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Local Authorities (Grants To Industry)

Volume 961: debated on Wednesday 31 January 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which local authorities have made grants to attract industry, using the provisions of the Inner Urban Areas Act.

This information is not yet available. But designated authorities will be asked to let my Department know the level of expenditure and income under the Act and possible other relevant information at the end of this financial year and for subsequent years.

Is the Minister aware that while his Department is encouraging grants and loans to industry through the Inner Urban Areas Act and encouraging industry to come back to London, the regional policies of the Department of Industry are pulling in exactly the opposite direction and continue unabated, as does the Government's policy for the dispersal of civil servants? What will the right hon. Gentleman do to ensure that everybody in the boat rows in the same direction?

The hon. Gentleman is being somewhat unfair to the Department of Industry. It is not for me to answer in detail for it. No doubt the hon. Gentleman will table an appropriate question. Considerable changes have been announced since the introduction of the inner city initiative in the operation of IDC policy and in industrial development by the Department of Industry. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman checks on the statements that have been issued and are now operative in all the inner city areas that are otherwise outside assisted area status. I refer especially to London and Birmingham.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his Department has a responsibility for planning? Does he agree that it is pointless for Ministers to say that they support local authorities that are trying to attract industry back to London when, at the same time, they approve menacing planning schemes? For example, the planning department of the London borough of Ealing has allowed masses of warehouses to be built on land where industry could have been sited. That is a matter that my right hon. Friend should examine.

Except in certain respects where reserve powers apply, Ministers with planning responsibilities are not responsible for the detailed operation of planning procedures. That responsibility has been given by Parliament to local planning departments.

Warehousing policy in certain parts of London near Heathrow airport has been going on for a good many years, and it is not directly connected, to say the least, with inner city policy.