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Development Districts

Volume 655: debated on Thursday 15 March 1962

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2 and 3.

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what consultations he has, and with whom, before taking an area from the list of areas receiving assistance under the Local Employment Act, 1960;

(2) how often reviews take place of the list of areas receiving assistance under the Local Employment Act, 1960.

The Board of Trade keeps the list of development districts continuously under review and consults the Ministry of Labour and other interested Departments before any changes are decided upon.

Is the Minister aware of the great dissatisfaction caused by the fact that a number of areas have been taken off the list? Is he aware that no reason at all seems to be given when an area is removed from the list? The right hon. Gentleman talks about jobs in prospect as the reason for areas being descheduled. Should not the only criteria be jobs in actual fact before such a decision is taken? Can we be assured that the right hon. Gentleman has not been dictated to by the Treasury in removing these places from the list?

I am not sure whether the hon. Member has in mind the stop list or the actual descheduling. We deschedule areas when we are satisfied that enough has been done or will be done for a locality to make it unnecessary for it still to remain a development district.


asked the President of the Board of Trade what financial assistance is given to firms wishing to set up industries within reach of development districts; and whether he is satisfied with the volume of such assistance.

Under the Local Employment Act, localities to which workers living in a development district can conveniently travel to work are themselves deemed to be development districts. Firms setting up in these localities can therefore obtain financial assistance to the extent to which their projects are likely to benefit a development district. The answer to the second part of the Question is "Yes, Sir".

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider extending the areas of the development districts; that is to say, instead of using the present method, will he consider, for instance, regarding the whole of the south-east of Northumberland as a development district so that there is some inducement and greater attraction to industrialists who are moving in, who would certainly have greater scope in which to look at the relocation of new industries?

I appreciate the principles which underlie the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. But I feel that that would be to go back to the concept prior to the passage of the 1960 Act, which was fully debated in the House, when the House agreed that we should move to the idea of development districts and concentrate on areas where unemployment was highest.

While I appreciate that reply, the fact still remains that the method he is defending—we are not really complaining about it, but rather asking him to look at an alternative—is not providing the goods in the way we wanted? Some further examination is obviously needed. Will he make it?

There are special difficulties in the area in which the hon. Gentleman is interested, but over the country as a whole the new arrangements are working well. The reason I say this is because we want to get the factories as near as possible to where the unemployment exists.