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Greater London

Volume 933: debated on Monday 13 June 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will now take steps to encourage new industries to move into the Greater London area.

The forthcoming White Paper will contain proposals to encourage industry in inner urban areas, including those of London.

Will my hon. Friend consider liaising with the London boroughs to establish a register of industrial sites to see that they are protected so that industry can return to them? Will he ensure that they are not used for the construction of warehouses which will prevent industry from returning to the Greater London area?

That is an interesting suggestion which I shall consider. We have already had approaches from individual boroughs within the Greater London area. Where we can intervene to assist in the preservation of sites and to release sites which would otherwise be moribund, we shall do so.

Will my hon. Friend consult his colleague the Secretary of State for Employment on the question of the serious youth unemployment in London and see what he can do, in consultation with his right hon. Friend, to bring some relief to this problem?

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has been very much involved in the review of all the factors affecting youth unemployment, and I shall take my hon. Friend's points into account.

May I ask the hon. Gentleman whether, ahead of the publication of the White Paper, he agrees that another manifestation that urgent action is needed is that unemployment in the Greater London area in the last two years has for the first time become deep-seated and will become long-term unless the old traditional discouragement policies are discontinued?

The Government have great regard to unemployment in the London area and have been taking action where possible. There are a number of factors that have produced unemployment in the London area. It is not regional policy that has produced this situation. Many other factors are involved. As the hon. Gentleman knows, we are having discussions about the matter, and a White Paper will be produced, which is evidence of the concern that the Government have shown.

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are parts of the Greater London area where unemployment is a good deal higher than in many of the development areas? Will he take steps not only to bring in new industry but to prevent existing industry in London from moving out, because it is still moving out under the pressure of the regional policies with which he is proceeding?

Only 9 per cent. of jobs have gone to development areas from London. As I said earlier, there are many other factors that have led my hon. Friend to make the points that he has made today. The travel-to-work area statistics, which are general statistics, hide pools of much higher levels of unemployment. The Government are very concerned about the situation and are entering into discussions and producing a White Paper as a precursor to discussion and debate to see in what ways we can improve the situation.

When the hon. Gentleman is preparing the White Paper, will he take into account the need for positive encouragement to be given to firms that are already in London and wish to expand? Will he give them encouragement rather than the discouragement that they have had in the past?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, we have made a number of industrial development certificate concessions about this. We have taken into account the representations that have been made, and I can reiterate that the Government's concern is exhibited by the partnership proposals with inner city areas that have been announced, together with the White Paper that will be published very shortly.