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First Schedule—(Development Areas)

Volume 411: debated on Monday 4 June 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:

In page 10, line 8, after "Lanark," insert "Linlithgow."

In page 10, leave out lines 22 to 25.—[ Mr. Mathers.]

May I ask whether you are proposing, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to call the Amendments in my name?

It is not proposed to call these Amendments, because they would extend the scope of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[ Mr. Lyttelton.]

4.19 p.m.

I would not like this Bill to pass to another place without saying a word or two on it, since I, when sitting on that side of the House, originally introduced it. Broadly speaking, the Bill has been well received by the House and, although we have in Committee upstairs eliminated one Clause, I regard what remains as being of the greatest importance and of the greatest immediate value to large sections of the community—those 6,000,000 people who live in the Development Areas as scheduled in the Bill. Had this Bill not gone forward before Parliament was dis- solved, I should have regarded it as a great disaster for these industrial communities. I trust that it will now be possible for my right hon. Friend, who has come back after a short absence to the Board of Trade, and who is, therefore, so well acquainted with all the arrangements which have been made there, to allow certain plans to go forward as an administrative matter, even perhaps, in the midst of the strife of coming events. He will find those plans there, and my right hon. and gallant Friend the Parliamentary Secretary is very well acquainted with them. I hope also that he will enable certain industrial developments, for which plans had been made and which had been held up pending the obtaining of these legal powers, to go forward rapidly. They are plans with regard to factory development, trading estate development, and the like, and I trust that we shall be able to hear soon from my right hon. Friend or through other channels of publicity of progress being made in those directions.

With regard to the Clause that has been dropped, the matter with which it dealt is not, in my mind, immediate. The fears that were felt in some quarters of the House as to the rapid and drastic application of Clause 9 were, in my view, unfounded. There was no immediate danger to any of the areas who thought that they might be restricted under the Clause. However that may be, I think it was a good bargain to get rid of opposition to the rest of the Bill by postponing consideration of that other matter until after the Election. We shall then be able to look at it with a freshness which will be enhanced by the fact that the composition of the House will be different, and, we hope, beneficially changed. We shall be able to consider it in that new setting. I thank my immediate successor at the Board of Trade and my right hon. and gallant Friend, who shared with me for over three years the burden and heat of long days and nights, for the assistance they have given in putting this Measure through. If this were the last Measure which was embarked upon by that great coalition Government, which has now been dissolved into its component parts, it would be no bad Parliamentary ending for that joint venture.

4.24 p.m.

I would ask for that indulgence which the House customarily shows to those addressing it for the first time and which is more especially needed in my own case as one who is taking part in Debate within such a short interval of being introduced into the House, but apart from the rate at which we in this House live, or perhaps I should say die, in these days, I am particularly anxious to have this opportunity to speak upon a Measure which is not only a Measure of great national importance, but one which closely affects the constituency which I represent and, indeed, the whole area in which it is situated. We in those areas, which were originally called "Depressed" Areas, then "Special" Areas and now "Development" Areas, are beginning to feel a little depressed again, because we have been promised this Bill for a long time and we were looking forward to great things from it. We were very grateful when this Bill was introduced, because it seemed at last that we were to get some of that treatment to which we had been looking forward. We are still grateful for the Bill as it emerges on Third Reading, but we are grateful rather in the manner in which people are grateful for very small mercies. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Dalton) when he says we had made a good bargain, and I want to thank the Government for dropping Clause 9 and saving the Bill. The mere fact that it has been saved at a time when so many have been lost will itself be accepted by the people in the Development Areas as a proof that the Government mean business this time.

I must, however, in a small measure join issue with the right hon. Gentleman, because there is an element of time in this matter. It is true that the actual implementation of the Clause which has been dropped would not have taken place for some considerable time, but there is an advance effect of which we in South Wales and Monmouthshire have had some experience. The knowledge that a certain Measure is coming into effect influences conduct in advance, and we have had cases of people who have said, "We will come to your area if we have to, but if we have not to, we are going to London." These people, I am afraid, may now start making arrangements for going to London or a similar area. That is a detriment from which we suffer immediately, or, at any rate, will suffer in the near future, from the transformation which this Bill has undergone. At the same time, we are grateful to the Government for pressing the Bill forward, and I certainly agree that, had that contentious Clause not been dropped, we should not have had the Bill by the end of this Session. I am far from blaming those people who have felt it necessary to oppose the Bill, because the Clause which has been dropped was rather drastic in its scope, and, had I been a Member for an area not included in the Schedule as a Development Area, I should have felt it my duty to examine it very closely before it was put on the Statute Book.

We in the Development Areas do not wish to enjoy any prosperity at the expense of any other parts of the country. We are asking the Government for a Measure which will break the vicious circle that is caused by the cumulative effect of success, on the one hand, and failure, on the other. That is all we want. We do not want to deprive other areas of the development and growth of their native industries to which they are fully entitled, and it is not in any such selfish attitude that we shall at a later date press the House for further measures. There are certain enabling Clauses in the Bill which will be of great value if the Minister uses them, as I hope he will, with vigour and imagination. One of the greatest difficulties we have in those areas in persuading industrialists to establish industries in them is the difficulty of obtaining houses for key workers. That is a serious practical difficulty at the moment, and I hope my right hon. Friend will give it his early and sympathetic attention. If the Board of Trade use the powers which are left in the Bill to the best advantage, there is much that can be done for the benefit of those areas in the period between now and when it will be possible to take further measures, because those powers are very useful, though they are of a rather miscellaneous character.

Apart from that, there is little left in the Bill that is not familiar to us. There is, of course, the familiar non-controversial measure of milking the Treasury, which I notice usually survives all party controversy, and I am far from regretting that any money should come to the Development Areas out of the Bill. But I should be sorry if a policy of casual grants and loans were to take the place of a coherent policy of distribution of industry. It would be very dangerous to the national interest if we were to go ahead with a policy of miscellaneous powers and casual grants and loans without the other side which has now been dropped. That would result either in the job not being done thoroughly, or else in the expense being formidable, and we would have in those areas a number of industries established by Government assistance which would have got into the habit of waiting with their mouths open for more and more to be put in from the Treasury, and that is certainly not what we want.

I have made these points with the sole intention of drawing the attention of my right hon. Friend to the fact that we shall be coming back to him later. We have been promised a Distribution of Industries Bill and we are now given something which is called a Distribution of Industries Bill, but I very much wish that the Title of this Bill had been changed. I hope I am not out of Order in saying so. I wish the Title of the Bill had been changed by the Committee because it puts us in a very bad tactical position for the future. We have, apparently, got what we asked for, but in actual fact this Bill is no more a Distribution of Industries Bill than it is a Matrimonial Causes Act or something of that kind. It is simply an Industries Facilities Bill, and it has not even touched the fringe of distributing industry in one way or the other. So I assure my right hon. Friend that we shall be worrying him about this matter again. If he is in the same position in the new Parliament, as I hope and am sure he will be, and if I am in the same place in the new Parliament, as I may perhaps be forgiven for hoping I shall be, I can assure my right hon. Friend that I shall be importuning him very early indeed in the Session with requests for a further dispensation which will not merely palliate the long-standing ills of these areas, but will give back to them that independent vitality to which they have been strangers for so long.

4.32 p.m.

It is a great privilege to have the opportunity of congratulating the hon. and gallant Member for Newport (Lieut.-Commander Bell) on his very able speech. I feel that not merely is he to be congratulated, but his constituency is to be congratulated on having someone who shows such ability to plead its cause and necessities in this House. I hope he will come back here, and then I am sure we shall listen to any case that he cares to put forward on the lines that he has advocated. I welcome the Bill in the rather altered form in which we are now asked to pass it. I was very glad that the original Clause 9 was dropped, because it was a matter which was far too controversial to be threshed out in the limited time which was available if we were to get the Bill at all.

The hon. Member cannot discuss, on the Third Reading of the Bill, a Clause which has been dropped. I think he should abstain from discussing it.

I was not proposing to discuss the Clause, but surely it is in Order on the Third Reading to welcome the fact that the Clause has been dropped.

The hon. Member cannot on the Third Reading discuss anything that is not in the Bill. If he mentions the omission it will have to be with great discretion.

If the hon. Member is entitled on Third Reading to congratulate the Government on dropping the Clause, will I be entitled later to regret that they have dropped it?

That is where the matter of discretion would have to come in, but I really thing we had better not argue about it.

I have no more to say about it except that I really was glad that the Clause had not been proceeded with. What I wish to refer to in particular is my regret that owing to the shortness of time we have not been able to discuss the First Schedule as fully as we would have liked, because that Schedule raises large questions of principle as well as of the inclusion of particular areas which appeal to hon. Members on both sides of the House. I understand how that was, but I would point out that owing to the fact that the Schedule confines the best part of the Bill, with the exception of what is now Clause 8, to the Development Areas one of the most useful Clauses is of very limited application. I refer to Clause 5.

In my opinion, Clause 5 is most valuable because of the power which it gives to the Board of Trade to deal with derelict areas, which to many of us mean areas where there are tip heaps, some of them dating back generations. I believe this is the first time that any Government have taken the responsibility of dealing with those tip heaps. There may be under the Town and Country Planning Act certain powers with regard to planning, but this is a Clause which gives the Board of Trade the power and the money to do it. In many of these areas it is impossible for local authorities—sometimes small local authorities—to face the expense of removing thousands of tons of earth and finding a place to put that earth when it has been removed, which is not always easy. I did appeal to my right hon. Friend to deal with this matter, and he pointed out that it could have been dealt with in a very simple way by leaving out the word "development" in line 2 of Clause 5, but I understand that would have been out of Order because it would have raised the question of further expenditure, and therefore the Bill would have had to be re-committed.

If in a few weeks' time my right hon. Friend is still in the position he occupies now I will ask him to add one Clause to the Bill to deal with this subject. It raises wide feeling in large industrial areas, and I think there would be plenty of support if Clause 5 were put in another form so that it would be applicable to any industrial area where it is necessary to remove tip heaps. I would say in connection with the inclusion of certain areas under Schedule 1 that it would have been desirable, had we had time, to thresh it out in order to try to get a principle upon which to settle whether or not an area should be included in that Schedule. That has not been done. The First Schedule simply consists of the old distressed areas. I think I am right in saying that no new areas have been included, but in certain small areas there is as acute distress and as great a need for the application of the first part of this Bill as there is in the areas which have been actually scheduled. There, again, we must hope that we may come back to see whether we cannot do something further in that respect.

The hon. Member is again trying to insert something into the Bill. He cannot do it now.

I was indicating in a very simple way some of the points which arise on the First Schedule, particularly the question of principle. Perhaps I have wandered a little, and if so I am sorry. I was on the principle of the matter, and that, I think, I am entitled to discuss.

One other point is that there is in this Bill a very valuable provision by which houses for managers and key workers can be provided. As the hon. and gallant Member for Newport said, that is a vital matter, because if industries are transferred from one place to another one of the first things to do is to provide managerial houses and to start what are commonly called staff houses and key workers' houses. Local authorities have no power to do that, but under the Bill the Board of Trade have the power to do so. We must hope that in the future there will be provision for that kind of thing in all areas. Having said that, I am bound to say that I welcome this Bill. I believe a good deal of work can be done under it, and I am certain my right hon. Friend will do it, and that those in industrial areas can look forward with confidence to getting a fresh start after the war.

4.40 p.m.

Ever since I have been a Member of this House discussion has continually been directed to the distribution of industry and to the absence of industry in certain parts of the country. The discussion has always been directed to inducing the Government to take powers to control and to direct industry, to enable the community as such to have some say in where industries shall go and who shall be employed. At last we have a Bill that does something about it, and to that extent we are all satisfied to welcome it and to give it a Third Reading.

There are in the Bill things which limit its usefulness. I say nothing about those things which are not so limited, but there is a Schedule, and the effect of the Schedule is to take away from the Government powers which at long last it is, in principle, admitted the Government should have. Nobody denies that the Government ought to have powers to say to industry, "You shall not go where you like. It shall not be left to you to take such risks as you think proper. It is not a matter which can safely be left to the private initiative of commercial or indus- trial undertakings. It is a matter in which the community as a community has an interest, because the community pays for the mistakes that are made, and the risks that are taken are not taken by the industrial and commercial undertakings in their own affairs but are taken with the community's wealth, property and welfare." During the 10 years I have been a Member of the House of Commons we have had to fight to persuade the Government that they ought to take a share in these matters, and at long last, on the eve of the Dissolution of this Parliament, we have a Bill which concedes the principle—a principle advanced by a Government who propose to go to the country and ask for a mandate not to interfere at all, but to leave all these things to the private judgment of selfish persons and concerns with only their own interests to consider. [Laughter.] I do not know why the hon. Gentleman laughs, but from what I heard of his speech I should have thought he would have agreed with me.

With much of what the hon. Member has said, I agree, but it is useless to try to prejudice the initiative of anybody by calling it selfish.

I am not seeking to prejudice anybody in saying that a private company look after their own affairs. It is not a charge against them. What else can they do? It is no good the hon. Member shaking his head. The duty of a board of directors is to their company and to the shareholders.

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but I must point out that the Bill has nothing to do with the duty of a board of directors.

If I have transgressed, it was only in reply to an interruption which I gave way to hear, and which was allowed. I repeat that the Bill concedes a principle for which we have contended in this House for many years, which that side of the House have always contested and which, from all announcements, they propose to contest in the coming General Election. I suppose that is why we have a Schedule which makes it necessary for an area to fall into a very devastated and derelict condition before it gets the benefit of these powers. I now see that the Minister shakes his head. He ought to know—unless I am greatly mistaken—that the Schedule con- tains a list of areas, and that every one of them was either a special area within the meaning of the last Act passed by Parliament on the subject, or is so closely adjacent to a special area as to be part of the general area and to share its fate.

I, therefore, repeat that the Schedule consists of areas which have been allowed to fall into the worst possible condition, and that it is only in those areas that the powers which the House is now giving to the Government may be exercised. I know there is a Clause which allowed the Minister to add other areas to the Schedule, but he is not to be allowed to use his own unfettered discretion in the matter. He has to add areas which are like the areas already in the Schedule. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Yes, when he is satisfied that unemployment in any area has reached a particular stage or a bad stage.

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member unnecessarily, but the adding of areas to the Schedule depends upon the danger of unemployment being foreseen by His Majesty's Government. I think the hon. Member was not doing full justice to the words in the Bill, because he was speaking of the areas in the Schedule having reached a state of devastation or unemployment which would warrant their being added to the Schedule, but that is not the case. It is within the discretion of the President of the Board of Trade to add them to the Schedule if he anticipates—and I think the word is correctly used in the Schedule—that there is danger of unemployment.

I am very grateful to the Minister, but I do not know that his intervention alters, or need alter, anything that I said.

I think not. Certainly the Minister has power to add other areas to the Schedule if he anticipates certain dangers, and he has power to do so before the dangers eventuate. If there is a danger which has not yet become a fact he can put an area into the Schedule. I quite recognise that, and it is perfectly true; but what is the danger? If things reach such a pass that the Minister is satisfied that unless he puts an area into the Schedule there is a danger, which means more than a possibility, of that area too falling into the same kind of devastated condition as those special areas always were in up to the outbreak of war, he can act. That is exactly what I say. It is only within the ambit of devastated areas of that kind that the Minister has any power to add areas to the Schedule, where are included now only areas which were special areas within the meaning of the Special Areas Act. That is a very limited power. It is a grudging, half-hearted concession by people unwilling to make the concession, who are convinced against their will and who remain of the same opinion, and therefore do as little as they can and then go to the country and pour scorn on the very principle which, half-heartedly, reluctantly and to a small degree, they have had to concede.

It is all very well to say that it was my right hon. Friend's Schedule. We all know the facts, which are that my right hon. Friend was a Member of the Coalition Government and had to speak for the Government, including its most reactionary Members. He could not put in anything he wanted. It was a Government Bill, introduced by him because he was the Minister in charge of a great Department.

Did the hon. Member expect him to report any opposition? Is it the business of a Member of a Coalition Government to report dissensions in the Cabinet?

They would not be in Order anyhow, and the hon. Member knew that very well when be made his intervention. He hoped I did not. Here we have a Bill which concedes reluctantly and in very small degree a principle which was forced upon the Government, which they were no longer able to resist but upon which they do as little as they are able to do. I suppose we shall have our remedy later, but I do urge hon. Members opposite, in their campaign in the coming weeks, to remember the Bill on which they hope to get a unanimous Third Reading to-day, and not to be too enthusiastic about the danger of the community interfering in its own affairs.

4.56 p.m.

I do not want to add too much, to what has been said already, but the fact that the Bill will pass its Third Reading today says a great deal for the good sense of the House of Commons as a whole, as well as of the Ministers and ex-Ministers of his Majesty's Government. The whole sense of the House is that we should do something practical for those areas which have been depressed in past years. The difficulty of the Government was to give some practical help to those areas without at the same time tending to cause uncertainties which result in businesses in other parts of the country not going forward in the way which they and every Member of this House would like. The Government have acted wisely in the Bill.

There is one point I wish to make. When we were dealing during the Committee stage with the Schedule the Minister made certain promises to me to consider the position of various local authorities. I referred him to the instance of Leith. He would do well, as would whatever Minister is in power, to reconsider that Schedule very carefully at a future date. If it were not for that promise, one might transgress the Rules of the House by pointing out the claims of various places to be included in the Schedule; but having that promise I feel certain that the President of the Board of Trade, whom I hope we shall see in his place some months from now, will carry it out. I congratulate him. If it had not been for his pertinacity and that of his colleagues, the Bill would not have come forward now. I hope the House will wholeheartedly respond to the Minister's request for a Third Reading.

4.58 p.m.

If the hon. and learned Member who has just spoken had had me for one of his colleagues on the Standing Committee, I would have been able to prove to him that the Bill does not go far enough in certain directions. You were good enough to explain, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, why the Amendments which I put down for the Report stage were not in Order, because conditions have changed between the Com- mittee stage and the Report stage. The Amendments would have been in Order on the Committee stage although not in Order on the Report stage. Therefore I am brought to the point of making some observations, hoping very much to be able to keep in Order and not transgress the rule about discussing Amendments on Third Reading. I would like to get some indication from the Minister as to how he can meet the position in my constituency which is left cut through in the middle by the provisions in the Schedule, and how that position is to be met by the local authorities involved.

Clause 6 gives the Minister opportunities of dealing with the Schedule by taking into consideration from time to time the question of altering it. Sub-section (2) goes on to say that where at any time it appears to the Board of Trade that there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment, certain things can be done, but, as I see it, that special danger can be proved by the fact that unemployment had taken place already in the years before the war. That kind of representation can very well be made by the local authorities, the county council and the burgh councils in my constituency. It can be shown that there had been a greater measure of unemployment in the portion that is left out than in the area of my constituency which is scheduled. That would seem to me to be prima facie proof of the fact that there was, when peace conditions return, a special danger of unemployment that would entitle the whole of the county to be brought within the Schedule.

I wish to know from the Minister what kind of representations are necessary, and when he will be willing to receive the representations that may be made to him in order to get him to implement the powers that are given to him in Clause 6. He will be helping greatly people who are very much concerned about the failure of this Bill to deal with the northern part of my constituency if he can show how quickly and easily the representations can be made, and if he will give an undertaking that on having sound and sensible representations made to him he will give effect to them, and bring within the Schedule of this Bill the whole of the county, instead of only part of it. Representations have already been made along those lines.

I have been fairly patient in this matter. The hon. Member is quite entitled to say that part of his constituency ought not to appear in the Bill. If he wishes to do that he can do so, but he must not say that part of his constituency which is outside the Bill must come in. I know that under Clause 6, as amended, it is possible for other areas to be brought in, but that aspect must not be developed too far.

On a point of Order. Would it be possible to argue that one might regret that only part was in the Bill?

I have tried to explain that the hon. Member is rather over-emphasising the part he wanted included in the Bill. I hope he will not develop that point.

It seems to me that to regret that only a part is in would perhaps be inviting the Minister to take that part out, and I have no wish to do that. I want to have the Bill so for as it goes. It is simply that I want it to go further. The point I was desirous of putting to the Minister concerns many representations that have been made by the local authorities, by trade unions and others to the Board of Trade. I wish to know if these will be considered now in the light of the passing of this Bill, more particularly owing to the fact that upstairs in Committee many Amendments were slaughtered, and I feel that I must not complain that in that slaughter of innocents my twin ewe lambs, because my Amendments were twins, should also be slaughtered. Will the Minister take into account the representations that have already been made, in order to enable him to judge as to whether parts of my own constituency should be added under the Schedule?

5.5 p.m.

As a Member for one of the special areas I wish to take this opportunity to say how glad I am that this Bill, though amended, is to reach the Statute Book, and to congratulate my right hon. Friend very warmly on that achievement. I was rather interested in the point made by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), because he was at some pains to explain that the deficiencies in the Bill were due to the restrictions which possibly had been placed upon the late President of the Board of Trade by the rest of the Members of the Government. I would prefer to put it the other way round and say, on this occasion, that it was a joint measure of co-operation of all the political parties to make a contribution to the special areas problem.

I do not think we need discuss now what happened in the Cabinet of another Government. There will soon be an occasion for that.

My question was not on that point. I was only going to ask the hon. Lady whether she would not concede that the principle of this Bill is the principle of Government or communal restriction and control of the flow and placing of industry, and whether that is not in conflict with any view that these questions could be decided by private enterprise?

I had no intention of transgressing the rules of the House and entering into a political argument on this occasion. I am looking forward, in the General Election, to arguing in my own area about what my own Party has been able to do, because I am glad to be able to say that private enterprise has played a very large part during the war—

Here I must interrupt the hon. Lady as this matter is really not in the Bill.

5.8 p.m.

I will not detain the House for more than a few minutes. I had and still have several pleasant duties to perform. My first duty was to have been to congratulate my predecessor at the Board of Trade on having got this Bill, but after listening to the speech of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), who I do not think has read the Bill—

The right hon. Gentleman has given way because he has more manners than some Members. I am sure he would not wish to persist in a remark which, whatever its jocular appeal, would do me an injustice. I never take part in the discussion of a Bill which I have not read. My intelligence may be limited, but I have read the Bill.

I certainly apologise to the hon. Member. I might put my remarks in another form and suggest that he re-reads the Bill. I hope that will meet his point in a courteous manner. After listening to the speech of the hon. Member I realise that the late President of the Board of Trade is not to be congratulated at all, but in spite of that I shall congratulate him. I should next like to congratulate the hon. and gallant Member for Newport (Lieut.-Commander Bell) for a most interesting and able maiden speech. We shall hope to hear him often, particularly on these industrial questions. In describing the Bill as "small mercies" he anticipated some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, who has the habit of looking gift horses in the mouth and then saving that they have no teeth.

As far as the special areas are concerned, this Bill is a very positive one. I must say about the points that the hon. and gallant Member for Newport raised that as far as the Development Areas are concerned these positive matters in the Bill will help them, and I do not regard the mercies as small. I would like to thank right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House for the constructive work they did on the Bill in the Standing Committee upstairs, and the expedition with which the late stages of the Bill were taken. It has been improved in very important respects. For example, the obligation of the Board of Trade to consult with local authorities about the operation of Clause 6 has been added to the Bill, and is part of it, and has not taken the form of a mere administrative pledge. Then there was another matter about which hon. Members advanced considerable anxieties, that was, the provision under which the building of factories of more than 3,000 sq. ft. involved notification to the Board of Trade. That has been altered to 10,000 sq. ft., and I think that many of the anxieties which hon. Members expressed about this particular matter have been thereby allayed.

The Government want the Bill as a matter of urgency. It has from the beginning been the subject of very close discussion between my predecessor and myself, and I must repudiate any suggestion that I am insincere, which was the suggestion of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne.

On a point of Order. I did not accuse anybody of being insincere. I do not think it is in Order to suggest that I did.

My definition of "insincerity" may be different from that of the hon. Member.

The right hon. Gentleman must not impute words and put them in my mouth.

If the hon. Member made any suggestion of that kind I assure him that I am entirely sincere in my support for this Measure. My name was on the original Bill, and any idea that these proposals, which have my whole-hearted support, are other than perfectly constructive ones, I must deny. The matter is urgent. At this moment industry is in a very fluid condition. Industrialists are now thinking more closely about the location of new plants, the extension of their existing undertakings, and all other forms of extension which the partial change from war production to peace production entails. Furthermore, the Board of Trade, under schemes framed by my predecessor, have many plans on paper, so to speak, for building new plants and for developing trading estates, and the positive powers which this Bill gives are necessary if these paper plans are to take form, as quickly as possible. If we were not to get the Bill these plans would remain on paper, and would not be realised.

With regard to the Schedule, which went very quickly through the Committee, I would like to be able to give some reassurances to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers). During the Committee stage I gave a pledge that I would at once look at any Amendments which had been proposed, with the hon. Members who had proposed them, to see if a case—which I again emphasise is not, under Clause 6, a case in which devastation has occurred or in which unemployment has begun to be rife, but is a case in which, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, there is a danger of such unemployment arising—

In regard to the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Mathers) and my own, the railway line is the border. The part South of the railway line is to be developed, but quite conceivably, in order to benefit the part South of the railway line, it might be more convenient to put something just over the line—on the wrong side of the line—for development purposes. I hope that in such development common sense will rule, not just the letter of the law.

The point I am making is that it is open to hon. Members, as soon as this Measure becomes law, to make representations to the Board of Trade in the ordinary way—the doors are always open—to see if a case can be made out that there is a special danger of unemployment, whether from the causes mentioned by my hon. Friend or from other causes. Then there is everything to impel the Board of Trade, subject to the approval of Parliament, to add those areas to the Schedule. We did not, as my hon. Friend the Member for The Wrekin (Mr. Colegate) mentioned, have a very long discussion on the Schedules, because it is clear that it could have gone on almost interminably. But, in order to allay anxieties which hon. Members felt, I gave a most specific pledge, which I now reiterate, that I am prepared, as soon as the Bill becomes law, to enter into discussions with any hon. Member, to ascertain whether there are any special dangers in areas with which they are concerned. As the transition from war to peace production proceeds, we shall get a much better idea of what further areas, if any, should be added to the Schedule. I hope that that assurance will allay anxieties.

I think that this Bill is a useful, and in no way vexatious, instrument for carrying out a purpose which I believe is common to all parties. It is a weapon which can be used against unemployment, by bringing about diversification and by trying to balance industries in the various areas, so that when one is slack and another is active the slackness does not fall upon a particular part of the country. It will, I believe, preserve some of the social capital, as it has been called, which might otherwise be lost. Lastly—and perhaps I speak more with the voice of the Minister of Production in this matter—it tends to disperse those vital in- dustries which are necessary for the waging of war and the sustenance of our population during war, rather than concentrating them in one place. I think that is another reason why the Measure will be extremely useful and beneficial to the nation as a whole.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.