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National Enterprise Board

Volume 975: debated on Monday 10 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether any guidelines have been given to the newly constituted National Enterprise Board.

The existing guidelines will remain in force until the Industry Bill has been enacted. A draft of the revised guidelines reflecting the Bill's provisions and the new role of the NEB will be available to the House tomorrow.

Is the Secretary of State aware of deep concern in the North-East now that it is being said that Inmos is not to locate one of its manufacturing units in that region? Does not that warrant intervention by the National Enterprise Board, particularly as it is also said that a second allocation will be made to Bristol, which is not a special development area?

That decision is for the company and the National Enterprise Board to make.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the general guidelines should be for Her Majesty's Government to encourage private enterprise where it is willing and able to do the job?

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the guidelines just mentioned will not preclude the possibility of the Northern region having a northern development agency, of the type pressed upon him by the northern group of Labour Members?

The guidelines will not preclude such a possibility, which will be considered on its merits.

Since, on Thursday, the Under-Secretary, the hon. Member for Basingstoke (Mr. Mitchell), told us in Committee that he would apologise if the guidelines were altered before they were published, and since at the same time the new board of the NEB proposes changes in those guidelines, what does the Secretary of State propose to do? Will he apologise or will he force the resignation of this board?

My hon. Friend offered to apologise if the guidelines were not available for presentation tomorrow and we adhere to the intention to publish the guidelines tomorrow. The National Enterprise Board has been consulted.