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South Yorkshire

Volume 888: debated on Monday 10 March 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry, if he will take action to reduce the high unemployment in certain areas of South Yorkshire, by reclassifying the South Yorkshire intermediate area as a development district.

While unemployment in South Yorkshire is certainly too high, particularly in certain areas, the general level is about the national average and, therefore, reclassification cannot be justified at the moment.

Does my hon. Friend realise that we are not standing for that? Is he aware that unemployment in the Mexborough district has been running at between 6·5 per cent. and 6·7 per cent. in recent years and that young people in the area have to go outside it to find suitable jobs? When will the Government do something to ensure that South Yorkshire has more viable industries and more diversification to provide some alternative to the pits for our young people?

The Government's policy in relation to the classification of areas·and it has been the policy of all Governments—is to do it on a broad-band basis. We understand that within the broad bands some parts have a very high level of unemployment. We are looking at the whole matter, but at this stage I am afraid that I cannot give my hon. Friend the answer that he wants, which is to upgrade certain areas within the broad band.

Is the Minister aware that the newly-constituted area of South Yorkshire was created for local government purposes and that for any treatment of the kind proposed in the Question the whole industrial area of the former West Riding should be considered as one unit?

Local government boundaries and areas for intermediate, development and special development areas do not necessarily follow the same lines. I reiterate that this area is an intermediate area. It gets certain assistance from the Government. Nevertheless, there are problems within the area. We understand this. The position at the moment is that there is a general recession throughout industry, which not only applies to the Yorkshire area concerned but extends into development and special development areas with even higher levels of unemployment.