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London Borough Of Ealing

Volume 35: debated on Monday 17 January 1983

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much in total grant he is making available to industry in the London borough of Ealing; and if he will make a statement.

Industry in Ealing qualifies for assistance under a variety of schemes run by my Department. Since May 1979, 16 individual offers have been made under the Science and Technology Act and section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 involving grants of £868,000 for projects involving innovation, energy conservation and coal firing.

Those grants are welcome. Is my hon. Friend aware that Ealing is not an assisted area and does not receive industrial grants on the same scale as assisted areas? Is he further aware that assisted areas, are drawing jobs away from unassisted areas, such as Ealing—for example, Hoover was drawn to Scotland and Wales, where it could take advantage of assisted areas facilities—and that is to the detriment of workers in such areas? Is it not most unfair?

I am aware of those problems, and my hon. Friend is very active in putting them forward. He and I have corresponded about them. I know of the efforts that he is making to retain jobs in Ealing and to achieve restructuring to provide new jobs. As a result, unemployment in Ealing is 3 per cent. lower than the national average. That is an indication of the success of my hon. Friend's efforts, and it makes it difficult to give it assisted area status.