Medway Towns

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Commerce – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 29th January 1959.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester and Chatham 12:00 am, 29th January 1959

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will designate the Medway towns as a special area to meet the growing redundancy consequent upon the Royal Navy leaving Chatham.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

The criterion for adding to the list of places which qualify for financial assistance under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act is high and persistent unemployment, and I am glad to say that the Medway towns are not in this category.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester and Chatham

Where, by deliberate action of the Government in this case, establishments are to close down and unemployment will grow, would not it show wisdom on the part of the Government if they were to have foresight and to plan for the future?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

That is exactly what the Government are doing. The right hon. Gentleman may have seen even today an announcement by the Admiralty that the Royal Marine barracks at Chatham have been sold to a commercial user.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Rochester and Chatham

Is the President of the Board of Trade aware that the Royal Marine barracks at Chatham have been lying idle for over seven years, and that the Chamber of Commerce all that time ago suggested that they should be used for industry, and that to say something has been accomplished after seven years ought not to give any satisfaction to the Government?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I understand that the rundown is not going to be so sudden or so severe as, perhaps, the right hon. Gentleman thinks, but we shall watch this position carefully and welcome any suggestion he may make.