Skip to main content

Advance Factories And Industrial Assistance

Volume 931: debated on Thursday 12 May 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many advance factories have been built in Northern Ireland; and how much money has been provided in various forms of assistance to industry in Northern Ireland since 1945

A total of 129 advance factories has been built in Northern Ireland costing £160 million, and just over £602 million has been paid in various forms of assistance to manufacuring industry since 1945. In addition, £268¾ million expended in the same period on selective employment payment—£237½ million—and on training and other employment subsidies—£30¾ million—benefited employers generally but mainly those in manufacturing industry.

I welcome that information. Have the present difficulties in any way endangered—or does the Minister suspect that they are likely to endanger—the further industrial and commercial development in Northern Ireland which he and his colleagues have so vigorously sought? Are there any possible areas of development which currently hang fire depending on an early resolution of the dispute?

There are certain areas of development which are hanging fire in this respect. In my travels and in talking to business men and industrialists throughout the world, I have found that the main factor which we have to build up is confidence.

When we were just getting over the last strike I used to argue that it was a one-off situation. I should find it very difficult to argue that this a two-off situation. But the sooner the strike is over, with the damage that it is doing to the economy in Northern Ireland, the sooner we can get back to doing our job and the sooner I can do my job.

Bearing in mind the difficulty that the Minister mentioned earlier of making a provisional assessment of the damage done in recent weeks, will he comment on the statement by an eminent member of Queen's University that the damage might amount to some £5 million? Does he think that that is roughly the figure?

I think that that is a terribly low estimate. In regard to one development that is now hanging fire, the figure is certainly five times that amount.

Will my hon. Friend tell us how many of the total number of advance factories have been let?

Of the 129 advance factories, 116 are currently in use. There are other premises that we have provided which total another 276—namely, purpose-built factories and factory premises provided for the Local Enterprise Development Units and for purchase and so on. There are not only the advance factories, which total 129. There are another 276 as well.