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North-East Lancashire (Enterprise Zone)

Volume 129: debated on Thursday 10 March 1988

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7.55 am

First, I thank the Minister for allowing me a few minutes in which to make an important case on behalf of my constituents in Burnley and north-east Lancashire. My questions are brief and simple. I urge the Minister to ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to consider carefully the application for an extension of the north-east Lancashire enterprise zone that was submitted last month, and to meet a delegation from the area that wishes to put the case for that extension.

But for the fact that the Secretary of State announced on 17 December 1987 that he did not consider that the experimental zone should be continued, I would not be pursuing the matter now. Being aware that the Government have said that they do not want to move in that direction, I urge that the scheme should be given most careful consideration.

I also point out to the Minister that my case has the support of the hon. Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Hargreaves) and of the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Lee), who is a Minister and very supportive of the case. I am not trying to be difficult with the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, the hon. Member for Rossendale and Darwen (Mr. Trippier). I recognise that he is in a difficult position, and I cannot ask him to state his views on an enterprise zone that covers his own constituency, in view of the conflict with his ministerial position. I do not in any way malign him, as I understand that he is not in a position to say openly what he feels about the situation.

I was closely connected with the enterprise zone before I came to the House. It covers the four constituencies of Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, and Rossendale and Darwen. It is somewhat different from the normal enterprise zone. Most of the developments a re on greenfield sites rather than derelict land. Since the enterprise zone was declared, it has proved to be an example of what the Government have always advocated—a combination of national and local government and the private sector working together to improve a particular area. It must be said that, in the short time that the enterprise zone has been in existence, the sites are almost full in all the constituencies. It looks like a mini boom-town, which is in stark contrast to many other parts of those four constituencies.

Not only has benefit been felt within those areas but, because of the emphasis that the council has put on showing firms what we can provide, there has been a carryover effect into the rest of north-east Lancashire. Some people have come to look initially at the enterprise zone, and have then gone to other parts of the area.

The particular problems of north-east Lancashire are related to obsolete industrial premises and a narrow economic base. Forty per cent. of the jobs in Burnley are in manufacturing industry. In north-east Lancashire as a whole, two thirds of industrial premises were built before 1930. These are important points. Pendle has even more jobs in the manufacturing sector than Burnley.

It is clear that, of the second generation of enterprise zones declared by the Government, Burnley has been extremely successful. Indeed, we would welcome any Minister to come to view this success. We believe that our case has the full support of the four borough councils in the area. I hope that the Secretary of State will consider the matter, that a delegation will be welcomed, and that the Secretary of State will recognise the success that the enterprise zone has achieved for the area.

7.59 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment
(Mr. Colin Moynihan)

The hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) has made a number of important points especially about the representations that have been made and the effect that they would have on any decision about a ministerial visit. I shall discuss those matters with my colleagues at the Department and ensure that we write to him about that.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the application to extend the enterprise zone. Obviously there are many factors that must be considered, not least the success to date of the existing zone. We shall write to the hon. Gentleman in reply to the specific points that he has drawn to the attention of the House.

It being Eight o'clock, the motion .for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.