Development Areas (Select Committee's Report)

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd February 1956.

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Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North 12:00 am, 2nd February 1956

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to the Report on Development Areas by the Select Committee on Estimates; and if he will make a statement on the Committee's recommendations.

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The Report is under consideration, and the Board will be commenting on it in due course.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Does the President realise that this Report contains a number of inaccurate and misleading statements and that in the opinion of many of my hon. Friends he would be well advised to disregard the majority of its recommendations?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I think I would be prudent to reserve any comments I have to make on the Report to a later stage.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind when considering this Report that the Select Committee on Estimates apparently came to its conclusions and its recommendations—at any rate in regard to the North-East Lancashire Development Area—on totally misconceived foundations and appeared to think that the case for that area rested only on the degree of unemployment in the area, whereas it really rests upon the overwhelming need for diversification of industry?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

The hon. Member is right in saying that there are other factors than the level of employment at a particular moment which ought to be taken into account.

Mr. Cherwynd:

Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that all well-informed opinion in the North-East Development Area agrees that there is no case yet for de-scheduling any part of it?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

think the questions show that this is a matter upon which varying views can be held. We had better reserve comment until we have all had an opportunity of studying the Report of the Select Committee on Estimates.

Mr. H. Wilson:

In considering the Report, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that certainly among those with any knowledge of the Development Areas there is no variation of opinion on the Report at all, and that while no one impugns the hard work done by the members of that Committee, their conscientiousness and sincerity, nevertheless it is a fact that hardly any of them—if any—represent Development Areas or have had any practical experience of dealing with those areas? In considering the evidence supplied to his Department, will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that the conclusions bear no regard at all to the evidence submitted?

Photo of Mr Peter Thorneycroft Mr Peter Thorneycroft , Monmouth

I am fully aware of the contribution which has been made to this big problem of diversification, not only by this Government but by preceding Governments, and I am approaching this matter with that thought well in mind.

Photo of Miss Elaine Burton Miss Elaine Burton , Coventry South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would you allow me, as Chairman of this Committee which has made the Report, merely to correct my right hon. Friend the Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) in the statement he has just made, in all fairness to the Select Committee on Estimates? I am not dealing with the merits of the matter, but, if I understood my right hon. Friend correctly, he said that the members of that Committee had had no experience of work in the Development Areas, which is not correct. That is all I wish to say.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

I do not think it is a point of order, but quite obviously we cannot discuss a big and important Report of this character at Question Time.