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Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what estimate she has made of the number of new jobs which will be provided in the Humber area during the construction of the Humber Bridge.

No estimate has been made of the total number of new jobs, but the construction of a Humber Bridge would be likely to require on average about 250 workers, over a period of about five and a half years.

As no decision has yet been taken on whether to build this bridge, nearly three years after the right hon. Lady the First Secretary of State misled the citizens of Hull about it at a by-election, will it now be made even more remote by the economic freeze, which the right hon. Lady was unable to foresee at Bassetlaw a short time ago?

The hon. Gentleman has been here long enough to know that the question of fixing a date for the building of the Humber bridge is not one to be addressed to me.

We all know that this is the usual political gimmick of a staggering, stagnant and moribund Opposition—it cannot even win by-elections. However, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that, with unemployment on Humberside, we are at a disadvantage in competing with development areas, particularly in shipbuilding? Will he please turn his mind to this question of getting industries to Humberside, particularly to Hull?

I am well aware of the real problems of Humberside. As my hon. Friend knows I have received a deputation, including my hon. Friend and his colleagues, and I have also met the local employment committee. We will do what we can to help in the circumstances he has outlined.

Are we to understand that the Government no longer believe that the Humber Bridge is important for the development of employment in this area?

The right hon. Gentleman is not to understand that. He knows perfectly well that building bridges is not a matter for the Department of Employment and Productivity, but for the Minister of Transport.