On 24th May, 1952, the latest date for which official statistics are available, 1,312 men and boys and 3,483 women and girls, making a total of 4,795, were unemployed in these factories.
Does the hon. and learned Member realise that we are very disturbed in Sunderland at the fact that these newly-built factories are employing numbers far short of those that they were expected to employ?
asked the President of the Board of Trade, as the numbers employed have fallen by 2,373 persons between 30th September, 1951, and 31st May, 1952, and are continuing to fall, what special steps he is taking to promote employment in the factories administered by the North-Eastern Trading Estates Limited.
While unemployment in the North Eastern Development Area at 2.5 per cent. is greater than the average for the country at 2.1 per cent., it is much less than the average of the development areas as a whole at 3.4 per cent. In these circumstances we should not be justified in taking measures for the North-Eastern Trading Estates which were not applicable to Development Areas as a whole. On our policy for promoting employment in these areas I would refer the hon. Member to what I said in the debates on 7th December, 1951, and 29th May, 1952.
Does the hon. and learned Member realise that this is a very depressing reply for the North-East Coast, and a far more depressing reply for the other Development Areas? For the past eight months we have had increased redundancy and continued pay-offs at these new factories. We think that this is a reversal of Government policy, and we want a reversion to the policy of the last Government.
The building of factories in the Development Areas in advance of demand was deferred indefinitely by the previous Government early in 1951. Shortage of steel and the need to restrict capital investment are such that we should not be justified in reversing the decision.
Does the hon. and learned Member not realise that late in 1951 the late Administration agreed that we should proceed with at least two advance factories, and what has happened to these in view of the dangerous dependence on purely armament work in that area?
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman not realise that important bodies like the North East Development Association point out that a definite undertaking was given by the late Administration late in 1951 that two factories should be proceeded with? Why have these not gone forward?
I think that the whole House would agree that it would be quite monstrous to build factories in advance of demand when present conditions make it impossible to build factories for which there is an existing demand.