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Ferrous Foundry Scheme

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the total amount of money given out under the ferrous foundry scheme.

Offers so far made under the ferrous foundry industry scheme total £58 million, and payments £7million. This assistance is related to a total foundry investment of £264 million.

Is there likely to be any money left unspent from this scheme? What additional steps will my right hon. Friend take to ensure that extra investment goes into the foundry industry in order to improve the employment prospects of the workers in the foundry industry, including places such as Bonny-bridge and Denny in my constituency?

I can assure my hon. Friend that the results at Denny are likely to be satisfactory. I think it improbable that there will be funds left over. He will appreciate that the scheme was originally for £25 million. It was increased to £40 million and now stands at £80 million. A substantial part of that has been taken up. Of the 296 foundries that have so far had offers of support, 192 employ fewer than 200 and 62 employ fewer than 50.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider altering the rules of the scheme so as to allow for grant aid the fees for professional assistance in the preparation of the complex submissions required by his Department? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that small foundries find the burden of employing outside accountants considerable?

If that is so, obviously I regret it. The departmental regional offices will do all that they can to assist. Putting the figures I have just given in a different context, what is encouraging is that two-thirds of the approvals given have been given to firms that are small on the basis of the Bolton criteria.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Opposition do not accept that the industry schemes including this one, have caused the investments—to the tune, I believe the Minister said, of about £1 billion—of which the Government boast? Is he aware, further, that we believe that most of the projects in the foundry scheme and all the other industry schemes would have gone ahead anyway without the Government's schemes?

It is fascinating to a great many right hon. and hon. Members to discover that in the past 45 minutes the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) has indicated that he does not approve of support for the steel industry, that he does not approve of support for the car industry and that, obviously, he would not support the various investment schemes put forward by the Government and industry. This is the Conservatives' apology for an industry policy.