I regret that I cannot say without further inquiry what proportion of the orders for coal were placed with firms in the North-Eastern area. As regards other goods, the proportion of direct orders given by the Office of Works during the period mentioned, was approximately 1 per cent. As regards the second part of the question, it is the practice, other things being equal, to give preference in the allocation of contracts to tenders received from firms in the Special Areas: in addition, special steps have been taken to bring contracts open to tender to the notice of firms in these areas.
As it is of no use asking the Under-Secretary for the Home Department questions on this matter, may I ask the Prime Minister whether the Cabinet, in view of the serious condition of employment in the North-Eastern area, are impressing upon the purchasing Departments the necessity, where other things are equal, of considering the things that are not equal, that is to say, the high proportion of unemployment in this area? The Prime Minister ought to reply to this question.
In the allocation of contracts, the Admiralty always have under review all relevant factors such as the prices quoted and the situation in the various shipbuilding areas. In present circumstances, it is reasonable to anticipate that the Tyne will receive a considerable share of such contracts.
In view of the very large orders that must be placed for educational services in this country, has the right hon. Gentleman's Department no influence on how these orders are placed?
If the hon. Lady's question refers to orders placed by local education authorities and she will put it on the Paper in that form, I will see what information I can obtain for her.