asked the Secretary of State for Industry what expansion he expects to provide for male employment opportunities in Consett and Stanley, County Durham, in the next financial year.
Regional selective assistance offered under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 to projects located in Consett and Stanley is expected to provide 240 male jobs in the year ending 31st March 1978. In addition, employment is also expected to arise from the payment of regional development grants and the provision of Government factories.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Is he aware that, apart from the constantly high level of unemployment in Consett and Stanley, there is also a continuing loss of jobs in the basic industries such as steel and coal mining on which the economy of the area is dependent? Is he aware that this continuing loss of jobs shows no sign of abating?
I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern. The area to which he referred has special development area status—the highest level of assistance that is available. In Consett and Stanley there have been 19 offers of regional selective assistance amounting to over £600,000 in respect of projects that are expected to cost £11 million. The projects will involve 1,600 new or safeguarded jobs. In addition, there are two advance factories available in Consett. We try to provide every possible incentive to industry to go to areas such as this. It is a continuing problem, but my Department is using its best endeavours to bring some amelioration to the problem.