Government-Financed Factories

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 George Chetwynd Mr George Chetwynd , Stockton-on-Tees 12:00 am, 29th January 1959

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will encourage firms to maintain production in Government-financed factories in Development Areas by reverting to a policy of preferential rents; and whether he will attract firms to Development Areas by offering the inducement of uneconomic rents.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will allow greater discretion to trading estate companies with regard to the leasing of Government-financed factories.

Photo of Mr Percy Morris Mr Percy Morris , Swansea West

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a well-equipped clothing factory on the Fforestfach Trading Estate was refused by the Hebe Jacqmar Company, Limited, owing to the high rent demanded; if he is further aware that nearly 1,000 clothing workers are unemployed in this area; and if he will implement the Government's promise to induce industries to come to South Wales, even at the cost of revising the rents on trading estates.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

We accepted the Recommendation of the Select Committee on Estimates that rents for Board of Trade factories should reflect current market values. I am considering whether any modification of the policy is necessary in cases of particular difficulty.

Photo of Mr George Chetwynd Mr George Chetwynd , Stockton-on-Tees

In view of the very changed conditions, particularly in the Development Areas, would not it be wise to revert to the practice, so successful in the early days of the Distribution of Industry Act, of offering cheap rents to industrialists who come to Development Areas? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that in marginal cases the offer of a cheap rent will be all-important in persuading people to remain there as well as to come there?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I am looking carefully to see to what extent that might be so. A very large number of these people have done well in the factories they have taken and it is only reasonable to see that they feel that justice is being done, if someone else were charged a different rent.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

While considering this problem, will the right hon. Gentleman review the matter in the light of our experience of past years and consider allowing these companies much wider commercial discretion? They have considerable experience of how the various firms have turned out in the past and it would be far better to recognise that and allow them to decide the rents themselves.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

Public money is involved and therefore we have to take care, but I agree with the hon. Gentleman that some exceptions might now be justified.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of industrialists have been in the Scottish Industrial Estates for some years and that if special need market value rents are imposed they will have no choice but to close the factories and create more unemployment in areas where we have very heavy unemployment?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

We have no substantial evidence that that is so, but if it comes to hand we will look at it.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

I have already written to the right hon. Gentleman but I have had no reply.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

asked the President? of the Board of Trade in what areas the Government are at present willing to build Government-financed factories under the Distribution of Industry Acts.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

Dundee, Greenock, North Lanarkshire, West South Wales and North-East Lancashire.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

Does not this new limited list mean that the President has de-scheduled a number of areas without saying so *o Parliament? Does not the right hon. Gentleman understand that the limit of help given ought to be the need and not some artificial financial ceiling?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

That is exactly the criterion we try to apply. We try to concentrate on the building of Government factories where they are needed, and it is for that reason that we have selected the areas I have mentioned.

Photo of Mr Anthony Fell Mr Anthony Fell , Yarmouth

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me why certain areas of East Anglia, which have suffered greatly from unemployment in recent years and, indeed, before the war, have not been included in the scheme?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I should have to have notice of that supplementary question.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

asked the President of the Board of Trade how many new Government-financed factories are to be built on the North-East Development Area: and what is to be their location.

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

I have recently authorised twenty-three extensions to factories on the Board of Trade's estates in that area. I am letting the hon. Member know where these are.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I am obliged to the President of the Board of Trade for the approval of these extensions, but may I ask whether he realises that his reply is still discouraging? What we want in the North-East are still more new enterprises. Will he consider reverting to the policy of building advance factories?

Photo of Mr David Eccles Mr David Eccles , Chippenham

What is wanted in the North-East and in other parts of the country is new opportunities for employment, and whether they come from extensions or new factories is not a material point. The extensions of which I have just spoken will employ 2,400 people.