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Development Areas (Training Grants)

Volume 774: debated on Monday 25 November 1968

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity to what extent assistance is being given by her Department by way of training grants to encourage the provision of additional jobs in development areas.

Up to the end of September, 1968, the direct grants paid out by my Department for this purpose amounted to £2,619,000.

Grants are also available from my Department through the industrial training boards towards the training of semi-skilled workers, apprentices and technicians in the development areas.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that there is sufficient incentive to firms and that the community is receiving the best possible value for this expenditure?

I am certainly satisfied about the second part of the question. As to the first part, my hon. Friend will be aware that the rate of direct grant was doubled just over a year ago. I hope that he will be reassured to know that, during the last year, there have been 960 applications as opposed to 520 in the preceding year, which I at least take as evidence of the fact that sufficient stimulus is now available.

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that the unemployment figures in the Northern Region are now higher than in any November for many years? As this development area groans under the possible effect of the Chancellor's latest decisions, will he do everything possible to increase the number of available new jobs?

The Government's entire regional policy is intended to stimu- late jobs in areas like the one the hon. Gentleman represents. I hope that he will be conscious of the effects of the Regional Employment Premium and welcome its beneficial effects in the North-East.