very large figure. I think it a bad thing that young people should be in receipt of National Assistance on leaving school.
In reply to a Question which I put to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour it was revealed that we have an increasing problem of unemployment in Plymouth. In 1955 the figure was 2.2 per cent.; in 1956 it was 2.5 per cent.; in 1957 it was 3.2 per cent.; in 1958 it was 4.1 per cent. and in 1959 it was 3.7 per cent. I regret to say that on 11th January of this year the figure had gone up to nearly 4 per cent. That means that we now have a total unemployment figure of 3,337 whereas in December, 1958, we had only 2,954.
Recently Bush Radio, a firm which makes television and radio sets, had to stand off 160 people, including 32 men, only half of whom obtained other jobs. There are still 110 on the unemployment register, and this does not include a number of women who have not registered because they are waiting for suitable work to turn up.
In reply to a supplementary question which I put to him about these high unemployment figures, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour said,Naturally one has anxiety where there is unemployment of that kind".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th Feb., 1960; Vol 617, c. 1278.]I hope that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will consider these words and will realise that there is considerable anxiety in an area which has these very high unemployment figures.
Plymouth has extremely good labour relations. We have no wild cats in the area. As far as I know, we have had no strikes since the General Strike of 1926. That should weigh heavily with employers who want to bring factories there, as it is very good to have a steady labour force.
Another problem, which has not been mentioned by hon. Members so far, is that of finding work for the disabled. We have over 200 disabled people for whom it is almost impossible at the moment to find a job. We also have ex-Service men, who present a particular problem to our city.
My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary was kind enough last year to receive a deputation, led by our lord mayor, on the subject of trying to get 255 further industries under the D.A.T.A.C. scheme. It was then stated that since 1945 seven small firms have moved to Plymouth, but they employ only about 5,000 people.
We in Plymouth try to help ourselves by providing employment. We do not just wait for the Government to act. As I said earlier, we sent an officer overseas and we have encouraged some smaller firms into the area. There is another scheme to which it is worth directing my hon. Friend's attention. One firm—a clothing firm called Berkertex—has agreed, I think for the first time in the history of this country, to start an apprenticeship scheme in the trade for boys, because one of our greatest difficulties is to find employment for boys. They are to be called "Machinists—Clothing Industry", and they are to be apprentices, with a 4½ year training. We were a little doubtful whether the boys would be keen to take up this job, but thirty-seven have applied, and we hope that the scheme will get going on 1st April. I say this to indicate to my right hon. Friend that in Plymouth we are not just sitting back and doing nothing but wait for help.
This firm also wishes to expand, and it might have been able to get help had we been in the Local Employment Act. As it appears that it will get none, this may mean that the firm, which is full of enterprise, will not extend its premises, which would be a great pity.
Reading the Report of what my right hon. Friend said in the Second Reading debate, I came across what I think must have been a misprint. My right hon. Friend said:I first pose the question of what we are trying to do with this series of pleasures now enacted over a long period."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 31.]I presume that my right hon. Friend means not "pleasures" but "Measures", because these provisions are not bringing any pleasure to Plymouth. Perhaps before the HANSARD is bound my right hon. Friend will be able to correct that misprint.
I agree that we do not want to direct industry. I am not suggesting that we should direct it, because I do not think that it is possible to know whether an industry will fit into the area concerned. On Second Reading, however, it was 256 stated that the original concept of the Special Areas Act, 1934was one of large areas of the country where unemployment was endemic, deep-rooted and semi-permanent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 34.]That is what we should bear in mind. In Plymouth this is a deep-rooted and semi-permanent problem, for we have had high unemployment for many years.
I therefore wonder why the present Bill has moved away from the principle of the 1934 Act. It seems to me that in choosing cities and towns for the new list we are moving completely away from the principle which has served us very well in the past and has provided help to certain towns.
What will have to be done to bring Plymouth on to the list? Supposing after future Navy Estimates have been issued we are suddenly told that the Admiralty establishment there is to be cut down. We must realise that already the numbers employed by the Admiralty in Plymouth are dwindling. There used to be 25,000 people employed, and now only 19,000 are employed. If all these people had been put off at once there would have been a great outcry, but it has been done gradually over a period, and it is not until we have a debate such as this that we realise how the numbers are dwindling. If anything of that sort happens in the Admiralty in the future, will it mean that immediately, or as quickly as possible, we shall be brought on to the list?
May I sum up for my hon. Friend the reasons why we feel that we have a claim to be considered for inclusion on the list? The first is to prevent the high level of unemployment from getting any higher. The second is to suggest to him that we are too dependent on the dockyard, and particularly on the Admiralty. The third is to point out that we have an exceptionally high number of school leavers and an exceptionally high child population for whom jobs must be found in the future.
Matthew Arnold wrote:But that vast portion, lastly, of the working-class which … is now issuing from its hiding-place to assert an Englishman's heaven-born privilege of doing as he likes …I suggest that for the first time in the history of this country these people have 257 an opportunity to break down class barriers as we have known them so far. Because of modern science and hire purchase, a man—or a woman—can improve the standard of living of his family beyond the wildest dreams of his forbears, if he has a regular job, but a few weeks of unemployment can upset this standard. The knowledge that, through no fault of his own, he cannot get a job makes the man concerned frustrated. It is particularly tragic for the individual, and we should do everything we can to prevent this situation from arising.
I ask my hon. Friend to reconsider the present list in the light of this debate. Obviously there will be another list in the not too distant future. In view of the many points which I have put to him, some of which may not have been brought to his attention before, I hope that he will consider placing cities such as mine on the next list.
Plymouth is an historic city which has done a great deal for this country. It suffered tremendously during the last war. The city is being rebuilt, and it is a very fine city. We do not want to drive all our young citizens away to find jobs in other parts of the country, but I am afraid that that will happen, in view of what I have said to my hon. Friend and to which he has kindly listened, if action is not taken in the not too distant future.
§ 6.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), who made such an eloquent and persuasive appeal in support of my right hon. Friend's Motion, indicated that she did not intend to vote for it. The reason which she gave was that the "many places", the phrase used in the Motion, did not specifically include Plymouth. If that were a valid reason for not voting for the Motion, none of my right hon. or hon. Friends could vote for it, because no place is mentioned specifically. If the hon. Lady will look at the Amendment she will find herself in very much greater difficulty in making the decision to vote for it reconcilable with her speech.
Our complaint against the Government in the Motion is not that they have left out this, that or the other specific place. I do not agree with those hon. Members 258 on both sides who have said—I daresay facetiously and not meaning it—that the Government's list of places would be all right if only it contained their constituency. I think that the list would be very much better if it contained my constituency, but even then I should not think that the list was a good one. I should think that it was a had list if it included Nelson and Colne, but omitted Plymouth, and I invite the hon. Lady to say that it would he a bad list even if Plymouth were included if it omitted Nelson and Colne.
To quote the Minister himself, who, in turn, quoted my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), our challenge to the Government is that they have got their priorities all wrong and they are not properly applying even the limited criteria which they themselves included in the Bill. I shall return to that later, and if I try to illustrate it by figures derived mainly from my own constituency that is only because I know those figures best, and not because I believe that there are no other constituencies for whom the same case could be made.
Before coming to the substantive part of my speech I wish to spend a few minutes on tracing how the debate comes to be held at all. Throughout Second Reading, the Committee stage, Report and Third Reading, so far as it was in order, my right hon. Friends and myself complained that the Government would not give us any indication of what their intentions were. We said that we would be able to look at the Bill more fairly and understand it better if the Government would only tell us what kind of scheme they had in mind, what places they intended to retain on the list, what places they intended to add, and what places they intended to take away. If they had done so, we could have seen the pattern of their thinking.
We went a stage further. We said that it should not be left purely as an administrative decision by the President of the Board of Trade. We said that it would be very much better to have a scheme whereby the right hon. Gentleman would need to come to the House with his list, either by way of affirmative Resolution or in the negative form, but, at any rate, that he should have to make an Order in Council. The House would 259 not have the right to amend that, because we cannot amend Orders in Council, but we should be able to accept or reject it, and, at any rate, discuss it with him on the Floor of the House.
The right hon. Gentleman refused all this. He told us that he was not able, or thought it wrong, to give us that information before the scheme became operative. However, he is telling us now before the scheme became operative. The Bill as it left the House of Commons is about to be debated in another place. I do not say that it is likely to be rejected or even substantially amended there, but, theoretically, under our Constitution it could be. As a result of what the Government have done, the other place will be in a very much better position to deal with the Bill than the House of Commons, which, after all, is much more vitally and closely concerned, was placed in when we had to deal wtih it. The other place will have the opportunity of seeing the pattern as contained in the list, which was exactly what we begged in vain that the Government should give to the House of Commons when we had the responsibility of dealing with it.
Moreover, the Government did their best to keep all knowledge of the matter from the House after they had made up their minds. When the matter was challenged on the Floor of the House, the President of the Board of Trade was frank enough to say that it was he himself who had decided that it was better to give the information in the form of a Written Answer to a Question—when there could be no supplementaries and no explanation demanded in the House—than to give it in a way which would have given the House the opportunity of discussing it.
It is no merit to the Government that we are able to debate the subject at all today. My right hon. Friends decided to place one of their days at the disposal of the House of Commons. But for that we would not have had the opportunity of debating it. This is a legitimate grievance. I daresay that the Government have approached the subject responsibly, doing the best they can according to their lights and according to the information that they receive. It is, perhaps, not their fault if their 260 lights are so dim and their information so defective. Though they could not improve the first, they could with more diligence repair some of the defects of the second, and I hope to help them to do so shortly.
Whatever the merits of the matter, and even though it turns out ultimately that the Government are absolutely right and all the rest of us are absolutely wrong, do they not, on reflection, think that it is a good thing that we are having the debate? The more right they are, the better it is that they should explain it and defend it in the House. If they are confident of their case, they should welcome the opportunity. But the President of the Board of Trade said no word of thanks to my right hon. Friends for having tabled the Motion, or placed a Supply Day at the Government's disposal, so that they could explain to us exactly why they were right when all of us thought that they were wrong.
Inevitably, this has to be a soldier's battle, in which each of us fights for his own hand. That is a pity. I can imagine nothing more degrading. I agree with my hon. Friends who made this point. Some of them thought that it was perfectly all right, but most of us think—I am sure that this is the better view—that it is degrading for the House of Commons to have a debate in which each hon. Member says, "Do something for my constituency. Never mind the others. Let us deal with this patch by patch. Let us struggle against one another for the bundle of hay which the Government throw in front of us, each seeking to get out of it what we can for ourselves." It is our duty to do that if the matter is approached in this way. We are here primarily to represent our constituencies, to do the best we can for them and put their case the best way we can. It is a great pity that the industry and economy of the country cannot be planned strategically instead of these individual tactical battles which do no one any good.
§ Mr. Rupert Speir (Hexham)
Does the hon. Gentleman advocate the policy that the gentlemen in Whitehall know best and that we should leave it to them?
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not know whether the hon. Member has been listening to the debate. I can forgive him for not listening to my speeches. They are 261 always so long and so dull. If he has not been listening he should not intervene. The whole tenor of the debate and of the speeches of every hon. Member has been that the gentlemen in Whitehall are wrong. That is what the debate is about. We should not have been able to say that if the Opposition had not provided the opportunity. The Government did not give it to us.
§ Mr. Silverman
I know what the hon. Gentleman means, and that kind of approach to a difficult question is not helpful. There is a case for saying that there should be no central planning for industry, and I dare say that the hon. Gentleman says it. I say that there is a very good case for it, and I had the advantage recently of the support of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for that proposition.
I want now to come to the circumstances of my own constituency to illustrate my point that Nelson and Colne ought not to have been left out of the first list and in, I hope, persuading the Government that that is so, to illustrate at the same time how they failed to apply their own criteria. I am not saying that the President of the Board of Trade should go back on his policy. He has defended it, he believes in it, he carried it through with a majority of the House of Commons, and he is now bound by it. I have no right to complain at this stage that the policy is wrong. My only right to complain at this stage is that the Government are not properly applying the policy that they defended, or the powers with which the House of Commons has entrusted them.
I think that no one will contest that to do that the proper criterion is to be found in subsection (2) of Clause 1, which says:In this Act 'development district' means any locality in Great Britain—The words are "any locality". I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to agree with me that "any locality", in that sense, means all localities, any locality that can fulfil these criteria is entitled, by Statute, to the aid. It does not say that it shall be such localities as the President of the Board of Trade may choose, but 262any locality in Great Britain in which in the opinion of the Board of Trade … a high rate of unemployment exists or is to be expected within such a period that it is expedient to exercise the said powers and (in either case) is likely to persist, whether seasonally or generally.What have I to show? I have to show that the rate of unemployment is high or, failing that, I have to show that… a high rate of unemployment … is to be expected within such a period that it is expedient to exercise the said powers …to prevent it, even though it is not high at the moment, and, in addition to that—and not as an alternative—I have to show that it is "likely to persist". I am quite prepared to submit the case of Nelson and Colne to any impartial or objective judgment, to see whether or not these qualifications for assistance, even under the present Bill, are satisfied.
Earlier, one of my hon. Friends had a little lighthearted fun about what information exists or what information can be ascertained. I certainly would not pretend that my information is complete—it is not. I would not pretend that I can vouch for it personally. I have no means of ascertaining it personally. Indeed, under the Cotton Industry Act itself the Cotton Board is precluded from giving a good deal of information that would be very interesting and highly important to know. At any rate, it is precluded from giving it to individuals, although I think that the information must be available to the President of the Board of Trade.
I hope that hon. Members will agree that I adopted the proper method of getting the information. I went to the town clerk of Nelson. I asked him to get out for me, on a non-political basis, the actual facts and figures as far as he could ascertain them. I hope that there is no fairer way of doing it, because the town clerk did not dream up his figures. He went to the Cotton Board and to the Ministry of Labour. For all I know, he may well have gone to the Board of Trade itself. I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to listen to the town clerk's figures, and I invite him most earnestly to look at them carefully and to have them checked as thoroughly as he can manage, because they give a very different picture from that sketchily drafted by the President of the Board of Trade in response to interventions in his speech today.
263 To give the figures will not take very long, but, before giving them, I should like to say just a word by way of background. I do not intend to be lengthy about it, because I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary knows the background very well and that many hon. Members have heard of it before. The hon. Lady the Member for Devonport made an absolutely valid and legitimate point when she said that she could regard Plymouth as a one-industry town, as 29 per cent. of the male employed labour was engaged in only one industry. That was quite fair. I do not complain of it in the least. I would support the hon. Lady in it, but let her compare that figure with the figure obtaining in Nelson and Colne.
We, too, are a one-industry area. We live on cotton—or did. It is not a question of 29 per cent., but a question of something between 65 per cent. and 70 per cent. Of every three people who are employed in the area at all, two depend, or depended, on cotton for their livelihood. If 29 per cent. makes a one-industry area, what does 65 per cent. make? I hope that the hon. Lady will reconsider her vote in the course of the debate, because I have one additional factor that she did not have in her plea for Plymouth. Plymouth's industry, at any rate, is not a contracting one.
What have we in Nelson and Colne? We have not merely a situation in which two-thirds of the working population depend on one industry but, added to that, we have the tragically complicating factor that the industry itself has been rapidly contracting for over fifty years, and that the Government's remedy for that is to assist the industry, by financial rewards, to contract even more rapidly.
This is not the place to discuss the Government's policy for the cotton industry. For the sake of argument, let us assume that it is right, but what does that policy consist of? It consists of saying, "You have too many mills. You have too much machinery. You have too many people employed in the industry. The only way to put the cotton industry on its feet," say the Government, "is to contract it; to have a smaller, more highly-concentrated area—fewer mills, but better equipped ones." And the 264 Government offer rewards to re-equip the mills.
The point that I say is so very relevant is that before that scheme for cotton can work at all we have to reduce the industry's productive capacity, and this bears particularly hardly on a constituency in which two-thirds of the working population depend on that one industry. There is only one fair way in which we can do it if we believe that to be the right thing. It is either to take our alternative industries in first, or, at least, to take in the new industries simultaneously—contemporaneously—with the closing of the mills, so that the new employment is ready at the moment when the old employment stops. Is that fair? Is that an unreasonable claim to make?
Let us see what is happening. In December, 1959, the general percentage of unemployment in the country as a whole was 1.9. On 11th January, 1960, the percentage of registered unemployed in the Nelson Employment Exchange area was 2.1 and in the Colne Employment Exchange area it was 1.9, making an average of 2 per cent. for the area as a whole. It may be said that that can hardly be described as a high degree of unemployment. It is only just above the national average. So far, I think that I should agree.
Let us see how it goes on. A month later, on 15th February, 1960—almost the exact date on which the Government announced that such protection as we could have from D.A.T.A.C. was being withdrawn—the percentage of unemployed had increased to 2.46. Still, it may be said that it is not very high. But it is a substantial increase in one month.
Thus, even if one relies only on the registered unemployed, one finds a substantially rising figure. But, as the Parliamentary Secretary knows very well, after living with this problem for quite a long time, these figures are deceptive because a great many of the people who are unemployed in the cotton towns are not fully insured. They rely on their husbands' insurance. The result is that, when they become unemployed, they do not register. There are more women employed in the mills than men. They do not register and, therefore, they do not figure at all in the published lists of percentages of registered unemployed.
265 It is not easy to make a calculation to correct that figure and give effect to the number of unregistered unemployed. The town clerk tells me that it must be between ½ per cent. and 1 per cent., on a very modest estimate. Let us call it ¾ per cent. We then show a percentage of unemployed rising in one month, taking it all in, to about 3.4 or 3.6. This is already verging on double the national level.
I should have thought that that might well be regarded as a high level of unemployment, but I do not have to prove that, if I can prove that high level of unemployment though not yet existing is likely to exist, within the definition of the Bill, that is to say,within such a period that it is expedient to exercise the said powers.What is the position here? Again, I rely on the town clerk's figures. Under the Cotton Industry Act, mills which intend to take advantage of its provisions have to give their notice to the Cotton Board. They had to give it by a date now long past, the 30th September last year, I think. In the Nelson Employment Exchange area the number of factories or sheds which have given notice to close is 32. In the Colne Employment Exchange area it is 31. That is a total of 63 factories or weaving sheds which are to close by 31st March.
It is true that, in one or two cases—I think it is done without powers, but we are thankful for small mercies—the Cotton Board has given leave to extend the period, but it can extend it by only a few weeks. If it is not 31st March, it can be only a few weeks thereafter. Sixty-three mills are to close. This means, in Nelson, 12,558 looms, and, in Colne, 9,218 looms.
It may be said that not all the people dependent on those looms will be unemployed because in some cases the looms are being destroyed but the shed is remaining open. Out of the 12,500 looms, 10,831 are in sheds which are closing completely, and, out of the 9,218, 8,142 are in sheds which are closing completely. So there is very little hope there.
Hon. Members may ask what this means in terms of numbers of unemployed. In the whole area it means a total of 3,400. The percentage which I have been talking about—the percentage now unemployed, the 2.46, or 266 whatever it may be, corrected for the unregistered ones—represents only 1,100. Between now and the end of March—I shall come to the modifying features in a moment—2,300 more people will lose their work in Nelson and Colne, if nothing happens, if they are not reabsorbed into the modified or developed cotton mills, or if they are not absorbed into new industries. This will multiply the percentage of unemployed at least by 2, and perhaps by 3, at least by 31st March. Can we not say that a high percentage of unemployment is expected within a period when it is reasonable that the powers should apply?
What are the powers? The powers are to do the very thing that is needed, namely, to assist—I think that the word used by the President of the Board of Trade was "induce"—new industries to go there rather than to other places. But we are losing them. The whole area was made a development area in 1953. When the 1958 Act was passed, and the Government published their first list, Nelson and Colne was not included. It was not until the end of July last year that Nelson and Colne was made a D.A.T.A.C. area. It is common ground and beyond controversy that, since that date, the position has become worse, not better, and within the next few weeks it will become worse again.
If it was right to make Nelson and Colne a D.A.T.A.C. area at the end of July, 1959, why is it right to withdraw those powers in February, March or April, 1960? There is something faintly unpleasant about these dates. After strong refusals, we are made a development area three months before the General Election. During the election campaign, the President of the Board of Trade comes to Lancashire and says:Our principal Measure, our first, most substantial Measure in the coming Parliamentary session will be something which will do a lot of good for Lancashire. I have come to Lancashire in the middle of the campaign to say so.When the election is over, the Government introduce this Bill. When the Bill is safely through the House of Commons, they withdraw the protection which they have given prior to the election, but only just prior, to Nelson and Colne. I do not want to make the most elementary of all logical errors and say post hoc propter hoc, but there is a prima facie case. Unless the Government 267 could show conclusively that they were right, even in this first list, to leave Nelson and Colne out, they would find it very difficult to explain to the many thousands of Lancashire voters, some in my constituency, who voted for Conservative candidates on the basis of the speech of the former President of the Board of Trade that they have an overwhelming case for the places in their list. I am endeavouring to show they have not such a case.
What are the modifying factors? They are the extent to which labour may be reabsorbed and new industry introduced. In part of my constituency, certainly in Nelson, we have not been unsuccessful in attracting new industries by our own efforts. One major new industry is already in production, which will eventually, employ 400 people. But it will be two or three years before it employs 400 people. It already employs 100, and, having regard to the short time the industry has been in the district, it should be congratulated on having progressed so quickly and for being so efficient and effective. To employ 100 people in such a short time is very good, but how far does it solve the problem of the 2,300 people who will leave the cotton industry between now and 31st March?
I hope that if the President of the Board of Trade has not heard all of what I have said he will think it worth while to have a look at it tomorrow. I have done my best to be severely factual. I hope that my figures are right. I say to the right hon. Gentleman, however, that no reasonable man, applying the criterion of Clause 1 (2), could possibly come to the conclusion that Nelson and Colne do not qualify under every one of the criteria set out. The Bill lays upon the right hon. Gentleman a duty to exercise these powers in any locality to which those criteria apply. It would be a grave dereliction of his duty not to apply them.
The right hon. Gentleman offered a faint hope in his speech that this is only a first effort and that the Government can consider the position again. I say to the right hon. Gentleman that he should consider it more closely and carefully and hesitate a very long time before he takes away the last hope of a constituency which has not been behind other constituencies in its contribution in the 268 past, and, indeed, at present, to the prosperity of our country. I say to the Government, do not desert these people. The Government have the powers and we are entitled to the benefit of those powers. The Government should amend the list and let us have the benefit of it.
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. Elliott (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North)
The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) described this debate as a bit of a soldiers' battle. I suppose that it is understandable, as the hon. Member himself suggested, that we should represent the problems of our own particular areas. To a quite advanced degree it is essential that we should do so. I suggest, however, that most hon. Members who have taken part in the debate have, at least attempted to find the balance which the Government seek in the face of this local unemployment problem. I for one most certainly acknowledge that the Government are doing their very best to determine the centres of the greatest trouble.
As a Member representing a constituency in the north-east of England, I should be very happy if we could have had in the North-East a greater number of development districts. Of course, I view the list with some concern. Our major industries, such as coal and shipbuilding, are contracting, and we look with some hope to the future and the possible introduction of another major industry. In welcoming the possibility of new industries in the area, I suggest that the list as it stands with regard to the North-East covers the areas where our trouble is greatest.
I see the wisdom of local assistance on two main scores. First, the Government are attempting, with such assistance as is available, to render the maximum help where it is most needed. Secondly, I do not think that any of us should forget for a moment that any assistance at all depends on the country having a basically sound economy. The general financial assistance which has been suggested by certain hon. Members would undoubtedly have an inflationary effect. It is rampant inflation such as that which we have known in the past that we must avoid above all things.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
If the spending of £120 million on providing 269 work for those who are out of work is inflationary, how is that amount spent on the arms programme anti-inflationary?
§ Mr. Elliott
The arms programme, unfortunately, is something which is necessary at this time. I am suggesting, if the hon. Member can appreciate it, that such assistance as is available should go where it is most needed, and that there would be an inflationary danger in general assistance. We have the assurance of my right hon. Friend, if we needed it, that the number of new jobs which are possibly available is limited. I suggest that the Bill as it stands is, in the long term, an anti-inflationary Measure.
I suggest also that the special powers of assistance are somewhat wider than many hon. Members have suggested. Under Clause 1 (4, c)any place so situated that workers living in the development district … can conveniently work at that placewill be considered as forming part of a development district. To quote an example in the North-East, a factory on the Team Valley Trading Estate could reasonably employ people from Jarrow. Although it may be argued that a manufacturer coming to the Team Valley Trading Estate would not wish to be tied down to employing people from Jarrow, I am encouraged in the belief that no such fixed stipulation will be made and that the apparently narrow field of assistance will in due course be flexible enough to contribute to wide prosperity such an area as my own.
Anyone coming from an area like mine, which in the past experienced great unemployment although it was before my time, is thankful for the Board of Trade trading estates. The history of the North-Eastern Trading Estate Company is a splendid one and I personally wish to see a continuance of the prosperity of trading estates and their expansion ensured. Under Clause 14 of the Bill the Government have power to build on trading estates outside development districts, but this Clause does not lay down the terms under which such future development is to take place. I am very anxious that existent industrialists in areas like my own who went to the area in days of trouble and unemployment and who, by their enterprise, efforts and success, have made a certain degree of descheduling necessary 270 should not in future be left out in the cold. They should be further encouraged.
A great deal is being said at the moment in my part of the world as well as in the House about contracting major industries and possible new major industries, but I should like to say a few words in support of a smaller industry which has in its time collectively provided so much employment and can do so increasingly in the future. On our trading estates in the North-Eastern area 12,461,000 square feet of factory space is administered by the Board of Trade and 321 tenants employ 51,500 people. Government expenditure here since 1945 has been some £17 million. Last year it was £943,000. In 1959 alone there were 23 extensions to existing factories representing in that year 2,447 new jobs. Two hundred new firms have come to Tyneside since the war. In grants and loans this year they have already taken a total of £21,500, and in the current financial year £79,800 has been authorised for the clearance of fifteen derelict sites.
I suggest that although there has been a great deal of gloom in this debate about such areas as mine, this is a splendid progressive record, and as a Member representing a constituency in the North-East of England I welcome this latest Bill, which, in the words of the Amendment, is… part of a comprehensive policy for the progressive solution of the local employment problem".The danger of unemployment in northeast England, I believe, will be largely averted by the proposed concentration on the blacker spots.
§ Mr. Elliott
I fully appreciate that, but I am afraid that the hon. Member has not understood my point. It is suggested in the Bill that an area outside of a place named in the list can be included in a development district provided that it can supply employment for the named place. Surely that is clear enough.
Trading estates are doing a splendid job. I therefore wish that wherever possible in the North-East—where, I am 271 sure the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) will agree, the threat of unemployment rather than actual unemployment is our worry at the moment—that as much of the trading estates as possible can be brought within the scope of the already named development districts.
We should all realise that this list is far from being final. It is a very temporary list. We are giving assistance where it is needed, and as soon as a place has recovered either from unemployment or the threat of it the list will be amended, as the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne suggested it should be. Let us wait until the worst places are cured and then move on. I believe that this special aid will get us out of the wood and that eventually the Bill will be seen as one which has contributed to the permanent prosperity for which we are all striving.
Finally, I appeal once again to my right hon. Friend to give the fullest possible consideration to our existing industries. I should like to put a question to him. Has the moment now arrived when some consideration might be given to the development companies, or the corporations as they will now become, obtaining money from public funds on a fixed interest and return basis, or, alternatively, has the moment arrived when they might possibly borrow the money on the open market and so finance their own expansion. I suggest that every possible expansion should be encouraged towards the end of general prosperity which is so much desired in areas such as those which I represent.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)
As a native born and bred of the North-East, I regret very much the speech which we have just heard from the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. Elliott). It will not be echoed by any other hon. Member from the North-East, though my concern at the moment is not with the North-East. Incidentally, I am a little alarmed to see the new "Parliamentary Private Secretary" to the President of the Board of Trade, the right hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Thorneycroft), especially when we are discussing this topic. It sends a shudder down my spine. I hope 272 that his occupation of his present position on the bench behind the President of the Board of Trade will be as brief as was his Chancellorship of the Exchequer.
I want to refer to the situation in a part of Scotland, but before I quote some figures I want to echo the feelings of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and others about the sordid character of the debate. I fear that the Government have brought this upon themselves. I want, further, to support what has been said about the way in which the list was produced and the fact that another place will have the opportunity of having a much more rational debate on the Bill than we had, because noble Lords will have available to them the list which was denied to us.
I want the President of the Board of Trade to recall what he said in opening the debate about the criteria on which the list was formed. He mentioned three: first, the percentage of unemployment, secondly, its imminence, and thirdly, its persistence. I want to take each of those three in turn and apply it to the Cowdenbeath area, in central West Fife.
First, as to the percentage. There are on the list which has been published no fewer than 13 places which have a percentage rate of unemployment of 5 per cent. or less. Cowdenbeath has 5 per cent., and there are 993 unemployed, including 158 juveniles. In addition, 4,500 move out of that area to get work elsewhere. The hon. Lady the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) talked about a one-man industry and quoted a figure of 29 per cent., but I would remind the President of the Board of Trade that more than 70 per cent. of male employment in the Cowdenbeath area is entirely dependent on the mining industry, and a mining industry which is declining very rapidly there. The right hon. Gentleman should look at the figures for the boys and girls who are at present on the labour market in that area. Last Christmas 70 boys and 65 girls left school, and as of now 45 boys and 19 girls are still without a job.
I obtained figures from the Secretary of State for War several weeks and discovered that a very high proportion of the considerable number of men who were leaving the pits were joining the 273 Army; and what applies to the Army applies to the Armed Forces generally. Precisely because of the unemployment already there, or because it was imminent and likely to persist—in other words, precisely because of the criteria which the President of the Board of Trade mentioned—men are leaving the industry at an increasing rate, and if they are not going into the forces they are moving to the Midlands. I had the experience the other week of seeing a dozen of them on Edinburgh station going off to the Midlands because they were fearful of the consequences of the decline in the mining industry in West Fife. Therefore, unemployment there is on the percentage criterion.
On the criterion of imminence, not only is the unemployment already there, but if the President of the Board of Trade obtains the figures for individual pits—and I rather suspect that he has not had them—he will find that employment will have declined during the period from March, 1959, to December, 1960. The decline in the mining manpower in the central West Fife area will be 2,638 In other words, in a year's time there will be one-quarter fewer mining jobs in that area, which is basically a one industry area, than there are currently.
Unemployment is already there and further unemployment is certainly imminent in the next year or two and likely to persist. Could the right hon. Gentleman give us figures, such as he quoted this afternoon for Dundee, which is on the list because of some foreseeable effect in the future which will adversely affect Dundee? I want him to tell me where we are to place these men, and particularly the boys and girls, who cannot now get jobs in the area. If he can tell us where the jobs are to come from, I shall be obliged.
The Royal Naval Aircraft Repair Establishment, at Donibristle, has services and buildings which are perfectly sited for industrialists. It has been available for several months and there have been investigations, but the industrialists will not go there.
The point has been made time and again in the debate that if we get other areas in Scotland, on the list which were not previously scheduled whether far from Fife or near to it, our competitive position in West Fife will be jeopardised. 274 What, therefore, are the prospects in that area; what influenced the President in deciding against the inclusion of the Cowdenbeath area?
I want to say a brief word on the general character of the debate. I said in my opening remarks that it had been a sordid and a disagreeable debate, with Members coming along with their begging bowls. [An HON. MEMBER: "What is the alternative?"] A new light industry in Cowdenbeath making begging bowls, I suppose.
Now that everyone is coming along this will not be the last debate that we shall have on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman will be coming along with another list shortly, and if our own areas are not on it we shall have to make further representations. The President of the Board of Trade will probably again put the list in a Written Answer in HANSARD in an attempt to forestall the kind of indignation which has been expressed in this debate.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will exercise a little more discretion in the manner in which he produces these lists and that he will very soon come along with one relating particularly to the areas where the mining industry is in serious decline and where the National Coal Board can hold out no prospects for any immediate improvement in the situation; indeed, the chances are that the position will get worse rather than better in the near future.
§ 7.25 p.m.
§ Mr. Rupert Speir (Hexham)
As hon. Members have already pointed out, the President of the Board of Trade has an extremely difficult task in deciding which areas should be in the new list of development districts. I do not agree, however, with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) who said that this is a sordid debate, and that hon. Members will be coming along with their begging bowls. I hope that hon. Members will also be coming along and be able to say to the President of the Board of Trade, as I believe that certain areas can now almost say, that because of the action which the Board of Trade has taken in recent weeks, they are no longer in need of development assistance and have sufficient industry for their purpose.
275 I believe that both South Wales and Merseyside will be able to say that in the near future. Those are two areas which have had a long period of acute employment problems in this postwar period.
I wholeheartedly support the principles upon which the Local Employment Bill is based and the system under which the development districts are to be put on the official designated list. I think that it is a happy compromise between the idea that by some central planning we could have done what we are attempting to do now by this list. By central planning I think that we should have got into a state of utter confusion with the idea that "the gentlemen in Whitehall know best." It is a happy compromise between that conception and that of the local authorities and local M.P.s being allowed to put forward their views, and to have their rightful say.
I am in the fortunate position that one of the areas in my constituency, Haltwhistle, has been placed on the list—and rightly so. Haltwhistle had a long record of high unemployment in the pre-war 1930 period. It was a very depressed area indeed, and I think that if any area deserves consideration it is the smallish community of Haltwhistle. I hope, however, that if we can get one more new industry in Haltwhistle, employing up to about 500 people in the near future Haltwhistle will be able to be taken off the list.
On the other hand, I have pleaded for Prudhoe to be put on the list and I have been told that the situation there is not sufficiently serious to warrant its being put on the list. I have had the assurance from my right hon. Friend, however, that the situation will be watched very carefully. That is the point which I want to make—that this situation should be watched by the Board of Trade and that we should see changes in the list. I think that it is one of the great points about this Bill that it enables the position to be judged in a flexible way instead of labelling an area a development area for all time.
The Bill does two important and rather novel things. Under the old development area Acts it was not possible for the Board of Trade to look ahead. It could not do what the right hon. 276 Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) referred to as "forward thinking". In a matter of this kind anticipation is of great importance and this Bill will enable the Board of Trade to anticipate trouble, to look ahead, to take a stitch in time; and, by drawing up a list like this, we shall be able to take account of those areas where a high rate of unemployment is threatened even if it does not exist at the present time. Of course, if it exists at the present time it also qualifies as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) pointed out for assistance under the Bill.
I have no doubt that in the North-East there are several areas which should be added to the list at some time in the near future. I shall not go over all the ground, but we know that there are many mines to be closed in that area, in both Northumberland and Durham, and we know that the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries are threatened with short working. The whole system under this Bill is intended to be flexible, and I think that is very important because the situation can change so easily, if not from day to day, at any rate from month to month.
Another novel principle about the Local Employment Bill, and one which I welcome tremendously, is the idea that under the Bill, work shall be taken to the workers. Instead of the workers, when pits are closed, having to leave their homes, pack their bags, uproot themselves and their families and drift away, as almost inevitably they have drifted in the past, south to the Midlands or to London, the aim of the Bill is to take the work to the workers and to the areas where unemployment might develop. That should stop the terrible drift southwards, which ought to have been stopped long ago. Wherever possible in these small overcrowded islands, it is infinitely better to take the work to the workers instead of the workers having to uproot themselves.
I realise that some people—there are one or two in this House—would say that we should allow economic factors to have their full force and uninterrupted play and that this would be in the general national interest. That is certainly not my viewpoint, however, and I am glad that it is not the Government's point of view either.
277 We must face the fact that "the wind of change" is blowing here just as much as in Africa, but we should try wherever we can to temper it and control it. Fortunately, during the past twenty years, we in the North-East have had a relatively high rate of employment. It is only latterly that the fears and the threat of a return of pre-war conditions have to some extent become apparent.
In the post-war period, we have been far more fortunate than Scotland, Merseyside, South Wales or Ulster in maintaining full employment. Thus it is the fear of the future rather than the actuality of the position today which causes us concern. It is not surprising that we should suggest to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade that the list of designated areas which he has produced is one which we in the North-East will watch carefully and one which we shall ask him, too, to watch carefully.
I have not myself expressed any great surprise or indignation that we have not been successful in attracting one of the new sections of the motor-car industry to the North-East. I do not complain on that score, because Merseyside and South Wales have had a far more acute employment problem and have had it far longer. I realise that there must be fair shares on a national basis. In any event, the motor industry is itself very much subject to booms and slumps. Its labour relations, too, are not of the best, whereas we in Tyneside have had a wonderful record in the maintenance of good labour relations. I would say that our record is the best in Britain, and second to none.
If, however, we are not to get a motor-car factory, we deserve special consideration for smaller factories. Personally, I would welcome a dozen or a score of factories employing up to, say, 1,000 to 2,000 people, rather than one vast factory, employing 20,000, which would cause difficulties from planning, social and general transport viewpoints. Nothing would be nicer than to have a dozen or so smaller factories, which could be dotted about the North-East in the areas where we know the mines are to be closed.
I know full well that the Board of Trade cannot actually direct industry or labour, but, on the other hand, we realise that the Board of Trade today has some 278 immense powers. Its powers of persuasion, both positive and negative, are now considerable. We thank my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade for his efforts in trying to bring part of the motor industry to Tyneside, but we realise the difficulties that were in his way. Now that that project has apparently failed, however, we ask him to do his best to ensure that other industries are directed to this declining mining area.
§ Mr. Robens
Would the hon. Member agree that the President of the Board of Trade is not able to offer anything unless he includes Northumberland on the list?
§ Mr. Speir
I do not accept that at all. There is no need to put the whole county on the list. Some areas are on the list. The right hon. Gentleman knows well that if other areas are within travelling distance of the designated areas, they can get assistance under the Bill, too. I believe, therefore, that it would be quite possible to provide employment in the North-East without, at present adding to the list. The right hon. Member for Blyth was not, I think, present earlier, however, when I said that we in the North-East would watch the list carefully and that undoubtedly there would be places that we would want added to the list soon because of the impending closure of more mines.
To conclude, I would only add that these coalmining areas have done much for Britain and have hitherto asked little in return. For that reason, they are deserving of the highest consideration.
§ 7.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Harry Randall (Gateshead, West)
The speech of the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) was much more agreeable than the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott). At least the hon. Member for Hexham seemed to have an appreciation of the situation as well as an understanding of the problem that faces us in the North-East. I disagree, however, with the hon. Member that the list of places so far designated goes anything like far enough to give the North-East its proper entitlement.
This is one of those debates which call for short speeches by hon. Members. It 279 has been said that we are engaged in a sordid business, but it is inevitable that in a debate of this nature we should refer to the difficulties and problems of our constituencies. I simply do not understand the criterion used by the President of the Board of Trade in determining the various places throughout the country that need assistance.
In the light of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, however, I am a little optimistic about what may happen concerning Gateshead. The right hon. Gentleman promised to listen to the debate and said that in the light of it, he would be prepared to think again. I welcome also his comment that he was very much concerned about the North-East. He made what I regarded as an important statement when he said that the percentage figure he had in mind was nearer 4½ per cent. than 5 per cent. I will explain why I regarded that as important.
For the last twelve months, Gateshead has had a high unemployment figure. We have had 1,640 men wholly unemployed. This has been going on for probably something like twelve months. In Gateshead there are only 167 vacancies. This means that ten men are chasing each vacancy registered at the employment exchange. This is a serious situation. There have been eight, nine or ten men chasing one job for the last twelve months.
The other day I asked the President of the Board of Trade to tell me why Gateshead is not included in the list. The reply I received stated that it is not a locality in which a persistently high rate of unemployment exists or is expected. I could not accept that answer, which I regarded as most unsatisfactory, and I tell the right hon. Gentleman that my constituents are most unhappy about it. I am fortified in my opinion now that I have seen the list of places selected. In going through the list I have found that in twelve the conditions are comparable with those in Gateshead and district. Gateshead is included in a district which combines Blaydon, Felling and Prudhoe, where the percentage of unemployment is 4.3. There are twelve on the list which are either just below or just above that percentage, and the numbers of unemployed are also nearly comparable.
280 For instance, Bishop Auckland with 2,197 unemployed has a percentage of 4.5; West Cumberland with 2,082 unemployed has a percentage of 4.2; Bathgate with 1,356 unemployed has a percentage of 4.8 and Llanelly, with 1,657 unemployed has a percentage of 4. The number of unemployed in Gateshead and District at present is approximately 2,920 and the percentage is 4.3 as I have said.
§ Mr. Randall
I am talking about Gateshead and district, which includes Prudhoe, Felling and Blaydon.
§ Mr. Randall
I have in my hand a communication in which I am told that unemployment in the Gateshead district is 4.3 per cent., which suggests that I should urge the Minister to look again at Gateshead and district.
I do not wish to detain the House but I want the President of the Board of Trade to realise that this has had repercussions already. One hon. Member referred to the Team Valley Trading Estate. One firm on that estate wishes to extend its factory space by 50,000 sq. ft. It already uses 70,000 sq. ft. It is a good firm; it began on the trading estate and now going into the American market, yet because of the decision made under the Bill no assistance can be given to it. I give the name to the Minister—Smith's Electric Vehicles. The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) knows the firm well, and I am sure she is interested—
§ Mr. Randall
Then I hope that as a result of what I have been able to say today, together with the representations made by the hon. Lady, something will be done. I join with my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) 281 in saying that firms not included in the list have the right to receive assistance under D.A.T.A.C. until at least 1st April, in which case this firm would benefit. Another firm wants 7,000 sq. ft. on the Team Valley Trading Estate. That, too, is to be denied. I say to the Minister, therefore, that there is a strong case for reconsidering the Gateshead position.
Finally, I will give some more facts for the Minister to think about. Over the weekend I made some inquiries and found that the position will get worse in Gateshead. I understand that 100 men employed by Wright Anderson have been paid off since Christmas. At Clarke Chapman's a considerable number have been paid off and the prefab shop has been closed. In addition, the Close Works are now slowing down and nightshift working has stopped. Furthermore, the 50 per cent. of our men who are wholly unemployed have been in that position for periods of from nine to more than twenty-six weeks. So there is a solid, hard core of unemployed men and I believe that there is a strong case for Gateshead and district to be reconsidered.
I apologise for pleading on behalf of my constituency, but I should have been criticised had I not mentioned to the House how desperate is the situation there and that my constituents feel that they should be included in the list.
§ 7.46 p.m.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
I am a political child of the 1930s, and I fully realise that I tend to over-emphasise the difficulties. Indeed, when I was listening to my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir), who rightly pointed out some of the problems of Merseyside and Scotland, my mind went back to the thirties when the whole of Lancashire, including the Merseyside, was in a much better position as regards unemployment than the North-East Coast.
The North-East Coast and South Wales were the first two areas in the country where the experiment of the trading estates was started. In spite of all my many criticisms I remain a very devoted adherent to the Conservative philosophy, and I want to remind the House that whereas my hon. Friends talk about the post-war period, I talk about the pre-war period. I remember that it was the Conservative 282 Party which first conceived the scheme for providing industry as widely and as profitably as possible, both for those who could provide the capital and those who could carry out the work. Although I have certain criticisms to make, I am proud to recall that this conception found its being and roots in the Conservative philosophy of the 'thirties.
§ Mr. Robens
I only said that it was the Jarrow march to London which forced the Conservative Government of the day to do something. The hon. Lady must not take pride in the Conservative philosophy for that.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I do not want to enter into a controversy about the Prime Minister of the day, but I am always delighted to pay a tribute to Mr. Baldwin, who, long before the trading estate project came into being, was doing what he could, because he believed in full employment, to conceive an idea which would help to solve the problem with which we were faced. If the right hon. Gentleman likes to try to draw my blood, I will remind him that I twice defeated the first Socialist Cabinet Minister, Miss Margaret Bond-field, so I would suggest that we now leave this argument.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
On a point of order. Has this anything to do with the subject under debate?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
I am bound to say that I was beginning to think along those lines myself.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I promised that if I intervened in the debate I would be fairly short, and I shall keep my word. There are only three points I want to make. First, I think that those who have struggled to try to attract good industrialists into any of the areas which have 283 come under discussion will realise that all sorts of problems arise. When industrialists are selecting a new site for expanding, or attracting, or bringing a new industry into an area, that site has to be the best they can find within the vicinity. There may be a question of water, and there certainly is one of communications. There may be the need for quick access to ports to serve overseas markets.
I feel that the Local Employment Bill is slightly amateur in that it is just drawing a little circle round an area suffering from unemployment, and that we may fail to attract industrialists, for they are very choosey and demand very high standards. I think that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has rather restricted some of the areas which might attract good industrialists by putting this fence around those which have a high level of unemployment. I genuinely believe that and, therefore, I repeat that I believe the Bill to be amateur.
I come to my next point. I hope that my right hon. Friend will forgive me, but when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) was talking about the contracting mining industry in Northumberland—and I agreed with what he said—I was a little alarmed to hear my right hon. Friend say that the displaced miners or their children—who are very important—might find employment in Whitley Bay and North Shields. Whitley Bay is not an industrial area at all. We have a very small amount of industry there and the population has above the average number of retired people. I do not know where these vigorous, vital, first-class young children from the mining areas will find employment in Whitley Bay. In North Shields we have the biggest ship-repairing centre in the world and though we have a first-class trading estate, there is considerable unemployment. I do not think that my right hon. Friend made the happiest of suggestions. Perhaps he will look at this again.
My next point is perhaps the most important of all. I think my right hon. Friend has already had his attention drawn to it. It concerns the views of the ship repairers. I will read only one or two extracts from their letter to the Minister of Transport. As I tried to 284 indicate at Question Time last week, the ship repairers have to make their objections to this Bill to the Ministry of Transport, which then has to channel them to my right hon. Friend. As I have no great idea of the speed with which Government Departments co-operate, it may well be that their letter to the Ministry of Transport has not yet reached the Board of Trade.
I think it only right that I should mention this point. What I am about to say is the considered opinion of the ship repairers all over the country who, of course, are co-ordinated as a body in one central council. They are speaking for the whole of the industry, though some of the ship-repairing yards come within the Bill and some do not.
It may surprise my right hon. Friend to know that the ship repairers were quite pleased with the original intervention I made last December on their behalf and the pledge given by him. I will not read many extracts, but this is the letter sent by the secretary of the Dry Dock Owners and Repairers' Central Council to the appropriate official at the Ministry of Transport.You will see that Dame Irene Ward obtained from the President of the Board of Trade a satisfactory assurance about the position of dry docks in relation to the Local Employment Bill as it stood at the Committee stage.I had a very nice letter from the secretary thanking me and, through me, my right hon. Friend for giving that assurance. The letter goes on:Since then—on the Report stage—the Government have amended Clause 1 dealing with the purpose of the legislation, to meet points raised by the Opposition in Committee.The letter goes on to give an extract from HANSARD of 3rd February, 1960, quoting the President of the Board of Trade as saying:Many hon. Members spoke about that in Committee and argued that there will be required within development districts not merely the provision of employment, but the provision of what is likely to be lasting employment. They argued that it was, therefore, a mistake to provide in an area highly dependent on one industry further employment in that industry. I accept that as a valid argument."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1960; Vol. 616, c. 1008.]The ship repairers go on to say:The words underlined do not seem to match up very well from the ship repairers' 285 point of view with the assurance given by the President of the Board of Trade in December last. We read it as indicating that an application for a loan or grant for a dry dock project would have little or no chance in face of an application for helping some new branch of industry seeking to come into a ship repairing district.I will not trouble the House with all the correspondence, for my right hon. Friend will be able to obtain it from the Ministry of Transport. But ship repairing is the main industry in my constituency and he would be less than surprised if I did not feel very perturbed that the ship repairers' council, speaking for the whole of the dry docks in the country, has felt it necessary to indicate that the assurance which, at its request, I obtained last December, seems to have been vitiated by my right hon. Friend in trying to meet a point which was raised by the Opposition.
I do not want to be unduly controversial, but it seems rather extraordinary that the Opposition, in their desire to help—because we do not regard this any more than they do as a political question, for we all want to do the best we can for the country as a whole—and in exercising their right to express their anxieties about this Bill, should have been the ones to have forced the Government to accept an Amendment which has had such a poor response from the dry dock owners who, in my constituency, form the major basic industry there.
§ Dame Irene Ward
I will not pursue the matter further, but I think that my right hon. Friend will agree with me that it is fit and proper that in this very important matter I should have it on record that the ship repairers are somewhat apprehensive about what is to happen to their industry. In North Shields, the main industrial part of my constituency, we are dependent on ship-repairing docks for the provision of stable employment. Indeed, we are now embarking on a major reconstruction during a time when ships for repair are rather hard to come by. I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to deal with this matter when he replies to the debate because, much as I should regret it, much 286 as I believe in Conservative policy, I should have to vote against the Government unless I could have an absolute assurance that this matter would be straightened out, perhaps in another place.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Idwal Jones (Wrexham)
I shall confine my observations entirely to the Wrexham division, a division which I have known from my childhood, in which I have lived all my life, which I know very well, which I have the honour to represent and which is one of the casualties of this legislation.
I have to inform the House that there is a very bitter feeling in Wrexham which arises from a keen sense of disappointment. Among the leading citizens of the area there is a feeling of baffling frustration which I now feel compelled to voice. Wrexham expected and had reason to expect better treatment, but that better treatment has been denied us.
Perhaps the House will allow me for a moment briefly to describe the area industrially and geographically. It is primarily based on the coal mining industry, with the steel, chemicals, brick and tile manufactures as subsidiary heavy industries. My area has known hard times. It has experienced the vicissitudes of trade fluctuations and depressions. I have seen the hard times. I have seen them in schools and what I have seen is no credit to the Governments of the inter-war period. I know what it was during that awful period to see children in school collapsing because of under nourishment. We saw colliery after colliery closing down, until at last we had only four in the division.
Fortunately, in 1947, the area was scheduled under the Distribution of Industries Act, 1945, and the economic landscape of the area changed. New industries came into the industrial estate. There was diversification of industry and a very much better balanced economy in the area. Local authorities played their part magnificently. Whatever they could do to encourage the introduction of industries they did. They built houses as occasion demanded.
Not only did the local authorities help in that way, but the local education authority played its part exceptionally well. For example, in Wrexham we 287 have the expanded technical college, the biggest in North Wales, supported by industrialists and by trade unions. People in every home throughout the Wrexham area are familiar with the Wrexham Technical College, for it is something of which we are proud. It does not matter into what home in Wrexham one goes, one will find that everyone is well informed about that education institution.
In other words, the whole area has geared itself to being a balanced industrial district, but—and the "but" makes a big difference—conditions have not been so good for the past eight or nine years, especially in certain industries. For example, some brick works have closed down permanently and 1,100 miners in our newest colliery, Llay Main Colliery, have been rendered redundant.
We have four large grammar schools with about 800 pupils each and eight large secondary modern schools within six miles of Wrexham. There is a problem of finding school leavers suitable employment, not blind alley employment, but employment leading to a career which those boys and girls have a right to expect.
We hold conferences in the district and many wise observations are made. We have education experts and technologists making excellent speeches and there are other fine contributions. But all those discussions do not add up to an answer, because the answer can be given by one person only in one Ministry only—the President of the Board of Trade. If he does not provide the answer no one can.
What has he done on this occasion? He has given us a negative answer, and, as we all know, we can never build on a negative. He has removed Wrexham from the list. Although the Distribution of Industries Act, 1945, was suspended since 1952, we believed that we would get something from the Distribution of Industries Act, 1958, under which Wrexham was scheduled. As the Government are aware, 60 acres of land on the trading estate were cleared in the past year and there are other excellent sites in the Wrexham area. Wrexham was led to expect that something would follow.
288 Something did follow. Industries never came, but this Bill came and Wrexham was removed from the list. It was very difficult before, but with one stroke of a broad-nibbed pen the name of Wrexham was removed from the list, and if my experience of pen writing counts for anything, I know that it has left behind a big blot as well. Why? Is there no unemployment in Wrexham? I admit that we do not have 4 per cent. unemployment, but we have 3.9 per cent. We are not one degree under, but we are .1 per cent. under—one per 1,000. Are my mathematics correct when I say that if we had 30 more unemployed, we would have 4 per cent. and that if we had those 30 to 40 more unemployed, the Wrexham area would be eligible to be on the list?
Here is an example of a complete lack of imagination; of crucifying the prosperity of the district on a decimal point. On one occasion we had an eminent statesman in the House who bore an illustrious name and who held the high office of Chancellor of the Exchequer. He asked his staff to send him the estimates, and he saw the decimal points in the estimates and asked "What are these damned little dots?" I am sure that he knew that they were decimal points, but he felt that on one occasion that question should be asked. Is Wrexham to suffer because of 0.1 of a decimal point? When I was in school—and I spent fifty years in school—children were always taught to correct decimals to the nearest full number. Can the President of the Board of Trade correct 3.9 per cent. to the nearest whole number, make it 4 per cent., and bring Wrexham back to the list?
That is all I wish to say, and I am thankful for the attention that I have received.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Marshall (Bodmin)
I do not wish to detain the House for very long. I want to put one point to the President of the Board of Trade and to the Parliamentary Secretary and I hope that the Ministers now on the Front Bench will pass it on to one of them.
Hon. Members probably thought at the time of the General Election that the Bill which the Government suggested that they would introduce, should they be returned, would be helpful. It is true 289 that during the General Election one may be challenged about points that parties put forward, but no one could conceivably consider that a Bill that had that intention and that objective would be anything but helpful. Furthermore, if one took the voices of the House, in spite of the disagreements which from time to time crystallise between us, we would say that the House as a whole loathes and detests what unemployment means in the United Kingdom.
Consequently, it is the wish of the House, wherever possible, to see that the free men and women of Britain have the right and the opportunity to earn their keep and the respect which automatically goes with it.
§ Mr. Marshall
I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. Never at any time in the history of our people have so many people had the opportunities that they have had over the last fifteen years, and I am including a period covered by both a Socialist and a Conservative Government.
§ Mr. Marshall
It may well be that there are still a lot of people who are sick. These matters arise from time to time but, as a whole, the House wishes to abolish unemployment.
During the General Election I was glad that that was part of the Conservative policy, and I said so on many occasions.
I have had the honour, not for the fifteen years that I have been in this House, but for ten years, to represent the area of Gunnislake. There was an alteration in the boundaries in 1950, and that accounts for the five-year discrepancy. Gunnislake is one of those very difficult places to deal with when one is considering employment. During the war, as every hon. Member knows, our difficulty was due to having insufficient people to deal with the many and varied problems that beset us. In spite of that, there was considerable unemployment in this area, and at one point during the war the figure of unemployment rose to over 7 per cent.
290 Part of this hangover goes back many years to the collapse of the mining development of that area. It was no longer profitable. At least, it will no longer be profitable until Her Majesty's Government see how right I am over the new Clauses that I have put down to past Finance Bills and which they have refused to accept; but that is another matter.
I felt that the Bill would undoubtedly aid this area which, at that time, had an unemployment figure varying between 13 and 15 per cent. Although it was included in the D.A.T.A.C. area the different impacts that would be caused by the Bill would help it further.
I never thought for one moment that that would not be the case. Imagine, then, my complete surprise, and the horror of the Gunnislake industrial committee that was set up and worked hard for many years, to find this area left out of the list. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government might argue—it is conceivable that they might—that a reasonable number of the people living within this area earn their living in Plymouth, and that, therefore, whatever the Government decide for that area, Plymouth should be treated in the same way.
That might be the argument, but it has no validity. As the crow flies the distance between those two areas is not very great, but we are not crows. We have to cross waters, bridges, roads, and a railway which is southern in one area and western in the other, and they do not connect. It is true to say that because this area has been one of unemployment for a long time people, naturally, have gone where employment is available, but, at the same time, it is equally true that they have gone because no employment has been available in Gunnislake. That is the main reason for them leaving.
For a long time we have been trying to attract light industry. Every President of the Board of Trade for the last ten years has tried to attract industry to this area, and I am grateful for the assistance that they have given to try to accomplish this, but this does not appear to be the moment to leave out an area which has an unemployment figure of 13 to 15 per cent.
If the Government use the argument that I have suggested, the argument of Plymouth in relation to Gunnislake, they should use a different argument for 291 Plymouth, because I am certain that hon. Members will agree that in that case we should add the average of Gunnislake to the average of Plymouth, and that brings Plymouth into it. That cannot be a valid argument. They have left out Saltash as well.
I trust that what I am about to say will be passed to the Parliamentary Secretary for reply this evening. It is true that no difference will be made in the D.A.T.A.C. areas until 1st April. Consequently, I hope that Her Majesty's Government will realise that areas which have from 13 per cent. to 15 per cent. unemployment come within the Bill and that by 1st April—or, if they do not like that date, 2nd April—they will include the area of Gunnislake.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)
I am pleased that I have been given the opportunity to make a contribution to this very important debate. I shall refer only to my constituency, and I shall be brief. I want to dissociate myself from the observations made by the President of the Board of Trade to the effect that North-East Lancashire has nothing to complain of. It would be as well to look at the background to the situation in north-east Lancashire before considering what is happening today. It must be emphasised that in the early post-war years areas in that part of the country were denied industrial diversification because we desperately wanted cotton. That was a blow, and this is another, and we must bear that in mind.
In Burnley the present situation gives quite a false impression. The need to complete orders before next March has created a false boom, but reliable opinion has it that unemployment will definitely increase abruptly when this false boom ends. In Burnley, Colne, Nelson and Padiham—areas which are closely linked—no less than 92 mills will close by March of April, and about 6,850 people will be affected. That time is only just around the corner, because we are already in February.
The ability of those mills which will operate beyond March to absorb any of those people will be very limited, since only mills with automatic machinery will be able to do shift work. This is in agreement with the trade unions. The Cotton 292 Board and the Government are optimistic in their forecast that this shift work will absorb a great number of workers. I think that they will be very disappointed.
The position in the coal field near Burnley gives rise to a measure of anxiety. In 1949 no fewer than 464 people were lost to the industry, and it is reliably estimated that another 400 will leave this year. As one of my hon. Friends has observed, it is the young people who are leaving this industry. It is not unreasonable to say that this may impose an additional burden upon the Coal Board, which cannot afford to lose the younger elements in its employ.
The bulge of school leavers will aggravate the situation in Burnley. In 1960, about 2,571 will become available for industry, and by 1962 the figure will have risen to 3,571. I suggest that that will cause increased anxiety. I am dismayed at the thought that the position might become even worse as a result of the limitation now put upon the protection afforded the textile trade by agreement with Commonwealth countries. That, together with the effects of American competition, might put existing textile firms in jeopardy.
I want to put three questions to the Minister. Firstly, will industry be prevented from going to Burnley, or will the expansion of existing firms be vetoed? Earlier in the debate the right hon. Gentleman gave assurances that such would not be the case, but I should like to have those assurances repeated. Secondly, what is to happen in the case of improvement schemes which have been put forward under previous legislation but of which no advantage has been taken? Can such cases be considered for Government assistance? Thirdly, what financial assistance can local authorities expect in transforming old textile mills into factories suitable for modern industrial requirements?
The Minister has said—probably, with wisdom, according to him—that if there are not enough jobs to go round these areas cannot be satisfied. I ask the House how wrong I am when I say that if a conscientious and imaginative attack were made upon the whole situation this problem could be solved.
One school of thought is of the opinion that we are wasting over £500 million annually through our inability 293 to provide a proper road transport system. I hold the opinion that if every town were bypassed and if an underground car park were provided for every town it would provide a substantial contribution in terms of work, and that cannot be disputed. The building industry and the constructional engineers are ready to deal with the problem, and I suggest that if the Government are in earnest about tackling this serious problem the remedy is at hand if they desire to adopt it.
§ 8.30 p.m.
§ Mr. Percy Browne (Torrington)
The right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) said that he hoped he would hear something from this side of the House and I replied that he would, but I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman was aware of who had spoken.
§ Mr. Browne
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman thinks that he has heard something. I disagree with him in that I believe that this matter of priorities is an essential feature of the list. While I am bitterly disappointed because part of my constituency, which was in a D.A.T.A.C. area, does not appear on the list, I recognise that we must have priorities. As my right hon. Friend knows, I have been doing my best to persuade him that we warrant being included on the list.
§ Mr. Robens
The only difference between us is that the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. P. Browne) thinks that his right hon. Friend has got his priorities right, but we do not think that he has.
§ Mr. Browne
The right hon. Gentleman is quite correct.
There are some complaints which I wish to make about the list. I feel that the word "seasonal", which was written into the Bill and which we thought would mean a great deal to those of us living in coastal towns, has turned out to mean practically nothing that was not already included in previous legislation. In other words, it is merely a legalising of the present position, the averaging of the previous year's unemployment figures. It does not take account of any specific figure in any one month.
To me, this is particularly disappointing because of the words used by my 294 right hon. Friend on 2nd December, 1959, during the Committee stage discussions on this Bill. I would quote them to the House were it not for the fact that there are a number of other hon. Members who wish to speak. In answer to a Written Question which I put to him about seasonal unemployment, my right hon. Friend said:It includes a number of places where unemployment fluctuated seasonally."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th February, 1960; Vol. 617, c. 149.]My answer is that it leaves out a great many more. I believe that it is a pity, if this word "seasonal" is to mean something, that these places which have been D.A.T.A.C. areas, and which have now exactly similar figures of unemployment this year as at the same time last year, should now be off the list.
Like so many other hon. Members who have spoken, I must be parochial, I quote the town of Bideford as an example. It was included on the D.A.T.A.C. list in January, 1959, with a percentage figure of unemployed at that date of 4.5 per cent. On 12th January this year the figure was the same. To be exact, there was a drop of 16 in the number of unemployed. Yet it is off the list. This is one of those areas to which my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) referred when he spoke about rich hoteliers who grow fat in the summer and spend their holidays in the South of France. People working in hotels do not receive inflationary wages in the summer. They are the people who have increased our unemployment figure to double what it was last July and I can assure the House that they are not now cruising in the Mediterranean.
I do not wish to repeat what I said in my maiden speech, mainly because to do so would remind me of that frightening occasion. But it is true to say that in rural areas unemployment is cloaked by the gradual erosion of the population from the countryside. There are problems which are peculiar to isolated districts where work must be created on the spot. People cannot go to other areas to work because of the difficulties of transport, and so on, and unless we have a diversity of opportunity we shall not be able to retain in our part of the country the young people about whom so much has been said in this debate. Places 295 which have been on the D.A.T.A.C. list only fairly recently have not had time to get the full benefit of being on the list. In our case it has taken about nine months to get a firm interested, and it seems to take another six months to get the necessary application through the Government Departments.
I ask my right hon. Friend to reconsider his list from this point of view. He might include those places which were only fairly recently put on the D.A.T.A.C. list, even if only for another six months, giving warning when he put them on that he might have to take them off fairly soon if, as we hope, the unemployment figures drop. That would give us a chance to continue to attract an increase in light industry which we have done in our part of the country as a result of being a D.A.T.A.C. area. I am afraid that our exclusion from the list may nullify the good which has already been done and that we may qualify under the phrase "imminent" in the autumn as a result of the delay meanwhile.
I ask my right hon. Friend that he should leave those places on the list. I ask that he should all the time reconsider the situation in places such as Bideford and that the moment its unemployment figure rises at all he should put it on his new list.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ The Rev. Llywelyn Williams (Abertillery)
We have been discussing today the very worst feature of the Local Employment Bill. All the arguments which have been adduced in the debate are the inevitable consequences of the Government's determination, in the first instance, to change what I thought was a very workable arrangement of thinking in terms of developing industry within development areas. I heard the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade at the Box in a debate some time ago say that in development areas there were localities which did not need any assistance. He said that administratively, therefore, we did nothing whatever to help them.
The debate has been rather unbecoming and indecorous to the House in the sense that it has been a scramble amongst hon. Members arising from the simple fact that the Government did not 296 adhere to that first arrangement which we had under the Distribution of Industry Acts. Inevitably we have found ourselves ranged one against the other. Every speech today has been a constituency speech. That is not the House of Commons at its best, and yet we must do it. We cannot do otherwise. For the life of me, I cannot understand, nor can other hon. Members, why some areas are included in the list and others, which as mortals we think have quite as much justification, or more justification, for inclusion, are in fact excluded.
It may be that I am a very suspicious-minded fellow, and if I am wrong in my suspicion no doubt the Minister will put me right, but I suspect that hon. Members on both sides of the House have been going behind the scenes to see the President of the Board of Trade and that they have put pressure on him to have their areas included in the list. That is very unworthy of a deliberative Chamber such as the House of Commons, and it creates bad feeling.
§ Mr. S. O. Davies (Merthyr Tydvil)
I represent a constituency included in the list. Does my hon. Friend suggest that I have been behind the scenes or that it is my habit to go behind the scenes to cajole, browbeat or blackmail Ministers to do anything which I want done? Unemployment in Merthyr Tydvil has been running between 4½ and 5½ per cent. for over four years.
§ The Rev. Ll. Williams
I do not accuse my hon. Friend the Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. S. O. Davies) of having done it. What I am saying is that I have to look for some explanation. I cannot understand why localities having a continuous unemployment percentage figure no higher than the unemployment percentage figure in a large part of my constituency should be included in the list and yet my constituency is excluded.
If one is suspicious in one's thinking, one is rather inclined at least to think that there has been a little chat somewhere behind the scenes. The Minister may think that this is an impertinent question, but I think that it is very pertinent because many questions have been left unresolved in our minds. I hope that when he winds up for the Government tonight he will give a categorical assurance that that is not so, and that 297 no preference has been given to any locality because of pressure brought to bear on him by hon. Members on either side.
I notice that Monmouthshire, with the exception of Blackwood, is excluded from the list. Monmouthshire is a very mixed industrial type of county. The argument is, "Why worry about Monmouthshire? Look how prosperous the Newport area is. The coastal area of South Monmouth will be one of the most prosperous areas in Britain in the very near future. The huge steel works at Llanwern is now in process of being erected, and this will absorb a tremendous amount of unemployment which now exists in the county".
I am not satisfied about that. I am not so much concerned with the southern part of Monmouthshire, which I readily admit is doing very well. There is prosperity there. Its future prospects are very bright indeed. I am concerned about the tops of the valleys, the old industrial part of Monmouthshire—Tredegar, Rhymney, Nantyglo and Blaenavon, represented by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse). In those areas there is, and has been for a long time, a hard core, a solid nucleus, of disabled workmen who cannot, in the very nature of things, be expected to be re-engaged in such a heavy industry as mining and for whom there are very few facilities for a lighter type of employment.
I do not want to start any warfare between Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, but in Glamorganshire there are four trading estates. In the west there is Fforestfach. In mid-Glamorgan there is the Bridgend Trading Estate. In North Glamorgan there is the Hirwaun Trading Estate. In East Glamorgan there is the Treforest Trading Estate. In Monmouthshire there is no trading estate, and Llanwern is not the answer for the tops of the valleys.
The transportation is incredible. Abertillery is only 16 miles from Newport, but there are sixteen railway stations between them. What sort of transportation system is that? The journey by rail from Abertillery to Newport takes one and a quarter hours, and then there are another five miles to go to Llanwern. It is one of the most difficult areas in South Wales for easy communication. Disabled people whose 298 disability is largely respiratory because of pneumoconiosis cannot be expected in our winters, which are very different from London winters, to undertake that journey every day to Llanwern in the hope of being re-employed.
I beg the Minister to have another look at this question. My final point was very effectively made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens). I underline very strongly what he said. Even assuming that we have not, as is admitted, as strong a case on grounds of unemployment alone as have some localities in the new list, we are very concerned about that part of the Bill which deals with lack of amenities—with slag heaps and pit heaps. We are excluded from the benefit of that part of the Bill.
I ask, as my right hon. Friend asked, for some Government assurance that notwithstanding the inevitably circumscribed distribution of industry envisaged in the application of the Bill, we shall be allowed some assistance under that part of the Bill which deals with the clearance of slag heaps and pit heaps, those shocking ruins of the industrial system of yesteryear. I make my protest very strongly, and I again ask the Minister to give the House an assurance that over the allocation of these places on the list there has not been any backstairs intrigue.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Fergus Montgomery (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East)
I know that some of my hon. Friends from the North-East have spoken recently in this debate, but as I had to visit someone in hospital during the last hour I missed those speeches. I hope that the House will accept my apology if I repeat some of the points they made.
I have lived since I was born in the constituency represented by the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough), who, although I have consistently voted against him, has as consistently been returned to this House. We had mass unemployment in Jarrow during the inter-war years, and nobody can really understand what unemployment means unless he has actually experienced it, or seen it at close quarters.
When I was a child, my father, like thousands of other people in that area, was out of work. That meant that my 299 mother, my father and I had to live on a little over £1 a week. Those were very dark days, indeed, and days that I hope will never again return to this country. The great horror of unemployment is for an able-bodied man who wants work and who tries to find it but is unsuccessful. In a way, that must be a living death for that man. Unemployment is a social evil that must be stamped out by whatever means we have at our disposal.
I want to raise the voice of the North-East, because I feel that that area deserves more attention from the Board of Trade. There, as has already been mentioned, we depend very largely on two main industries, coal and shipbuilding. We have a recession in coal mining, whilst the outlook for shipbuilding is not as bright as we would like to see. I am very concerned that the north-eastern part of the country is now running third in the unemployment stakes. Only in Northern Ireland and in Scotland are the unemployment percentages higher.
It is, therefore, all the more urgent that new industries should come to the North-East, and we are entitled to ask exactly what the Board of Trade is doing to provide them. It is said that when car manufacturers looked over the North-East with a view to expanding there, they were not shown one of the sites that many of us think would have been very suitable for them. If that is the case, the North-East is entitled to an explanation.
An article in yesterday's Daily Express stated that the Ford concern was not now as happy as it was at the prospect of expanding on Merseyside. If that concern decides not to expand there, can we have some assurance that they will again look at the North-East and, in particular, at the Seaton Valley site? If the Ford concern is to settle on Merseyside and other car firms may, perhaps, wish to expand there, they should be asked to consider the North-East before making up their minds.
What is wrong with the North-East? Why must we always be regarded as the forgotten area? Are our communications unsatisfactory? Is our road system not as good as it should be? If so, I urge the Minister of Transport to give us priority so that new roads may 300 be built in our area to enable us to attract new industries to the North-East.
Does the North-East present an unattractive image to industrialists? Do they fear the rigours of the climate? We are a hardy people in the North-East. Perhaps the tales of pre-war unemployment and the atmosphere of depression and gloom of those days are what influence industrialists against expanding in the North-East. If that is the reason, they are entirely wrong. I know many people who have moved to the North-East to do a job who hated the prospect in the first place because they thought they were going to the back of beyond, but, once they settled there, they grew to love the place and in fact, became part of it.
§ Mr. Montgomery
Not likely. I believe that north-eastern England is an ideal area for expansion because the years of unemployment we have experienced will make us very grateful for any new industries we are able to attract there. We have a record of excellent labour relations. No one finds any "screwy" strikes taking place in the North-East. We have, I believe, the best workers in the country. Our ports are very favourably placed, particularly for exporting to Scandinavia and Russia.
Why has the North-East been a neglected area? Perhaps we should, as an area, take the initiative ourselves. During the past few months our local newspapers have been proclaiming that there should be one man whose job it would be to go out to find industries planning to expand and try to "sell" to them the idea of moving to the North-East. I believe that the Government also have their responsibilities. Whilst I am delighted that the President of the Board of Trade is to visit us in the North-East, I do not believe that it is enough for him just to visit us and then forget us.
When my right hon. Friend is there, he will find that I have not been speaking tonight merely as a patriot of the North-East, but that what I have said about my area is absolutely true. We look forward with some hope to his visit, and, if there comes out of it a 301 greater understanding in the Board of Trade of the problems of the North-East, his visit will be extremely worth while.
I urge my right hon. Friend to do all he can to persuade industries to move to our area and thereby help to remove the dread of unemployment which has been with us continually in the North-East of England for the last twenty or thirty years.
§ 8.54 p.m.
§ Mr. William Ross (Kilmarnock)
This has been a very strange debate. At times it has been flattering to the President of the Board of Trade and, at other times, it has been very disappointing. It has been strange because we have heard hon. Members opposite speaking on the subject for the first time and talking about a Bill and an Act, although we have not yet got an Act. It is still a Bill. We are here dealing with one of the administrative provisions of something which is not even on the Statute Book. If there is one lesson to be learnt, it is that it would have been far better if this matter had been incorporated within the actual legislation itself, thus enabling us not to make single speeches or brave speeches such as the one we have just heard from the hon. Member far Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery), rather late—
§ Mr. Ross
This debate has at times been flattering to the President of the Board of Trade because there have been speeches from this side of the House—on which there was not undiluted praise for his Bill when it was passing through this Chamber—which seemed now to indicate that there is considerable value in getting one's area on to the list. One 302 would almost think that a new car industry was to be handed out to every place on this list—from Bishop Auckland to Whitby, from Aberdeen to Stranraer and from Ammanford to Rhyl—as a result of persuading the President of the Board of Trade. He knows that the easiest thing is to draw up a list. The most difficult thing is to get anything done. I am not therefore handing out any bouquets.
It is also a disappointment to the right hon. Gentleman that for the first time we have had voices from his side of the House raised against the Government in this matter. I do not know how many speeches the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East has made—
§ Mr. Ross
—but it was not our fault that we were kept up during Second Reading, the Committee stage and Report Stage in this House. The Scots were blamed for this. The Scots should be praised for it. Now the silent supporters have become critics because they realise that they should have had something out of the Bill. There is a certain measure of retribution in view of the way that the President of the Board of Trade dealt with the Bill in the Committee. There will not be an end to the matter tonight, because obviously we shall have Adjournment debates on unemployment.
I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman about the position in Scotland. Scotland has not done too badly in relation to the number of areas, but if the localities are extended—and there is a limited amount to work with—the assistance will be spread pretty thinly. There are places in the list which will wait a long time before they get any assistance, if any. This is one of the weaknesses of the Bill, as I said in Committee. As the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) said, rings have been drawn round small places which have then been put on the list whereas the matter could have been dealt with much more easily by designating larger areas. However, I appreciate the advantage of putting in places like Stranraer and Sanquhar which have hitherto been left out.
303 Let us consider the position. In Scotland, there are about 100,000 unemployed. The areas listed cover about 71,000 of the unemployed, so that there are still about 30,000 unemployed in Scotland who are not covered by the Bill. These are the figures which I obtained from the Ministry of Labour last week. I want to deal with the position in Ayrshire. I do not know exactly what motivated the President of the Board of Trade in the selection of the areas in Ayrshire. Every area in the list should be in the list and I hope that something will be done for them.
What I want to draw attention to is this. There are 6,200 unemployed in Ayrshire. In North Ayrshire, there are 3,950 unemployed. The districts in the list cover 2,580 unemployed. For some reason or other, despite the fact that it is an area in which many of these unemployed people, when they were working, were working, the right hon. Gentleman has cut out Kilmarnock, where there are 1,100 to 1,200 unemployed. Kilmarnock has a higher percentage of unemployed people than some of the areas listed—in fact, the unemployment figure is double that in many of the areas listed.
The right hon. Gentleman may say that some of these people are on short-time work. He probably has a crystal ball all of his own in which he can see what will happen, but we in Kilmarnock know that there will be more unemployed in a particular engineering industry where short-time working has been going on for nearly two years. But there is still unemployment. I had hoped that at last we would get an extension. We were led to believe that this would be so during the election. The place where the Prime Minister spoke in Ayrshire, Stewarton, is one of the places left out of the list. That was where he told us about his major Bill to deal with unemployment.
Why has Ayr been left out of the list? Ayr is only eight miles from Kilmarnock, which is only ten miles from Irvine and some of the other areas that are in the list. Ayr and Kilmarnock have about 2,500 unemployed—more than one-third of the total unemployment figure in Ayrshire. There will be no help for them. The Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland knows 304 quite well what we said about Prestwick, where unemployment has been growing as a result of the running down of the aircraft factory and where there is no likelihood of any increase in employment. We were told that we would get new industries there, but we are not getting them from any persuasion or inducement by the Government. A much larger area should have been designated so that it would have been possible to deal with the serious unemployment problem of Prestwick and Kilmarnock.
I wonder how many hon. Members on the Government side have read the terms of the Amendment that was moved by the President of the Board of Trade. It states that this Housesupports Her Majesty's Government in their determination to ensure that assistance, as planned in their list of development districts"—Where is the plan? A list was thrown to the Press and later to the House and it is called a plan. These words are nonsense. The Amendment continues:is made available where it is most needed as part of a comprehensive policy for the progressive solution of the local employment problem.Where is the "comprehensive policy"? I am glad that the Secretary of State for Scotland has arrived, for my last word is to him. We were charmed by what we read in the Scottish Press today:Springboard to prosperity. Scottish survey will spotlight economic problems … A gigantic undertaking which will be of the greatest significance to every man, woman and child in Scotland.It is starting now, with the Secretary of State's support. We are to find out the future economic prospects and all the rest. I quote:Once we know that, we can work out the measures which we consider necessary to improve the situation.This committee is to start out on its gigantic task in Scotland and the President of the Board of Trade already knows the answer. He tells us that in his Amendment. He has a comprehensive policy and yet here is the Secretary of State saying, "We do not know what is wrong; we do not know what we will do about it". When will the Government make up their minds and when will they give us that comprehensive policy that we in 305 Scotland need instead of this patchwork that omits important areas like Kilmarnock?
§ Mr. William Baxter (West Stirlingshire)
On a point of order. On Second Reading, the Bill took two days to go through the House. I waited from half-past two until nine o'clock on those two days. Today, I have waited since half-past two until now to have an opportunity of expressing my point of view. It would appear—I would like to know whether this is true that it is necessary for a Member who wishes to speak in this House to put his name before Mr. Speaker, and that if Mr. Speaker feels it desirable or necessary he can call that Member.
Is that in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House? If it is not, I would like to know on whose authority this is being done.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The whole House appreciates the position of hon. Members, on both sides, who sit through a debate hoping to get called and find that there is not time for them to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. It is with the Chair to select speakers and the Chair does so. If hon. Members speak for a long time, there is a shorter time for other hon. Members to get a chance of speaking. No point of order has been raised.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. No point of order has been raised with which I can deal at this time during the debate. Mr. Tom Fraser.
§ Mr. Baxter
On a further point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I have waited since half-past two until this hour and I am asking, on a point of order, whether—
§ Mr. Baxter
—there are any rules—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] I have waited long enough. I want to know whether there are any rules that give anyone the power to have his name on that list.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I dealt with the hon. Member's point of order. I said that no point of order had been raised with which I could deal at this time during the course of the debate. That is the best Ruling that I can give. Mr. Tom Fraser.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
This has been an interesting and, in many ways, a fascinating debate. First, may I say that there were three maiden speeches in the course of the debate. The hon. Member for Hull, North (Mr. Coulson) and the hon. Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box) both made speeches which I did not have the good fortune to hear, although I heard very good reports of them. I heard the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clark) and it was excellent. On behalf of my hon. Friends, I congratulate all three hon. Members on having got over their first hurdle. We look forward to hearing them on many occasions in the future.
This has been an interesting and fascinating debate, because everyone who has spoken, with the exception of the President of the Board of Trade, has supported the Motion put down by the Opposition. Every single hon. Member on the other side of the House who has spoken in the debate took the opportunity of saying that he would not support the Motion and then went on to make a speech to show that the constituency which he represented ought to be included in the list. I think that the only way of marking their view that their constituencies should have been on the list would be for those hon. Members to support the Motion, which says that the list is too narrowly drawn at present.
§ Mr. Percy Browne
I made the point that we understood that there had to be an order of priorities. It is because we take a slightly more responsible view of this that we have decided not to support the Motion.
§ Mr. Fraser
I listened to every word which the hon. Member said and if he reads his speech he will see that he begged his right hon. Friend to add his constituency area, or part of it, to the list for at least another six months. Our 307 complaint is that the list is too narrowly drawn, and if the part of the country for which the hon. Member has pleaded is not included in the list, we agree with him that it should be in the list.
We had the amazing position of listening to speeches of some hon. Members opposite who were so upset because the Bill which is before Parliament and the list of development districts which are to be assisted under the Bill fall very far short of what they told their supporters at the General Election would happen under a new Tory Administration.
The hon. Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall) made a very strong speech on this matter. He said that the Bill was not what the electors were expected to believe at the General Election, but he went on to admit that extravagant language is sometimes used at a General Election. But the idea was thrown about by leaders of the Conservative party and by candidates throughout the length and breadth of the land that if the Conservatives were successful at the polls once again there would be a bold new Bill which would deal with the unemployment in this country once and for all.
What happened? We got a Bill which largely repeats existing statutes but which takes away the Schedule to the 1945 Act and gives to the President of the Board of Trade the right to draw up a list of areas to be assisted. After he draws up his list, he comes to the House of Commons and tells us that the list now covers only 12 per cent. of the population.
The areas listed in the Schedule of the 1945 Act covered about 19 per cent. of the population. Many areas which had the advantages of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1958, were taken outside the development areas, and my case is that 23 per cent. or 24 per cent. of the population were covered by the administrative list drawn up by the President of the Board of Trade in the Schedule of the 1945 Act until this Bill.
When the Bill becomes an Act we shall have the number of insured population, the number of working people covered by the special assistance which can be given to work-needy areas, reduced from about 24 per cent. to 12 per cent., and all hon. Members who have spoken think 308 that the 12 per cent. is wrong. They have all given reasons why their constituencies should be included in the list. I listened with great interest to the pleas made by hon. Members opposite. They all know that each, in turn, pleaded for the inclusion of his own constituency or of part of it in the list drawn up by the President of the Board of Trade.
But the right hon. Gentleman gave us what he regarded as good reasons for keeping this list, as he said, until after the Bill was passed. He slipped up there, because the Bill is not yet passed. He refused to give us the list until the Bill left the House of Commons, but we received it before the Bill reached another place. Why should another place be treated in this privileged way? The answer is very simple—the members of another place do not have constituents. They are not elected Members.
The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he would listen with great interest to the debate and that may be his list would be amended after he had listened to hon. Members. If it is his view that it was desirable to have a debate such as this so that he could listen to the pleas of hon. Members for the inclusion of their constituencies or parts of them in such a list, is he not conceding the case for having the list under the control of Parliament? Ought we not to have had a list written into the Schedule, as in the 1945 Act, or a list subject to the control of Parliament? If that is not desirable, is the right hon. Gentleman not saying that it is desirable that the Opposition should use a Supply Day to debate a list published by the Board of Trade so as to give the Government an opportunity of consulting hon. Members? Surely, that is what he is saying.
I should have thought that it is clear now that it would have been desirable to have this list subject to the control of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman said that he had a smaller proportion of the insured population in his list than was the case in the existing D.A.T.A.C. list because he wished to raise the sights a little. Instead of taking 4 per cent. of unemployment as the level above which he would list an area he had now taken 4½ per cent., though I think that he gave the impression that because he is expecting unemployment in certain areas he has included 309 areas with less than 4½ per cent. unemployment.
However, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, in replying to the debate, ought to tell us what areas have less than 4½ per cent. unemployment and what is the lowest percentage rate among the districts on the list. [An HON. MEMBER: "The lowest is 2.8 per cent."] Yes, but that is a place which is said to be a very special area subject to special considerations. [An HON. MEMBER: "It was 2.2 per cent."] Whatever it was, perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary will be able to tell us a little more clearly than the right hon. Gentleman did what considerations the right hon. Gentleman had in mind in drawing up the list.
We might be told whether the right hon. Gentleman took a figure of 4½ per cent. and included all areas with more than 4½ per cent. unemployment now. Perhaps he will tell us what is the lowest percentage rate of unemployment in an area which is listed, and whether the areas with a low percentage rate which have been included are there because they are areas in which an increase in unemployment is expected in the near future.
It is understandable that hon. Members would be concerned in this debate with the effect on their constituencies which were previously listed under the D.A.T.A.C. list or scheduled under the Distribution of Industry Act when they found they were not included in this list. The importance of the Bill has all along been proclaimed to be the power which it gives to the President of the Board of Trade to anticipate unemployment.
When the Bill came before us we discovered that this was nothing new and that there was this power in the 1945 Act after all. Indeed, we did our best to get the President of the Board of Trade to take out the word "imminent" and to insert the words in 1945 Act. In promised that he would try to find alternative words to the ones used in the 1945 Act which he hoped might be an improvement on the word "imminent", which was the word on which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite almost fought the General Election, particularly in areas where there is some unemployment.
310 Will the Parliamentary Secretary please tell us what areas were listed because of anticipated unemployment, or because of an increase in unemployment? At this point, it is not possible to ignore the circumstances in which the Bill was introduced. The then President of the Board of Trade went into a cotton town in Lancashire, and because it was believed that this was the area in which it was possible to anticipate unemployment he described the great new Bill to deal with it which would come when the Conservatives were returned to power. Yet no town in that area is on the list.
Now I turn to the coal areas. It is not good enough for the President of the Board of Trade to take comfort from the fact that a large proportion of the miners declared redundant at pits that are closed are absorbed elsewhere. He must hear in mind that in the past twelve months 50,000 fewer people have been employed in those areas. In other words there are 50,000 fewer jobs in the mining areas today than there were twelve months ago. I know that some of the miners have been transferred from one pit to another, but there has been a rundown in the mining labour force in those months.
This means, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) clearly pointed out in his speech, that there is far less opportunity for the young people growing up in those areas. Indeed, we find now that there is no possibility of employment in those areas for the boys leaving school because what mines are still working are not recruiting young people. So, in many cases, as there is no alternative industry in the areas, the only possibility the young people have of getting employment is by leaving their homes, by leaving their people, by leaving their fathers and mothers and going into digs and looking for employment in an obscure part of the country.
Surely it would have been better for the President of the Board of Trade to take these things into account and to cover some of the mining areas in which there is now a considerable run-down in employment. The way to have done this in most cases would have been to make the development districts bigger, instead of restricting them in the way that he has done in the list. I will give an 311 example from the part of Scotland in which I live, South Lanarkshire. North Lanarkshire, which is the greater part of the County of Lanark, is listed. Indeed, we could not have had a list which did not include North Lanarkshire, because there is more concentration of unemployment there than in any other part of Britain. The examples I am giving are these: the Lesmahagow and Lanark Employment Exchanges are excluded from the list, yet the whole of South Lanarkshire was scheduled under the 1945 Act. In South Lanarkshire there are Lanark and Lesmahagow, two exchanges covering three other mining villages. All these mining villages have a population of 4,000 to 5,000. There are the three villages of Coalburn, Douglas, and Douglas Water. All of them are excluded from the list.
Mr. Patrick Maitland, who was the Member for Lanark in the last Parliament, bombarded the President of the Board of Trade with Questions over a long period, because last year the last remaining colliery in Douglas closed, and for some months now the Scottish Special Housing Association, which has built many houses for miners in Douglas, has been advertising houses to let because those who could move have gone away. Yet this is still a community of 4,000 or 5,000 people with no employment in it. There is no employment other than mining in these four large villages.
The only possibility of the unemployed man or woman getting a job is to go into North Lanarkshire, which is listed as a development district. It seems that the only way to get a job is to go into an area listed as an unemployment area, but the President of the Board of Trade is denying himself the opportunity to attract industries into these areas where there is no industry at present.
Under previous Acts something was done. A fine factory was built at Lesmahagow under the 1945 Act and the tenants contemplate some extension, but this cannot be done by the Board of Trade because it is not in a development district and will not relieve unemployment in North Lanarkshire, for people will not go from there to villages in South Lanarkshire to work. The traffic is in the opposite direction.
312 If the right hon. Gentleman does not intend to stand idly by and see these villages perish and this terrific social capital going to waste—some of it built at Government expense—he really ought to include these areas in this list. What I have just said about South Lanarkshire applies to a good many other parts—to Ayrshire, where pits are being closed in areas which are not listed, and to Fife County, where closures have also taken place and where it has been known for ten years that there should be some balancing industry to mining. Yet no part of Fife County is listed, so the President of the Board of Trade is denying himself any opportunity of giving some assistance to these areas, which thousands of miners will leave in the next two or three years.
Why does the right hon. Gentleman restrict himself in this way? The same can be said for part of Stirlingshire. There is the whole area of Kilsyth, a town of about 10,000 people with a great many mining villages around it. This whole area is becoming derelict because the mines are closing. Although it would not always be possible to steer some industry to these areas, if they had been listed—and their unemployment touches on 4 per cent.—the local authorities could have applied for assistance to clear up the mess left as the last pits worked out, so as to make them more attractive to industrialists.
I am quite certain that what I have said about the part of the county I know best applies equally to the north-east of England and to the cotton towns, where this great reorganisation of the cotton industry is taking place under the Act passed in the last Parliament. The same argument also applies to the Welsh valleys which are suffering from the closing of coal mines and where the Government are doing nothing to ease the position.
It is not good enough for the President of the Board of Trade to wait until later before deciding to take action in many of the places I have mentioned, because in many of them the last of the coal pits are known to be closing this year, so that if we get beyond the point at which the colliery closures take place, most of the able-bodied people will have left the area and the old-age pensioners and children will be left behind. The 313 population will be so reduced in those areas that there will never be a high percentage of unemployment and it will not in future be possible to bring those areas into the list.
The debate today has again given the impression which we have had throughout our discussion of the Bill, that somehow or other the President of the Board of Trade was taking to himself great new powers to deal with unemployment. There should not be any hon. Member who believes that any more. There are no great new powers in the Bill now in another place. The list is only a list of areas in which the right hon. Gentleman may exercise the powers.
Many speakers have assumed that the cost of the distribution of industry policy was heavy and they have spoken about spreading the jam and about there being a limited amount of money available. It is nothing of the kind. I invite the Parliamentary Secretary to tell us the cost over ten or fifteen years back to the end of the war. What has been the cost of loans to industrialists—although those are hardly long-term costs since they are repayable? What has been the total spent in grants to local authorities? What has been invested in the building of Government-owned factories in unemployment areas? I guess that since the Special Areas (Development and Improvement) Act, 1934; twenty-five years ago, the total amount invested in Government-owned factories has been considerably less than £100 million. That has been the extent of Exchequer assistance to areas of heavy unemployment. It has never been a heavy financial burden for the Exchequer and much nonsense has been talked about the limit of available capital and the need to spread the jam effectively where it is most required.
If the areas were larger, as the Motion asks, or if more areas were listed, as the Motion could be said to ask, the President of the Board of Trade and the Chancellor of the Exchequer would decide how much money was available and the President of the Board of Trade would decide where to apply it. The right hon. Gentleman must know by now that there is a very strong case for including many areas not now included, or for enlarging many to take in fringe areas which were previously in the 314 D.A.T.A.C. list and which have been excluded from this list.
Let the Parliamentary Secretary admit that this is a matter of judgment and that hon. Members with great experience of these problems are just as likely to be right as the right hon. Gentleman. If he does that, he will find himself in the position in which so many of his supporters on the back benches find themselves. He will find himself in the position of supporting the Motion without being able to vote for it.
The debate has been worth while. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have shown their dissatisfaction with the list that the President of the Board of Trade has put before us. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will answer some of the questions that have been asked. I also hope that those hon. Members on the Government benches behind Her Majesty's Ministers who spoke on behalf of an extended list will support the Motion in the Division Lobby.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. John Rodgers)
Geographically at least we have covered a very wide area in the course of this debate. We have had three excellent maiden speeches. I join the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) in paying my tribute on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends to the fluency, confidence and grace with which those hon. Members expressed themselves. It is a pity that their constituents were not present in the Gallery to hear how well they advocated the case for their constituencies. They proved themselves worthy hon. Members, and I am sure that we shall all look forward with great interest to their contributions in future.
I should like to take up the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Antrim, North (Mr. H. Clarke). Although Ulster is not one of the development districts and is not on the list we are debating today, I assure him that the claims of Ulster rank with us at the Board of Trade equal to the most deserving of the districts of the United Kingdom. They rank with Scotland, South Wales, the north-east of England, and other areas, and we try to use the powers that we have of refusing industrial 315 development certificates to help to steer industry to Northern Ireland.
Also, our regional organisation at the Board of Trade is at the disposal of the Ulster Government and, as hon. Members may recall, we have quite recently jointly set up and opened an office in New York to try to attract further American investment to this country, some of which will go to the United Kingdom and some of which will go to Northern Ireland. That joint venture should help to produce more new jobs in this country. That is an example of the way in which we try to co-operate with Northern Ireland to solve a difficult problem.
Hon. Members in all parts of the House have tended to use figures which look very small compared with the unfortunate figures to which Ulster has become accustomed. I therefore assure hon. Members who represent Ulster constituencies that we will do our best to try to help them to solve their problems while we are, we hope, solving the problems of other parts of the United Kingdom.
Speeches by right hon. and hon. Members in all parts of the House have testified to the deep concern that we all feel for those of our fellow citizens who cannot use their skills, their brains, and their powers in the service of their fellow countrymen. Wherever we sit in the House, I am sure that all of us would like to alleviate and to cure unemployment wherever it exists. I am sure that there is no difference between hon. Members on either side of the House. We would all like to cure unemployment wherever it exists, and we are sincere in our endeavours to try to do so.
What we are really debating today is whether the first list—and I stress that this is the first list—which my right hon. Friend announced a few days ago should be added to immediately, on the ground that this list fails to include many places for which the special powers are needed. Inevitably, and very naturally, many speakers have advanced the claims of individual constituencies to be added to the list. Indeed, the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) went so far as to say that he thought that most people would say the list was all right so long as it included the constituency of the 316 hon. Member who happened to be speaking at the moment. Several hon. Members took a wider view and wanted larger areas added. It is right and proper that in a debate of this kind hon. Members should bring the claims of their own constituencies vividly before the House and the Government, who, after all, have a responsibility in this matter. The point at issue is whether the Government's policy of trying to ensure that assistance is made available where it is most needed is the best policy to achieve a progressive solution of local unemployment problems.
As my right hon. Friend said, we believe that by keeping the list of places as short as possible we stand the best chance of steering firms to those areas where the need is greatest. Many hon. Members have talked as if, by the mere addition to the list, something happens to the place concerned. That is not so. Addition to the list merely makes it possible for us to steer firms to those areas, or to add to the number of places competing for the favour of various firms.
Although it is true that by places being removed from the list local authorities lose certain powers which were available to them when they were on the list, there are other powers, mainly the concern of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government, of which they can still avail themselves, and which allow them to build factories, and even industrial estates, and to proceed with a great deal of site clearance and improvements. These powers exist in other places beside the Local Employment Bill, although they are admittedly lessened by removal from the list. The House is aware of the powers, both positive and negative, which will exist under the Bill when it becomes law, which we hope will be at the beginning of April.
In administering these powers we are dividing the United Kingdom into three categories. The first includes areas such as London, Birmingham and Coventry, where, for the time being, we wish to see no further development except in the most exceptional circumstances. The second includes those areas in which we desire to see expansion, and in respect of which industrial development certificates will be freely granted, although we reserve the 317 right to steer some firms to the third category, which includes areas not only where certificates will be freely granted but where inducements of one kind and another will be offered to persuade firms to set up new projects, and which will include offsetting the cost of their doing so.
It is the third category that has been under fire today. During the various stages of the Local Employment Bill my right hon. Friend made it clear that he had it in mind to cover roughly the same percentage of the insured population as was covered under the old legislation. As the hon. Member for Hamilton said, the first list issued covers only 12 per cent. as against the former 14 per cent. of the insured population. The hon. Member used much larger percentages. He referred to 18 per cent. and even 24 per cent., but he was referring to areas in respect of which the powers had not been exercised for many years. In the D.A.T.A.C. areas the figure is 14 per cent., as against the proposed 12 per cent.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
But in respect of those areas that had been scheduled and were merely administratively descheduled local authorities had the right at any time to apply to the Board of Trade or to the appropriate Minister for assistance under Section 3 of the 1945 Act. The Minister then was merely saying, "For the time being we are not exercising the powers Parliament has given us."
§ Mr. Rodgers
That is true, but this administrative descheduling had gone a long way and the powers had not been exercised. The real comparison should be made between 12 per cent. and 14 per cent.
I can assure my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North (Mr. Coulson), who made an excellent maiden speech and wanted to be assured that we co-operated with other Ministries in drawing up the list, that the first list has been drawn up in full consultation with various other Departments and has the approval both of the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Minister for Welsh Affairs. It is not merely a Board of Trade list.
Some hon. Members have suggested that places should be listed on the ground that they have a substantial pool of unemployed, regardless of the pre- 318 vailing rate of unemployment in the area. It is true that an individual who is unemployed feels equally humiliated whether he be one of a large percentage of similar unfortunate people or one of a relatively small percentage. Again, my hon. Friend the Member for Hull, North advanced the claim for his area because there was a certain aggregate number of unemployed in Hull and he thought this should justify it being placed on the list.
We cannot accept this argument, as hon. Gentlemen will agree if they pause to think. We cannot put on the list as eligible for assistance places which have a large aggregate number of unemployed because, were that the case, London would immediately have to go on the list, as the greatest number of unemployed is in the London area; it amounts to about 45,000. But no one would advance such an argument in the case of London although the same argument on a smaller scale has been advanced in this debate in relation to other areas.
In deciding whether a high rate of unemployment exists or is likely to persist we must have consideration in the first place to certain statistical criteria. It is generally known that an annual rate of 4 per cent. was taken as the criterion for including an area on the D.A.T.A.C. list, though there were important exceptions such as the cotton towns which, in fact, did not reach that percentage. When the original D.A.T.A.C. list was prepared the national average of wholly unemployed was 1.7 per cent.
For the list of development districts which my right hon. Friend announced the other day, the national average of those wholly unemployed was 2 per cent., which would suggest that a higher criterion, namely, a figure of at least around 4.5 per cent. is required to be comparable with the old figure of 4 per cent. which was the basic criterion which we adopted in respect of the D.A.T.A.C. list. This, of course, is the average of the wholly unemployed over the whole year 1959.
It was obvious that hon. Members—indeed, they did so in their speeches—would produce figures to show that for one or two months of the year this unemployment figure would be greatly 319 exceeded in their areas and that, therefore, their areas ought to qualify for assistance immediately. But we have to take into account the overall figure of unemployment over a period of twelve months when deciding what is the height of the unemployment figure and whether it is persistent. Equally, it should be remembered that on the basis of the calendar year the unemployment figure may be overstated because in many places unemployment was generally higher in the early part of 1959 than in the latter part of the year.
In addition to the basic and statistical criteria which we examine in selecting places to go on the list, we take into account the threatening imminence of unemployment. In drawing up the list we at the Board of Trade had to be satisfied that in the near future there would be a sufficient number of redundancies forecast which would result in the rate of the wholly unemployed rising to and remaining at above 4.5 per cent. Obviously, when deciding whether a certain place ought to be included in the list or excluded, there is always a margin of places which just fall on one side or other of the line.
We experienced difficulty in reaching a decision regarding Dunfermline, North-East Tyneside, Plymouth, Barrow-in-Furness and Hull, to mention only five places. We shall watch those all the time and if there is any deterioration in the position in those areas they can be added to the list very quickly. I should like hon. Members who represent those areas to know that it caused us a great deal of concern in deciding whether or not these areas should be added immediately. In the end we decided that we would hold them in reserve and be prepared to add them almost overnight if the position deteriorated in any way.
The hon. Member for Hamilton asked me to give him a list of places which would not have qualified on purely statistical grounds but which were to be found on the list. My right hon. Friend mentioned four in his speech—Dundee, Haltwhistle, Bishop Auckland and Pembroke Dock. Haltwhistle is only a small place, but it is a typical example of how we operate. The average figure of unemployment for 1959 was 1.9 per cent. but the amount of unemployment which 320 is expected there, and regarded as imminent, is at least 4.5 per cent. because of the closing of the pits. We therefore added it immediately to the list. Equally, the imminence at Pembroke Docks, we think, will raise the rate to more than the present 3.7 per cent., at Bishop Auckland to more than the 4.1 per cent. and at Dundee to more than the 4.3 per cent. Government action, through changing the price of jute, may make 800 to 1,000 people redundant in Dundee, and we therefore took action to compensate for that by including it in the list.
As well as taking into account the imminence of unemployment, we must also consider the jobs in prospect. In drawing up the first list the Board of Trade took into account not only the expectation of unemployment but also the expectation of employment. I would point out to the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle), who raised this point, that the figures which we quoted of how many jobs were in prospect are taken from firm I.D.C.s which have been issued. Often the true figure is greater than that, because we have no control over premises which are bought for people to move into or to expand into and which do not require an I.D.C. We therefore give a fairly conservative estimate, and hon. Members can rely on it.
It was the fact that we took into account employment as opposed to unemployment which led us, for example, to take Swansea off the list. The number of unemployed in Swansea is 2,942, so that statistically Swansea would have qualified, had that not been offset by 4,000 or more jobs in prospect from the Pressed Steel Company's project. We therefore took Swansea off the list.
A similar comment can be made about Widnes. The hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) himself made the point. We did not list Widnes because the Ford extention at Halewood is only four or five miles from Widnes and the unemployed in the area can expect to find very good work there once the Ford project is established.
§ Mr. Rodgers
I have every hope that the company will proceed with the plans 321 which it announced of building its main factory at Halewood. There are certain differences which we are discussing with the firm, but I have every hope that the firm will continue with its plans.
I should like, next, to take up some constituency points which have been raised. My hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Box), who made a most excellent maiden speech, referred to an application for an I.D.C. by a large engineering firm and said that Thursday was D-day in that respect. He will not expect me to anticipate what the decision will be about that I.D.C., but we shall give the most sympathetic consideration to this application for an I.D.C. in Cardiff. If it is granted, it will be another example of the fact that although an area is not on the list, it need not give up hope, because if this I.D.C. is granted a very large project will go to Cardiff without any Government financial assistance.
§ Mr. George Thomas (Cardiff, West)
How long are we likely to have to wait before we know whether the I.D.C. is being granted for this motor firm?
§ Mr. Rodgers
We shall make up our minds pretty quickly this week but it will be up to the firm to decide when it will make the announcement. I cannot say when it will announce it.
The hon. Member for Blackburn also raised a point about firms that had applications outstanding with D.A.T.A.C. I thought that I had cleared up that point during Third Reading when I said that those firms which have already made applications to D.A.T.A.C. would be considered. I said:The Committee will, of course, continue to deal with the cases they now have before them until the new Act comes into force. We hope that, in the intervening period, D.A.T.A.C. will be able to deal with a large number of the outstanding applications from other places on the present list."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1960; Vol. 616, c. 1134.]We cannot guarantee that the Committee will consider all the cases, but it will certainly do its best to consider as large a percentage as possible.
§ Mrs. Castle
The hon. Gentleman has not cleared up the point at all. Can we have a firm assurance that all applications made before the new provisions come into force will be considered on their merits? One minute the hon. 322 Gentleman says "Yes", and the next minute he says that the Committee will deal with as many as possible. Is there not a point of principle involved? The man who got his application in first should not be penalised for delays which may arise in the hon. Gentleman's own department.
§ Mr. Rodgers
I have not the power to say that it will be considered after 1st April or whenever the new Local Employment Bill becomes an Act. The Committee will do its best to consider and pronounce on as many of the applications before it as possible. I cannot say if it will manage to pronounce on all the applications it now has before it, but it will do its very best.
I should like to make some reference to the speech of the hon. Member for Widnes. He accused my right hon. Friend of bringing pressure to bear about excluding Clause 12 from the Lancashire County Council Bill. I have consulted my right hon. Friend, who tells me that he has never considered any such Bill and certainly has taken no such action. Nor can I state that anyone else from the Board of Trade has done what was alleged by the hon. Gentleman. I ask the hon. Member for Widnes to withdraw that allegation.
§ Mr. MacColl
I can only say to the Parliamentary Secretary that I have in my possession a photostatic copy of a letter from the county clerk of Lancashire to the town clerk of Widnes which makes that categorical assertion. That is an official letter. If the county clerk of Lancashire was not making a correct statement, I withdraw my allegation. If it is not the county clerk of Lancashire who is at fault, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw.
§ Mr. Rodgers
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman and I can get together and investigate what the evidence really is. I shall be very happy to do so.
My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers), asked what would bring Plymouth on to the list. Unfortunately, the only thing which can bring Plymouth on to the list will be a deterioration in the present situation. Plymouth is an area which we watch very sympathetically. The area is too dependent on one industry, namely the dockyard. By strange chance, it has 323 a higher birth rate and a bigger bulge problem than any other area in the country, and if we can assist we shall do so at the right moment.
I will now deal with the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) about the building of dry docks.
§ Mr. Rodgers
I thought that my right hon. Friend dealt with that very fully in opening. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He certainly did. He gave the facts and figures to show that the percentage—
§ Mr. Rodgers
My right hon. Friend spent a considerable time, as a study of HANSARD will show, dealing with north-east Lancashire and the cotton towns. He quoted from the unemployment figures and showed that they would not even have qualified for the old D.A.T.A.C. statistical criterion, let alone the new one. Like any other area, if it is proved that the closing of the weaving sheds after 31st March leads to persistent unemployment and the men and women released do not find alternative employment, we shall consider adding the area to the list.
§ Mr. Rodgers
The hon. Gentleman gave the figures of people who would he released, but it is not necessarily true to say that because they are released they will not find alternative employment. The experience we have to date shows that a lot of people have been released from the mines and the cotton industry and absorbed into other industries, and that now, far from cotton being the backbone of industrial Lancashire, industry has been so diversified there that engineering is a far greater employer of labour than is cotton.
The hon. Member for Wrexham (Mr. Idwal Jones) asked why that town had been taken off the list—
§ Mr. Rodgers
—but the fact is that since Wrexham was added to the D.A.T.A.C. list in 1959 the rate of unemployment there has fallen from 4.7 per cent. to 3.9 per cent. Last month there were 1,536 unemployed, and the average rate of unemployment for the last twelve months was 3.6 per cent. Moreover, we expect 400 jobs to accrue there in the near future as a result of projects in hand or in prospect. With those figures to hand, there was no point in retaining Wrexham.
I now turn to the hon. Lady, my hon. Friend—[Interruption.]—yes, my lady friend—the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward). She argued that my right hon. Friend's undertaking that dry docks were covered by the Bill had been revoked by the change in Clause 1 which brings in the words.… with due regard to the proper diversification of industry …It is argued that since ship repairing takes place in places in which employment is already largely concentrated on ship repairing it would not be within our powers to assist this industry. Within limits, and very narrow limits, that argument has some validity. Obviously, what we would like to do for these areas would be to introduce new firms so as to bring about diversification, but if there are any dry docks firms that wish to extend, or to build new docks, they can, of course, apply under the Bill for assistance, and those applications will be judged on their merits. The fact that money has been made available, for instance, to Greenock proves the way in which the old Act worked, and how this new Measure will work. I hope that that will, to some extent, allay my hon. Friend's fears—
§ Mr. Rodgers
Then perhaps my hon. Friend will convey these thoughts to her dry dock friends.
A lot of other points have been raised by various hon. Members, but I am afraid that time does not allow me to deal with them in the detail that I would like. There was an excellent speech by the hon. Member for Abertillery (The Rev. LI. Williams), and one from my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Marshall), with which I cannot 325 deal now, and the points raised by the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. D. Jones) were dealt with by my right hon. Friend.
My hon. Friend the Member for Torrington (Mr. Percy Browne) asked us to define the use of the word "seasonal". He seemed to think that by saying that under the Bill we take account of seasonal unemployment that meant that if a place had, in the off season, qualified statistically for help, it would be on the list. Our interpretation of the use of the word "seasonal" is that that figure can be averaged with the low unemployment in the summer months. If the average qualifies, we can then say that the unemployment there is persistently high—
§ Mr. Rodgers
I am afraid that time is getting on.
The list that my right hon. Friend has issued is the first one, and can be added to at any time when the position dictates. Our machinery for changing the list is flexible, and we can add a place overnight if the situation deteriorates. In
§ determining the places to be added we shall, of course, look at the prevailing rate of unemployment in relation to the country as a whole, the average rate of unemployment during the previous year, together with such information as we have about the prospects of new employment and new unemployment in the future.
§ I think that the whole House will agree that, although the new Measure has not yet come into force, we have had some measure of success in steering the motor industry to areas of high unemployment, and I hope that there will be some more good news in this regard in the next few days or weeks.
§ I therefore hope that the House will reject the Motion.
§ Mr. Herbert W. Bowden (Leicester, South-West)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
§ Question, That the Question be now put, put and agreed to.
§ Question put accordingly, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 239, Noes 307.329
|Division No. 42.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Darling, George||Gunter, Ray|
|Ainsley, William||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hamilton, William (West Fife)|
|Awbery, Stan||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Hart, Mrs. Judith|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Deer, George||Hayman, F. H.|
|Baird, John||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Healey, Denis|
|Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)||Delargy, Hugh||Henderson, Rt. Hn. Arthur (Rwly Regis)|
|Beaney, Alan||Dempsey, James||Herbison, Miss Margaret|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Diamond, John||Hill, J. (Midlothian)|
|Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)||Dodds, Norman||Hilton, A. V.|
|Benn, Hn. A. Wedgwood (Brist'l, S. E.)||Donnelly, Desmond||Holman, Percy|
|Benson, Sir George||Driberg, Tom||Holt, Arthur|
|Blackburn, F.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John||Houghton, Douglas|
|Blyton, William||Ede, Rt. Hon. Chuter||Howell, Charles A.|
|Boardman, H.||Edelman, Maurice||Hoy, James H.|
|Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Bowles, Frank||Edwards, Walter (Stepney)||Hunter, A. E.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Evans, Albert||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fernyhough, E.||Hynd, John (Attercliffe)|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Finch, Harold||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fitch, Alan||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Fletcher, Eric||Janner, Barnett|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Foot, Dingle||Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas|
|Callaghan, James||Forman, J. C.||Jeger, George|
|Carmichael, James||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)|
|Castle, Mrs. Barbara||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. Hugh||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Chapman, Donald||George, Lady Megan Lloyd||Jones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech (Wakefield)|
|Chetwynd, George||Ginsburg, David||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Cliffe, Michael||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Collick, Percy||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Gourlay, Harry||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Greenwood, Anthony||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)|
|Cronin, John||Grey, Charles||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Crosland, Anthony||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||King, Dr. Horace|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Grimond, J.||Lawson, George|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Parker, John (Dagenham)||Swain, Thomas|
|Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Parkin, B. T. (Paddington, N.)||Swingler, Stephen|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Paton, John||Sylvester, George|
|Lewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)||Pavitt, Laurence||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Lipton, Marcus||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Logan, David||Peart, Frederick||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Loughlin, Charles||Pentland, Norman||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)|
|McCann, John||Popplewell, Ernest||Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)|
|MacColl, James||Prentice, R. E.||Thornton, Ernest|
|McInnes, James||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Thorpe, Jeremy|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Probert, Arthur||Timmons, John|
|Mackie, John||Proctor, W. T.||Tomney, Frank|
|McLeavy, Frank||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)||Randall, Harry||Wade, Donald|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Rankin, John||Wainwright, Edwin|
|Mahon, Simon||Redhead, E. C.||Warbey, William|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Reid, William||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Reynolds, G. W.||Watkins, Tudor|
|Manuel, A. C.||Rhodes, H.||Weitzman, David|
|Mapp, Charles||Robens, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Marsh, Richard||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Mason, Roy||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Mayhew, Christopher||Ross, William||Whitlock, William|
|Mellish, R. J.||Royle, Charles (Salford, West)||Wigg, George|
|Mendelson, J. J.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Millan, Bruce||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Willey, Frederick|
|Monslow, Walter||Skeffington, Arthur||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Moody, A. S.||Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)||Williams, Rev. Ll. (Abertillery)|
|Moyle, Arthur||Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)|
|Mulley, Frederick||Small, William||Willis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Neal, Harold||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)||Snow, Julian||Winterbottom, R. E.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Spriggs, Leslie||Woof, Robert|
|Oram, A. E.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)||Yates, Victor (Ladywood)|
|Oswald, Thomas||Stonehouse, John||Zilliacus, K.|
|Owen, Will||Stones, William|
|Padley, W. E.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)||Mr. Short and Mr. G. H. R. Rogers.|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith|
|Aitken, W. T.||Bullus, Wing Commander Eric||Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn|
|Allan, Robert (Paddington, S.)||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Errington, Sir Eric|
|Allason, James||Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (Saffron Walden)||Erroll, F. J.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)||Farey-Jones, F. W.|
|Amory, Rt. Hn. D. Heathcoat (Tiv'tn)||Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Farr, John|
|Arbuthnot, John||Carr, Compton (Barons Court)||Fell, Anthony|
|Ashton, Sir Hubert||Carr, Robert (Mitcham)||Finlay, Graeme|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Cary, Sir Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles|
|Balniel, Lord||Channon, H. P. G.||Forrest, George|
|Barber, Anthony||Chichester-Clark, R.||Foster, John|
|Barlow, Sir John||Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)||Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)|
|Barter, John||Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)||Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Batsford, Brian||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmth, W.)||Freeth, Denzil|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley (Southgate)||Cleaver, Leonard||Gammans, Lady|
|Beamish, Col. Tufton||Cole, Norman||Gardner, Edward|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Cooke, Robert||George, J. C. (Pollok)|
|Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)||Cooper, A. E.||Gibson-Watt, David|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)||Corfield, F. V.||Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)|
|Berkeley, Humphry||Costain, A. P.||Godber, J. B.|
|Bevins, Rt. Hon. Reginald (Toxteth)||Courtney, Cdr. Anthony||Goodhart, Philip|
|Bidgood, John C.||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Goodhew, Victor|
|Bingham, R. M.||Critchley, Julian||Gower, Raymond|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Crowder, F. P.||Grant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Cunningham, Knox||Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Currie, G. B. H.||Green, Alan|
|Bossom, Clive||Dance, James||Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G.|
|Box, Donald||Deedes, W. F.||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John||de Ferranti, Basil||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Digby, Simon Wingfield||Hare, Rt. Hon. John|
|Braine, Bernard||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Brewis, John||Doughty, Charles||Harrison, Brian (Maldon)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Drayson, G. B.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Duncan, Sir James||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)|
|Brooman-White, R.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Browne, Percy (Torrington)||Eden, John||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bryan, Paul||Elliott, R. W.||Hay, John|
|Bullard, Denys||Emery, Peter||Heath, Rt. Hon. Edward|
|Hendry, Forbes||Macmillan, Rt. Hn. Harold (Bromley)||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Hicks Beach, Maj. W.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Seymour, Leslie|
|Hiley, Joseph||Maginnis, John E.||Sharples, Richard|
|Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Maitland, Cdr. J. W.||Shepherd, William|
|Hill, Mrs. Eveline (Wythenshawe)||Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.||Simon, Sir Jocelyn|
|Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Marlowe, Anthony||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Hocking, Philip N.||Marples, Rt. Hon. Ernest||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'rd & Chiswick)|
|Holland, Philip||Marshall, Douglas||Smithers, Peter|
|Hopkins, Alan||Marten, Neil||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Hornby, R. P.||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Speir, Rupert|
|Howard, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)||Mawby, Ray||Stanley, Hon. Richard|
|Howard, John (Southampton, Test)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral John||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Hughes-Young, Michael||Mills, Stratton||Stodart, J. A.|
|Hurd, Sir Anthony||Montgomery, Fergus||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Morgan, William||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Morrison, John||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)|
|Jackson, John||Nabarro, Gerald||Sumner, Donald (Orpington)|
|James, David||Neave, Airey||Talbot, John E.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Nicholls, Harmar||Tapsell, Peter|
|Jennings, J. C.||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Noble, Michael||Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Nugent, Sir Richard||Teeling, William|
|Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.||Temple, John M.|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Joseph, Sir Keith||Orr-Ewing, C. Ian||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Kerans, Cdr. J. S.||Page, Graham||Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)|
|Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Partridge, E.||Tilney, John (Wavertree)|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)||Turner, Colin|
|Kimball, Marcus||Peel, John||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Kirk, Peter||Percival, Ian||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Kitson, Timothy||Peyton, John||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Lambton, Viscount||Pickthorn, Sir Kenneth||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Langford-Holt, J.||Pilkington, Capt. Richard||Vickers, Miss Joan|
|Leavey, J. A.||Pitt, Miss Edith||Vosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis|
|Leburn, Gilmour||Pott, Percivall||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. M'lebone)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.||Pcwell, J. Enoch||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Wall, Patrick|
|Lilley, F. J. P.||Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)|
|Lindsay, Martin||Prior, J. M. L.||Watkinson, Rt. Hon. Harold|
|Linstead, Sir Hugh||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John||Watts, James|
|Litchfield, Capt. John||Proudfoot, Wilfred||Webster, David|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Ramsden, James||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Longbottom, Charles||Rawlinson, Peter||Whitelaw, William|
|Longden, Gilbert||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin||Williams, Dudley (Exeter)|
|Loveys, Walter H.||Rees, Hugh||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Low, Rt. Hon. Sir Toby||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Renton, David||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Ridley, Hon. Nicholas||Wise, A. R.|
|McAdden, Stephen||Ridsdale, Julian||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|MacArthur, Ian||Rippon, Geoffrey||Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard|
|McLaren, Martin||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)||Woodhouse, C. M.|
|McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia||Robertson, Sir David||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Woollam, John|
|Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N. Ayrs.)||Roots, William||Worsley, Marcus|
|McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Yates, William (The Wrekin)|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)||Russell, Ronald||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McMaster, Stanley||Sandys, Rt. Hon. Duncan||Mr. Legh and Mr. E. Wakefield.|
|Proposed words there added.|
|Main Question, as amended, put and agreed to.|
|That this House supports Her Majesty's Government in their determination to ensure that assistance, as planned in their list of development districts, is made available where it is most needed as part of a comprehensive policy for the progressive solution of the local employment problem.|