§ 25. Mr. Loyden
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what finances will be available to the two new development boards at Merseyside and the North-East for the year 1977–78.548W
gory and in total, expressed as a tonnage and value in the British steel industry, including the British Steel Corporation, how much of this is exported, and what are the corresponding imports; how this compares with (a) a year ago and (b) five years ago.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
The only relevant information available is in respect of deliveries of non-alloy steel in tonnage terms and is as follows:
§ Mr. Kilroy-Silk
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list, separately for the North-East, North-West and Merseyside, the recommendations made by the National Enterprise Board and indicate, in each case (a) the action taken so far, (b) work in progress, and (c) future plans; and, where no action has been taken or planned, why no action has been taken or is planned.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
I take it my hon. Friend is referring to the recommendations made by the National Enterprise Board in its report to the Prime Minister 549W on Investment Potential in the northeast and north-west of England. The recommendations were as follows:
North-East. (i) To stimulate the tourist industry in the North-East, the scope and need for improving training facilities in the hotel and catering trades should be examined.
(ii) The NEB should continue to support potentially profitable industry in the North-East, and should join with Government Departments, the BNOC and other interests to see whether, by co-ordination of their efforts, a major British offshore contracting company can be established.
(iii) The nationalised industries should take increasing account of international design and specifications so that their United Kingdom suppliers in the North-East and elsewhere are able to build up a thriving export business.
(iv) The procurement Executive of the Ministry of Defence should consider sponsoring the development of certain products—e.g., Coastguard defence vessels and on/off road heavy vehicles—which can be manufactured and have substantial export potential.
North-West (including Merseyside). (v) To stimulate office employment on Merseyside special arrangements should be made between the Liverpool Corporation, a developer and the Department of Industry to build a speculative office block in Liverpool to attract office employment from outside the assisted areas.
(vi) The measures already announced by the Government to provide resources for the innner areas of large cities should be used to stimulate the construction industry on Merseyside and the need for further resources of a similar nature should be kept under review.
(vii) The designation of industrial improvement areas should be considered on Merseyside and they should be recognised as areas of highest priority for all forms of assistance in order to ensure a balanced improvement.
(viii) The Department of Industry's counselling service for small businesses should be extended to Merseyside.
(ix) The Liverpool Corporation should examine the possibility of encouraging larger companies with manufacturing space to spare to release part for small companies possibly in return for rate relief.550W
(x) The Department of Industry should initiate a study to identify industries which might be attracted to the port area of Merseyside.
North-East and North-West (including Merseyside). (xi) The Government should consider a widening of the differential in regional assistance which the special development areas enjoy compared with other areas.
(xii) The Government should consider a relaxation of the eligibility rules for selective assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 which presently apply to locally based service industry in the special development areas.
(xiii) The NEB should intensify its efforts to stimulate the growth of smaller manufacturing companies in the North and North-West Regions by providing finance for expansion and modernisation.
(xiv) The NEB should examine the feasibility of setting up a contracting company to undertake certain companies in the North-East and also whether a similar approach might be adopted in other industrial sectors and other localities in the Northern and North-West Regions.
(xv) The Government should devote a larger proportion of the resources available for advance factories to the provision of nursery factories in Merseyside and the North-East.
Nine of the 11 recommendations accepted have been, or soon will be, implemented by the Government or the NEB as appropriate.
Recommendations (ii) and (v) are still under consideration.
The Government have not accepted recommendations (i), (iv) and (xii). In the case of (i) the Government considers that there is no evidence that training facilities are inadequate. In the case of (iv) the Procurement Executive feels it cannot sponsor the development and production of items for which there is no United Kingdom service requirement. Through the defence organisation, the Procurement Executive is always willing to assist in the promotion of sales of all defence equipment overseas. In the case of (xii) locally based service industries depend on local demand, which would not be increased by giving aid to them. Recommendation (ix) is a matter for Liverpool Corporation.551W
The creation of NEB regional boards will enable added local stimulus to be given to the implementation of these initiatives.
§ Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to notify the National Enterprise Board of the size of its capital debt.
§ Mr. Les Huckfield
The Board was notified on 4th February 1977 of the size of its initial capital debt, in accordance with the provisions of Schedule 2 to the Industry Act 1975, and is being notified of the revised amount reflecting the repayment by Ferranti Ltd on 10th November 1977 of a loan of £6,333,334.
§ Mr. Grylls
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give details of the National Enterprise Board's investment the sale of which he refused to allow; and if he will explain why permission for the sale was withheld.