I have received representations on this subject during the past year from Ayr County Council and from several of the town councils. The action taken by the Government includes the addition of North-West Ayrshire to the list of areas eligible for assistance under the Distribution of Industry Act, 1958. I have recently approved an overspill agreement and a town development scheme prepared by the Town Council of Irvine, and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has continuously sought to attract new industry into those parts of the county suffering from high and persistent unemployment.
Will the Secretary of State tell us what has been achieved by the Distribution of Industry Act and D.A.T.A.C. procedure? Is he aware that the changes in relation to the Distribution of Industry Act have produced two schemes that eventually will employ 178 people in an area in which over 6,000 are unemployed? Is he aware that Members of Parliament constantly receive appeals from local authorities, of all political complexions, asking that everything should be done to produce light industries for places like Prestwick, Ayr, Kilmarnock and North Ayrshire? Will the Secretary of State appreciate the gravity of the situation there and do something about it?
Of course, I appreciate the gravity of the situation, but the hon. Member knows as well as I do that unless the Government take power to direct industries—and I take it that the party opposite does not intend to direct industry; if it does, it should say so—the policy of inducement and trying to find industry to come takes time. I hope that the hon. Member will help the local authorities to achieve what we all desire.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that we are all deeply conscious of, and grateful for, the efforts that he and his right hon. Friends the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Labour are making to reduce the hardship at present being suffered in Ayrshire and Ayr and that we look forward to a successful conclusion of their efforts?