Orders of the Day — Local Employment Bill

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd December 1959.

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Considered in Committee [Progress, 1st December].

[Sir GORDON TOUCHE in the Chair]

Clause 1.—(PURPOSE FOR WHICH PART I POWERS EXERCISABLE, AND DURATION OF POWERS.)

4.5 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I beg to move, in page 1, line 10, to leave out from "any" to the end of line and to insert: "development area".

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I think that it would be for the convenience of the Committee if, with this Amendment, we took, also, the Amendment in page 1, line 11, the first Amendment in line 12, the second in line 13, the one in page 2, leave out line 9 and insert "a development area"; and the following Amendments: Clause 2, page 2, line 30; Clause 3, page 3, lines 5 and 7; Clause 4, the second one in line 27; Clause 5, page 4, line 2; Clause 6, page 4, lines 37 and 41; Clause 7, page 5, line 15, the second one in line 24; Clause 15, page 10, two in line 31 and those in lines 33, 36 and 43; page 11, lines 19, 20 and 22; and Clause 16, page 11, line 26.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

With this Amendment which I am moving I understand that we are discussing a number of other Amendments which have the effect of seeking to insert the words "development area" in all the appropriate portions of the Bill.

All that we are seeking to do by these Amendments is to restore to the Bill the term "development area" which was introduced by the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, but which is not contained in the present Bill. It may appear to some of the Committee that this is merely a verbal point of no great substance. We believe that it has some substance, for two reasons which I will explain briefly.

First, if we abandon the idea of a Development Area, such as the North-East Coast or West Cumberland, or the Scottish Development Area have commonly come to be called during these last fifteen years, we feel that there is some danger that these areas and those responsible for distribution of industry policy in them will lose some of the corporate sense of responsibility and loyalty to the area as a whole which undoubtedly has been of some importance in carrying out the distribution of industry effort over these last fifteen years. I think that there is no doubt that whether it be in the case of South Wales, the Scottish area, West Cumberland, or the North-East Coast there has been a good deal of local enthusiasm and of a corporate sense of responsibility and loyalty to the whole effort that has been carried out.

In the Bill it is proposed to substitute the word "locality", which is rather a colourless word, and apparently we are to leave it at that. I agree with the Minister that there is a case for having small areas here and there, as well as large ones. I think that is geographically inevitable, and we shall be discussing that point later, but it does not necessarily follow from that that we are to let slide altogether the idea that at least the large main areas should be a considerable unit of this kind in which people would feel responsibility and loyalty such as I have described.

My second point has, I think, rather more weight, and that is that it was a cardinal motive of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, that we should not give a bad name to these areas by calling them distressed areas or depressed areas, as they had been called in the past. There was a good deal of agreement among industrialists in particular that, quite apart from more solid motives, it was very discouraging to refer to these areas as if they were down and out, or failures, rather than successes, and might not be the sort of places in which to start a new industry.

For that reason Mr. Hugh Dalton, who made so many contributions to this policy and this effort, introduced the term "development areas". I believe—though one cannot measure it exactly—that the substitution of those words for "depressed areas" or "distressed areas" made some contribution in the psychological effort to get new industry into these parts of the country.

It is clear that if we pass the Bill as it is now, these areas, both big and small, will become known as employment areas. That is what they will be called both in industry and in the administrative government machine. I agree that that is somewhat better than the old term "depressed", which was positively discouraging, but we do not feel at all sure that it is not losing something as compared with the more hopeful and more constructive name "development area".

I would not argue that a major part of this effort depends on a name. We feel, however, that there is something in a name. I am not convinced that we want to let it go and substitute "unemployment area" for "development area". Is it not possible, even given the general notion of adding smaller localities, as the President of the Board of Trade now calls them, to the larger industrial areas, to preserve the words "development area" for psychological reasons to give every possible help to those areas and get new industries to go to them?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I will reply to the right hon Gentleman the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) immediately because I think that that will be of benefit to the Committee. I was interested to know the reasons behind the Amendment because, as he rightly said, it has no substantial effect. The definition remains the same. I am impressed by the psychological point which the right hon. Gentleman mentioned. I agree that "distressed areas" is a phrase that we must never use. "Unemployment areas" or "unemployment localities" would be better, but I do not think that they would be satisfactory. We would like to reflect on whether we can find the right phrase.

The Amendment would do damage to the purposes of the Bill, because I think that we are both agreed that we want to be able to cover both large areas and small individual places. My impression is that the phrase "development area" would not cover an individual town. The word "locality" that we are using in the Bill was used in the Development of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 19:58, and under that Act it has been applied to both large areas like Merseyside, and to individual places like Barrow-in-Furness.

If one looks at the 1948 White Paper on the Distribution of Industry it con- tains a passage which, I think, is interesting in referring to "areas". In paragraph 90 it was stated: The Government has throughout maintained the principle that to justify scheduling it must be shown that an area not only has a high rate of unemployment but that the numbers of unemployed are high in the aggregate. The White Paper went on to say: There are, furthermore, obvious objections to scheduling areas with very small populations since the whole conception of a Development Area implies some degree of interchange and mobility of labour. … I understand that on that ground the White Paper argued that it would be inappropriate to schedule, for example, North Wales as a whole, or indeed particular places, or the Highlands of Scotland as a whole. Therefore, if one looks at the words "development area" they would not cover the two conceptions that we have of a big area or of individual places.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I would not accept the words of the White Paper as infallible. The right hon. Gentleman will recall that two places were scheduled in 1945. Pembroke town, on the one hand, and some of the areas immediately surrounding Pembroke Dockyard, and, on the other, Wrexham, which is slightly larger. In both cases they were small districts, but they were always known as Development Areas. It does not seem to be an insuperable difficulty, and if the right hon. Gentleman agrees to think it over, I will not press the point.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I think that we are at one on this: we want a Bill which enables us to deal either with large areas or small ones, and we want to find the right description. I will think over what the right hon. Gentleman said about the right description, but I could not at this stage accept the Amendment which, as I am advised and, I think, rightly, would limit the purposes of the Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman does not press the Amendment I will think it over with the help of any advice that I may receive from the Committee, either now or subsequently, and see whether we can find a better word.

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

An understanding has been reached between my right hon. Friend and the President of the Board of Trade and I do not wish to delay the Committee. I would, however, like to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to Clause 1 (2) which, I suggest, may provide him with an answer to the difficulty that he feels.

If my right hon. Friend had his way and the words "development area" were substituted for "locality" in Clause 1 (1), the circumstances and the places to which the Minister would apply the powers of the Bill would still fall to be defined by Clause 1 (2). It is true that there is a further Amendment which, in the first line of Clause 1 (2) would alter "localities" to "development areas", but the word "locality" is preserved in the second line of Clause 1 (2). There is no Amendment to leave that out.

4.15 p.m.

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

If there is an Amendment to leave that word out, I suggest that it ought not to be put. I think that that would have the correct effect. Clause 1 (1) would then read: … appropriate to the needs of the development area. and Clause 1 (2) would read: The development areas referred to in the foregoing subsection are any locality in Great Britain in which in the opinion of the Board of Trade … a high rate of unemployment exists or is imminent, and is likely to persist (whether seasonally or generally). If Clause 1 (2) were in those terms it would become clear that the size of the area or of any locality was immaterial. The President of the Board of Trade would be able to use the powers either for a large Development Area or for a small Development Area. All that we would be doing would be to substitute, whatever the acreage, the words "development area" for any places to which we wished the powers to apply.

There is a psychological value in using the phrase "development area" instead of "locality", but there is also something else. This bears to a great extent on the general question of whether we are dealing with batches or pockets of unemployment, or whether we are going in for what the Chancellor of the Exchequer called, in another debate, a form of strategic planning. If we are dealing with a whole area, however small, we can talk about diversification of industry and deal with dwindling population. We can deal with everything that it is proper to deal with to restore a failing locality or area to a prosperous one.

If we are thinking only of odd batches or pockets of unemployment, one may regard this as being sufficiently dealt with if the population drifts away and leaves the area or locality derelict and the individuals find some sort of employment in some other place after having pulled up their roots and destroyed the long and carefully built up social capital of the place from which they migrate.

I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the difficulty that he saw about limiting the purposes of the Bill is not a real one provided that the word "locality" is preserved in the second line of Clause 1 (2) and "development area" is substituted in the other two places.

Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland

In addition to the points that have already been made, surely the question of fact is more important than anything else. The President of the Board of Trade referred to the Highlands and Islands as places with a high percentage of unemployment, but the numbers are small. Of course they are small in comparison with Lancashire, the West of Scotland, London or Birmingham, but if they get any smaller there will be no people left at all.

What is needed is development, not in a locality, but in the Highland area which covers about half of Scotland. I would resent those important words being left out of the Bill. I have never asked for anything for my constituency which I have not asked for for every town and large village in the Highland area. I do not want industry in the glens. I want industry in the towns from Campbell-town to Shetland, where people have lived for centuries and where the population has been greatly reduced. We once earned our own living in those areas. We made our own boats, our own ploughs, our clothes and underclothing, and our boots and shoes. We baked our own bread; we did not get it from Glasgow.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Would the hon. Member try to keep closer to the Amendment.

Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland

Nothing could be closer, Sir Gordon. I rose to speak because the President of the Board of Trade referred to something that happened in 1948 which had a very material bearing on the Highland area. I simply cannot accept a Ruling that, when I am speaking about half of Scotland, I cannot make my case. The case I make is a vitally important one. The very thing that my Highland colleagues and Scottish Members have been seeking for a very long time is a Development Area. The whole idea is not negative. It is development.

Do you suggest, Sir Gordon, that the Highlands of Scotland, representing 47 per cent., at least, of Scotland, are a locality? The Highlands are an area.

Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland

I am glad to know that. It is an area where a third of the people live. I said yesterday, and I say again now, that what it needs is development. If the word "development" is cut out of the Bill, I shall resent it and oppose it.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I strongly support the views of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). Apart from various parts of the Bill itself, I dislike its wording. I strongly emphasise that we need in the Bill the idea of development. Indeed, the Title of the Bill, the Local Employment Bill, is wrong. I would rather it were called the Development Bill.

If I may refer to my own area without being out of order, I emphasise that it is now known as the West Cumberland Development Area. We have achieved success. Now, it is all to go. When I wish to use my influence with the Board of Trade, attending with deputations of my colleagues, we seek to encourage the development of the whole area, not just that of my own constituency, the constituency of Whitehaven or parts of the constituency represented by the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw). It is the whole area which we seek to develop.

This is a concept which we must not lose. We have argued at great length about the diversification of industry, just as we shall, no doubt, argue about prob- lems of depopulation. All these matters can be tackled only if one treats an area as a whole, as a development whole. That was the purpose of previous legislation, as has been said over and over again by my hon. Friends and by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland. We regard the Development Areas as a fact. In the area with which I am concerned, we have achieved success. I will not weary the Committee with the success story we could at one time tell. Now we face difficulties and we wish to press forward and redevelop, treating West Cumberland as a unit.

There is also the psychological factor, as has been pointed out. We have come to think in terms not of tackling black spots, but of dealing with the development of areas where industry must be integrated and development considered as a whole. I strongly support this Amendment. The wording of the Bill as now drafted destroys the whole concept of "Development Area". I will quote what the Economist said in one of its main articles on 31st October: By abolishing the nine development areas fourteen years after they were first set up (more strictly, twenty years for the four that were created in 1945 as enlarged versions of the pre-war special areas) the Government's new Local Employment Bill will achieve what no President of the Board of Trade has previously had the courage to do—to take an area out of the list when it no longer needed special help. The President of the Board of Trade has done that, but the point is that there are areas in the list which need help. That is why I condemn the Bill and support the Amendment. I hope that we shall have a better approach to the matter from the right hon. Gentleman than we had in his earlier intervention.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

The President of the Board of Trade must give real thought to defining much more satisfactorily the word "locality". This is really a very important aspect of the Bill, in enabling us to reach a decision which will really bring a cure for the unemployment which at present exists. I agree very much with what was said by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson). One cannot define the locality of the Highlands except by defining the Highland counties as such. Otherwise, one is just tinkering with the problem. It will be insoluble if we do not accept the whole area as a defined locality within which the influence of the Bill may be exerted.

I readily agree that there are other areas further south in Scotland where there could be a much more circumscribed unemployment problem. In such places, the word "locality" might be the appropriate term. There are people studying this matter very seriously in Scotland. All the Scottish Members received this morning a very important circular from the Association of County Councils in Scotland. I am surprised that all the Highland Members are not speaking in the debate, because they control many more of the constituent bodies of the Association of County Councils than we on this side do.

The executive of the Association is very perturbed about this question. It pinpoints this very problem of the word "locality", thus: The word 'locality' is used throughout the Bill. There ought to be some definite information given as to the general yardstick which will be used in determining whether any area is to be regarded as a qualifying 'locality' for the purposes of the Bill. We all agree that that is the definition we want clearly made. It must not be left loose in the Bill, as it is now.

The Secretary of State for Scotland ought to know the problem. I am quite sure that he does; these matters have been pressing very heavily on him for many years. Areas of Scotland are being depopulated because of the "locality" assessment, because they are not being dealt with as a whole. This is particularly true of the Highlands. The circular from which I have read is a copy of a letter sent to the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland. He really ought to tell us what are its repercussions. What is his reception of it?

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

How does my hon. Friend know that he has received it?

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

Because I have a copy of it, and it has been sent to the right hon. Gentleman under cover of a letter from the Association of County Councils. The Association puts the onus on him. I do not want to embroil the President of the Board of Trade in this at all. He ought to get a lead or direction on this matter of "locality" from the Secretary of State, who, I am quite sure, could give it if he has the good will to do so.

I saw the Secretary of State whispering to his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade a moment or two ago. I hope that, since he has received, as we have received, this circular, the Secretary of State will have a word with his right hon. Friend before we pass on, so that we may be given some hope which we can convey to Scotland by this weekend that "locality" will have the definition which so many of us hope it will have in its Scottish connection.

4.30 p.m.

Photo of Sir John Macleod Sir John Macleod , Ross and Cromarty

I, too, am a little disturbed about this matter, because in part of my constituency I have the Highland Development Area. This is now to be withdrawn under the Bill, and I want the position to be made clear. When my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade gave his earlier reply, I gained the impression that he himself was worried about it. His intention is to bring about development in various areas, and he mentioned the Highlands of Scotland. As a Highland Member, I want to know where we stand.

As the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson) pointed out, the word "locality" cannot possibly be used of such a vast area as the Highlands. Presumably, there is a danger of the Highlands as a whole not being on the list permanently, as they were under the D.A.T.A.C. provisions. Under D.A.T.A.C., of course, there have been great delays and inquiries have been made, and I hope that there will be new machinery set up to help in this respect. I understand that, under the D.A.T.A.C. provisions, many inquiries have been made in the Highland area.

I should like to know whether the recognition of difficulties presented by seasonal unemployment, for instance, extends to ensuring that the problem in the Highlands of keeping people employed all the year round will be dealt with. It is a non-industrial area, but there is a comparatively large element of seasonal unemployment there.

I am somewhat disturbed that the idea of "development area" has been dropped now in the Highlands region, and I hope that we shall have a much clearer explanation from my right hon. Friend about what the situation will be in the Highlands, where the Development Area is now to be withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

When the President of the Board of Trade replied to the opening speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) it seemed to me that he began by being very conciliatory and recognising that some new words would have to be found. He recognised the objection to the present drafting of the Clause. He recognised that those areas which are now subject to some support from public funds or areas which are not just receiving support from public funds, but which are attracting the attention of the President of the Board of Trade with a view to his steering industry into them, have been known for years, until July, 1948, as Development Areas.

I must tell the right hon. Gentleman that, subsequent to the 1948 White Paper, in which those words about sparsity of population and the need to find a lot of unemployment in the aggregate occurred, a new area was scheduled in the eastern corner of the constituency represented by the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. MacLeod), yet that was an area where there was no great unemployment in the aggregate. The whole Highland area is sparsely populated. The County of Sutherland, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson)—geographically one of the largest counties in Britain—has a population of less than 14,000. If all the adult men and women in the county were unemployed, there would not be a large number of unemployed persons in the aggregate.

If the President of the Board of Trade is telling us that the Bill cannot, therefore, apply to Sutherland, we are wasting our time. I do not think that he did.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

The right hon. Gentleman says that he means the opposite. But that is why I rose to speak. In part of his reply he gave the impression that he could deal only with an area where there was a sufficient number of unemployed in the aggregate to warrant his attention under the provisions of the Bill when it became an Act.

I hope that the President of the Board of Trade will use some such word as "development" to describe the areas he will assist. All over the United Kingdom, when organisations are set up to promote economic well-being, they are called development associations of one kind or another. We find this in Northern Ireland, where what is being done now is being done under the auspices of the Development Council.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

We have the same thing in Cumberland.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

In Cumberland, too. It is a voluntary body, set up like development councils in other parts of Britain, including Scotland. But all that is being done in Northern Ireland is now being credited to the Northern Ireland Development Council.

I am seeking to make the point that, if we want the Bill to succeed in any area, that area must be known as a Development Area or a development locality. It must not be known as a distressed area or a black spot. Such a description has a disastrous psychological effect upon the people living in the area. I know that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that it is not so easy to obtain the sympathy of an industrialist whom one is trying to steer into a certain area if that area is described as a black spot.

I hope that the President of the Board of Trade recognises that, to deal with the tremendous problem of the North of Scotland, where the aggregate number concerned is not large, he must take action under the Bill, and I submit that the area concerned must, in some way or other, be described a Development Area and not a distressed area. That consideration applies equally to the great industrial areas which are already known as Development Areas.

I lived in a part of Lanarkshire which was known, after the passing of the 1934 Act, as a special area. It worsened when it became known as a distressed area, and so it remained for a long time, until Mr. Dalton decided that such areas should cease to be called distressed areas and become Development Areas. Some hon. Members may feel that this is quite unimportant, but I can assure them that it is not. It was important to reclassify Lanarkshire as a Development Area.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that he is not happy with the present wording of the Clause, and that he will change it. I hope that he can assure us that he will introduce the words "development area", so that those areas which qualify for assistance under the Bill will be recognised by others as Development Areas and not black spots.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I think that I can help at this stage. We are discussing not the powers of the Board of Trade or the administration of the Bill. We are concerned only with what we shall call the distressed localities, or areas in which we are to exercise the powers. We are all anxious that there should be no limit as to size. We do not wish to define areas in such a way as to confine us to small localities or to large districts. We chose the word "localities" because we understood that it could cover either a single town or a wide area. It is not limited in its effect. It may be as large as a Development Area or as small as an individual town. We would normally operate on the basis of an employment exchange area, or a group of employment exchange areas, but the word "locality" was chosen as being a neutral word which does not mean either a large or a small area.

I am much impressed by what hon. Members have said about the word "development." We must get away from the word "distressed," and make these areas as attractive as possible to the industrialist. I ask the Committee to give me an opportunity to study the matter again. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) made an interesting suggestion, and the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) referred to the phrase "development localities." I should like to consider the question again. We must think of a phrase which does not limit our administration, and within that framework I will do my best to see whether I can meet the points raised by hon. Members, although they will understand that I cannot give any undertaking to do so.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I do not wish to prolong the debate in view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. On the understanding that he will do what he says, and that he realises that hon. Members on this side of the Committee much prefer the term "development areas," and that he will consider particularly the cases of Wrexham and Pembroke, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Hilary Marquand Mr Hilary Marquand , Middlesbrough East

I beg to move, in page 1, line 12, at the end to insert: those areas which on the twenty-eighth day of October, nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, were specified as development areas for the purposes of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, and ".

Photo of Sir Norman Hulbert Sir Norman Hulbert , Stockport North

I think that it would be convenient if, together with this Amendment, we discussed the two Amendments in page 1, line 12, at end insert "North Staffordshire and"; and at end insert: the localities in which on the twenty-eighth day of October, nineteen hundred and fifty-nine, the Board was of opinion, for the purposes of the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, that a high rate of unemployment existed and was likely to persist and in addition"; and the Amendment in page 1, line 13, after "any", insert "other".

Photo of Mr Hilary Marquand Mr Hilary Marquand , Middlesbrough East

We have had the opportunity of considering that suggestion, Sir Norman, and find it quite acceptable.

When dealing with the last Amendment, the President of the Board of Trade, in a very receptive way, said that he was doubtful whether he could accept the precise form of words in it, lest it restricted the scope of the Bill. I hope that he will be equally receptive to this Amendment, because he cannot possibly find that it in any way restricts the scope of the Bill. Far from that, it seeks to ensure that there will be no subtraction, in the new administrative apparatus which he is setting up, in respect of areas which are already entitled to the kind of treatment provided by the Bill.

The Third Schedule proposes to repeal the whole of the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, which is referred to in one of the Amendments that we are taking together in this debate. It also proposes to repeal the whole of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1950 and, most important, the whole of the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945, In those circumstances we feel it is very important to obtain some clarification of what is in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman and his advisers in regard to the administration of the Bill.

The outstanding feature of the 1945 Act was that it set up Development Areas. It sought to solve the problem of excessive unemployment—by which I mean unemployment above the national average—not by picking out small localities here and there for specific temporary treatment but by developing the whole of the industrial foundations and social structure of specific industrial regions.

4.45 p.m.

It is true that the Development Areas were areas in which heavy industries predominated, especially coal mining, ship building and steel manufacturing, but the effort behind the 1945 Act was to treat not merely the misfortunes of those heavy industries, but to seek to develop a whole complex of industry so that the linked employments which also existed in those areas, and had grown up because of the existence of the basic industries, could be encouraged to flourish and prosper.

When we began to study the problem of excessive unemployment in the old industrial areas, as far back as 1929, all those who were interested were preoccupied with the situation in the basic industries, and the surveys which some of us were asked to make in 1930 were directed to ascertaining the amount of surplus labour which existed in the basic industries of coal mining, shipbuilding and steel making in those areas, with a view to carrying out the policy of the Government of the day, which was to transfer the surplus away from the areas in which it existed into more prosperous parts of the country.

When those surveys were concluded every one of the universities undertaking them came to the conclusion that there was a surplus in the area with which it was concerned, but also that it would be not only morally but economically wrong to seek to treat that problem by a wholesale transfer of people away from those areas into the prosperous areas of Birmingham and London. It was from those surveys that the idea of developing a whole region as an industrial nexus arose. It took a long time to convince public opinion that this was so; indeed, it was not until the Barlow Commission's Report that public opinion became completely converted.

But every argument led to the same conclusion, that to transfer labour from these areas to more prosperous areas would make the situation in the original areas not better but worse, by starving them of manpower and of the opportunity to develop subsidiary industries on top of the basic ones—which could lead to a more active and commercial industrial life—and, above all, by destroying the whole social capital which existed in these areas.

So we set out eventually, after this long process of public discussion and the conversion of public opinion, with the notion that we should take a whole region containing coal, steel, shipbuilding and other basic industries, and seek to develop upon them a better and more diversified industrial structure, so that we could keep alive and flourishing in those regions the communities which already existed.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to an earlier debate which took place yesterday, and to the need to avoid excessive costs in developing areas of this kind. We agree that we must try to avoid excessive costs by not locating a new industrial enterprise in an extremely inaccessible place, where transport costs of raw materials and finished products are so high that the firm concerned cannot compete effectively with others in the same line of business. We must avoid excessive economic costs, but we must also have regard to the social cost of denuding areas of their populations and destroying existing community life. Social costs must be set against strict economic cost in our planning.

That is why, in the Development Areas, we set out to reduce business costs by an improvement of transport, ports, water supplies, technical education, housing, and so on, so that those areas could continue to flourish as communities and not incur the excessive cost which might be incurred if the development plan was sporadic and bore no relation to the overall development of the community and to the business nexus. This is the idea lying behind the Development Areas, and it is so valuable an idea that we must try to preserve it.

I agree that if, after having adopted this Development Area policy of maintaining community life and overstepping local authority boundaries to supply adequate transport, water, health and educational facilities, so as to develop and invigorate the life of an otherwise declining community, we succeeded completely, the day might come when we would say, "We have done the job and there is no longer any necessity to regard these areas as Development Areas."

But that day has not yet come—not by a long chalk. It would be a great mistake if it went out from this Committee that anyone believed that the problems of the existing Development Areas, which, according to the Bill as it is now presented to us, are to be taken out of the Act, were solved. The Government's own figures published recently in the Ministry of Labour Gazette, and which apply, I think, to the date, 12th October last, show that there are still in the existing Development Areas no fewer than 146,000 unemployed persons. In other words, 35 per cent. of the total unemployment in the country is still to be found in the Development Areas, and in those areas, on the average, unemployment among male persons is 4 per cent., whereas the national average at the same date was only 1·9 per cent.

These are the basic facts. Despite all our efforts over many years the existing Development Areas are still in a parlous state. They still need special help and attention. The problem of the Development Areas arose originally because of the decline in the coal industry, partly from the development of the coal industry in Poland and other European countries, partly because of a decline in demand for coal resulting from fuel economy of all sorts and kinds. The coal industry is in jeopardy again. A new situation has been created for Development Areas by the sudden, sharp decline in demand for coal which has arisen once more. We are not at the end of this road, evidently. We cannot afford to say that the job has been done and that we can now concentrate all our attention elsewhere, and none of it on the Development Areas.

This problem today, indeed, is not confined to the decline in coal. The same situation applies in shipbuilding. We had a debate on that in the House not long ago, and the replies given by the Government to those of us who have shipbuilding undertakings in or near our constituencies were most unsatisfactory. The same may be true of steel. It is true that the output of the steel industry has gone up from the levels it reached a year or two ago when the Government were imposing the credit squeeze, but how much of the improvement in the steel industry may be due to the fortuitous accident of a dispute in the United States steel industry and the consequent inability of American steel manufacturers to supply export markets with their products? We do not know. We cannot be certain about the situation.

We have become accustomed to working together in the Development Areas. In those areas over the years, as the result of the kind of policy I have described, there have been drawn together a nexus of people concerned to watch not only one town or village in particular but the welfare of a whole industrial region. We have created in all those industrial areas, I believe—certainly in those I know best—industrial developments reaching to the whole of an area and concerned to help themselves by helping one another.

If the Development Areas should be abandoned, then all that valuable cooperative effort, all that agreement, as I say, to see the interests of the other man in a neighbouring region and not to concentrate on some selfish effort to undercut him in competition for new industry, all that valuable social effort will disappear.

I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that a locality might be as big as a Development Area. That is fine. What we want today—and it is why we are moving this Amendment—is clarification. A locality, he said, might be as big as a Development Area. Will it be as big as a Development Area in each of these places? That is the question we want answered. Is the right hon. Gentleman thinking, perhaps, of lopping pieces off the Development Areas here and there? I very much hope not.

When dealing with that question I must, of course, refer particularly to the Northern Region, in which my constituency is situated and in which, naturally, I have a special interest. In referring to the Northern Region permit me momentarily to explain that my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. Chetwynd), who would very much have liked to have supported this Amendment today, has himself to be in the region today in connection with the development of technical education there, which is such a valuable part of the development of the new industrial life in regions like that.

I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is true that in the Northern Region at present, despite all that has been done there, there are still nine empty factories, nine factories which were provided under the Development Area policy, and which are still empty and unused. They may have been used in the interval. I do not know. Perhaps he could find that information before he replies to the debate which will take place on this Amendment.

We in the Northern Region certainly do not feel that the job is finished. We feel uneasy about the situation. I quoted earlier on figures from the Ministry of Labour Gazette about the whole of the Development Areas at 12th October. Here are figures for 16th November for the Northern Region: 4,579 more persons unemployed than on 12th October. The situation is getting very much worse. It is an increase in unemployment of a very substantial amount in one month. In the Northern Region now the overall unemployment figure is 3·4 per cent. compared with a national average of 2 per cent. We in the Northern Region certainly feel that this is no time to take that region out of the scope of the Measure.

In Middlesbrough, if I may come from the general to the particular, we feel it is no time to take Middlesbrough out of the scope of the Northern Region. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman has no such thought in mind. It may be thought—it is a dangerous thought, but it ought to be brought into the open—that because of the development by Imperial Chemical industries just outside Middlesbrough there is no longer any case for any special attention being paid to that town. However, the Ministry of Labour, on Wednesday, 18th November, gave me the figures for unemployment in Middlesbrough at 12th October. He gave the figures for men and women respectively: A percentage rate of unemployment cannot be computed for Middlesbrough alone, but in the Tees-side area the percentage rate were 2·4 and 3·6."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 18th November. 1959; Vol. 613, c. 127.] For women, 3·6. If there is one good reason for carrying out a Development Area policy not confined to specific localities, but covering broad industrial regions, it is that we can diversify lighter industries in such a region quite economically without increasing costs and provide employment for women. We desperately need employment for women in these heavy industry areas. It is all to the good. It stimulates demand and the multiplier factor in turn creates new demand for labour in the heavy industries. We need a still greater diversification of industry in the Northern Region. In Middlesbrough, in particular, to which I am bound to refer, since I represent it in the House, we could not be satisfied with any removal at this stage of either Middlesbrough or any part of the Northern Region from the scope of the action which is now to be taken.

5.0 p.m.

I would conclude simply by saying that what we are pleading for in this Amendment is no substraction at this stage from the effort which is being made to combat the overall unemployment situation in Development Areas, because it gives no grounds whatever for complacency. Above all, what we are appealing for is no abandonment of the principle of planning industrial development for whole economic regions. We are appealing to the Government not to split up these regions and allow once more the development of mutual jealousy, but to continue to encourage the harmonious efforts by all the citizens in such a region for the planned development of the whole region for the benefit of all.

We do not want to see a return to the pre-war patchwork efforts, which were such a disastrous failure in tackling the problem. We want the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that he intends to keep the existing industrial Development Areas, and to allow them to carry on as they have done in a planned harmonious effort to conquer the unemployment which still afflicts them.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

I should like to support what has been said by my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), and to repeat what I have already said to the Committee. Representing, as I do, a Development Area, I am anxious that the unity of that area should be kept intact. Therefore, I hope that the powers given to the management corporations under the Bill will in no way fragment the area.

I think that my right hon. Friend has posed admirably the position of the Northern Region. Speaking for West Cumberland, I hope that under the Bill, when it becomes an Act, there will be no fragmentation of our area. I believe that the Development Area policy, as it affects West Cumberland, has been a successful one, and I have stressed that point over and over again in the discussions on this Bill. Although we have succeeded, from the development point of view, there are new problems.

My right hon. Friend has mentioned the dangers in the Northern Region and the area with which he is more specifically concerned. We think that that is true of West Cumberland, and I believe that the solution of this problem can only be achieved if we tackle the area or the problem in that region from the point of view of a Development Area. That is why we are anxious that there should be no division and no splitting up into separate localities.

For instance, we have the problem of transport, and we feel that this is a matter which affects the whole Development Area of West Cumberland. It is an urgent matter affecting industrial development, and no doubt at a later stage of the Bill we shall be discussing it. We also have the problem of road communications and of railways, all covered under that general heading of transport, and all matters affecting the area of West Cumberland. Therefore, we hope that this problem of development will be treated as a whole.

There are other problems. Mention has been made of technical education in one part of the Northern Region. We have this problem in our own area, althought here we have a very fine record. Our schools and technical colleges, specifically those in Workington and Whitehaven, provide very fine technicians, and our apprentices, who are in the main taken up by local industrialists, are of the highest order. Private industry and public concerns have paid tribute to our apprentices' training. Now we have a serious problem, because very soon we shall face a situation due to the "bulge"—the large numbers of school-leavers. This is a matter which affects the whole of the Development Area, and the problem there can only be tackled if we study it as a whole.

I will not weary the Committee with statistics, but the Workington and District Youth Employment Committee, which embraces an area covered by Ministry of Labour offices at Aspatria, Cockermouth, Keswick, Maryport, Silloth and Workington—a large part of the Development Area—has reported that many of our young school-leavers will find it hard to get a job in 1962. I have the details here, and the situation is really alarming. This report, which was produced only last year, states that it would appear that West Cumberland will prove incapable of supplying the necessary numbers of employment opportunities in the coming decade for those leaving school, unless we can continue development and attract new industries.

In this area we have felt already the impact of the recession in the coal industry. We have seen a contraction in this area, and, in my own constituency, two collieries have already closed. Many of the men affected have not as yet been absorbed into full employment. This is a tragedy which is recurring in the West Cumberland Development Area. Therefore, we feel that this area, which once experienced unemployment, should be developed. We should not now go back on our present policies. I hope that the Minister, in reply to my right hon. Friend, will give us a specific assurance that, although the West Cumberland Industrial Development Co., Ltd., is to be no longer, and although the major planning is to be done by a large corporation for England, we in West Cumberland will still be treated as a specific unit.

Even though the right hon. Gentle-ma n is to consider a suitable reply at a later stage to my right hon. Friend in respect to a previous Amendment about the wording and nomenclature of the Development Area, I trust that we in West Cumberland will still be regarded as one main unit which shall be developed in that way. In the exercise of the powers which are now to be given, either to the President of the Board of Trade or the management corporations, I hope that the area which I have the honour to represent, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Symonds) will be treated as a whole. We wish the whole area to develop. New industries are urgently required. West Cumberland must be planned for expansion.

Photo of Mr Evelyn Strachey Mr Evelyn Strachey , Dundee West

The Committee does not know whether the President of the Board of Trade intends to resist this Amendment, but if he does so intend we cannot help feeling curiosity as to why he should resist it, because all that we are asking for is that an assurance to the old Development Areas should be written into the Bill, so that they can be reassured that there will be no whittling away of the existing areas.

It may be, of course, that the Minister will simply tell us that that is unnecessary, or that he does not dream of rejecting any of the existing areas, or even of whittling any of them away. That may be so, but I think he would be very well advised to consider writing into the Bill, in some such words as these—and I would have thought that these were perfectly suitable words—an assurance to the existing Development Areas.

In his reply to the debate on the last Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman showed that he himself appreciated the psychological arguments that are involved here. The psychology of the people of the Development Areas of the past is very sensitive indeed. I speak here of the one I know in Dundee, but I think that my right hon. and hon. Friends, or those who represent such localities, would say the same of their own areas.

Where an area has suffered severely over a period of years from grave unemployment almost a neurosis of insecurity develops, and for those areas to have a very sweeping Measure of this sort, repealing all the powers which came to their assistance and substituting new powers which are wider in some ways but which are certainly vaguer, unless these words are written into the Bill as we propose, will be very alarming indeed.

My constituency, Dundee, West, has a record of twenty years between the wars when unemployment was never under about 20 per cent. and ran up to 33⅓ per cent.—an appalling thing. To all the older members of that community these memories are very vivid and bitter. It seemed to us that it would be of great psychological value, if nothing else, if we had written into the Bill an assurance that all the existing areas would be maintained and improved.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) said so convincingly, no one can possibly say that the job is done in those areas. The position, of course, is better than it was between the wars. Nobody denies that, but there is still, on the average, something like double the national rate of unemployment and there are some very disturbing signs in most of these areas, and certainly in Dundee. There is a very serious situation in the shipyards and a tendency to contraction in the jute industry which, I must say, is a tendency almost entirely due to the Government's conduct in reducing the "mark up" on jute so that the chill hand of unemployment has been felt on the city once again.

In these circumstances, therefore, I am certain that it would be of real value to see written into the Bill an assurance that, though the Government are adding new powers and new areas, they are fully maintaining all the old areas and all the old powers and are giving to the people of these areas who are very hard-pressed this reassurance.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I was ill yesterday and, therefore, absent from the Committee, but I understand, from reading the OFFICIAL REPORT, that the President of the Board of Trade has said that he is prepared to use the powers given under the Bill very widely. He has used that term in two senses. First, he has said that he is prepared to designate large areas under the term "locality" and, secondly, that he is prepared to take into account the small population of areas where the total unemployment figure may not be very big, but the percentage is very high and where emigration is a serious factor. I am glad of that assurance, if I am right, and I see that the right hon. Gentleman appears to be indicating assent.

I sympathise with the view that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to feel bound to keep certain areas designated as special areas or Development Areas for all time. Obviously, we should be delighted if they would be taken out of that category because employment was good and the future was secure. We have not reached that position or anywhere near it yet in most of these areas. I should like to have an assurance on the Amendment that it is not the right hon. Gentleman's intention now to remove from the operation of this Bill any areas designated under the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, 1958, because in the Highlands and Islands we have only just begun to operate that Act.

I do not think that it is adequate to meet the problem that we face and I should have preferred help in the form of setting up a development board, but it is being slowly taken advantage of and it would be highly undesirable if doubts were set about the future in areas which need development and which have only recently been designated.

I sympathise with those who have drawn attention to the Third Schedule, which lists Acts which will be wholly repealed. The 1958 Act is one of them. I should like to have an assurance from the President of the Board of Trade that, certainly at present, there is no intention when that Act is repealed of removing such areas as are covered by it from the effects of the Bill. If we can have that assurance, I shall be a great deal happier.

5.15 p.m.

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

If my right hon. Friend the Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Strachey) is under the impression that the Government intend to maintain as Development Areas all those areas which existed on 28th October, I can only say that I hope that he is right but that I am not sure. It may well be, of course, that sometimes the efforts made and the powers used in an area produce the desired effect so that it is no longer an area which requires special powers of this kind. In those circumstances it is quite right and proper that the Government should be able to do something about it.

If it is conceded that the Government's purpose is to leave themselves free to designate other areas which so far have not been designated, the important thing is that Parliament shall not lose control of the situation and that it should not be regarded merely as a matter of administrative convenience that the Minister shall declare an area already designated to cease to be so designated, but that he shall come to the House of Commons and, in some form or another, get the sanction of the Legislature if he proposes to take away from an area benefits which Parliament has already conferred upon it.

But that is perhaps only indirectly connected with the Amendments. We are asking that there shall be no change as yet and that the Bill when it becomes an Act shall make clear that nobody will be deprived of the benefit of the powers without further consideration. That is why we want these Amendments written into the Bill. One refers to development Areas and another refers clearly to what are called D.A.T.A.C. areas.

My own constituency is concerned with both, because it is part of the North-East Lancashire Development Area and because it was designated in the last list of towns under the 1958 Act which we shall be repealing by means of this Bill. In both cases, of the Development Area and of the D.A.T.A.C. designation, these were the last areas or localities to be added. We do not want to have to begin agitating all over again to get the benefits under the new Bill.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

To get the chance of getting them.

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

At any rate, so that the President of the Board of Trade shall have the power, if not the duty, to continue the benefits which are reproduced in the new Bill after the other legislation is repealed.

We had to fight very hard to get all this. We had to bring a great deal of pressure to bear on the Government of the day before North-East Lancashire was declared a Development Area at all. We had to work very hard to make the Government see the significance of a rapidly contracting industry and a rapidly dwindling population. They did not appear on the surface in the percentage figures of unemployment. It was a long time before we got it. It was not until 1951 that we were declared a Development Area. In spite of everything the Government may claim to have done, by 1959 we were a lot worse off than we were in 1951. The Government say that that is not because they failed to exercise their powers, nor because they had not enough powers. They had the powers and they exercised all of them, but at the end of the day we were worse off than when we started.

This is not an area to which reconsideration should be given under the Bill, when it becomes an Act, as to whether it should be one of the localities or one of the areas. That would be the effect of not accepting the Amendments. The Minister would not be bound to continue these benefits to any locality or area. The effect of repealing the old Acts is to repeal till the Orders made under them. At the moment the Bill receives the Royal Assent, no place, whether locality or area, will be entitled to benefit from any of the powers in it until the Minister makes up his mind whether to declare it a Development Area. We think that that is unnecessary and a mistake.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

The hon. Member is raising a point of substance. Does he suggest that after the passage of the Bill, and after these other Acts have been repealed, there will be no legal basis for continuing payments by the Government to the various special areas which are in existence now?

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

Yes, I do say that. Until the Government exercise the powers which the Bill gives them there will be no right to exercise any of the old powers under the old legislation. Most of the powers in the Bill, certainly, I should have thought, all the substantial ones, are already contained in the Acts which, by the Bill, we are repealing. Having repealed them, and having repealed inferentially the Orders and designations made under them, the Government will have to start again.

I do not suggest that that will take them very long. I dare say that they have made up their mind about it already. They must know now whether they intend, immediately the Bill becomes an Act, to redesignate areas which are already designated. If the answer is, "Yes, that is what we intend", there can be no possible reason for not accepting the Amendments. If the answer is, "No, that is not what we intend", let the Government tell us now what they do intend and the areas which they propose not to redesignate if the Bill is passed with the repeals which I have mentioned.

Perhaps the Government do not know the answer. Will there be an interregnum while they review the position and decide which areas they will designate and which they will not? I cannot believe that the President of the Board of Trade has not clearly in mind at this moment whether he intends to preserve all of them or only some of them. Whether the right hon. Gentleman accepts the Amendments or not, he ought to take the Committee into his confidence and tell us exactly what kind of overall plan he has in mind and who will or will not benefit by these powers.

There can be no secret about the matter. There can be no reason for keeping silent about it, making it a kind of official secret. Many hundreds of thousands of people will be affected as soon as the old Acts are repealed and the Orders under them cease to be valid or operative. They want to know what will happen.

The right hon. Gentleman knows the situation in my constituency. In the course of the Second Reading debate, I quoted a Ministry of Labour forecast. The regional authorities were asked to estimate as best they could the effect on unemployment when the contracting provisions of the Cotton Industry Bill were fully in operation. They said that it would mean a degree of unemployment of 38 per cent. I do not know whether that figure is right or not.

I remember that when the Minister of Labour replied to the debate he said that it was wrong. He said that the rate of unemployment would not be 38 per cent., but one-third of 38 per cent. But one-third of 38 per cent. is still 13 per cent., about ten times the national average. I think that the right hon. Gentleman's figures are wrong. I think that the figures which I quoted—they were not my own estimate, but local Ministry of Labour figures—were right. They are subject to modification.

No doubt, if the powers under this legislation are adequately used, new industries will absorb some of the unemployment. No doubt, in time, if the Cotton Industry Bill achieves any constructive or creative purpose, some of it may be reabsorbed into the cotton industry. But these are matters of time. There will be a time lag which will impose on the people concerned intense misery. We therefore ask that the situation should not be left obscure. If it is intended not to deprive areas already in benefit of the powers transferred, as it were, from the repealed legislation to the new legislation, we shall leave our anxieties there. If there is any such intention, the Government should let us know about it before we give them the powers and before we consent to repeal the Acts already in existence.

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

Part of the case which I intend to present to the Committee I stated last night. I hope not to reiterate one word of what I said, but I hope that the President of the Board of Trade, when considering my Amendment, will bear in mind what was said yesterday about my area. I consider that we have a special case, and I intend to present it without going into any wide issues.

Approximately half a million people live in North Staffordshire. In the City of Stoke-on-Trent there are approximately 270,000 people. The people on one side of the city live approximately 40 miles from Manchester. The people on the other side live approximately 50 miles from Birmingham. It is an economic area confined within those geographical limits. Our two main industries are mining and pottery. We are now seeing the beginning of the closure of a number of pits. I do not complain about this, because it is the result of a national plan. However, I differ fundamentally from many hon. Members on both sides of the Committee.

I stand for a national mid-twentieth century overall economic plan. I have great respect for those who differ from me in this matter, but the only real difference between them and myself in many cases is that I was brought up to work to drawings and to work scientifically. In my view, the mid-twentieth century need in life demands a scientific policy, and the maximum benefit should be derived from the best organisation arising out of policy of that kind. Many people differ from me on that. In my view, the country will go on suffering as a consequence and will be forced, sooner or later, to adopt that policy if it is to hold its own in the world.

5.30 p.m.

The mining industry is now, as a result of modernisation, being concentrated in settled pits. This will mean that a large number of men will be either unemployed or transferred. Fortunately, as a result of nationalisation—this is one of the benefits, let me emphasise—the men will not be discharged. They will be transferred. We have received an undertaking that employment will be found for them in the mining industry. My principal concern is that houses should be available for the men and their families who come in from other areas and that no friction should arise from the fact that no preparations have been made.

The other industry is the pottery industry. Here we have a special case. All Government Departments before the war admitted that, because if a slump comes in either of these two industries, and particularly in the pottery industry, it will mean that we shall have large-scale unemployment. It is only a few years since we had within our city itself nearly 3,000 unemployed. Fortunately, they have now found employment in the industry, and for the time being it is thriving once again. We welcome that.

We dread a situation similar to that in the pre-war years arising. We dread a situation arising such as arose three years ago. Therefore, it is against that background that we want to prepare. The City of Stoke is being better governed and administered than ever before in its history. As a result of the city council's new policy, as I said last night—I shall not develop the point to any great extent, but I think that in a debate of this sort I would be lacking in my duty if I did not give credit where it was due—and without an atom of encouragement from the Board of Trade, the council has embarked upon the provision of two industrial sites. It has done this, indeed, despite great discouragement, and to this day I still smart under the discouragement that we received. I will explain briefly why.

Many years ago, as a result of the enlightened policy of the city council, the French Michelin Tyre Company was given all the facilities and encouragement possible. It built a huge works in the City of Stoke-on-Trent. The management of that factory was among the most reactionary in the country. It introduced an anti-trade union policy and all kinds of ideas which were contrary to the generally accepted idea of running industry in this country. However, slowly but surely, the men and women engaged in the factory became very concerned about it and took action on their own. As a result that management is now among the most enlightened in the country. The relationship between the organised workpeople and the management is as good as in any other part of the country.

What happened? The Michelin Tyre Company decided to expand because its product has such a good name throughout this country and the world. This expansion meant building new factories and large extensions to existing factories. One of the extensions would have provided employment for 700 people in the City of Stoke-on-Trent. The Board of Trade, however, used its influence behind the scenes and had the expansion taken to Burnley.

I take second place to no one in this Committee in my sympathy for Lancashire because I am a product of Lancashire and still live among the ordinary people there. I have never moved from Lancashire. Therefore, there is no one with a more intimate relationship with these hard-working people. The decision of the Board of Trade was most unfair because the city had gone out of its way to provide facilities so that the Michelin Tyre Company could develop there. The relationship is now excellent and it is making a great contribution to the export trade.

The President of the Board of Trade is a well informed Minister. He knows how important is the cost of production today in the life of an industry. To move this proposed extension from the centre where research and development had been carried out to a place 60 or 70 miles away was not a good business proposition or a good economic proposition, and it was most unfair to the city and to the Michelin Tyre Company. Therefore, we consider that we have a special case which should receive the consideration of the President of the Board of Trade.

For this and other reasons I, on behalf of my hon. Friends representing other parts of North Staffordshire, hope that when replying the right hon. Gentleman will give us an undertaking that in no circumstances will there be a repetition of what I have complained about with regard to the Michelin Tyre Company expansion. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will bear in mind what I said yesterday about the serious pre-war situation and the lack of diversification in North Staffordshire and also about the need to replace Swynnerton, which used to employ 40,000 people, so that when unemployment on a large scale comes again the people will be able to find employment and will not be dependent solely on the two industries I have mentioned.

For all these reasons, I commend the Amendment to the Committee.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

I can well appreciate the feelings of my hon. Friends in relation to the Amendment which I understand we are discussing in its wider context. Whilst I am prepared to speak to the Amendment relating to the existing scheduled areas, I hope that will not be taken as meaning that I am opposed in any way to an extension of help to areas that are at present outside.

It must be rather disappointing for the President of the Board of Trade to have to listen to us today, as he did yesterday, making speeches which arise out of a fundamental lack of confidence in the Government, and, indeed, out of a lack of clarity about the Bill which he thinks he has presented so well.

Let there be no mistake about it. The reason why my right hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand) moved the Amendment in the way and in the terms that he did and why my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) thought it necessary deliberately to specify his constituency, and why my hon. Friends from Wales thought it necessary to specify theirs, arises from the fact that they do not know what the Government are going to do. They fear the worst. We do not know what the Government are going to do. They have not told us, so we fear the worst.

Why are the Government silent about this? One of the noticeable things in all the discussions on Amendments so far is how long it has taken the Government to give an answer. There is a very simple explanation of that. If they had an answer which would satisfy the Committee they would give it right away. The fact is that they have failed properly to appreciate and to allay the fears of hon. Members. The Minister is silent either because he has nothing to say or because what he intends to say will be unpopular, and our continued speeches are echoing our concern, not only about the silence of the Government but also about the possibility of a lack of action on unemployment in our areas.

I do not doubt that the intention of the Government in this Bill is to fragment the existing Development Areas, and that they will throw at us the Report of the Estimates Committee of a few years ago. I hope we shall anticipate some of the arguments the Minister will raise in relation to that Report. In fragmenting the existing Development Areas, the Government will isolate the help given in more widespread and remote parts of the country. This would probably have an advantage and attraction for the Treasury in that it would be able to do this work much more economically than is possible at present.

Using my own area as an example, I suggest that the Minister should start with the existing Development Areas. I do not rule out the fact that other areas require help, but we should not start on the assumption that the same amount of help should be scattered over a greater part of the country. What is required is a greater measure of help. Let us fight the Treasury together on that one. I appreciate that south of my constituency and outwith the Development Area is a place called Prestwick from which, over the past year to eighteen months, we have lost over 1,000 workers. Many of them are now working in England. All the unemployment is not recorded but in Ayr, which is a residential seaside resort and not a Development Area, towards the end of summer there were over 1,000 unemployed. The figure for last month was 1,246 and it has risen since then.

I appreciate, therefore, that there is need for help in other areas that should be designated. But why do we say that we should start with the existing areas? I ask the President of the Board of Trade, if the House of Commons had taken the advice of the Estimates Committee a few years ago in respect of the breaking up of the existing Development Areas, what would have happened in Scotland? I ask that question because since then, with the chill wind of trade adversity and the even colder wind of Government credit policy, we have seen unemployment come again to areas which seemed at that time to be favourably placed, to be cured of the old, chronic unemployment. They were all the same places—Dundee, Greenock, North Ayrshire, Kilmarnock.

If the Minister will look up the records of unemployment in Kilmarnock four years ago he will find that unemployment was measured literally in hundreds, for there were 67 or 68 unemployed men, and probably about the same number of unemployed women. On that basis the Minister would have de-scheduled the area, but within six or seven months unemployment rose, and today it is between 1,200 and 1,300. The same thing is true in Central Ayrshire. We built a new industrial estate at Kilwinning, where one factory employed about twenty people. There is a great industry dominating the area and it seemed safe to think that it would go on for ever. Suddenly however, by changes of policy in a private industry, there has been a complete run-down, and we have there the worst-hit area in Ayrshire, with unemployment rising not to 3 per cent. or 4 per cent. but to 8 per cent., and at one time during the past winter it was as high as between 12 per cent. and 13 per cent.

5.45 p.m.

So we have to face the disappointment that the old scheduled areas, even after 20 or 25 years of supposed special care, are the areas that are hit with the first chill wind. If the President of the Board of Trade has it in his mind to accept some kind of Civil Service advice, "Let us wipe out the whole of the Development Areas; let us forget them", I ask him to look at what has happened over the past two or three years, not twenty years, and then he should be convinced that it would be very wrong indeed to say that, after seeing 6, 7 or 8 months' figures, we can wipe out the areas and deprive them of the possibility of getting help under the Bill.

I say let us keep the existing areas. The Minister will not lose anything by doing so. As he told us yesterday, in the Bill he has flexibility in relation not only to the actual places where the powers will be used but as to when he will use them. There is a psychological feeling within those areas that, so long as they are Development Areas, quick help can come when it is needed. That is what at stake, and I hope from this point of view that the Minister will give us that benefit today.

The events of the past years have shown that the right hon. Gentleman would be trifling with the problem if in Scotland he started to lop off little bits here and there. We in Scotland are not satisfied with things as they are. No one who looks at the position in Scotland feels that what is wanted is merely an area policy, a regional policy. What is wanted is a national policy and, until we get that, we shall not be satisfied. We are looking for some fresh thought from the Minister. If he has any trouble with the Secretary of State for Scotland, let him call us in aid to put things right. After all, let the right hon. Gentleman remember that the Secretary of State is only a National-Liberal.

Seriously, if the Minister is to do anything for Scotland in respect of employment, he must start with the existing areas and he may well add to them. I appreciate the point which my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. W. Hamilton) will raise in relation to new towns and new areas in Fife, and also the feeling about South Ayrshire, where pits are being closed, but the outstanding fact from the failure of the present policies has been that not enough help has been given. Let the Minister give sufficient help to the existing Development Areas and also spread a little more to those areas which need it equally.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I have not intervened until now because I thought the Committee would like me to listen to all the arguments before I did so. However, in view of what has been said by the hon, Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross), perhaps my silence is being misinterpreted, and it may be for the convenience of the Committee if at this stage I put before hon. Members my view on this series of Amendments.

In dealing with the previous Amendment I said I would try to do the best I could to meet the views expressed by the Committee, but I must make it clear on this Amendment, moved by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), that we regard it as completely contrary to one of the main principles of the Bill, and therefore it would not be possible for us to accept it.

The principle I have in mind is to make help available where it is most needed. We believe it to be of the greatest importance to concentrate the available help where it is most needed. I must emphasise again the view of the Government, that there is a limit to the help that can be made available and to the amount of money that can be made available from the Exchequer. There is a definite limit, too, to the extent to which it is reasonable to persuade or induce industry to go to localities where, by definition, it would not go on purely commercial grounds and where its costs of production are liable to be higher than in the areas of its own choice. We must always be thinking of areas with special problems, never forgetting the general interests of the economy as a whole. There is, therefore, a limit to the extent to which we can, for social reasons, try to divert industry from its natural economic location to other places.

There is the further point that I mentioned to the Committee yesterday, that if we give a wide selection of possible areas to an industrialist he will, naturally, always choose the most convenient to him and that is likely to be not the area which is most remote, most difficult and, therefore, often the most in need of help. Certainly all the evidence I have seen in the short time that I have been studying this question at the Board of Trade and all the advice I have received shows that it is much more difficult to help the more distant and more difficult areas if it is possible for an industrialist to go to other areas of less difficulty which are more convenient to him.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The right hon. Gentleman disagrees, but I think that is true.

There has been a good deal of reference to Scotland. It is argued sometimes by industrialists whom we have tried to persuade to go to different areas that whereas their cost of production may be X per cent. higher in a Wales or Merseyside location, it would be 2 or 3 times X per cent. higher in Scotland. Therefore, they naturally say that as all the areas are Development Areas, they will go to the one where the penalty is lowest. The wider the area of choice, the more they will go where they think the penalty is lowest and least benefit will come to the areas where the penalty appears to be highest. Because the penalty appears to be highest, that is precisely the sort of area where, normally, there is the greatest difficulty. I ask the Committee to bear this real difficulty in mind when considering the Amendments.

The right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East (Mr. Marquand), who moved the Amendment, said many things with which I entirely agreed. He emphasised that in considering the cost of industrial locations one must not look merely at the actual cost of production in a given factory. There are also the social considerations, which have so often been referred to, and there are, I agree, wider economic considerations of the cost of housing, sewerage, water supply and that sort of thing. It is because there are these considerations in mind that we agree, as both sides of the Committee agree, that a policy must be followed by the Government of steering industry away from areas where naturally, on purely commercial considerations, it would tend to concentrate.

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the need for looking at development in terms of areas. This was referred to by his hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Peart) and by several other hon. Members. With that also I entirely agree. Nothing that the Government have said, done or are doing in the Bill goes against the principle that in many cases it is desirable to deal with a whole area. It is also in some cases, as we have explained, desirable to have powers to treat an individual locality, but the fact that we want sometimes to deal in terms of individual small places does not mean that we in any way reject the sound argument for treating whole areas.

I would say to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock that the fragmentation of the Development Areas is something that we do not have in mind. I agree with the hon. Member that to fragment areas which can be better dealt with coherently is not necessarily a sensible function.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

May I have an assurance that the West Cumberland Development Area will not be fragmented?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am not giving any assurances on individual areas—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and I will come presently to the reasons. The whole purpose of the Bill is not to give assurances on individual areas.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

The right hon. Gentleman is talking about the need to steer industry into areas in order to cure the unemployment that undoubtedly exists. Consider, for example, the Highlands of Scotland. The right hon. Gentleman knows well before he starts that he will not get any industry to go into these areas and that the Government themselves will need to do something of their own volition if they are to tackle the unemployment and to stop whole areas from being further depopulated. Can he give an assurance that he will come to the rescue and give an indication to these people that the Government themselves will put in industries if they cannot get industrialists to come—as they will not?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not quite follow the point. If the hon. Member is making the argument that inducement would not work and that we should have to use direction, we do not accept that argument and neither do his right hon. Friends.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

If that was not the hon. Member's meaning, I do not understand him.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

I am grateful that the right hon. Gentleman was listening to me. I am positive that there are certain Highland areas into which the right hon. Gentleman will not be able to attract or to steer industry. I am not in favour of direction, but I think that the Government could, of their own volition and initiative, put into such an area Government factories, which would be of extreme value in retaining the population, to carry out work which the Government have under their own control or direction—contracts, for example, for the Armed Forces and things of that kind. This would be well worth while, and I am sure that everybody in Scotland, irrespective of party, would support the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I see the point, but, clearly, it cannot arise on the present Amendment which deals with inducements to private industry—

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

—although my silence must not be taken as acquiescence in the argument.

The third point made by the right hon. Member for Middlesbrough, East was the nub of the argument and it was referred to also by the hon. Members for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond): that is, whether we will undertake not to reduce or in any way change the existing Development Areas. That undertaking we will certainly not give, because it would be quite wrong to give it. One of the main purposes underlying the Bill was to move away from the old system of rigid definition of Development Areas, which has been shown in practice not to work effectively. Our purpose is to concentrate our assistance on areas where it is really needed. It cannot be denied that there are now substantial localities in at least some of the Development Areas where the level of unemployment is below the national average.

The hon. Member for Kilmarnock referred to the Report of the Select Committee. I want to quote the Committee's Report because it puts the arguments better than I could put them. I quote from paragraph 88: it seems to Your Committee that there are indications that the size and boundaries of the present Development Areas have been preserved against future contingencies for too long, and are now out of date. It may well be that other districts with higher unemployment may be in greater need of the Government financial assistance available to Development Areas. In paragraph 89, the Select Committee said: Your Committee believe that insufficient attention may have been given to the possibility that, within each Area there are districts, some of them quite large, which no longer fulfil the conditions necessary to be designated a Development Area. They consider that had these districts been removed, the Board might have achieved more substantial results at less cost through having been able to concentrate their efforts on smaller and more deserving Areas. That puts our argument precisely.

Photo of Mr Thomas Peart Mr Thomas Peart , Workington

The Minister has quoted from the Report of the Select Committee. Surely, he knows that in its recommendations the Select Committee in no way recommended that the whole concept of Development Areas should be ended. Indeed, the contrary was the case. In its recommendations and in the evidence which it considered, the Select Committee merely argued for a readjustment of boundaries.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The Amendment merely argues for no readjustment of boundaries. On the issue that we are discussing, I am following the recommendation of the Select Committee that the boundaries should be adjusted.

6.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

This is an important point relating to something which I raised in my contribution. The Report of the Select Committe was made in 1955. Will the President of the Board of Trade tell us what happened to some of these areas when unemployment came in 1957?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

What I said was that there are now areas where the rate of unemployment is below the national level. It would be wrong to continue giving assistance to those areas in preference to areas which have a far greater need.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The Government have not been giving assistance.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Therefore, our policy in settling the areas which will be open to receive Government assistance will be to draw the boundaries so as to include those areas which need help but no longer to include areas that do not need help.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I want to finish what I am saying. I have given way a number of times.

The principle is quite simple. The Amendment proposes that we should leave the Development Areas as they are. I agree that it would be wrong to break them up and make too radical a change, but within the existing Development Areas there are substantial localities which no longer have a high level of unemployment. As we believe fundamentally—this is one of the main principles of the Bill—in concentrating help where it is most needed, we intend to do that. Concentrating help where it is most needed involves no longer continuing to treat as open for special assistance localities which do not measure up to that criterion. Therefore, in determining the actual areas that will qualify under the Bill, we cannot be guided by existing lines on the map—as, indeed, the Select Committee wisely pointed out—but we shall be guided precisely by the criterion, and only by the criterion, contained in Clause 1 of the Bill.

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

Will the hon. Gentleman, therefore, say whether the Government have any idea what they intend to do and, if they have such an idea, at what stage the right hon. Gentleman intends to inform the House about it; or is he waiting until the Bill has been passed and when all his powers will be, as it were, in abeyance and then will he begin to consider how he will apply these new principles and to what areas? This is what people are anxious to know. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

We intend, first, to obtain the powers and then to use them. That is the sequence of events that we have in mind.

Photo of Mr William Baxter Mr William Baxter , West Stirlingshire

I understand that the President of the Board of Trade has a formula for designating Development Areas and I presume that it is based on the unemployment figures of particular areas. How does he take into consideration towns like Kilsyth, where there is no industry whatever in the town and all the male and female inhabitants have to go either to Glasgow or to Falkirk for work? It is by virtue of the people travelling away to work that the proportion of unemployment in the town is not high. This, however, necessitates a great deal of public expenditure in the provision of transport for these people and a greater degree of expenditure from their own pockets to go to Glasgow or elsewhere. Bearing in mind the simple fact that most of the people go to industrial estates that were established for the purpose of utilising the unemployed in a certain area, the complaint is that from a town such as Kilsyth the whole population goes either to the industrial estate at Glasgow or to Falkirk to work. Will a town like Kilsyth, whose percentage of unemployment is not shown to be high, come within the ambit of the Bill?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The answer is quite clear. Localities will come within the ambit of the Bill only if, in the opinion of the Board of Trade, a high rate of unemployment exists or is imminent and is likely to persist, whether seasonally or generally. That is the definition in the Bill. There may be further Amendments later concerning the definition, but that is the definition to which we work.

The question raised by the Amendment is whether we should work by carrying over into the Bill the Development Areas exactly as they now exist. As I have tried to explain, we cannot accept that. We believe it to be wrong, because certain areas are now Development Areas, to treat them automatically and permanently as Development Areas. We believe that the right and only criterion is the criterion contained in the Bill. We believe this to be in the national interest and we are convinced that it is best in the interests of the areas of special difficulty. For this reason, I cannot accept the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I must comment on what the President has said. The more I hear from the right hon. Gentleman in our discussions on this Bill the more profoundly sceptical I become about his intention to carry out its provisions and, in addition, the more profoundly sceptical I become about the Bill itself. It is already absolutely clear that this Bill is less wide and is a weaker Measure than the 1945 Act which we propose to replace.

The President started with two entirely false arguments. First, he trotted cut again the argument that help must not be spread too wide. We entirely repudiate that argument. The help is not limited by anything except Government decision and it should be limited only by need. The right hon. Gentleman is, if I may say so, a good enough economist to know that it is not good economic policy to leave any of the productive resources of the country unemployed. Therefore, wherever there is unemployed or available labour it ought to be his policy to see that it is fully employed.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Is the right hon. Gentleman advancing as an economic argument that one should provide 100 per cent. employment for every person wherever he happens to be living, irrespective of the cost to the country? That is what he has said, and if he does not mean it, perhaps he will make himself clear.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

If the right hon. Gentleman has not yet understood that this is an economic and not a social argument, he has not begun to understand the subject. Of course it is the business of a Government in their employment policy to see that everyone who can usefully work is usefully employed. That is the only way in which we can get maximum production in the country, and that is just as true in peace-time as in war-time. That is the basis of the whole subject which we are discussing.

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman made a false point about it not being possible to persuade an industrialist to go to one place if he finds somewhere more convenient within a Development Area. The fact that a wide area is scheduled as a Development Area does not mean that the Board of Trade is bound to provide a factory in any spot in that area or, indeed, that it is bound to give an I.D.C. I will mention a case in point. I remember that in 1945 a famous clothing firm wished to go to Darlington and the Board of Trade wished it to go to south-west Durham. It was open to the Board of Trade to build a factory at south-west Durham but not at Darlington. Of course that choice is retained by the Government however widely an area is drawn, and if the right hon. Gentleman has not understood that, he does not understand this part of the argument either.

I would not argue that, as a matter of policy, it would be right to preserve exactly the existing boundaries of the Development Areas without any change one way or the other. I believe that the President should have done what a Labour Government would have done, and come forward with a new list of Development Areas which in some respects would have been wider and in others less wide than the present one. If a good case could have been made out on both counts, I think that the House of Commons could reasonably have been asked to accept it. That would not have meant preserving the present rigid boundaries, but that is not what the President has done. He has produced no list at all to the Committee.

We know that the right hon. Gentleman has a list because he said so during the Second Reading debate, but he has refused to tell us what it is, or even to tell us when he will tell us what it is. We do not even know whether we shall be provided with the list at some time during the Committee stage, the Report stage or the Third Reading of this Bill—or at all. Therefore, the right hon. Gentleman puts us in a perfectly impossible position.

We are asked to accept some list which we have not seen. We do not know whether any single part of the existing Development Areas will be in it or not. In that case, in order to try to make our point, we are bound to press Amendments of this kind to preserve the existing areas. That is the only alternative which the right hon. Gentleman leaves open to us. I protest again against this intolerable procedure of discussing the whole of this Bill without hon. Members on this side of the Committee being told how it is to be applied.

I hope that hon. Members on both sides of the Committee will realise the implication of what the President has already told us. During the Second Reading debate the right hon. Gentleman said that the existing boundaries of the Development Areas alone represented about 20 per cent. of the country. He then told us that if we take away that part of the Development Areas which have been, in his language, "administratively descheduled" and add the D.A.T.A.C. areas, that comes to 14 per cent. of the country. The right hon. Gentleman said "country", presumably he meant "population". Therefore, it follows physically that, if we take the Development Areas as they are now and add the D.A.T.A.C. areas, the total percentage is something over 20 per cent. We do not know what is the figure. Having mentioned a figure of 14 per cent., the right hon. Gentleman went on: That, I should have thought, was a reasonable figure and I should be very surprised if our initial list"— that is the one he is going to publish some day, we do not know when— departed far in global terms from the existing figure of the total of areas being practically assisted at present, either as Development Areas, D.A.T.A.C. areas or both."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 46.] That is the 14 per cent. So we know that his new list will cover 14 per cent. of the population of the country. The right hon. Gentleman does not deny this, and the fact that he does not deny it shows that he already knows what is the list.

It follows—I hope that hon. Members who represent these areas in all parts of the country understand this—that we are going to cut down, on the President's own showing, from a list which is now something over 20 per cent.—at the very least 25 per cent.—to 14 per cent., so that what the right hon. Gentleman is doing is cutting the present areas very nearly in half.

I hope the Committee understands where we are getting to. We are not to be told what the list is, although the right hon. Gentleman has got it. We do not know what it will cover in any single respect. All we know is that by this Bill not merely are the powers to be weaker—as we discovered yesterday—but the areas eligible for help, compared with the present position, will be cut approximately by half. Since we are put in the position of not being able to discuss an individual area, we are bound to press this Amendment in order to protest against this procedure and against the cut which, clearly, is to be made in the areas eligible for help.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 189, Noes 262.

Division No. 9.]AYES[6.13 p.m.
Abse, LeoDeer, GeorgeHunter, A. E.
Ainsley, Williamde Freitas, GeoffreyHynd, H. (Accrington)
Albu, AustenDempsey, JamesHynd, John (Attercliffe)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Dodds, NormanIrvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Awbery, StanDriberg, TomIrving, Sydney (Dartford)
Bacon, Miss AliceEde, Rt. Hon. ChuterJanner, Barnett
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.)Edelman, MauriceJay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Beaney, AlanEdwards, Robert (Bilston)Jeger, George
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Evans, AlbertJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)Fernyhough, E.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Benn, Hn. A.Wedgwood(Brist'l,S.E.)Finch, HaroldJones, Rt. Hn. A. Creech(Wakefield)
Benson, Sir GeorgeFitch, AlanJones, Jack (Rotherham)
Bevan, Rt. Hn. Aneurin (Ebbw V.)Fletcher, EricJones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Blackburn, F.Forman, J. C.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Blyton, WilliamFraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. HughKing, Dr. Horace
Bowles, FrankGeorge, Lady Megan LloydLawson, George
Boyden, JamesGinsburg, DavidLedger, Roy
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Gourlay, HarryLee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Greenwood, AnthonyLever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Grey, CharlesLewis, Arthur (West Ham, N.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Logan, David
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Hales, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Loughlin, Charles
Castle, Mrs. BarbaraHamilton, William (West Fife)Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Chapman, DonaldHannan, WilliamMcCann, John
Cliffe, MichaelHart, Mrs. JudithMcInnes, James
Collick, PercyHayman, F. H.McKay, John (Wallsend)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaHealey, DenisMackie, John
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Herbison, Miss MargaretMcLeavy, Frank
Cronin, JohnHill, J. (Midlothan)MacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Crosland, AnthonyHolman, PercyMacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Houghton, DouglasMahon, Simon
Davies, Harold (Leek)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Manuel, A. C.
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Mapp, Charles
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Marsh, RichardRankin, JohnSymonds, Joseph
Mason, RoyReid, WilliamTaylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Mayhew, ChristopherReynolds, G. W.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Mellish, R. J.Rhodes, H.Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Millan, BruceRoberts, Albert (Normanton)Thornton, Ernest
Mitchison, G. R.Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Timmons, John
Moody, A. S.Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Tomney, Frank
Morris, JohnRogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)Wainwright, Edwin
Moyle, ArthurRoss, WilliamWarbey, William
Neal, HaroldRoyle, Charles (Salford, West)Watkins, Tudor
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Weitzman, David
Oliver, G. H.Short, EdwardWells, Percy (Faversham)
Oram, A. E.Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)Wheeldon, W. E.
Oswald, ThomasSkeffington, ArthurWhite, Mrs. Eirene
Owen, WillSmall, WilliamWhitlock, William
Padley, W. E.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Wilkins, W. A.
Paget, R. T.Snow, JulianWilley, Frederick
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)Sorensen, R. W.Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Parker, John (Dagenham)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)Spriggs, LeslieWillis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Peart, FrederickStewart, Michael (Fulham)Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Pentland, NormanStones, WilliamWinterbottom, R, E.
Plummer, Sir LeslieStrachey, Rt. Hon. JohnWoof, Robert
Popplewell, ErnestStrauss, Rt. Hn. G. R. (Vauxhall)Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Prentice, R. E.Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. EdithZilliacus, K.
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Swain, Thomas
Probert, ArthurSwingler, StephenTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Pursey, Cmdr. HarrySylvester, GeorgeMr. Darling and Mr. Redhead.
NOES
Agnew, Sir Peterdu Cann, EdwardHocking, Philip N.
Aitken, W. T.Duncan, Sir JamesHolland, Philip
Allason, JamesDuthie, Sir WilliamHollingworth, John
Arbuthnot, JohnEden, JohnHolt, Arthur
Ashton, Sir HubertElliott, R. W.Hopkins, Alan
Atkins, HumphreyEmmet, Hon. Mrs. EvelynHornby, R. P.
Barber, AnthonyErrington, Sir EricHoward, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)
Barlow, Sir JohnErroll, F. J.Hughes-Young, Michael
Barter, JohnFarey-Jones, F. W.Hutchison, Michael Clark
Batsford, BrianFarr, JohnIremonger, T. L.
Beamish, Col. TuftonFinlay, GraemeIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Bell, Ronald (S. Bucks.)Fisher, NigelJackson, John
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos & Fhm)Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesJames, David
Berkeley, HumphryFraser,Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)
Biggs-Davison, JohnFraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Jennings, J. C.
Bingham, R. M.Freeth, DenzilJohnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)
Bishop, F. P.Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Black, Sir CyrilGammans, LadyJohnsonSmith,G.(Holb.&S.P'ncrs'S)
Bossom, CliveGeorge, J. C. (Pollok)Joseph, Sir Keith
Box, DonaldGibson-Watt, DavidKerans, Cdr, J. S.
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. JohnGlyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Boyle, Sir EdwardGlyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)Lagden, Godfrey
Braine, BernardGodber, J. B.Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Browis, JohnGoodhart, PhilipLangford-Holt, J.
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Goodhew, VictorLeavey, J. A.
Bullard, DenysGower, RaymondLeburn, Gilmour
Bullus, Wing Commander EricGrant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)Legge-Bourke, Maj. H.
Burden, F. A.Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)
Campbell, Sir David (Belfast, S.)Green, AlanLewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Gresham Cooke, R.Lindsay, Martin
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Grimond, J.Linstead, Sir Hugh
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Grimston, Sir RobertLitchfield, Capt. John
Cary, Sir RobertGurden, HaroldLongbottom, Charles
Chataway, ChristopherHall, John (Wycombe)Longden, Gilbert
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Loveys, Walter H.
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Hare, Rt. Hon. John
Cole, NormanHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)McLaren, Martin
Collard, RichardHarrison, Brian (Maldon)McLaughlin, Mrs. Patricia
Cooper, A. E.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Maclean,Sir Fittroy(Bute&N.Ayrs.)
Corfield, F. V.Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)McLean, Neil (Inverness)
Costain, A. P.Harvie Anderson, MissMacleod, Rt. Hn. Iain (Enfield, W.)
Coulson, J. M.Hay, JohnMacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyHeald, Rt. Hon. Sir LlonelMcMaster, Stanley
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Heath, Rt. Hon. EdwardMacmillan, Maurice (Halifax)
Critchley, JulianHenderson-Stewart, Sir JamesMacpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Crosthwalte-Eyre, Col- O. E.Hendry, A. ForbesMaddan, Martin
Cunningham, KnoxHicks Beach, Maj. W.Maginnis, John E.
Currie, G. B. H.Hiley, JosephManningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery)Hill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)Markham, Major Sir Frank
Deedes, W. F.Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Marlowe, Anthony
de Ferranti, BasilHinchingbrooke, ViscountMarshall, Douglas
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.Hirst, GeoffreyMarten, Neil
Doughty, CharlesHobson, JohnMatthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Maudling, Rt. Hon. ReginaldRedmayne, Rt. Hon. MartinThompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Mawby, RayRees, HughThornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.Rees-Davies, W. R.Thorpe, Jeremy
Mills, StrattonRenton, DavidTiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Molson, Rt. Hon. HughRidley, Hon. NicholasTilney, John (Wavertree)
Montgomery, FergusRidsdale, JulianTurner, Colin
Morrison, JohnRobertson, Sir DavidTurton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Nabarro, GeraldRobson Brown, Sir WilliamTweedsmuir, Lady
Nicholls, HarmarRoots, Williamvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Nicholson, Sir GodfreyRopner, Col. Sir LeonardVane, W. M. F.
Noble, MichaelRoyle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)Vickers, Miss Joan
Nugent, RichardScott-Hopkins, JamesVosper, Rt. Hon. Dennis
Oakshott, Sir HendrieSeymour, LeslieWade, Donald
Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. D.Sharples, RichardWakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Orr-Ewing, C. IanShepherd, WilliamWall, Patrick
Osborn, John (Hallam)Skeet, T. H. H.Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)
Page, GrahamSmith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)Watts, James
Partridge, E.Smithers, PeterWebster, David
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)Spearman, Sir AlexanderWells, John (Maidstone)
Peel, JohnSpeir, RupertWhitelaw, William
Percival, IanStevens, GeoffreyWilliams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Peyton, JohnStodart, J. A.Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Pickthorn, Sir KennethStoddart-Scott, Col. Sir MalcolmWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pike, Miss MervynStorey, S.Wise, Alfred
Pilkington, Capt. RichardStudholme, Sir HenryWolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Pitman, I. J.Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Pitt, Miss EdithTalbot, John E.Woodhouse, C. M.
Pott, PercivallTapsell, PeterWoodnutt, Mark
Powell, J. EnochTaylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)Woollam, John
Price, H. A. (Lewisham, W.)Taylor, W. J. (Bradford, N.)Worsley Marcus
Prior-Palmer, Brig. Sir OthoTeeling, WilliamYates, William (The Wrekin)
Profumo, JohnTemple, John M.
Proudfoot, WilfredThatcher, Mrs. MargaretTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ramsden, JamesThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)Mr. Brooman-White and Mr. Bryan.
Rawlinson, PeterThomas, Peter (Conway)

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I beg to move, in page 1, line 15, to leave out "is imminent" and to insert: may be expected (whether because of difficulties in any industry or of local circumstances or otherwise)". We on this side of the Committee are entitled to complain that there is precious little consistency in the Government's explanations of what they mean in the Bill. I will not dwell on the point, but we have seen the title "Distribution of Industry" changed to "Local Employment". We have heard statements from the right hon. Gentleman that the change represented the Government's intentions. He told us yesterday that: … the word 'locality' covers both a small town and also an area as big as an existing Development Area."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1959; Vol. 614, c. 1129.] We have had so many conflicting statements on that point. In respect of the word "imminent" we are confronted with widely different interpretations of what is implied. The Minister in his Second Reading speech—

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

Order. I apologise to the hon. Member. I should have made it clear that the next two Amendments, in page 1, line 15, after "imminent" to insert: or is anticipated as a consequence of technical developments, changes in the pattern of overseas trade, or an increase in the numbers of school leavers which is liable to result in a high rate of juvenile unemployment", and in line 16, to leave out "whether seasonally or generally", will be taken with this Amendment.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

On a point of order, Sir William. I understand that you merely propose that these Amendments should be taken together and that we are not bound to follow that course. You suggest it for the convenience of the Committee, and if the Committee is not in agreement we are able to take them separately.

There is a substantial difference between the Amendment standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) and the two Amendments preceding it. The two preceding Amendments are connected with technical developments in industry. They are not strictly geographical and may not be anything to do with the time of year. Our Amendment is geographical, is connected with the time of year and has nothing to do with technical developments in industry. I suggest that the first two Amendments should be taken together and that our Amendment should be called separately.

Photo of Sir William Anstruther-Gray Sir William Anstruther-Gray , Berwickshire and East Lothian

These Amendments were carefully considered. I am not sure if the noble Lord's Amendment would have been selected by itself on grounds of importance. It was thought, for that reason, that it would be for his convenience and for the convenience of the Committee to take it with the other two Amendments. I think that we should abide by that decision.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

It would appear now that the noble Lord is at my charity and, if he will consent to be quiet for a little while, I will condescend to allow his Amendment to be discussed with mine.

I was complaining about the widely different interpretations we have had of so many points in the Bill, and especially of the word "imminent". My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Ginsburg) pointed out yesterday that on Second Reading the Minister said: The conception behind that is this; it will be impossible to act wherever there is a distant or vague threat of unemployment, or competition with a particular industry. We regard the word 'imminent' as meaning that there is a discernible fact"— I impress upon the Committee the words "discernible fact"— for example, the closure of a pit, which is bound to mean the removal of a number of opportunities for employment. Where there is a factor of that kind which can be ascertained, one can say that there is an imminent threat of unemployment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 36.] Yesterday, in a reference to the same point the right hon. Gentleman said: Certainly, 'imminent', to us, does not mean a very few days, or simply one or two days. It may mean a considerable period. That, however, I will leave until we reach the appropriate Amendment."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1959; Vol. 614, c. 1128.] Those two statements are completely contradictory. On 9th November the right hon. Gentleman said that a thing, to be imminent, must be ascertainable at a given moment, whereas yesterday he said that "imminent" of itself denotes a certain time lag or that the Government could apply "imminent" in that way.

"Imminent" is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as meaning: Impending threateningly; hanging over one's head; ready to overtake one; coming on shortly. 6.30 p.m.

To take the dictionary interpretation as distinct from that which the right hon. Gentleman gave us yesterday, "imminent" to us is a very threatening concept indeed. We therefore move the Amendment, believing that so long as the word "imminent" remains we cannot possibly get the kind of consideration which we want when unemployment may be threatening. The words we suggest would meet almost precisly the interpretation of "imminent" which the right hon. Gentleman gave us yesterday.

I ask the Minister to look at the Distribution of Industry Act, 1945. Section 7 (2) says: Where at any time it appears to the Board that … there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment. That is a far wider set of words than "imminent" can possibly be. The Government have given us to understand that their intention is to widen the provisions of distribution of industry policy, but they are narrowing it down in a way which, to us, is most ominous.

I will give some practical examples of what is happening. We know from publications we had yesterday that production in Britain during the last twelve months has increased by 9 per cent., a percentage unknown in previous years and which may well denote a forward surge following the credit squeeze. At the same time as we see that kind of increase in production, we see also a substantial increase in unemployment. When we see what may well prove to be purely techological unemployment coming, one cannot possibly know at any given point that unemployment itself may be imminent. "Imminent", in the sense in which that is used, is generally denoted by a slackening of production and by slackness either in areas or in a certain factory. When one sees it coming one can fairly well guess that in the end it will result in increases in unemployment.

We are now in a phase when unemployment may well come even while there is no obvious imminence of the danger of it arriving. When there is not slackness in the economy and when production is rising one would not consider unemployment to be imminent. We know now that we are moving into a phase when unemployment may come far more as a consequence of modernisation than merely because order books may be running down in a particular firm.

I ask the Government to look again at the problem. I remember mentioning on Second Reading that in many takeover bids large firms are buying up smaller firms which may be very important employers in small areas. How does anyone know when a takeover bidder is doing it in order to close down the firm which he intends to acquire? One cannot look at the order book of the firm and predict that unemployment is imminent in the area.

These are very vital issues. It is not possible for the people who will have to work the Bill when it becomes an Act to take into consideration this type of danger if we confine ourselves to the words now in the Bill and which we suggest to the Government should be omitted. In other words, these problems cannot be regarded as discernible facts. We must give ourselves far more scope and we must include either the words in the Amendment or words which broadly express the same point. The words in the Amendment are because of difficulties in any industry or of local circumstances or otherwise". Surely these are the factors which the Minister himself has said that he desires to take into consideration. I put it to the Minister of State that, with all the good will in the world, if he confines himself to considering matters which are imminent he cannot take into account the kind of considerations which we are advancing.

I do not know whether he accepts the definition of "imminent" which I quoted from the Oxford Dictionary, but the implication is certainly of a threat hanging over a factory or an industry at a given time. We take a most serious view of this Amendment, because we feel that to retain the present wording flies in the face of all that the Minister said on Second Reading and in reply to a previous Amendment, when he said that this is the kind of spirit in which he wishes to act.

Does the Minister agree that the words which I quoted from Section 7 (2) of the 1945 Act are far wider than the words to which we take exception in the Bill? I should like a specific answer on that point. If he agrees, as I am certain he will have to agree, that the wording of the 1945 Act is far wider, then he should accept the Amendment. Will he not agree that the wording of the 1945 Act which I quoted is far wider than the implication contained in the interpretation by the Oxford Dictionary of the word "imminent"—of an overhanging threat at a certain time?

We wish to make the legislation worth while, in order that it may give us a chance to remove from those people whose jobs are threatened the fear which they may have of periods of unemployment.

The modernisation of industry will go on at ever-increasing pace. Because of this modernisation, the old criterion—that unemployment is imminent—is no longer suitable in many of these industries. Let us, therefore, modernise the legislation when we are introducing it. Let us not legislate for the past.

I hope that the Government will take the Amendment seriously, for we feel this to be a vital issue upon which the whole manner in which the legislation will be worked may hinge. I hope that our appeal will not be in vain and that the Minister will contrast the wording of the 1945 Act with the wording of the Bill and will agree that the wording of the Act was far easier for a Government to work. If the Government tie themselves by the use of the word "imminent", they will not be able to apply the humanitarian approach to these problems which the President has intimated that it is his desire to apply.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I wish to refer to the Amendment in line 16, to leave out "whether seasonally or generally", in the name of my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) and myself. I thank the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) for the courtesy of lending us part of his bandwagon for this part of the debate. The Amendment which I wish to propose—

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

I remind the hon. Member of the Ruling given from the Chair. He is not being asked to move an Amendment. His Amendment is being discussed with an Amendment which has already been moved.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I thank you for your guidance, Mr. Hoy.

It seems that one thing, at any rate, is agreed about the Bill—that its aim is to provide as high a level of employment as possible throughout the land. But the amount of industrial expansion which can take place and is likely to take place is obviously limited, and therefore in trying to influence industries to expand into areas where unemployment is high we must surely aim at providing that enticement in respect of those areas where unemployment is persistent, high and might well be permanent. Any reference to seasonal unemployment puts the Bill in jeopardy. It seems from a number of speeches on earlier Amendments that one fear is that the help which can be given to areas of relatively high unemployment may be spread too thinly. If this is true, then surely to make special provision for areas where there is seasonal unemployment may well be to stretch the resources still further, so that the areas in dire need of help will not receive all the help that they should.

I cannot understand why it is necessary to write into the Bill the words "whether seasonally or generally". If the Government had wished to deal with the problem of seasonal unemployment, after the passage of the Bill they could have done so in any case. I cannot envisage the kind of industry or undertaking which the Government have in mind for areas in which there is seasonal unemployment. What kind of industry can operate on a seasonal basis? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hotels."] It is exactly those areas where there is a large hotel industry Which are already affected by seasonal unemployment, and to provide more hotels will not ease the problem in those areas.

There is no indication of the limit of expenditure in the Bill, and if we are to give the Government a blank cheque in terms of expenditure in influencing industry, surely we should aim at ensuring that we help those areas whore there is persistent and high unemployment. This is basically the reason why I have tabled the Amendment. I fear that the help which we are offering may not be used with the efficiency which we should wish. I hope that the Government will be able to explain why they feel it necessary to make reference to seasonal unemployment.

6.45 p.m.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

One reason for this and several other Amendments is the deliberate vagueness of the Government in defining such things as "discernible facts," on the ground of flexibility. When the Government talk about flexibility our suspicions, always fairly high, are even higher. I ask the Minister of State to consider the specific case to which the President called attention on Second Reading—that of mining areas where pits are closing. These are clearly discernible facts, to use the President's own words.

In central West Fife we have in the Cowdenbeath Employment Exchange area an unemployment rate of 6·1 per cent. We know the National Coal Board's plans for that area for a number of years. I have information up to 1975. The Coal Board's plans produced two or three years ago—and these are now out-of-date for the worse; they will not improve on the figures given some years ago—showed that within a reasonable time 14 out of 15 pits will close.

In addition to this prospect and a rate of unemployment of 6·1 per cent., a quarter of the insured population have been moving out of the area to get work. If they had stayed in the area and if the married women had registered for emmployment—they do not do so because they know that they cannot get jobs—the unemployment figures would be very much higher.

These are disquieting facts. The increase in unemployment is clearly imminent. On Second Reading the President of the Board of Trade said: We regard the word 'imminent' as meaning that there is a discernible fact, for example, the closure of a pit, which is bound to mean the removal of a number of opportunities for employment. Where there is a factor of that kind which can be ascertained, one can say that there is an imminent threat of unemployment. These are the words which I want to stress: If it is likely to be persistent, under the Bill we shall have power to act in anticipation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 612, c. 36.] Who decides whether it will be persistent? Will the decision be taken before unemployment occurs? It must be so taken if the Government are to act in anticipation. If they are to act before it happens they must take preventive measures, and that is what we are asking for in central West Fife. In correspondence with me the Parliamentary Secretary has admitted that we need new industry now in central West Fife. In addition, we have the clearly discernible fact of the closure of six of these pits, now known, and eventually of 14 out of the 15. Surely that calls for this area being designated as one of the localities under the terms of the Bill. Will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that where there are these discernible facts, especially in mining areas, action will be taken before and not after the event?

Photo of Mr Percy Browne Mr Percy Browne , Torrington

I wish to say a very few words, if I am in order, on what my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) said about seasonal unemployment. I cannot let that pass. It is not an answer to produce extra hotels, as hon. Members opposite suggested, because that only adds to the population at a time of the year when there is more employment than at other times.

Photo of Mr Julian Snow Mr Julian Snow , Lichfield and Tamworth

It was not hon. Members on this side of the Committee who suggested more hotels. That was suggested by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams).

Photo of Mr Percy Browne Mr Percy Browne , Torrington

I apologise if I am wrong. The ideal solution no doubt, would be employment for the winter months only.

That is an impossibility, but I would point out to my hon. Friend that in Bideford, although we get down to a figure of 2 per cent. of unemployment in summer we go up to 4 per cent. in winter—and we are now already at that figure—and of that 2 per cent. hard core over half are men over 40 looking for employment. I therefore welcome those words in brackets at the end of subsection (2)—

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I had not meant to mention a constituency point, but my hon. Friend's interjection forces me to do so. He talks of 2 per cent. and 4 per cent. unemployment, but my argument is that it would be better to give help and treatment to areas such as Sunderland, where the unemployment rate is 5·4 per cent., and is high and persistent.

Photo of Mr Percy Browne Mr Percy Browne , Torrington

I get my hon. Friend's point, but I still think that it would be wrong to leave out the areas of seasonal unemployment; or to say that there would be less help for them if they were included.

The hon. Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) is playing with words when he says that "imminent" means such-and-such a thing and that "general" means something else. If we mean what we say—as I am sure that we do on this side, at any rate—I am quite certain that the discernible fact, when it becomes apparent, will be considered to be imminent.

Photo of Mr Hervey Rhodes Mr Hervey Rhodes , Ashton-under-Lyne

Some parts of my constituency regard unemployment as imminent whenever a Tory Government are in power because they have had plenty of experience of Tory Governments. They had an example of Tory planning just before the recent General Election. I will not ascribe wrong motives to that planning, but anybody who witnessed what went on in our part of the world in the twelve months prior to the General Election would have no doubt that the timing was for the election.

That planning resulted in 21 mills closing down in the area covered by the employment exchange in my division, and the money that was paid out went into the pockets of shareholders to the tune of £50 million to £60 million, so the Prime Minister said in Oldham, without any sort of guarantee that it would be applied to the furtherance of employment in that locality.

I agreed entirely with the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) when he said that we should be very critical about paying out money to private enterprise without guarantees, but, let us face it, that is the sort of planning to which we have grown accustomed. It has not been a bit of good in this case, because the effect of the plan took place in a time of boom and now nobody wants to close down. We are now having to tell those who contracted some months ago to close down that they must shut by next March, and they do not want to shut. This is madhouse economy.

While we are talking about imminent unemployment, I want to ask the Minister of State what sort of organisation, what sort of planning he has in mind to cope with it. It is no use waiting until unemployment appears on the horizon, or just near—or whatever meaning we put on the word "imminent"—and then saying, "Oh, yes we must act"—and act quickly only if there is a General Election coming along in a few months' time. On such occasions judgments are wrong.

I want the Government to think this one out. Many of our industries had their origin in inventions when we were in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution Either as a result of cheap labour, or for some other reason—and I will not labour the point, because it is not my main one—an industry declines or a new technique arrives.

An example of that is the extruding of yarns in the rayon industry as distinct from the spinning of them in the cotton industry. The thinking out of the implications of what is now taking place across the Channel is part and parcel of this question of imminent unemployment, because I am convinced that during the next few years several of our old techniques will be replaced by new ones.

What do we know about these developments? There is not a single research department in industry that has a list of productivity performances of comparable or better machines being made elsewhere in the world, but I suggest that that should be an important part of our organisation against imminent unemployment. We need to know what technical alterations are likely to emerge in any part of the world.

I am convinced that new techniques will come out of the Common Market, and be in operation far more quickly, than those coming from the Outer Seven. We may have a good deal of first-class technical equipment coming from Switzerland, but I am quite certain that in the next year or two, judging by the way the rest of the Continental countries are parcelling out their jobs, the general machine makers will quickly produce what is needed in countries such as our own. That is a very important point.

7.0 p.m.

Another aspect is take-overs and concentration. In my constituency we have a large engineering works. It became part of a larger organisation and, eventually, part of a larger organisation still. As in so many other industries, geographically remote control was meritable. A street of deserted buildings has appeared. It is supposed to be concentrated—but employment is reduced. There is no thinking out of the effects of a decision of that sort, taken in an office in London. Where people's livelihoods are dependent on what there is in an area now, there should be economic surveys of the areas, co-ordinated by the Government, so that we know in advance the kind of conditions to expect.

I sincerely ask the Government to think about this problem while there is time. What I am saying now will, I think, be obvious in another year or two. In business we are seeing these things clearly emerge. We want these things from abroad. We have tariffs, but we have made no arrangements with the Common Market. Switzerland reduces its tariff by 20 per cent. in June. There is no plan as to the expectancy of employment in many of our areas. Twenty-one mills have closed down in my constituency because the Government have offered money for the owners to close them. That is not planning; it is not good economics. The whole thing wants recasting, and I ask the Government to think again.

Photo of Mr John Eden Mr John Eden , Bournemouth West

I reinforce the plea of hon. Members who have asked my right hon. Friend, when replying to this short debate, to give some indication of how he proposes to exercise these powers in an area, where it is considered that unemployment is imminent, which has seasonal changes in the rate of employment and unemployment.

I sincerely hope that my own constituency will not be affected by a high rate of unemployment during what is commonly known in holiday towns as the off-season. Bournemouth is more fortunate than most in being a year-round resort, but obviously a number of small hotels and guest houses have to close during the winter months. That is well-known to the people who seek jobs in those hotels and guest houses.

If winter seasonal unemployment is to be great, I do not quite follow how it is proposed to put that right. Is the whole balance of these seasonal towns to be upset by bringing in a major engineering works to absorb the labour? That does not seem to be logical, because the type of labour unemployed would not be the type of labour that would find an outlet for its talents in the engineering industry. Equally, if we establish a great engineering works in an area of this kind, it is quite possible that it will have an adverse effect on the employment position in the on-season in the following year or in years to come.

I do not see how the powers to be conferred on the Minister under the Bill can be exercised in such a way as to solve the problem which seasonal unemployment conjures up. I should be grateful if the Minister would give a little more information about this, because we must not upset the balance of a community. In Bournemouth, it could reach the possibility of destroying much of the holiday atmosphere if my hon. Friend came along with great powers of compulsory purchase and seized large areas of land to build great works. It may be desirable to do that, but if it is desirable, why cannot it be done by industry itself? Why must it be left to my hon. Friend?

I feel that we should take cognisance of the nature of an area and the locality which my hon. Friend is trying to help, and that where there is a seasonal element we should not seek to put it right by bringing in a permanent industry, which would further aggravate the situation caused by the fluctuation in seasonal employment.

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

I have not risen to reply to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), but I would make these comments on his remarks. Seasonal unemployment may be persistent in that it occurs year after year and for a considerable part of the year and it may have a very depressing effect on an area, as it does in some areas that are known to hon. Members. I think it would be unfortunate to exclude seasonal unemployment altogether merely because it is seasonal.

I should like to refer to the Amendment that has been moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) and also to the next Amendment on the Notice Paper which appears in the name of my hon. Friends and myself, and which, I understand, is being discussed with it. These Amendments raise more important issues than the definition of the word "imminent", although I should like to say a few words on the subject of definition. Without attempting to make a Second Reading speech, which would obviously be out of order, I would say that the aim and purpose of the Bill are not to impede changes in the pattern of industry or to prevent the development of new industries or even to try to stop the decline of an industry where that is inevitable. Its aim and purpose are to minimise hardship and try to spread employment as widely as possible. After all, we are concerned with the welfare of individuals and not merely with percentages and numbers. In other words, this is a social and not merely an economic problem. We must consider it from that angle.

Yesterday we debated the subject of diversification, and again I would say that is a social as well as an economic problem. Similarly where depopulation occurs this may be, and in a number of cases it is, undesirable for social reasons, and I think it is right that we should try to check this depopulation by attempting to bring employment to those areas where depopulation is serious. Again there is a social reason, and it is not limited only to existing unemployment.

That brings us to a consideration of the word "imminent". Once one accepts the view that I have put forward, in passing any legislation one must try to ensure that any action that is taken will be taken in time. I have studied the Oxford Dictionary and I came across the phrase, "impending threateningly". I noticed also the words "ready to befall" and "close at hand". I had a look at other dictionaries, which I will not quote with the same degree of authority, and I read in one of them the definition "about to occur immediately".

It seems to me that the present wording of this Clause is rather too restrictive in meaning. I do not intend to argue whether we should delete "imminent" or retain it and add other words. I do not think that is vital, so long as the other words are added. In the Amendment in line 15, in the names of my hon. Friends and myself, we have retained the word "imminent" but we have added other words beginning with "or is anticipated …" I certainly think it is necessary to give more indication than is already in the Bill of the circumstances in which the Board may act, and I do not think they are sufficiently clearly covered or defined in subsections (3) and (4). The key word in the Liberal Amendment is "anticipated". Again I shall not quarrel whether we should say "expected" or "anticipated".

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

Does not the retention of the word "imminent" rather restrict one's ability to anticipate?

Photo of Mr Donald Wade Mr Donald Wade , Huddersfield West

If the Minister will suggest wording that will cover the point I shall not quarrel. I am quite content to see "imminent" taken out. The interpretation of that word is really the major issue.

Unemployment may arise as a result of some national policy, for example, in the development of overseas trade. I am in favour of removing restrictions on international trade, but it is only right to consider the consequences on certain industries. Sometimes it is reasonably clear and it is possible to foresee, with some degree of accuracy the effect that the removal of barriers to trade will have on certain industries and in certain areas. For example, if Britain had gone into the Common Market, there is no doubt that that would have benefited some trades and not others. On balance, I have no doubt that Britain would have gained; but certain industries would have suffered.

Personally, I think it is unfortunate that the present situation has arisen with the risk of Europe being divided. I am not at all happy about the present state of affairs. It may well be that this country has "missed the bus" and we may find that the United States will enter into some bargain with the Common Market countries which will be to our disadvantage. We may find this country left out in the cold. But whether we proceed by close association with the Outer Seven or by some close association or entry into the Common Market, I think it will be possible to forecast with some degree of accuracy the effect that this would have on particular industries and in certain areas. In some cases its effect may take several years, but surely plans could be put in hand in good time, and that is the point of these Amendments. There should be power to act in time and to plan ahead. I am a little doubtful whether any planning ahead can be done if we retain the word "imminent".

7.15 p.m.

I should like to give one further example. It arises where the facts are ascertainable, or, at any rate, can be estimated. I am thinking of juvenile unemployment. We know the extent of the bulge. We know roughly how many school leavers there will be in any particular year. I hope the Minister will not dismiss this proposal on the ground that we have a Bill dealing with geographical areas and not with particular age groups. This problem of juvenile unemployment is serious and there are certain areas where it will be particularly serious. We know that there are already some parts of the countryside where there is a considerable flowing away of young people, and this raises a very serious social problem. My hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) mentioned it recently in his maiden speech. This in turn affects the attitude of youth to society.

I remember very well as a student sitting down seriously and solemnly with my fellow students to consider whether anyone over the age of 30 could be of any real use in public life. We came to the conclusion that after the age of 30 we should be so encrusted with the customs and habits of society that we would be quite insensitive to the real needs of the time. We felt sure that if there was to be any moral or social—not to mention economic and political—revolution we must act before reaching the age of 30; otherwise it would be too late.

I believe that is a healthy and natural attitude on the part of youth, but when the first experience of life after leaving school is a long period of unemployment that attitude becomes very unhealthy indeed. I am raising this matter in the hope that the Minister will take this fact into account, for example in considering the opportunity for apprenticeships. This problem of juvenile unemployment must be taken into account by the Minister in taking any powers which are given to him under the Bill.

I would sum up in this way. I am in favour of discretionary powers rather than mandatory powers, but I should like to see them as flexible as possible and sufficiently wide. It, is essential that these powers should not be so limited or circumscribed that at some time in the future they may be an excuse for inactivity.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I hope that my right hon. Friend will realise that all the comments, Amendments and criticisms on this Clause have arisen because anyone who has had any experience of the kind of unemployment that certain areas suffered during the 1930s is extremely anxious that the Bill should be the best possible Bill that Parliament can devise to deal with the sort of problems that may arise in the future.

If I may refer to the Amendment to line 16, moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), on the question of seasonal unemployment, I have tried to give consideration to the point of view that he expressed, but I think that, on balance, I come down in favour of the retention of the words in the Clause. Most Members who have spoken on the question of seasonal unemployment seem to have concentrated on discussing the situation in areas which depend upon tourism and which have a very active and lively hotel industry. I am very interested in that, because I have a seaside resort in my constituency, but there are other people, such as fishermen, who are affected by seasonal unemployment. It is important that the Minister should have the power, and if he uses his power wisely it will be of benefit to retain that word in the Bill.

One Amendment proposes to leave out the word "imminent". I am inclined to think that that word is too restrictive. In discussing matters of this kind it is very difficult to be certain about what is the best word to use. The word "imminent" is in the Clause associated with a high level of unemployment. I feel that if the word "imminent" is retained we may not be able to plan sufficiently far ahead to meet what one can see as a perhaps unfavourable development in certain parts of the country.

If my right hon. Friend proposes to retain the word "imminent" in the Clause, how does he propose to deal with any recession in the shipbuilding industry? At present, I am glad to say, there is not a high level of unemployment in the shipbuilding industry, and unemployment is not imminent, but I hope that my right hon. Friend will give a better interpretation of the word "imminent". Those of us who are interested in shipbuilding and shipping and allied interests have to look very far ahead, because our proportion of world trade is declining. It is true that it may improve, and we hope that it will, but I find it a little difficult to know how we will provide for areas which are largely dependent on shipbuilding and shipping interests if that word "imminent" is retained in the Clause. I may be quite wrong, but I think it is important for my right hon. Friend to give a wider and real interpretation of the word.

There is anxiety on the North-East Coast about coast-wise shipping in relation to the coal-carrying trade. If I understand the position aright, as a result of the modernisation of the railways it is becoming cheaper to carry coal by rail rather than by what used to be the normal practice in my part of the country of bringing coal by tramp steamer and coast-wise shipping. If it is true that in the general build-up for the future the railways will triumph over coast-wise shipping we must look ahead.

I hope that coast-wise shipping will hold its own, because it is part of our life blood on the North-East Coast, but if the railways are going to triumph in the end it is important to know that the Clause might be invoked to help those who build ships for tramp shipping to build more modern vessels with Government assistance.

I can see a whole vista of arguments that one could develop this evening both for and against the word "imminent". I am looking forward to what my right hon. Friend will say before making up my mind about which is the right way for me to vote. We are not looking at this from a party political point of view. We are all concerned with maintaining the highest level of employment that we can.

My noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), who is associated with an Amendment to the Clause, refrained from pointing out that in the days when we suffered great unemployment on the North East Coast the part of the country which he represents did not find itself in that position. I think that one's point of view on the Bill depends on one's past experience. It is very important to bear that in mind. I listen with much more respect to people who understand the problem of unemployment than I do to people who are philosophising on the problem.

There is one point that I should like to ask my right hon. Friend to clear up in connection with the Clause and the Amendments that we are discussing. I have been asked by my dry dock owners to ask my right hon. Friend whether he recollects that in 1958 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget statement, when referring to the 1958 Distribution of Industry Act, said that dry docks would be one of the projects that would come within the ambit of that Act. We on Tyneside are very grateful, because we got a new dry dock with the aid of the financial assistance that was provided for under that Act. Dry dock owners are anxious to know whether they will remain within the ambit of the Bill. I think that my right hon. Friend would agree that it is important to have all the i's dotted and the t's crossed. It is wonderful how Parliament, or Ministers from both sides of the House, sometimes try to escape from some of the things from which we think they ought not to try and escape. I would like an assurance from my right hon. Friend that dry docks will still be within the ambit of the Bill.

I think that the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade) made an important point about juvenile employment. It is essential that juveniles should not be expected to go into dead-end jobs. I hope that there will be power under the Bill to look at the problem of school-leavers from the point of view of genuine employment, employment that will give them a livelihood stretching throughout their adult years. We must not just accept that so many school-leavers have found employment, because nobody knows whether the employment that they have found is dead-end or something that will provide them with a reasonable living in the future.

If, in the future, we on the North-East Coast, or, indeed, in any other big industrial area, are faced with difficulties, will the President of the Board of Trade be able to help us in dealing with the problem of pollution of our great rivers?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

Order. I think that I have allowed the hon. Lady a fair amount of leniency. I do not see how that point fits into any of the Amendments that are being discussed.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

If I may say so, our discussion has ranged very widely, and the Minister is to reply. I shall not develop any arguments about antipollution, or anything like that, so I do not think you need have any anxiety on that score, Mr. Hoy.

In making up one's mind about imminence or otherwise, it is important to know the kind of situation with which we shall have to deal in the future. Therefore, I wish to know just how far and how wide my right hon. Friend is prepared to go in this matter. I have given him several substantial questions to answer. I should like to have answers to them, because they are appropriate to the subject matter of the Bill.

7.30 p.m.

Photo of Mr John McCann Mr John McCann , Rochdale

Unlike the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), we on this side know what should be the wording in the Bill. I have very great pleasure in supporting the Amendment to leave out the word "imminent". In my part of Lancashire, "imminent" means "will happen shortly". We are very much afraid that someone will wait until unemployment happens before he does anything at all about it.

On Second Reading, the Minister himself used the word "imminent" as meaning that there is a discernible fact".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 9th November, 1959; Vol. 613, c. 36.] We should like to know, first, when a fact becomes first discernible, and when a discernible fact becomes imminent. No matter what interpretation we put on these words, ultimately, when the Bill becomes law, decisions may be left to a local official whose definition of "imminent" implies two or three weeks.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

And will everyone agree that it is a fact?

Photo of Mr John McCann Mr John McCann , Rochdale

One of the difficulties, of course, is that people are inclined to say that, while there is life there is hope and, even though an industry may appear to be receding, there will always be the type of person who, like Micawber, will say, "Let us wait for something to turn up"; and so it will go on.

I rose to speak primarily about juvenile unemployment. We know the number of school-leavers who will be coming into industry for many years to come. The peak in Rochdale will be reached in about 1962. Industry needs time to develop. There is no point in dealing with the situation when the children have already left school. It has been made quite clear that the Bill gives the Government no power of direction, they have to persuade industry by inducements to go into areas where unemployment is likely to be high. The President of the Board of Trade admitted that in certain areas it may be virtually impossible to have the type of employment which is suitable for the particular area. So we can assume that the Government cannot guarantee, within twelve, eighteen or twenty-four months, any work for the school-leavers.

We have an example in Rochdale which will fortify my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) in his arguments about the textile industry. Because of the Government's actions, we have a discernible fact. We have had a situation where many looms and spindles were to be put out of commission and several mills were to close. But out of that fact came another one: although it was intended that mills were to close, there was no need, apparently, for those concerned to give notice.

So the local people, who, ultimately, will have to find employment, have no idea which mills in their particular area are to close. In my own constituency, one company has announced only this week that a mill employing 300 people is to close, and it is hoped that those 300 people will be absorbed.

Those are the reasons that we argue against the use of the word "imminent". We would far rather use the words "may be expected" so that, as a long-term plan, industry can be brought in and developed to enable it to work economically at the time when people need it.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I sustained a short and sharp attack from my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) which, I think, must have been based on prejudice. I do not want her to believe that I stand on a bedrock of full employment in South Dorset and sneer across the country at her in Tynemouth, hoping that her unemployment will remain what it is. I am just as anxious as she is that the State should be very active in removing unemployment. I want the State to remove it by means of a derating mechanism, by means of increased subsidies to her local authority and others, and by means of other devices of that kind, rather than by giving grants to industrialists who come into her constituency and compete rather more successfully than the people who have been sweating it out with her for the last thirty years.

The Liberal Amendment is an indication of what fatal openings are given to Parliament by the introduction of this Bill. Two of the subjects upon which the Liberal Party addressed us at the General Election are included in its Amendment now. If two are included, I cannot see why a much fuller range should not go alongside them. One might say, for example, that threatened fall-out from the hydrogen bomb was imminent and was a sufficient excuse to ask for Government money for the purposes of this Bill. One might say that private enterprise had failed and industrial copartnership was the only solution and, therefore, because that was not provided for in the Bill, it should not be passed. Anybody can suggest any kind of fear and try to provide against it in this portion of the Bill as a reason for asking for State assistance. It is quite ludicrous to think that we can go to the ends of the earth and explore all our political ideas and phobias in an effort to bring about some result within the terms of this Bill.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) in speaking to the Amendment in page 1, line 16, which is being discussed now, made a perfectly valid point. The President of the Board of Trade has told us that there will not be great liberality in this matter. He has told us that the Government will look at the matter with great circumspection, and there are not unlimited funds.

It is surely valid to say that, if hon. Members opposite are so keen to maintain the nature of the special areas about which they were arguing on a previous Amendment, by introducing the seasonal factor one would whittle away the calls upon Government money in bringing the Bill into operation in a different part of the country a very long way from the places where hon. Members opposite have their special interests. Hon. Members opposite ought to consider carefully whether this word "seasonally" should be left out for that very reason. They may receive only one-half or three-quarters of what is now being received in the Development Areas if they agree to the widening of the terms of the Bill.

It has been suggested that hotels in seaside resorts were somehow to have been included in the operation of the Bill. I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Cooper-Key) and one or two other hon. Members who have had that expectation are not in the Chamber at this moment. There are several hotels in my constituency. They do extremely well in the summer. During the election campaign, the hotel proprietors were, for the most part, quite justifiably taking a holiday after their long and strenuous work during the summer. Many of them had gone great distances, some of them, I am glad to say, even to the South of France to enjoy their holidays. There is no question at all but that the hotel keepers in the South of England do extremely well in the summer months, and they expect to have an off-season when they take their holidays, re-equip their establishments, and prepare for another season.

Photo of Mr John McCann Mr John McCann , Rochdale

What about the staff?

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

We are not talking about persons now. We are talking about trades. I wish we were talking about persons. We shall be talking about persons at a later stage, I have no doubt.

Is it really suggested that the state of the hotel industry in this country is now so grave that hotel keepers can expect to be included within the pro- visions of the Bill? Are we really to use these words "whether seasonally or generally" to assist certain hotels in the centre of Britain and round our coasts? [Interruption.] I hope that we shall hear the argument deployed from the benches opposite. If we do not, there the matter will end.

The moment one begins giving Government money to overcome the disabilities of the hotel proprietors during the winter months, when their trade is off, one opens up enormous new categories of people who could claim the same sort of thing. What about the mate of the "Nancy Belle" who takes his boat out during the summer on the briny ocean and makes a splendid profit out of it? He lays it up during the winter and, perhaps, he has to walk round without too much to do and without very much money coming in. His claim for attention is just as good as the claim of the hotel proprietor up the beach. There is an endless line of opportunities of that kind opened up.

Photo of Mr John McCann Mr John McCann , Rochdale

The noble Lord is missing the whole point. For every hotel proprietor, there may be 10 or 20 people who work in the hotel. They do not go to the South of France during the winter. They go to the local employment exchange. I remind the noble Lord that, when the new list of D.A.T.A.C. areas was instituted by his own Government, seaside towns had a high priority on that first list.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

I am glad that the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. McCann) interrupted me, because that brings me sharply to the final point I wish to make on this Amendment.

According to the hon. Gentleman, there are thousands of persons who, at the end of the summer months, register at the local employment exchange and are unemployed. We will leave aside for the purposes of the argument whether they are or are not in some job or other and working during the winter, although they remain on the register of unemployed. Let us say that they are on the register and they are unemployed. What is to happen to the town? Industry is to be brought in. Light industries are to be introduced to cater for the winter unemployment. Is that so?

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Evidently, it is. What happens the following summer? As the summer season approaches, there is not enough labour to cater for the holidaymakers, so people have to be imported into the town from outside. The population goes up, perhaps by as much as 10,000 if the town is large enough and enough industries have been established there, for the purpose of the summer season. There these people are housed. They become settled in thir places, and they enjoy their summer season there. They are unwilling to move. The following autumn, they, too, go to the employment exchange, and again new industry, under the Bill, has to be attracted in order to cater for the unemployment which arises.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) was absolutely right. This is a madhouse we are in under this Bill. The sooner the Government realise it and make the Amendments we ask for and, if possible, withdraw the first three or four Clauses of it, the sooner I shall be pleased.

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

The noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said that we were in a madhouse. His speech went quite a long way to prove it. He said that we were not talking about people. He claimed that we were talking about industries. Has he looked at the three phrases which are linked together in this connection? The first is, "a high level of unemployment". With all respect to him, a high level of unemployment relates not to industries, but to people. It is the number of people who are registering at a local employment exchange. If the noble Lord could appreciate simply the basic facts behind the Bill, he might be able to make a much more sensible contribution to our discussion.

Like many others who have spoken today, I am worried about the word "imminent". I do not think that it in any way measures up to what the Government themselves declare to be their aim in relation to the Bill. It has been widely said that one of the benefits of the Bill is that the Government will be able to act before unemployment develops. The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) mentioned this, too. She saw before her a wide vista of arguments both for and against the word "imminent". It so happened, of course, that all her arguments were against it and she was not able to pick one in favour of it, for the obvious reason that there is none We cannot consider the word "imminent" in isolation. It is linked to the words "likely to persist".

7.45 p.m.

The essential part of the definition of "imminent" is the aspect of immediacy that it implies. In other words, although unemployment is expected or is anticipated, the Government cannot bring the provisions of the Clause into use unless the unemployment is imminent. Then, when they start thinking about imminence, they must say, "But that is not enough. Is it likely to persist?" By the time they have settled that, the unemployment will be already there. I sincerely ask the President of the Board of Trade to consider this. Whether he likes the Amendment put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Newton (Mr. Lee) or the Liberal Amendment, I hope that we have convinced him that the Clause is quite unsatisfactory and that some other phrase would be far better.

The other thing that worries me about the question of imminence and the other things with which it is linked is that we know from experience what will happen and we know the things about which we have asked the Government to take action. We know that in Ayrshire, as a result of a decision of the National Coal Board, there is to be a loss of exports from the Port of Ayr to Ireland of 250,000 tons of coal annually. This means that next year, as compared with last year, there will be a fall of 25 per cent. in the coal shipments from the port. One would have thought that that might lead to unemployment or cause a loss of employment.

We also know that in the coming year, three Ayrshire pits are to be closed—Auchincruive Nos. 1, 2 and 3—affecting about 750 men. First, the question arises of whether that is imminent. As it is not happening tomorrow, it is not imminent. When, however, we link it to the question whether it will cause unemployment that is likely to persist, what a muddle we get into. The Government have the perfect alibi for doing nothing.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, aided by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Power, said that there would be no unemployment from the closing of pits. There will be redundancy in the sense that it is accepted in any nationalised industry that the men will lose their jobs, but they will be found other jobs. That is what was said about the dock workers when we raised the question of the anticipated loss of coal exports, which will mean a loss of 500 trains a year through Ayr locomotive depot. Nobody will be unemployed, we are told. The people are to be found other work.

To the school leavers in the area, however, it means that avenues of employment in the docks, in the mines and or the railways will be closed. This is where the anticipation of taking action will be destroyed if the President of the Board of Trade retains the existing interpretation of the Clause. Because there is no unemployment, there can be no loss of employment—at least to those at present doine the job; but those who expect to work at certain places when they leave school are bound to be affected by the change.

I ask the President of the Board of Trade to reconsider the matter. He can choose from the two Amendments. We can co-ordinate them and get a good one out of them. In that way, the right hon. Gentleman would get something far better than he has at present. How is he to judge the question of imminence and how will he do it when it is linked with "likely to persist"? We noticed how difficult it was throughout the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth. I would have considered it imminent that she was finishing. We soon found, however, that she was likely to persist.

Can we be promised that the Government will take speedy and immediate action when they decide to close, say, an ordnance factory in Ayrshire, as they did a short time ago, throwing hundreds of people out of work? Do the Government mean that the imminence of such an action will be judged by the decision, or by the time when people are actually unemployed? The recent closure was spread over a long period. By the time the last man had gone out, many of the people had moved out of the area and come south, to England, or gone to Canada. We get this all the time in Scotland. Twenty thousand people leave Scotland every Tory year. That makes 100,000 in the last five years, including the families.

What does the President of the Board of Trade mean by imminence? The Transport Commission has told us that in 1961 its Barassie workshop is to be closed. We know how many people are employed there. Will the Government make an effort through the Bill to find employment in Ayrshire to cover the number of jobs which will be lost, or will they argue in the same way as the Secretary of State for Scotland and say that everything will be taken care of by natural wastage and by the men finding jobs elsewhere? This will mean that another avenue of jobs is closed and there will be unemployment among our school leavers, for whom the hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), on behalf of the Liberal Party, and other hon. Members have spoken.

Let the President of the Board of Trade reconsider this whole string of limitations. They do not meet the cases of which I have spoken; indeed, they cause dismay and disappointment to all hon. Members who have spoken and who know anything about the problem of unemployment.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

A number of points have been raised, and I should like to reply. I have already found in the course of the debate that the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Ross) is both imminent and likely to persist, but I do not criticise him for that, because he has strong reasons for being both of those things.

Many separate points have been raised in the discussion. I should like to clear up one point straight away and assure my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) that dry docks are certainly included within "undertakings" within the terms and ambit of the Bill. I could not properly make a statement at this stage about the pollution of rivers, but I would hazard a guess that the clearance of derelict land might sometimes involve derelict rivers. That, however, is a guess and I must leave the matter to you, Sir Norman, or to your successor in the Chair. I cannot deal with it now.

I agree that the question of the word "seasonal" is a difficult problem. The basis of the problem is that we feel we must look at an unemployment situation which is likely to be persistent. It would be wrong to deal with a purely transient situation when something happens which, one knows, will be cleared up within a short time. It must, therefore, be persistent unemployment. On the other hand, there are places where, throughout large parts of the year, there is a lot of unemployment and yet, at some parts of the year, there is fairly full employment. In that case, we cannot describe the unemployment as persistent. Therefore, we must make special provision for places where there is recurrent unemployment which does not persist throughout the entire year.

That is the problem with which we are trying to deal. It is a difficult one to deal with. We want, if possible to find something which the Economist would call "contra-seasonal". I cannot think of any contra-seasonal industries. As a consumer, I remember that, many years ago, there was a firm which made ice cream in the summer and sausages in the winter. I suspect that with the present consumption of ice cream, that is not quite the same thing. Examples of that kind, however, are rare. We must face the fact, as my noble Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) had in mind, that the industry which employs people in winter but not in summer is exceedingly hard to find. This does not mean that we should neglect the problems of these areas where employment fluctuates and where, for substantial periods of the year, unemployment may reach a high level.

What we must consider is whether, at the trough of the unemployment figure, there is still a labour force available. I agree that if we bring in new industry, as a result of which we create a shortage of labour at the peak season, we will be creating new problems. There will, however, be a number of places where, despite the fluctuations, there is always a substantial body of people available for employment throughout the year. This applies particularly to male labour. My impression is that, particularly in the resort areas, it is the female employment which fluctuates.

Suppose that, theoretically, one takes the figure of 4 per cent. as a high level of unemployment. If a locality swings between 7 per cent, at one time and 3 per cent. at another time of the year, we should treat the area, even though the percentage often falls below 4, as an area where there is a problem to be tackled. So long as a body of labour is available throughout the year to provide a permanent core of employment, one can tackle the problem and mitigate the difficulties of these areas. We can only mitigate them. By the very nature of the difficulty itself, we cannot completely abolish the seasonal difficulty.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

The unemployment that my right hon Friend is tackling is the underlying unemployment and not the seasonal factor of the difference between 4 per cent. and 7 per cent. It is the permanent 4 per cent. running throughout.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is true. Unless we can find industries that work in the winter and not in the summer the only thing we can do is to tackle the permanent underlying unemployment. Unless we have this provision in the Bill, however, we should not be able to tackle it. That is why we must retain this provision. Otherwise, we could not do anything for the areas where, for part of the year, there is a high level of unemployment and for other parts of the year there is less unemployment and not what can reasonably be described as a high level of unemployment.

The Clause is a practical proposal for dealing with the problems of individual areas which have this seasonal swing. I accept at once that it is not practicable to try to solve these problems in their entirety because of the very seasonal nature of the employment in the area.

8.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

Surely this is an academic argument. In view of the fact my right hon. Friend cannot name a single industry to meet his case, it is an academic argument.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not think so. I think if my hon. Friend would consider some of the cases where D.A.T.A.C. is applied he will find that in those coastal resorts or coastal towns where there is a fluctuation between, say, 3 per cent. and 7 per cent. we can introduce some industry which throughout the year will provide employment for part of the population, thereby reducing the peak figure and the trough figure.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

That is not seasonal. It is basic.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is, perhaps, not dealing with the seasonal unemployment, but it is dealing with a problem which is of a seasonal character. Unless we have these words in the Bill we could not do it. I do not think there is really a difference in principle between my hon. Friends and myself in what we are trying to do. All I am saying is that we cannot try to do it unless we have these words in the Bill.

To a certain extent it would be folly to introduce measures which deal with the problem of unemployment in the winter but which caused only a great shortgae of labour in the summer, because that would merely perpetuate the problem. Subject to that limitation, what we have to try to do is to get powers to deal with high underlying unemployment without the seasonal unemployment superimposed.

The other problem is in the word "imminent". I accept that it is extremely difficult to think of the right word in these circumstances. I think myself, after a great deal of thought about this word "imminent", that it is the best one we can find. Our conception here goes this way—that it is not enough merely to deal with unemployment when it already exists at a high and persistent level. On the other hand, we should be completely defeating our own purpose if we tried to take measures to face any possible threat of unemployment however remote.

Every industry in this country which has a large export content is constantly facing a risk in the changing markets of the world—as the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Rhodes) said, in some of the new trading circumstances we are facing in Europe. If one were to say that action should be taken in every possible threat of unemployment we should get real difficulty. We think this word "imminent" is best because it covers any threat, as I tried to explain on the Second Reading, where something definite has happened which inevitably would lead to unemployment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Has happened?"] I will explain what I mean—where there is some factor like a pit closure or a closure of an ordnance factory which would lead to unemployment unless in the meantime some other circumstance supervenes.

I will illustrate that with one or two examples. I remember that when the Hawker Aircraft Company closed a factory at Blackpool 2,900 workers left over 21 months; but the total unemployed reached a peak of only 265 above the level when the rundown started. The same thing happened at Saunders-Roe in the Isle of Wight when works were contracted due to cancellation of orders. One can often see occasions where the men concerned are reabsorbed very quickly, and where new industry in those circumstances might make a labour shortage and where, secondly, the money spent might be better spent on something else.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was in the Chamber when I was arguing this point, but I did try to argue that it does not matter what he thinks or what I think or what anybody thinks. What is important is what is written in the Bill and the way in which it is interpreted. I pointed out to him how the Oxford Dictionary defines the word "imminent". It reads: impending, soon to happen, overhanging, ready to overtake one. Will he address himself to that interpretation?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I am not so familiar with the Oxford Dictionary as the hon. Gentleman, but I thought that was exactly what we meant. It means if unemployment is really threatening. Take, for example, the closure of a pit. I would feel the position which we are aiming at to be this, that if the pit closure was announced to take place say in five years' time that would not be imminent because, though that would in itself mean the removal of a number of jobs within a period of, say, five years, many things might well happen which would provide alternative sources of employment; but if it were announced to take place in about a year I think that would be a very different matter. I think that that might well be an imminent threat.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth referred to the shipbuilding industry and also to competition between the railways and coastal shipping. I do not know all the details of competition between the railways and coastal shipping. There may be a danger in the future from that struggle, but it is difficult to say whether that will happen. My hop. Friend referred to shipbuilding. We can say—many people do say—that shipbuilding capacity in the free world as a whole is in the long term a good deal larger than needed to keep up replacement in the world merchant fleet, so in the long run there is a danger of unemployment arising from that.

On the other hand, we may have a situation where the order books are still fairly long for several years. Then I would say the danger was not imminent, but if we have a number of cancellations and we can see in a foreseeable space of time that yards are running out of work we have a danger which is imminent. The same thing rather applies to ordnace factories, and to the theoretical Royal Ordnance factory to which the hon. Member referred.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The one I was referring to was. I think the announcement of the closure of a pit, the Government decision to close it, will not be the operative fact, whereas once it is decided a factory is going to close in, say, a year there is an imminent threat unless one can see alternative employment coming meanwhile.

Photo of Mr Charles Loughlin Mr Charles Loughlin , Gloucestershire West

Let us assume there is a possibility of closure in twelve months' time or two years' time. How long will it take to push into that area new industries, because unless we plan ahead—unless the interpretation of the word "imminent" allows for future development in the area—we cannot possibly plan for industries to arrive in time.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I think that is a very good point. It brings us to what is the problem here. It is a matter of degree, and not of kind. We have to consider the question of getting a factory in advance, and whether it would be better employed. The position we are in at the moment, as I see it, is that, as I have been trying to explain, the word "imminent" is the best word that can be used to carry out this provision.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

Really, the right hon. Gentleman is making us on this side of the Committee most despondent. He quoted the instance of a Royal Ordnance factory. A large number of people are thrown out of work. There was a failure to deal with the matter. I am thinking of a factory in my own constituency. Our unemployment has climbed to 6·4 per cent. Workers have to travel to Glasgow from Irvine and the town clerk of Irvine told me only a fortnight ago that they were having great difficulty because, after paying their fares, they were left with only £6 per week. That is the sort of difficulty we want cleared up. That is why I support the Amendment. I put this question to the right hon. Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]—we are in Committee. I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose his own residence is deteriorating. Will he wait till its collapse is imminent before he takes action?

Photo of Sir Norman Hulbert Sir Norman Hulbert , Stockport North

The hon. Member is entitled to ask the Minister a question, but not to make a speech.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

On a point of order. Do I take it from your Ruling, Sir Norman, that the Chair will limit the length of interjections to clear up points raised by the Minister? If that is so, will the Chair say how long an interjection ought to take? Are we to have the Chair decide because of the content of the point being put by the Member making the interjection?

Photo of Mr James Hoy Mr James Hoy , Edinburgh Leith

That is a completely hypothetical question.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The example of the house, whether a hypothetical house or my house, is a rather good one. Sometimes, my house would clearly need repainting if it is not to be damaged by the weather, but that does not mean that I repaint it immediately. I repaint it only when some damage is likely to happen. That is a very good illustration of this kind of problem. The fundamental problem here is that this is a matter of degree, and not a matter than can be tackled as a matter of difference in kind.

If I may turn to the Liberal Party Amendment, I think this also illustrates some of the difficulties here. For example. I think it is always bad in these cases to pick out individual instances of the problem, because by enumerating one, I am told in law, we exclude the others, and, thereby, the general principle is damaged. It is, therefore, difficult to act in anticipation of the conssequences of technical development. That is very wide indeed. We are living in a world in which there are very big developments. How could we act regarding difficulties which may be anticipated as the result of changes in the pattern of our overseas trade? The pattern of overseas trade is constantly changing, and I do not see how we could take action of this kind against problems involved in this field merely because we anticipated decisive changes in the pattern of overseas trade.

Turning to the question of the school leavers, which was referred to by the hon. Members for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Wade), and Rochdale (Mr. McCann), I agree that it is a very important point. Clearly, one of the things which we must take into account in assessing the likelihood of unemployment is the question of school leavers. I fully accept that as one of the possible causes, but it would be wrong to pick out that particular one to the exclusion, as it would be, of all others. I hope to satisfy the hon. Member on this point, but without writing these words into the Bill We accept that—although I give no undertaking—the position of the school leavers is one which we certainly must constantly take into account in assessing the threat and possible persistence of unemployment in any locality.

I hope I have been able to explain w hat I admit straight away is a very difficult matter. It is, however, a matter of degree. I hope I have explained the thought of the Government. We believe that this is the right principle in the general interest of all the areas concerned, and we believe that the words we have chosen are the best words to express that purpose.

In those circumstances, I hope that the Committee will not accept these Amendments.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

I rather sympathise with the President of the Board of Trade in having to answer the discussion on every Amendment, which I realise is due to the absence of the Parliamentary Secretary owing to temporary ill health. May I say that I hope that his return is imminent and that he personally is likely to persist?

I had rather hoped that it would be possible in this Committee to take a non-partisan and constructive attitude to the Bill and that the President would accept some of the suggestions we have made and some of the Amendments we have put forward. The right hon. Gentleman is making it very difficult by turning down almost every suggestion put to him from this side of the Committee. First of all, I am extremely glad to agree with him, at any rate, on the question of seasonal unemployment. I am sure that it is right to retain these words which allow him to deal with current seasonal unemployment. I was surprised that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), who, after all, represents an area so badly hit by unemployment, is seeking to weaken the powers available in this Bill.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

The right hon. Gentleman does not realise that I am trying to strengthen them in order to help areas which need help.

8.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The hon. Gentleman should realise that there is an area of sea coast in and around Sunderland. I am also a little surprised at the attitude of the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), because I think I am right in saying that Weymouth is in his constituency. Whenever I go there I am always told what an original type of Conservative the noble Lord is. Weymouth is one of the areas of seasonal unemployment, and I am therefore surprised that he also should be attempting to weaken these powers.

I believe that we have got to tackle this problem of seasonal unemployment. There are areas like Thanet, which I think an hon. Gentleman opposite represents, the East Coast and South Coast towns and others, which have a heavy problem in regard to seasonal unemployment. The question has been asked tonight, notably by the hon. Member for Sunderland, South, about these "contra-seasonal industries", as the President calls them. It is perfectly clear that they do not exist. We used to think that the football pools represented that kind of industry, but it has discovered a method of employing its people all the year round, so that does not give us very much help.

I suggest to the President, as a constructive suggestion in dealing in particular with seasonal unemployment in coastal areas, that he should try to steer to those areas some of the expansion in office employment which is now taking place in London. I think that if he could do that he would at least mitigate the seasonal unemployment. I am not suggesting that office employment is seasonal, but he will realise that the Inland Revenue, for instance, has moved to Worthing, and that is the type of employment suitable for that area. If he could restrain some of this private office development in London and steer some of these schemes to the South and East Coasts, he would be able to do something about this seasonal unemployment problem.

Of course, there is no perfect solution to this problem. What we are seeking to do is to mitigate it and to ask the Government to recognise that, while there is no complete and perfect solution, that is no reason why we should not try to do what we can. I do not think the President has met us at all on the basic problem of whether the Board of Trade should merely have powers to deal with unemployment when it is imminent, or it is foreseen, but to look rather further ahead. I want to ask him again why he cannot accept the words in the 1945 Act. Those words provide that the Board of Trade can schedule an area when it appears to the Board that the distribution of industry is such that there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment.

Is it not perfectly clear that those are rather wider words than the words which he is now seeking to put into the Bill? If he does not deny that we assume that he agrees. Surely there cannot be any doubt that there could be cases in which there is a special danger of unemployment but where that unemployment cannot be argued to be really imminent. If that is so, the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman is introducing is in this important respect narrower than the Act which he is proposing to repeal. I should like to make this perfectly precise.

Surely, it must be true that there are cases where unemployment is certain, but not imminent, and I can give three examples. We discussed a Bill relating to the cotton industry last summer. When we discussed that Bill it was perfectly certain that as the result of its operation there would be very large releases of labour in areas where unemployment already existed and that those releases would occur sometime within, say, 12 or 18 months from the passage of the Bill. It may be that under the present formula one could say that that unemployment was not imminent, but it is quite certain that one could have satisfactorily stated that there was a special danger of the unemployment coming into existence.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Is it not a fact that there have been widespread advertisements in newspapers in Lancashire, and particularly in Nelson and Colne, for cotton operatives where, I believe, there was a great shortage?

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

The situation has turned out exactly as we foresaw, in that labour has been released in some areas, and the demand for labour is now in other areas.

To give another example, the President is very familiar with the Common Market and the Outer Seven, which an hon. Member for the Liberal Party mentioned. In these circumstances, we know for certain that tariffs are going to be reduced, certainly within five or ten years. It can, therefore, be seen almost without doubt that certain industries will be affected, but not for a considerable number of years ahead. This is another case where the injury is certain but could not be said to be imminent, in the sense that it will be happening years ahead.

The most important case of all is the expected closure of coal mines by the National Coal Board in view of the decline in the demand for coal. Here is a case, surely, where there is both need and opportunity for really effective planning. It is perfectly possible, and I have no doubt that there are such cases, that the Coal Board knows that in four years' time a pit is certain to be closed. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Forest of Dean."] In many of these cases, in all parts of the country, there will be villages and valleys where there is virtually no employment.

I should have thought that in any intelligent employment policy we would be starting to act there several years in advance. The President of the Board of Trade knows that it takes two years to build a factory. After a site has been bought, after the Board of Trade has scheduled an area and has got hold of a firm and has gone through all the administrative processes it probably takes three years from the beginning of the operation until the factory is actually starting to employ labour.

If it is known that a pit is going to close in an area of that kind, action should be started three or four years before the pit is expected to close. It is perfectly clear that under the wording of the 1945 Act, which the right hon. Gentleman is now repealing, it would be possible to do that because it would be clear that there was a special danger of unemployment in that pit village. But I am extremely doubtful whether it could be done under the words of this Bill.

I have not consulted the Oxford Dictionary, but if I were in the right hon. Gentleman's position I would be prepared to argue that "imminent" means perhaps up to two years, though I agree with him in thinking that it could not be argued that it means up to four or five years. Therefore, on the right hon. Gentleman's own argument, in the case of a pit closure involving perhaps 2,000 men, the Bill makes impossible the planning which would be possible under the Act which he is now repealing.

I hope that we shall not have a controversial debate on every Amendment and that we shall not be forced to divide simply because the President of the Board of Trade will not listen to our arguments. If he does not accept this Amendment, will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to assure us now that he will place in the Bill on Report the actual words which are included in the 1945 Act? If not, what are his reasons for not doing so?

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

I ask the indulgence of the Committee in rising to speak on this subject after both Front Bench speakers have spoken. It is not a practice that I like or normally pursue, and I would not pursue it in this case did I not intend to make a speech dealing with a subject which is fresh in the debate and is new ground.

I accept that those who come from seaside resorts and represent constituencies of that kind have always been at the bottom of the league in debates on unemployment. I do not for a moment suggest that in the past that has been wrong. One has heard a great deal, and quite fairly, about the troubles of Tyneside and Lancashire, and so on, but I beg to draw the Committee's attention to the problem of the position of certain of the seaside resorts.

I will say straight away that I do not criticise what my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, West (Mr. Eden) has said, speaking for Bournemouth. To make any real appreciation of the position of employment in coastal and seaside resorts one must understand that the problem differs greatly according to the class of resort. In Bournemouth, where there is all-the-year-round trade because of the climate and other factors, there is steady employment in the hotel industry throughout the twelve months and I can understand why my hon. Friend could take what appears to me to be an astonishing view, at first sight, of wishing to exclude seasonal employment. He does not want to change the character of Bournemouth which is fairly well placed in trade and employment all the year round.

On a great many occasions in the House of Commons one has heard hon. Members opposite, and my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and others, dealing with the question of employment in their areas. I think that I am right in saying that this will be about the first speech addressed to the Committee which goes into the real question of seasonal unemployment as seen from the point of view of a constituency most deeply affected by it.

I want to explain why I support the Government entirely on each of the three Amendments, which are interlocking. If only a certain amount of money can come from the Government within the ambit of the Bill it seems to me a matter of degree—which is the concern of the first Amendment, The word "imminent" is necessary because if the Clause were made as wide as to include "expected" it would cover too wide a field from my point of view. If there is to be a limit on the expenditure involved, and there must be, then it must be a question of degree and of priority. Therefore, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, in choosing the word "imminent" in this context, must place some limitation in that respect. I think that the words which he has chosen are extremely lucid and go as far as the Bill can be expected to go, for reasons which I shall adduce in a moment.

Secondly, the whole of the Liberal Amendment is quite irrelevant in the context of the Bill. The inclusion of any of its words would exclude others and would lead to the very reverse of the purpose which hon. Members of the Liberal Party seek to achieve. The Amendment is wrong and faulty in that it would not achieve their objectives.

As to the third Amendment, it is a question, first, of whether the word "seasonally" should be included or should be omitted. In my judgment it is essential to include it, because this question of finance for the distribution of industry has a long history in which seasonal resorts and seasonal unemployment have been excluded. Throughout history, until the 1958 Act when the Thanet area and certain other seaside resorts were scheduled as areas within D.A.T.A.C. and, therefore, could receive grants, nobody had ever before tried to deal with the problem of seasonal unemployment.

So important was this problem to my constituency that I was adopted as a candidate in 1952 almost entirely on the answers which I gave to this question. It is by a long way the most important consideration to the whole of Thanet, and I speak not only for that area. I had to consider a question of assistance to another constituency, and I notice, to my surprise, that the hon. Member for Faversham (Mr. P. Wells) is not here today.

Photo of Mr Percy Wells Mr Percy Wells , Faversham

The hon. Member is here.

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

I apologise. The hon. Member will be able to confirm some of the matters with which I shall deal.

Among the seasonal resorts for which this subject is of great importance are, for example, Sheerness, Birchington, Westgate, Margate, Ramsgate and also Hastings—and I must add that my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Mr. Cooper-Key) has been here up till recently and I know that he would have liked to have been present now.

8.30 p.m.

All these are areas which are directly and closely affected by the issue of seasonal unemployment. The question is how to meet the problem. There are twin aspects of the problem, one of which the President of the Board of Trade was unable to answer and which I believe I can answer for him. It is fairly obvious. In certain seaside resorts the season is very short. In Margate, the season normally lasts from June to mid-September. This year, with the wonderful weather, it was longer. It is a three-month season with a very short reopening for certain places at Christmas and Easter. In Sheerness, the season is even shorter and in certain other areas it is as short as nine or ten weeks in a bad season.

The first problem concerns men. There is always throughout the summer, and, indeed, frequently throughout the winter, because we can provide a certain amount of light industry, fairly full employment for women. Unfortunately, employment for men, who are usually married, is such that while they may get employment in the summer months there is not enough work to employ them throughout the winter. The figures issued yesterday by the trade council in Margate show that 1,000 men were unemployed last month. I do not bother with percentages. The percentage in my area may be 8, 10, 12 or 15 per cent., but it is not as low as 3 or 4 per cent. It is far above that and always has been.

How can we deal with this problem? First, we do not need to have industry actually within the seaside towns. Obviously, it would be very undesirable to spoil the amenities of towns like Broadstairs, Margate, Ramsgate, Faversham, or Hastings.

Photo of Mr William Rees-Davies Mr William Rees-Davies , Isle of Thanet

I cannot speak for Blackpool, because it is in the North, and I have little knowledge of it.

I can speak from personal knowledge of every single seaside town in the South, because I was a cricketer. Cricket is played in most of these towns and I have played in each of them. Folkestone, which is my home town, Rye and Hastings all have the same problem. They all regard it as very important. What we want to do, and can do with the assistance of the Government—we cannot do it otherwise—is to introduce both heavy and light industries around the perimeter of these towns without affecting the amenities.

Hon. Members who know the Margate district will know that there lies an area between Sandwich and Ramsgate called Richborough which is totally undeveloped. This gigantic site, one of the best sites in the country both for port and industrial development, is standing idle. It has been standing idle since the 1914–18 war, when it was a shadow port. It has not been developed. We need and must have the compulsory powers which the Bill takes, and the word "seasonally" must be included to ensure that we can receive the necessary grants from D.A.T.A.C. which are available under the 1958 Act for development. This will meet part of the problem. It will meet the problem of male employment in heavy industry. On the back-lying estates we can get the necessary grants in respect of light industry for female labour.

I now come to the part of the problem which the President of the Board of Trade was unable to answer and which my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) dealt with when he said that, if the word "seasonally" is omitted, would not exactly the same position arise as if it were included? In other words, if there is 3 per cent. unemployment in the summer and 7 per cent. in the winter it is only the seasonal element which causes the difficulty. That is not so. I want full employment in the Isle of Thanet. We are then left with this problem: how shall we get labour for the summer months? My answer is this. There is, in fact, a large pool of labour which is permanently mobile. I find, for example, that many of the people who work in "Dreamland" and the amusement parks and the waiters come down for the short season from London. After very careful consideration of this problem over a matter of years, I have come to the conclusion that the mobility of the catering trade is such that it can meet its seasonal requirements because people go to the country districts or country towns in the winter and down to the South in the summer.

I believe that this is an exceptional problem which must be cured by the insertion of the word "seasonally". I believe that one of the great things which the Bill will achieve will be to bring about, for the first time in the history of this country a realisation that the pattern of industry is changing. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite remember the old Development Areas, which were the notorious areas of unemployment in 1929 and 1930. Believe me, we are the depressed areas of today. [Laughter.] We are, it is the fact.

Do hon. Gentlemen opposite realise that there are more people on National Assistance in my constituency today than in any other part of the United Kingdom? [An HON. MEMBER: "Never had it so good."] In my constituency there are more unemployed than in any other part of the country. Of course, many of them are old people and perhaps not in the best of health, and there are other considerations, also.

However, I draw attention to the fact that in a few seaside resorts, of which Thanet is one, will be found the residual problem of unemployment today. If hon. Gentlemen want to check this, let them look at the wage structure and the rates paid in my part of the country and compare them with those paid in the Potteries and elsewhere.

The Bill will at least try to achieve something. I try to take an objective viewpoint; after all, I have a big majority and I should be able to afford to do so. I say quite objectively to hon. Members, having listened to the whole of the debate and to many able speeches coming from Lancashire and all the other industrial areas, please remember that today in this class of seaside resort there are many skilled and unskilled men who are unable to get employment.

As for the youth, it is well recognised that they have to leave the district. I have not dealt with the argument that youth should not have to leave, because it is usually said, "If you are a young man, the sooner you get out the better". I am dealing with the grown-ups and I want to see good employment for them.

I hope that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will not be misled into the view that he cannot conquer seasonal unemployment entirely. It can be conquered entirely because the mobility of labour in the summer is sufficient to meet the needs of the catering trade. I say that after many long discussions, from a knowledge of this area and after deep and careful consideration of the problem.

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

The hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet (Mr. Rees-Davies) may rest assured that on this side of the Committee we have every sympathy with any area of unemployment. We know that the pattern of employment changes, and has been changing, and although I would not accept the view of the hon. Gentleman that his area is worse off today than Lancashire, and I think few hon. Members would accept it, nevertheless wherever there is persistent unemployment there is in our view a right in that locality to assistance from the powers which the Government have, and that right is not in any way minimised or prejudiced because the unemployment, though persistent, is only seasonal and not perennial.

I make no apology for intervening in the debate after two speeches from the two Front Benches—

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

That is not necessary, because we are in Committee.

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

Whether we were in Committee or not I would still make an apology. I added my name to the first of the two Amendments deliberately, and I took the unusual course of adding my name also to the Liberal Amendment because it seemed to me to deal with a slight extension of the matters which might well be taken into account.

Photo of Dr Dickson Mabon Dr Dickson Mabon , Greenock

There is nobody on the Liberal bench, so my hon. Friend can say what he likes.

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

I have long regarded myself as the last Liberal left in the House of Commons. Even if I had been tempted to let what has been a very long debate come to an end without further intervention, I could not have done so after the intervention of the Minister in the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay). He interrupted in order to say what I believe to be a fact—that Lancashire newspapers at the moment contain advertisements for weavers in Nelson and Colne. He deduced from that—or otherwise his intervention was incomprehensible—that therefore there was not an imminent danger of persistent unemployment, either in the narrow and strict definition of the word which we have preferred or in the wider gloss upon the use of the word "imminent" which he wants us to read into the Bill, although he will not put the words in the Bill.

8.45 p.m.

It is just this which rather terrifies me, because it tends to support the lack of confidence which so many of us have in the Government's intention to do anything constructive or realistic about the problem. Clearly the Minister has neglected to take the opportunity of understanding what the situation is, either in Lancashire or in the cotton industry generally, and especially in this constituency. If he will pause for a moment to see how the situation to which he refers has come about, he will see how tragic it would be if he drew from the fact the inference which obviously he intended to draw, otherwise he would not have made that intervention.

In the constituency and in the whole of the cotton towns in Lancashire, we have had a rapid contraction over many years. My right hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, North referred to what was likely to happen under the Cotton Industry Act in July. But the story does not begin there, as the President of the Board of Trade knows well. It begins very much earlier, but I am content to begin in 1951. Between 1951 and 1958, one-third of all the mills in Nelson and Colne closed down. They were not induced or bribed to do it and they were not paid compensation for doing it. They were driven out of the industry because of the condition of the cotton trade.

During that period there was a constant and substantial drift of population away from the area. The result was that when we looked at the employment exchange figures we did not find that kind of per- centage unemployment which was required under the old legislation. We could not have said that unemployment was imminent, because it was developing gradually over seven or eight years. We could not have said at any particular moment that there was a high degree of unemployment, because the criterion was the Ministry of Labour figures and these did not show it.

Was there, then, no case under the old legislation, or under this Bill, for help by the Government? The Government answer that question by saying that there was a case. That is why they scheduled it as a Development Area. If we are planning, and are to regard this legislation as a means of strategic planning, what should the Government have been doing? Seeing the unemployment grow week by week, month by month and year by year, seeing the mills closing down, realising that this was virtually the only industry in this part of the area, a Government who were taking their work seriously would have been gradually introducing new industries. They would not have waited until the registrable degree of unemployment was very high. They would not have waited until it was, in the true sense of the word, imminent. If we wait until it exists or is imminent, we wait for too long. That has been our experience.

Next we had the Cotton Industry Act, which was confessedly designed to accentuate and accelerate the contraction. I have already told what the forecast is. Almost two-thirds of the remaining mills have given notice to close before March. Some may have extensions. Will the Minister bear in mind that they cannot change their minds? The Act is clear. They can make an application for compensation on the ground that they are closing after a statutory date and, having given notice to close, they cannot withdraw it and they are bound to close. One would have thought that, at any rate after March, there must be a high degree of unemployment. Even under his definition the Minister might have regarded it as imminent. But what is happening?

The coming into operation of the Cotton Industry Act coincided with a minor boom in the cotton trade, with the result that mill after mill which had given notice to close down is, perhaps for the first time in years, in full pro- duction and looking for men. They cannot get men partly because the men have left and partly because, under the scheme for which the Minister disclaims any responsibility, a man who would be entitled to compensation for the loss of his employment if his mill closes down and the machines are redeployed, forfeits his right to that compensation if he leaves. The mills which intend to remain in the industry are therefore unable to bring their staff up to the full complement because they cannot attract men from mills which still have full order books but which have given notice to close in March. The Minister ought to know those facts. I do not know whether he does, but if he does he will see how pointless was his intervention in my right hon. Friend's speech.

Photo of Mr Ellis Smith Mr Ellis Smith , Stoke-on-Trent South

The situation is even more serious than that. Is my hon. Friend aware that part of the explanation of the advertisements is that the prospects of export orders are greater than for many years and that export agents, eager to place orders for the export trade, cannot carry out these orders because of the reduced capacity? That is creating a very serious situation.

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

My hon. Friend may be perfectly right. There are, of course, very many other factors that it would be proper to deal with were we now debating the condition of the cotton trade. But I have said sufficient to indicate why, at the moment, the fact that there are advertisements for weavers has really nothing whatever to do with this Amendment.

The Government ought to be anticipating what the situation is likely to be in March and April. They should be bringing in new industries now and they should be exercising their powers now. If one is planning at all, one does not wait until calamity is upon one before trying to deal with it. Listening to the theoretical parts of the Minister's speech one might say that he was perhaps fully cognisant of that fact and meant to do something about it, but he is apparently still labouring under the complete delusion that there is no problem at all in just that part of the country where the problem is greatest and most critical.

We should, therefore, insist on taking out of the Bill this word "imminent". I do not know what gloss other people may put on the word, or what gloss the Minister may wish to put on it, but to me it is perfectly plain that "imminent" means something that will happen very quickly if something is not done to stop it. If the Minister waits for that time he will wait too long, and if he insists on a form of words that has that inevitable conclusion it is a very bad omen of what we may expect from him once the Bill becomes law.

Mr. Maudlin:

I have been thinking over what was said by the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay), and I have a suggestion to make to the Committee. I recognise that this word "imminent" is causing a good deal of concern—concern which, as I have said, I do not share. The suggestion made by the right hon. Gentleman was that we should consider whether it is possible, instead of using the word "imminent", to use the term "special danger of unemployment" which is taken from the 1945 Distribution of Industry Act.

I should like to consider that suggestion. Obviously, I cannot undertake to accept it—to do that on the spot would be foolish—but I do see the argument for it. I have put before the Committee my reasons for preferring the word "imminent", but I recognise that there is very strong feeling on this and would therefore like an opportunity to consider that form of words put to me by the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

I take it that the words which the President of the Board of Trade has in mind are those in Section 7 (2) of the 1945 Act, the phrase being: Where … there is likely to be a special danger of unemployment …". We feel that those words, which were the words referred to by my right hon. Friend, are broader and would give the Government the opportunity to do those things that the right hon. Gentleman has indicated he would like to do. I take it he is now suggesting that between now and the Report stage we should give him time to consider this and that, on Report, he will move an Amendment that broadly accepts this principle from the 1945 Act. Is that his suggestion?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I do not ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the Amendment as a condition of my considering it. I think that the suggestion is a very good one and I intend to consider it in any case. However, I must be able to consider it without giving any undertaking now. I shall certainly consider whether we can change "imminent" for the phrase: Where … there is a special danger of unemployment … whether the Committee divides on this Amendment or not.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for what he has said. He knows the importance we attach to this. We must, of course, reserve our position on Report to see precisely what form of words the President of the Board of Trade will then introduce. That is clearly the position we must take. On that condition, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Mr Tudor Watkins Mr Tudor Watkins , Breconshire and Radnorshire

I beg to move, in page 1, line 16, at the end to insert: or in which further employment is required in order to avoid the depopulation of the locality. A number of speeches will undoubtedly be made on the subject of depopulation, but I want to deal with the rural aspect of the subject as it is that which has lead me to table my Amendment. I should like the Committee to remember two things. First, I have been in touch with 21 rural councils in my constituency. All of them are concerned with the Bill, and the majority have said, "This Bill will not be of any use to us at all."

In the second place, during the General Election I welcomed the Government's decision to introduce a Bill to deal with local employment and I gave an undertaking that I would do all I could to see that treatment of some of the problems of rural depopulation was included in the Measure. I regret that my Amendment in relation to Mid-Wales was ruled out of order, but I do not mind that so much so long as I can make my case on this one. I certainly belieye that if the Amendment were accepted, this would be a better Bill. It would give some security to those areas where there is depopulation at the present time.

I could keep the Committee for a long time on the subject of depopulation since the beginning of the century. I do not want to do that now, but I hope that on some future occasion we shall be able to go into it in greater detail.

I am now concerned about something being done to encourage industries to go into those areas because the prospect of depopulation is getting worse. The important point which I want the Minister to remember is that there is not a high percentage of unemployment in those areas because the people have left the districts altogether. I want the Minister particularly to realise that the people who leave the districts are those from the age of 18 up to 35. Therefore, it is a very important problem.

Two or three years ago the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association was set up. I am a member of that Association and one of its objects is to make provision for promoting industries outside the existing industries of agriculture and afforestation. Agriculture and afforestation did not seem to stem the drift of young people away from the countryside. There have been some half-dozen reports presented to the Government, each of which made reference to this very urgent and important problem of rural depopulation.

The Bill will have regard to those areas where there is a high percentage of unemployment, but I am concerned with the hidden unemployment, the young married women and the youngsters who have to leave the countryside.

Two years ago, for instance, there were 27 school leavers who were unable to get a job. The Minister of Labour may have in mind that there are no school leavers unemployed at the present time. The reason for that is that the youngsters left before the end of the school term and went away with their families. Therefore, there is not a high percentage of unemployment, but a case can be made out for including in the Bill areas of that kind.

May I remind the Minister that the Distribution of Industry Acts, including the 1958 Act, did not help those areas of rural Wales which I represent. Some provision must be made for them and I suggest that the Bill could be made to help in that respect. It will give inducement to industrialists, but it has to be borne in mind that the Bill as it is at present will give greater inducement to industrialists to go to areas outside those which I have in mind. Therefore, it would be better to have the words of the Amendment inserted in the Bill.

I hope that the Minister will be able to accept the Amendment. I see the difficulties. I realise that to have legislation to deal with an area like mid-Wales will be difficult, but what inducement is there for the Mid-Wales Industrial Development Association? It has sent me a letter stating: The Bill does not help us at all. Nineteen out of the 21 local authorities which I represent in the House say, "It does not help us." What is there to help those places faced with unemployment? If four people become unemployed in a hamlet of six, that is a high percentage of unemployment. They do not stop there. They go away. I hope that if this Amendment is accepted it will help to stop rural depopulation.

9.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Daniel Jones Mr Daniel Jones , Burnley

I support the Amendment. I believe that it is true to say that when my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) made his first objections to this Bill he told hon. Members that the question of depopulation could easily become one of the most vicious features of our life.

Indeed, I believe that my own constituency, Burnley, illustrates that point probably more effectively than any other part of the United Kingdom. In forty-four years no fewer than 28,640 citizens have left that community. At the moment, 25 firms are scheduled to close down, involving 2,500 people, and 14 industrial premises have been vacant for over two years. When we consider those figures we begin to see the immensity of this problem. This area, which, for well over 150 years, has made such a splendid contribution to the economic well-being of the country, is now being tardily treated. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly made his observations about depopulation the hon. Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) said, "And why not?"

I do not know whether I speak as a lone voice in this Chamber, but I believe that man is a spiritual creature. In the town of Burnley I have found such fine characteristics as a very good orchestral society, an operatic society, an amateur dramatic society, the usual brass band that is to be found in the North, and an excellent First Division soccer side. This, together with an active church and chapel life, entitles me to say that this is a good Christian community.

To those who maintain that only material factors matter I would say that for 150 years these people have made a splendid contribution to the economic well-being of our country. Let us remember that in the post-war years, in Burnley and in the north-east Lancashire area generally, cotton was one of our main exports. We used to hear the phrase, "The country's bread depends upon Lancashire's thread." We may not hear that phrase so much nowadays, but it is true to say that at that time, during a period of economic development, that part of the country was prevented from receiving any industrial rehabilitation because of the dependence of the country on cotton. As a result, that area is now asked to suffer.

The question of distributing industry to localities where the people require it is very serious. I have a good deal of experience as a trade union official, and I would tell the Committee that in the Home Counties, which could be described as over-populated, great difficulty is found in getting people to work overtime. In some parts of the country there are people who cannot get work, and in others there are people who are being urged to work overtime. Surely that is an economic contraction from both points of view. If the Bill becomes law it will offer no hope for these areas.

A number of people are opting out of the National Insurance Scheme. There are others who, for some reason of their own, are not registering. We have, therefore, two problems: first, the drift away from the towns; and, secondly, the people who do not register. Am I wrong in saying that it is the young people who drift? The result is that communities are left with an ageing population.

It is with certainty and truth that I say that almost all sections of opinion in Burnley are anxious to see this Amendment added to the Bill. It is with a sense of pride that I support the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Charles Mapp Mr Charles Mapp , Oldham East

I urge the Minister to accept the Amendment. I have one or two figures to illustrate the extent of the depopulation of Oldham. For the thirteen four-weekly periods which ended in May last, the average figure of unemployment among people over 18 in Oldham and contiguous areas was 4,250. In October, it was 1,350. The reason for the substantial change was the processes arising out of the last stages of the Cotton Industry Act. We know that the "hot" orders pouring into the cotton trade are transitory and that by March of next year we shall be facing an unemployment figure of over 4,000. The OFFICIAL REPORT of 26th November states that in the Oldham area we will suffer 32 closures out of the 156 mills covered by the Act. That is a high proportion. Weaving sheds are excluded from that figure.

The following figures reflect the major problem that Oldham is facing. In 1921, in round figures, the census population was 148,000. In 1939, that figure had dropped to 124,000. In the eighteen years between the wars the population shrank by 16 per cent. In 1951, despite the industry in the war period, the figure had dropped to 118,000. In 1954, after a boundary revision, it rose to 122,000. Comparing the figure of 1954 with that of 1957 it dropped a further 3,000.

Most startling of all is the forecase by the local authorities that the 1954 figure of 122,000 will have dropped to 109,000 in 1971. That will represent a reduction of 11 per cent. between 1954 and 1971. Between 1921 and 1971, in spite of a small addition due to a boundary adjustment the population of the town will have shrunk by 39,000. Those are very serious figures. In the Oldham area and the contiguous areas of Chadderton and Failsworth, there was an insured population of 94,000 in 1951, and an insured population of 82,000 in 1958. That is a 13 per cent. reduction.

Our economic system is slowly but inevitably causing permanent deterioration in the fabric of the town. The town is being left, in the main, with elderly people. The young are going elsewhere. I ask hon. Members opposite—I hope the Minister already realises it—to appreciate the responsibilities of the local authority of an old town like Oldham covered largely by houses which were put up 100 years ago.

There is in Oldham a strong civic consciousness, a desire to rehouse the people and redevelop the town, a civic drive to put its schools into modern condition and to provide roads suitable for our age. At the same time, the local authority is finding that its resources of men, women and young people are gradually diminishing. Not only that, of course, but even the incidence of the Cotton Industry Act is, in effect, biting rapidly into the rate revenue of the town.

The words proposed in the Amendment should be included in the Bill. I do not wish to be too unfriendly to hon. Members opposite, but, if it is true that the mechanics of the private board room—I am afraid that this is what it comes to—cannot cope with the social responsibilities which we on this side wish to see accepted, then, under a Conservative Government, it becomes necessary that the edge of the capitalist system should be rounded off.

The Bill, in effect, is designed to round off the sharp edges of the private enterprise system. It is greatly to the advantage of the Government that they should look after the destiny of the older towns, of the depopulated areas and of the countryside as well. If they do not, the time will come when people generally will themselves look after these matters by providing another Government of a different complexion. If the Government want the Bill to have human value as well as value associated with the money market and the commercial world, they should accept the Amendment.

9.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

I shall speak briefly because the main points which lie behind the Amendment have already been made and, by this time, they should be well understood by the Committee.

In many of the more remote rural parts of the country such as the area I represent, the unemployment figures are masked by steady depopulation. They are not, therefore, a true guide to the acute lack of employment which is widespread in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. The second point arises from what was said by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp). Behind the Bill there must surely lie the idea that we should stop the steady migration of people from the remote parts to the great cities. That may not be mentioned in the Title of the Bill, but it must surely be part, at any rate, of the justification for any Bill of this kind.

Thirdly, I greatly regret the steady break-up of communities throughout Scotland. It is accompanied by an extremely serious loss of general values, quite apart from the suffering which it causes to people who have to leave homes where they want to stay and where they could make a great contribution to the well-being of the nation as a whole.

It may be asked, why do people go? Why do they not stay in their own areas? Why do they not themselves provide more employment? There is really no time to go into that now; it is a very long story. At the back of it lies the history of these areas. For years and years the whole trend of our society has been against them. Farö is a more remote place than Shetland and less hospitable, yet its population has risen by about 7,000 at the same time as the population of Shetland has fallen by about 7,000. There are many reasons for this, but one of them is that Farö has been able to develop a type of society and a type of Government more suitable to such a place than what we have in this country. We have tended to centralise more and more power, financial, political and social, in London. We have tended to treat these rural areas as convenient nurseries in which we breed labour for our great industries. We continue naturally to think of our great industries as being our predominant pattern of life.

This cannot go on much longer for the rural areas. The population in many parts of my constituency is now down to a level at which it is almost impossible to keep the normal services going. One can hardly get up a dance or a football team, find a postman or run any of the normal activities of a decent community. This is not altogether because of a lack of spending, because a great deal of money is spent in the Highlands and Islands, but the spending of money is not always well reflected and it is not a question solely of money.

What is needed in those areas is also management, a lift and a reversal of the spiral of defeat by which people feel that they must go away. It begins at school age when the young people feel that they must go. We must cure and change this in Scotland, Wales and many parts of England.

I, and, I am sure, the sponsors of the Amendment, do not attach particular importance to its wording. What we are anxious to have from the Government is, first, an assurance that they appreciate this problem and that it requires urgent attention, because this spiral has been going on so long that, unless it is reversed soon, it will be extremely difficult to reverse it at all. Secondly, in considering the areas to be designated under the Bill, the Government should take note of the effect of depopulation and the masking of the true unemployment figures by depopulation. Finally, when they try to work the Bill and get the industries to go to these areas, they should have flexibility in their approach and not too rigidly insist upon the same factors being applied in the Far North as are applied elsewhere.

It is, I know, difficult to get industries to go to the Far North. I know that it is necessary to search about and to find small industries and give them a degree of help, nursing, and so on, which, possibly, we would not have to do elsewhere. It is not unfair to ask the Government to do that. The economic factors, however, are by no means the only ones that make for depopulation. I am well aware that the Bill alone cannot cure it, but it can do something. What it can do mainly is to prove a vehicle to the Government to make it clear to these areas that they are fully aware of the problem and that, whether in the Bill or otherwise, they intend to do something to stop it.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

On the previous Amendment, after listening to a great deal of argument, I put forward a suggestion which I hoped would be useful to the Committee. On this Amendment, however, I should make it quite clear that the Government could not accept it because it goes far beyond the purpose of the Bill.

The Bill continues and extends two things. The first is the system of industrial development certificates to prevent congestion in the congested industrial areas. That, no doubt, we shall discuss when we reach the relevant part of the Bill. In addition, in these earlier parts, the Bill provides inducements to try to get industry to go to areas where there is a serious problem of unemployment. Those inducements are specifically designed to help the problem of unemployment.

The Amendment goes much further than that. It says that, whether there is unemployment or not, powers under the Bill should be used to deal with the problem of depopulation. I do not want to enter deeply into the merits of the argument on depopulation—many arguments could be adduced on both sides. We in this country cannot set ourselves like Canute against a tide that is flowing quite hard in many parts of the world.

I see the force of many of the arguments used by the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond). On the other hand, the problem goes much wider. The hon. Members for Oldham, East (Mr. Mapp) and Burnley (Mr. D. Jones) talked as if it would be right for the Government to use these powers to prevent people moving from one town to another and the population of individual towns from falling. That goes beyond what is realistic.

I beg the Committee, once again, to realise that we cannot do everything in the Bill and that our resources are limited. To do anything under the Bill we must spend money, large sums of the taxpayer's money. But this would also introduce into our economy a quite definite distortion by inducing industries to go to areas where, on any commercial basis, they would be less economic than in the areas of their choice.

Our resources are limited. If they were unlimited it would be a different matter. As long as they are limited, however, we must concentrate them on the areas where help is needed. We are aiming at giving assistance in the areas where help is needed and where people are seeking jobs. To extend that to an area where people are not seeking jobs but where the problem is that people prefer jobs in another area would be to extend the purposes of the Bill beyond what was ever intended and far beyond what is reasonably possible within the current scope of the national resources.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

When the right hon. Gentleman says that our resources are limited, how limited are they? How much money will the Treasury grant to him for the purpose of carrying out these proposals? Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an idea so that we can appreciate how serious the Government are in tackling the problem?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

It is not a question only of the money that the Government spend, although that is a major factor. Even if we had unlimited money to spend, the number of available industrial developments coming forward is limited. In addition, every industry that we persuade to move to an area where costs are higher than they would be in the area of its choice means that production and exports become more difficult. Everything that we do in the Bill is deliberately designed, for social purposes, to put an additional load upon the economy. If we put too great a load upon our economy, we should threaten the basis of our general national prosperity and the position of our export trade in world markets, which all the time are becoming more competitive.

I seriously ask the Committee to bear in mind that in seeking to do what is a very good thing under the Bill we must not do more than the country's economy can afford. We should concentrate upon the most urgent problem and that, I suggest, is the problem of unemployment of the type defined in the Bill in certain specified areas. It is on that problem that we want to concentrate our resources. Perhaps when that problem is solved we can turn to other things, but till this problem is solved, or, at any rate, very largely solved, I am sure we should concentrate on providing employment where employment is needed. It is for that reason that I am afraid I cannot accept this Amendment.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

The right hon. Gentleman's speech might have merited more consideration if it had been made in discussing a Bill which gave him powers which he had to use. He has already rejected any duty to use any of these powers, and, so far, he has failed to tell us to what extent he is going to use them and what he himself proposes to do in connection with the Bill.

What we are asking him to do in this Amendment, as we did in the previous Amendment, is to give himself a greater chance of using a little foresight. In the last Amendment it was a case of the length of time over which we ought to look to anticipate unemployment, and the question now is whether we ought not to take power at any rate to deal with places where the population is going away to other centres quite obviously in order to try to get a job.

If, for instance, men and women leave the Highlands of Scotland they will go to Glasgow and try to get houses and jobs when they get there. They will not have very much chance of getting a house, and what their chances may be of getting a job I do not know. Is it right for the right hon. Gentleman to deny himself the power of enabling some of those people to work in the communities and in the places where they have been born?

What is to happen if he denies himself the power—I repeat, it is a discretionary one—to deal with cases of that kind? Who are going to be left behind in these villages? They are going to be the older people; not necessarily people so old that they cannot work, but the older people for whom quite obviously, if no provision is made for the young, work is not going to be provided. They by themselves will be harder to deal with than the young who have the opportunity and will to leave their homes and go elsewhere.

I say to the right hon. Gentleman, whether he is dealing with the countryside in Scotland and Wales or with some town in, say, Lancashire, or wherever it is, perhaps some oldish place where unemployment does not show for the reason that the young men and women are going away to find work elsewhere, that it is surely incredibly short-sighted to think it can be dealt with only by providing for unemployment caused in a neighbouring town by men going to find work there from such a place. Surely to deny himself the power to deal with it simply means that more will leave those communities which, I should have thought, any reasonable Government would have wished to preserve.

In addition to that, whatever money is going to be spent under the Bill will be wasted simply by lack of foresight, and the most inhuman lack of foresight, because the people who are going to be hard hit by this refusal to take the power to exercise discretion are not going to be the young people or the pensioners, but the older people fit to work who are going to be left stranded in these places.

I would suggest one thing to the Committee. We have had most interesting debates today. I have been listening to them. But we are still in the middle of Clause 1. If it is to be finished at all, I wonder whether we could come to a decision on this Amendment—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—for if we do not we shall be unable to come to a decision on a number of subsequent Amendments.

9.30 p.m.

Photo of Mrs Judith Hart Mrs Judith Hart , Lanark

I am very glad to be able to follow my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), but I hope he will forgive me if I do not take his advice.

The President of the Board of Trade made two or three very unwise statements in his speech. First, he said that people seemed to choose to move from one town to another, and that this was causing depopulation in certain areas. The right hon. Gentleman should understand, and we would say to him that this is the fundamental reason for moving this Amendment, that we are not so much concerned with people moving from one town to another, or in talking about exchanging houses and exchanging jobs, because that is not the cause of depopulation.

What we are concerned with is that men and women leave a town not because they choose to do so, not because there is any element of choice entering into their situation, but because, if they are to have work and to keep their families, they must move from places where there is no work for them to places where there is work.

This is what constitutes depopulation, and this is what my hon. Friend the Member for Burnley (Mr. D. Jones), whom I was very glad to hear supporting the Amendment, was speaking of when he mentioned my own home town, and many organisations there in which members of my family have been concerned. He was making the point about Lancashire which, indeed, many of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee are continually making about the North of England, the whole of Scotland and Wales.

We are concerned with impressing upon the Minister that this Amendment is not only crucial to the Bill, but is crucial to the whole progress of our economy and social structure. Let us consider the social implications of the movement of young people from one district to another. When young people move because there are no prospects of employment for them, they leave behind the older people, and when they do that we know, from the very many social studies which have been carried out in the last few years, that there are very serious effects both to them and to the people left behind.

Whenever old people are left behind, they are deprived of the younger members of their families at a time when they need their help and support in old age, and, at the same time, the younger members of the family, who move away into housing schemes in other areas, are deprived of the support of the older members of the family. This is where the problem of loneliness on housing estates comes in, and the problem of neurosis among suburban housewives, which is to be studied in my constituency during the next two years.

The problem arises from the fact that the larger family unit is broken up at a crisis point for the older and younger people. This is what is produced all over the country as a result of depopulation of an area following the decline in industry there. It will happen in my own constituency in the mining areas, where we know that pit closures will take place in the next few years.

I ask the Minister to consider very carefully the implications of what he said when he told us that there is a limit to our national resources, and that our national resources cannot be strained to the point where they can be spent to prevent this kind of depopulation occurring. A hundred years ago, we began the job of clearing up the social evils that had resulted from the laissez-faire and unplanned development that took place during our first Industrial Revolution. During that period, the movement of population was unchecked, the movement of industry was unchecked, and the growth of our large cities and towns created slums. Are we not at this moment dealing with the slums thus created?

What the President of the Board of Trade, in effect, said was that the nation cannot afford to spend money on preserving our existing communities, so that we are to be condemned to perhaps another hundred years of clearing up all the social evils which the Government is deliberately beginning to create. I would think that if he considers the matter in financial terms, he should look, first, at a point which I know some of my hon. Friends on this side of the Committee have already mentioned in connection with another Amendment.

They have mentioned the waste of social capital involved as a result of depopulation. In three or four mining villages in my constituency I have estimated that the amount of social capital invested in the form of new houses, schools and social services is between £4½ million and £5 million. We are not concerned only with the waste of that social capital when people leave the houses and schools empty. We have to be concerned, also, with providing those facilities in the new area to which they move. Therefore, one has to double at least the value of social capital left behind in the villages which they desert.

What is the corresponding cost to industry? There was an assumption far too easily made by hon. Members opposite that the cost to industry of siting itself outside the London or Birmingham area is too great for it to contemplate with any ease. An investigation has been carried out during the last few years by leading economists into the cost of industrial movement and the extent to which industry is rooted to the area in which it has grown up.

An investigation was made in Stepney a few years ago. It was thought in Stepney that most of the industries there were of a kind which could not be easily moved out or induced to go out elsewhere because they were tied to central London. The investigation, which was very detailed, showed that only one-fifth of the industry of Stepney was, in fact, rooted to the area and that four-fifths could move if it were induced and helped to move.

At the same time, there has been an investigation into the cost to industrialists themselves and it has been found that large modern industry is capable, when it chooses to think about it, of pre-planning the movement of its enterprise and that then the extra cost is very little indeed. I would say to the President of the Board of Trade that if addi- tional profits for private enterprise are to be weighed against the total destruction of our community life as we know it today, he ought to have no hesitation whatever. If the Bill is meant to be an expression at all of the Government's regard for the people of this country, their employment needs and their lives in human terms he should have no hesitation in deciding which of the two is the more important.

Photo of Mr Hervey Rhodes Mr Hervey Rhodes , Ashton-under-Lyne

When the former President of the Board of Trade came to Lancashire at the time of the General Election he promised that legislation would be introduced to clean up some of the slum mill property that clutters up our towns there. He received a great deal of publicity, but we are not letting the Government get away with it on the basis of this Clause. Unless the Amendment is accepted there will be no opportunity under the Bill to do what the former President of the Board of Trade promised in Lancashire at that time, which is to help the local authorities to clean up the industrial dirt

If the Amendment is not accepted I do not see how it will be possible for local authorities to receive the Government assistance that has been promised The Government have tried to side-step the issue. The sequence runs in this fashion. Throughout the years when, for whatever reason, a mill has closed down, it has gone into decay and the people have moved away. I am not saying anything about the mobility of labour, because in many cases that is a very good thing. What I am saying is that unless we take advantage of the Bill to clean up some of the mill slums which disfigure our towns in Lancashire, we shall regret it.

During the last four years, 5,400 people have moved from the area I represent to other areas to find work. Nothing whatever has been done during that time to do anything about either the derelict land or the buildings. I implore the Government to give us the opportunity to do something about these old buildings. Unless we take advantage of the Bill, how does the Minister propose to solve the problem? If in Clause 5 the criterion is a high rate of unemployment, and if mills are not working and therefore cannot employ men, I ask the Minister to tell us what alternative we have. Are we merely to waste away? Is this to be a cancer in the neighbourhood? What are we to do? Industries cannot be brought in unless we clear up the existing mess. If the Amendment is not accepted, we shall have no loophole.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

I wish to support the Amendment because in my constituency we have three major problems. First, we have been menaced for years by the problem of persistent unemployment. I told the House a short while ago that within living memory the population in Blaenau Ffestiniog has been reduced from 14,000 to less than 7,000. What is true of Blaenau Ffestiniog is true of every village throughout Merionethshire. People have been leaving in search of work.

Secondly, there is the progressive decline of the one major industry in Merionethshire, namely, the slate quarrying industry. A few years ago, the number of slate quarry workers could be counted in thousands. Now they can be counted only in hundreds. They have not left the county alone; they have taken their families with them and have gone to England in search of work. That is a point which I want the Minister to note when he talks about men leaving one area for another. In England, people can go from one area to another without seeing any material change, but if they go from Wales across the border, which is only a matter of a few miles away, they are in a completely foreign country as far as language is concerned. I am now talking about men and women who speak no other language but Welsh. They can speak English better than many Englishmen that I know, but habitually they speak Welsh. They think in the Welsh language. Their traditions are entirely different from those of the people with whom they have to mix when they go across the border.

9.45 p.m.

The Minister said there was a limit to the national resources. That limit has been reached in Wales, and not only the limit of our national resources but also the limit of our patience. He would have found this to be true had he been here last night and listened to the debate on the Motion for the Adjournmentt of the House.

Thirdly, serious problems will arise in Merioneth in two or three years' time. As the Minister knows, there are huge construction works going on now at Blaenau Ffestiniog and Trawsfynydd, with the hope of other construction work in the area of Bala. However, the work is only temporary and it will come to an end within two or three years. Because hundreds of men have been employed in these works, the latest unemployment figures for Merioneth have been reduced to a percentage of 3·5 of the insured population. This, however, is a misleading figure and should not lull anyone into complacency and into the belief that all is well.

The end of these works will inevitably see a sharp rise in unemployment, since the number of people ultimately to be engaged as a result of them will be only a few hundred. When the men anticipate the end of the scheme they will do what they did in the past. They will go in search of work elsewhere and we shall be confronted again with an accentuation of the great problem of depopulation. It is true that most of the labour force connected with the schemes is mobile, and this must be taken into account, but much is also local, and the Board of Trade should be planning now in anticipation of what must arise as a problem in two or three years' time.

I have referred already to the quarry at Blaenau Ffestiniog. It, like every other coal-mining area for that matter, is troubled by another problem. Hundreds of men there suffer from the dreadful disease of silicosis, and to those people even the schemes which have been brought there are of no avail. If a man is declared to be suffering from only a percentage of silicosis he is told not to enter the quarry but to seek light work. Light work, where? Not in Merioneth. They will seek light work elsewhere and will leave the constituency and thus aggravate the problem of depopulation.

In the light of what I have said, I hope that the Committee and the Minister will recognise the importance of the Amendment and will accept it.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

I did not intend to intervene, and I would not have done so, because, as the older Members of the Committee know, I have spoken so often on this subject, but for the suggestion made by the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), which I hope will not be accepted, that this matter might be dismissed by a few moments of debate here in Committee and then we could get on with other matters.

Photo of Mr Clement Davies Mr Clement Davies , Montgomeryshire

The hon and learned Member for Kettering. That is what it really amounted to; that there are so many other things which have to be discussed. The Committee should realise that in this Amendment is crystallised the main controversy on whether the Bill will effect the purposes we all desire. It is all in this Amendment. If I may refer to myself, it was for that very reason that I made my protest, as strongly as I could, against the 1945 Bill.

I was disappointed with the speech of the President of the Board of Trade tonight. He said, rightly, that we are dealing with the question of unemployment. No one has ever been other than anxious to use his very best endeavours to try to conquer unemployment. There can be nothing more devastating to a man's soul than to find that he is not wanted—when he is healthy, strong ant anxious for work but nobody wants him Some of us lived through the very bad periods between the two wars.

We came to 1945 and the Act of that year, which was meant to deal with what had been known as the distressed areas. The new name of Development Areas was given to them and new hope was given to those people. I protested at that time that that Bill did not go far enough and that unless the Government tackled the problem of rural depopulation they would add to the very troubles which they were seeking to correct when more people arrived in the congested areas.

The same is true today. The President of the Board of Trade says "We are anxious to help where there is unemployment and where we are afraid that there will be unemployment within a short time." Let him do that. What will happen? There will be a call for help, the Government will help, the new industries will go to the areas, and the young people in rural districts will say. "We have no work and no hope of work anywhere near our homes. Nor had the people before us—our uncles and aunts and all who went before us. We shall have to do as they did. There will be work for us in the other areas. Unemployment is threatened, or already existing, in those areas, but new industries are going there, and we will go there, too." They thus add to the difficulty. It may be said that it is not as great as the difficulty which already confronts the people there.

I wish that I could take hon. Members with me through these rural areas to see our devotion to our countryside, our love of it, of our traditions and of the way we have been brought up. They would find that throughout the centuries nothing has been done to assist us in any way. We have to leave our homes, and all we can do is to meet together in strange lands and sing about our love for those homes. That is exactly what is happening at present.

I hope I may be forgiven for referring to my own county. It is the most productive county, agriculturally, in Wales. It is not the largest, which I think is Carmarthenshire, also a great agricultural county. Montgomeryshire, however, produces more agricultural produce than any other Welsh county. Nevertheless, the population has steadily declined and is still steadily declining. There is a moment when the young people hope that they will find work at home when they leave school. I saw in our local papers in August an announcement about unemployment in Montgomeryshire. By September it had disappeared. Employment had not been found in Montgomeryshire. They had done what the young men and women had done before them throughout the centuries—gone elsewhere to search for work; and they were no longer on the list in Montgomeryshire.

There is not a county south of the Grampians in the same situation as Montgomeryshire. The population is not only less than it was in 1901 but less than it was in 1801, when the population of England and Wales was about 9 million. The population of Montgomeryshire at that time was approaching 70,000. Today the population of England and Wales is approaching 50 million, but the population of that lovely county is down to about 45,000.

The Government offer these people no hope except to say, "If you go to these congested areas and add to the congestion and the trouble there, we will come to your help there, but we have nothing to offer you in your own homes, despite your desire to live there." It is for that reason that I support the Amendment.

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

In my few remarks I want to take a rather different line. I want to commend the President of the Board of Trade on the honesty of his speech. For that reason it is in direct contrast with the promises made by the Prime Minister in Scotland on employment and unemployment at the last election. Seldom has there been such a glowing picture of what the Tories would do, not only for the industrial areas but also for the outlying areas of the Highlands and Islands, as we had in that blatant propaganda by the Prime Minister in the election. I commend the right hon. Gentleman on the fact that, in comparison, his speech is at least honest.

When he used the phrase, "There is a limit to our national resources", he was saying, "There are certain areas and certain communities which will be permanently excluded and will not be affected by this legislation." That is the meaning of that phrase. I do not think that he will deny it. I am giving him the opportunity to deny it now, because I am deeply concerned about the areas to which I refer. Will he deny it? Of course he will not, because that is the true meaning of his speech; and, therefore, it was an honest speech.

I represent one of the areas excluded by the right hon. Gentleman's honest admission from any hope of development under the Bill. So do the hon. Members for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), Ross and Cromarty (Mr. John MacLeod), Argyll (Mr. Noble) and many other Welsh and Scottish Members, including the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies). How many areas are excluded by the test which underlies that speech by the right hon. Gentleman? I should like to know. That is the importance of the Amendment, why it should be freely discussed and why there should be no limit to the discussion until we have a better answer from the right hon. Gentle- man than a mere admission that the Bill will not help.

We have been here before. In April last year, on the Distribution of Industry (Industrial Finance) Act, my constituency had the dubious honour of being selected as the only one to be mentioned by name as the very type of place in which that Act would have an impact upon unemployment and depopulation. All these things were said to be within the scope of that Act. Tonight, however, we have had an admission that depopulation and considerations relating to it, economic and social, are outwith the scope of the Bill. It is in that respect a more limited Bill than the Act of last year, which failed. That Act had no impact worth mentioning on the areas that I think of—the Highlands and Islands. There were a few paltry grants, the rest of Scotland got nothing at all, and only £80,000 or £90,000 was given in loans for development in all those areas.

10.0 p.m.

Tonight, we are discussing depopulation and unemployment. As I say, the loans under the last Act amounted to very little, and had no practical impact on unemployment or on depopulation. If we are now to be limited to matters of unemployment, as the right hon. Gentleman's own limited terms this evening indicate, this Measure fails in that respect as well. And the right hon. Gentleman has limited the application of this Measure to unemployment. He is not concerned with the consequences of unemployment and depopulation, of course, is one of them.

We can, of course, solve unemployment by depopulation, and that is what we are doing. I must say that the Government have been eminently successful in solving unemployment in that way in certain areas of the Highlands and Islands. As the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) has said, unemployment figures there are masked by emigration. People do not leave these areas of their own accord. There is no reason for them to do so. They are attracted to them in every way.

Those areas have their own culture, their own language, their own way of life; the last thing the people want to do is to leave. As the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery has just pointed out, whenever they do leave they foregather in Canada, in Australia, in all parts of the world, in clan associations to comfort themselves in the exile resulting from the hopeless quest to find jobs in their own homeland.

The President of the Board of Trade has given us very little hope in his first speech. I hope that when he replies to the debate on this Amendment he will not confirm that he really meant what he said; that there is a limit to the national resources. What he meant by that was that there was a limit to the areas and communities to which it is intended to apply our national resources in the terms of the Bill. I trust that we will get a little more hope there.

Depopulation is the result, in many cases, of unemployment. If we look at the Scottish figures in this respect the worst by far are those under this present Tory Government and the present Prime Minister. The emigration and depopulation figures for 1951 to 1957 are by far the worst. From 1951 to 1957 depopulation in the Highlands and Islands alone amounted to over 8,000 of what remains of the old population—by far the worst of the century. Even allowing for the days of emigration in the 'twenties and the heaviest unemployment of all in the 'thirties, the 'fifties under the Tories have been the worst of the lot.

Regionally, one way of solving unemployment is emigration. As to the Tories' legislation, what they have so far attempted has been a failure, but if the right hon. Gentleman meant what he said it is a sentence of death on many areas. I have been through most of my constituency many times during the last summer, and in all the years I have represented it. I find that the situation gets worse and worse as time goes on. Populations and villages are shrinking because of the lack of employment and even the lack of any prospect of hope of employment in these communities.

We find schools that had four or five teachers coming down to one-teacher status. Many parts of the Highlands are now the land of the one-teacher schools, and the same applies to the Islands. Many schools have closed down, and when that happens it is the sentence of death, not only for the school but for the whole community. One can but commend the Government for their suc- cess in solving the unemployment problem, not by any deliberate effort but simply by depopulation. The last Act had little success in the Highlands, and the prospects held out by the right hon. Gentleman tonight are not much better than were the results of that last Act.

What do we ask the Government to do? We would like to see this legislation working, and these Amendments are an attempt to improve it. We do not want to destroy the Bill, but to improve it—of course we do. We want to co-operate in improving it, but tonight we have been given no hope of any kind, so we must fight on this issue.

The Liberal Party has made its complaints. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Montgomery made a very moving speech. His hon. Friend the Member for Orkney and Shetland pointed out the problems, but neither of them suggested a solution—and the Tory legislation now before us does not give us any hope or promise of a solution, either. Surely we can ask for an extension of what has been happening in the Highlands in recent years as a result of direct Government action.

Almost all the employment given in the whole of the upper half of Scotland—one-fifth of Great Britain—has been the direct result of Government action. One very prominent example, of course, is Dounreay, and others are the Forestry Commission and the Hydro-Electric Board—a nationalised board. Those are the bodies that have been providing employment there; preventing depopulation, bringing in new homes, keeping the schools open and the communities alive.

Is not the whole logic of that experience—and the failure of the other method and of other people—that we should extend direct Government action? That is what the Liberal Party should be advocating as well as the Labour Party. Is not that what all parties should be concentrating on doing? One cannot get private enterprise to go to the Highlands. There are not enough big, quick profits in this area—[An HON. MEMBER: "Or co-partnership."] We will not get the Tory firms to go into these areas, but there is nothing to prevent them from using the device of nationalisation to solve these social problems. I can understand diffidence on the part of the Liberal Party more than I can understand it on the part of the Tories. Let the Government be a little bolder in an empirical sense and let them use the resources of the State.

I appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to try to hold out a little more hope that this Bill intends to extend and to improve upon the previous legislation instead of narrowing it down to the exclusion of such problems as depopulation and the drift from the Highlands and Islands, the Border countries and parts of Wales and England.

Our industries in the Highlands and Islands have not benefited much from subsidies or subventions from the Government. In my constituency, we have one main source of employment outside agriculture and fishing; that is, the textile industry. It has not had one halfpenny of subsidy from the Government or from any public source. It has had the disadvantage of high freight rates under a subsidised private enterprise shipping company. We are asking that something be done to try to equalise the cost of production in those areas through adjustments in transport, by a flat-rate transport system. Something must be done about transport costs.

If we are to try to put pressure on private industries to show a sense of social responsibility to areas of unemployment, I agree that they may have to be compensated in order to equalise costs. But the Government have not applied their minds to that problem. What worries me is that the whole question of the depopulated areas is being set aside altogether. The right hon. Gentleman said that. I hope that he will seriously reconsider the matter before we part tonight.

Photo of Mr David Robertson Mr David Robertson , Caithness and Sutherland

We have had some very interesting speeches on this vitally important problem of depopulation. I am inclined to think that hon. Members opposite are somewhat too pessimistic, because the Government did with enormous success in the North of Ireland what hon. Members opposite would like done in Mid-Wales, North Wales and in the Highlands. They went out into the rural areas from the County Down to Donegal, to places like Coleraine, Carrickfergus, Ballymoney, Lame, Ballymena and Armagh. I know this area very well, as well as I know the North of Scotland and the Highlands.

The Government brought in 140 firms, such as Blackwood Martin and Sons, Ltd.; Bovril Ltd., a very big firm; British Tabulating Machine Co.; Birmingham Sound Reproducers; British Thomson-Houston Ltd.; British Vacuum Cleaners Ltd.; Courtaulds Ltd., with 1,200 people working in the little town of Carrickfergus; Dunlop Rubber Co.; the English Cotton Co.; and Horrockses.

There are 140 of them, providing 70,000 new jobs since the war came to an end, in the six rural counties of Northern Ireland. The Government made a net payment to the North of Ireland of £622 million between the end of the war and last year. It was a praiseworthy development. Although many of the people who benefited are natives of Eire, I still think that it was a praiseworthy effort. What I cannot, however, forgive or excuse is the playing down of the Highland area during the same period of time—deliberately playing it down.

Anyone who knows the difficulties of Northern Ireland in comparison with ours knows that they are very much greater in Northern Ireland. At Coleraine and other places vehicles have to be loaded, to go to the trains, the goods loaded on to them, taken to the Port of Belfast or Larne or elsewhere, unloaded into trucks and taken to the ships. The same thing happens after they have crossed the Channel. It is the most expensive transportation known to mankind—short sea voyages and high terminal costs.

We bring goods from all over the world, food from Australia and New Zealand, nitrates from Chile and Peru. In the long sea haul the cost is low because of the high mileage involved and that is why we can buy them at prices within our resources. I say that there could not be a greater obstacle than in taking these great firms out there and having to face tremendously heavy costs before the goods can be got to the market.

We in Scotland have been too quiescent; we have been too polite. For ten years I have been trying by letters to induce the Government to do the only thing that will prevent unemployment, leading to depopulation and, finally, to decay. That is the position that we are in. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and the present Leader of the Liberal Party the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Grimond) have spoken of the conditions that prevail in those parts. I want to ask what the Government have to say about it. They look rather ashamed to me. There are 70,000 new jobs—a magnificent performance—in Northern Ireland, and there is stark, shocking treatment for the Highlands of Scotland. Let them answer.

10.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I should not have intervened in the debate had it not been for the very unsatisfactory reply which the right hon. Gentleman gave to the question that I put to him just now. When he talks about the resources being limited, we should like to know how limited they are as far as this Bill is concerned. We should like to know how much money will be spent under the Bill.

This is a Local Employment Bill. That is the Title, but it is obvious from the speeches made during the last half hour that it will not be a Local Employment Bill so far as rural areas are concerned, because the right hon. Gentleman has made it perfectly clear that they will not be affected by it. In other words, the rural parts will be left to decay still further. Because the Minister will not give us any understanding as to how much the Bill will cost and what are the means at his disposal for giving it effect, we have to look at the last Distribution of Industry Act.

Last year, the Government came to the House asking for further powers to deal with unemployment, because the powers under the 1945 Act were not sufficient. When unemployment had soared to over half-a-million and had averaged over 400,000 a month for a year, what did the Government do? If the Minister will not tell us how much he will spend under the Bill, we must consider what the Government spent under the 1945 and 1958 Acts put together.

In 1956–57, we spent £6·2 million. When unemployment went up in 1957–58 we spent only half that amount, £3·4 million. We then had a new Bill which was to work wonders and we spent an additional £800,000 to what we had been spending, making £4·2 million for 1958–59. That is an indication of how the Government tackled the problem. When unemployment soared to a monthly average of over 400,000 for twelve months the Government spent an additional £800,000 in trying to deal with the problem.

If that is indicative of how seriously the Government treated the last two Acts, we have a right to ask for a further explanation of what the Minister means by "limited resources". If the resources under the new Bill are to be limited in the same way as they were under the old Acts, the effectiveness of the Bill in dealing with unemployment will be negligible.

On the basis of what was spent under the old Acts, the Government were to solve the whole of the unemployment problem by spending £10 a head for those signing on to find a job. Is that a measure of the Government's intent? Is that indicative of how seriously they regard this problem? Do they think that by spending £10 a head to provide jobs for men who are unemployed that it will solve the problem? It will require a much larger amount than that.

It is because the right hon. Gentleman refuses to tell us how large the amount will be that we have the right to feel that this is a shadow boxing Bill in exactly the same way as the last one, and that when the Bill is on the Statute Books it will be as about ineffective as the last Act was.

All that has happened since the last Bill was introduced and passed through the House is that unemployment has gone up instead of down, as it should have done if the Act had done what the Government said that it would do.

Photo of Mr James Jones Mr James Jones , Wrexham

I will not detain the Committee for very long. Rural depopulation has been a problem since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and it will continue as long as we allow economic and geographical factors to control the location of industry.

As the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) said, depopulation in Wales have been very marked. Paradoxical as it may seem, this has been for two reasons: first, the decline of one industry; and, secondly, the prosperity of another. I am referring to the decline of the slate industry. That industry has been declining since 1881 with the result that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Merioneth (Mr. T. W. Jones) said earlier, the population of Ffestiniog has fallen to half what it was at the beginning of the First World War. Nothing has happened to take the place of the slate industry, which we have seen collapsing.

Alongside that, we have another interesting phenomenon. Never in our history has agriculture been more prosperous than it is now. I have in mind, for example, Montgomery, Anglesey, and Caernarvon, where the agricultural industry has never been as prosperous as it is at present. Although agriculture is so very prosperous, we find at the same time that there is more and more unemployment in those very areas.

The result is that, whilst the decline in the slate industry causes unemployment, prosperity in agriculture also is causing unemployment. What possible answer can there be to this problem? The only answer in our view, is this. We must take into those areas new industries of a rural character if we are to keep the people there and preserve the communal life and rich heritage they have as part of the rich heritage of a very cultured nation.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

I do not wish to reiterate the arguments which have already been put. Beside the President of the Board of Trade sits the Secretary of State of Scotland. He is responsible for a country about three-quarters of which is affected by depopulation.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

At the moment, I am concerned with the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has been popping in and out of this Chamber during the debate like a piston rod in and out of a cylinder. Does the Secretary of State for Scotland—the people of Scotland would like to know this—subscribe to the doctrine announced on behalf of the Government by the President of the Board of Trade? What was that doctrine? We were told that the Government are not concerned with depopulation. Does the Secretary of State accept that?

Depopulation is a feature of the Highlands, two-thirds of the area of Scotland. It is a feature of the North-East and of the Borders. The only area in which it is not a feature is the area referred to yesterday by the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Sir D. Robertson), the industrial belt up towards Dundee, and even there it is to be found in certain parts. Does the Secretary of State really say that he is not concerned with depopulation? Does he agree with his right hon. Friend that we have not in this country sufficient resources to do anything about this problem? That is what was said. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] We are entitled to know. The people of Scotland are entitled to know.

I ask the Secretary of State this direct question. Does he say to the people of Scotland that the Government cannot find any resources to deal with this overwhelming problem of depopulation? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Does not the right hon. Gentleman intend to say anything about this at all?

Photo of Mr William Ross Mr William Ross , Kilmarnock

Let us not wake him up.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

The whole of Scotland, of course, is losing workers every year. We suffer every year a net loss of 4,500 workers, which means that we lose about 12,000 of our population every year. That is the overall figure. But that, in its turn, conceals the fact that, inside Scotland, there is a constant drift towards the industrial areas.

Will not the right hon. Gentleman reply? I had hoped that he would rise and say whether he agreed or not. If he does not intend to say anything, of course, perhaps we can talk a little longer until we do persuade him to rise. There are enough Scottish Members to put a few pertinent questions to him.

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

And a few English ones as well.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

What is the Secretary of State's attitude? The philosophy enunciated by the President of the Board of Trade is this. There is unemployment in a particular area in Scotland. The Government are prepared to assist. A big factory or plant, let us say, is established in the area. Immediately, people migrate from the surrounding parts into that area. This is merely aggravating the congestion. It is not dispersing industry but aggravating the process against which we are trying to fight. Is that the attitude of the Government?

As the Secretary of State knows quite well, the Cairncross Committee issued a very fine Report on this subject, which is quoted time and time again in Scotland. The recommendations of the Cairncross Committee were entirely opposed to this Bill. The Secretary of State can have as many talks with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade as he likes, but he ought to know the Cairncross Committee Report. It ought to be part of his bible. The third important recommendation of that Committee was that one of the factors which should be given great consideration was depopulation in Scotland.

What is the situation in the constituency of the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland? Fishing villages are decaying. Unemployment does not necessarily rise because the sons and daughters of families there go elsewhere for jobs as soon as they leave school. Worse than that—as my hon. Friend the Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel) said, schools are closing and children go for their secondary education to places 60 or 70 miles away. They are boarded out in order to receive their secondary education, and they never go back home. They take jobs direct from school away from their homes.

These areas are dying. Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that they are dying before his eyes, and whole communities and vast areas of the countryside are desolate dying of neglect. Yet we are told that the Government can do nothing about it. I am surprised that the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. John MacLeod) has not said something about it.

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

There are huge areas in Wester Ross which are nothing but desolation, apart, of course, from a few sporting tenants. Where is the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. Maclean)? Where are the Scottish Members opposite? Only the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland has had the courage to speak for Scotland in this matter. Where are all the hon. Members opposite who fought their election campaigns with the cry that they would introduce a good Bill immediately on being returned to power? It has been suggested to me that they are not speaking in case they are sent to the Scottish Grand Committee as a punishment. That might be a good idea. At least, it would educate them about the facts of the country in which some of them live and are supposed to represent. We are entitled to know from the right hon. Gentleman what he thinks about this.

I said yesterday that I was deeply shocked that the Secretary of State for Scotland could accept the Bill. It does less than the other Bill. I am not surprised, however, because the right hon. Gentleman does not have the courage to stand up and demand what we want. At least, he should have the honesty to get up at the Box to say "I agree. I concur with the statements made by the President of the Board of Trade." Let him get up and say that. We should then know the extent to which his concern for Scotland finds expression in a practical manner in the Bill.

10.30 p.m.

The Secretary of State owes this duty to the people of Scotland. His party suffered a fairly heavy blow in Scotland at the election and the least he can do is to tell us what he will do about it. We in Scotland are in the position of having a Bill that the majority of Scottish Members do not regard as good enough for Scotland, but it is being forced upon us by the majority south of the Border. If we had had a Parliament in Edinburgh, we would not have had the Bill. We would have had something much better. I have spoken longer than I intended because I wanted the right hon. Gentleman to give us a reply on this matter.

Photo of Mr John McKay Mr John McKay , Wallsend

I wish to speak on this special occasion, despite the lateness of the hour, because I regard it as a duty. I have been in close contact with the National Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers. A fortnight ago, I was called to meet the executive of the Northumberland miners on this very point of the disastrous social conditions that are likely to arise in Northumberland and elsewhere in the coal fields.

I want to give a few figures from the report of the National Executive of the National Union of Mineworkers concerning unemployment in the mines. It states that in 1958, manpower in the coal industry fell by 22,500 and so far this year it has fallen by a further 30,000. It then shows that in the five years following the reorganisation of the pits on an economic basis, there will be another 60,000 fewer men in mining.

In this debate, we have not been told what is to happen to the miners when they are confronted with the great difficulty of unemployment. What is happening is that the aged miners, many of whom want to continue working to get their higher increments, are being debarred from doing so and, in consequence, are getting less money because their time has been cut short. In other words, a condition is being applied in the coal fields which is not applied in the majority of other industries. Because pits are closing in Northumberland and other places, these areas eventually will become depopulated to a serious extent. Therefore, this matter is of crucial importance to the mining community.

I do not want to say more—the time is late—but unemployment in the mining industry and in other places throughout the country matters more than most things, and it is up to us as a community to see that the wants of unemployed people are fully attended to if we cannot find them work.

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

Unaccustomed as I am to enthusiastic applause from the other side of the Committee, I welcome it very much.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

The hon. Member has advised me to do that several times before. I have never taken his advice and I will not take it now.

I should like to answer briefly the point made by the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Willis). I ask hon. Members opposite, and Scottish Members particularly, to study the High- land White Paper of last year before they start accusing this side of the Committee of neglecting the interests of the Highlands. What is more, let them understand that we believe in action and not in mere words. We have shown action all over Scotland and we are continuing to show it.

Hon. Gentlemen opposite know very well, too, that it is not possible to have everything simultaneously in every part of the whole country, and for that to be provided by any Government. If it is possible, why did not they do more between 1945 and 1951? The hon. Gentleman knows it is not possible. If he will for once study carefully and dispassionately—although I know that is a bit much too much to expect, although he says that he is always dispassionate—what has happened in recent years, if he will study carefully what happened between 1945 and 1950 in the industrial belt and in the Highlands of Scotland, if he will study carefully the full implications of the Bill and also what my right hon. Friend has said, remembering always that it is actions and not words and not praises which count, he will see that the Bill—

Photo of Mr Malcolm Macmillan Mr Malcolm Macmillan , Na h-Eileanan an Iar

The right hon. Gentleman ought to look at what has been said. He ought to look —[Interruption.]

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I shall finish my own remarks in my own way.

What I was saying was that if the hon. Gentleman will study what has happened—

Photo of Mr Eustace Willis Mr Eustace Willis , Edinburgh East

Scotland is still losing people.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

—and what happened under the powers available to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, and if he will study the full implications of the Bill, he will see that, taken with the proper action, which is, of course, essential, it does as much as any reasonable Government can reasonably do to solve our problems.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

If the Secretary of State thinks he can get away with a two-minute speech after seven hours of debate he has got another think coming. The right hon. Gentleman talked about action. He has not refuted the figures given by my hon. Friend, namely, that depopulation of the Highlands since 1951 has been worse and has reached the worst figure for Scotland. He has not yet answered the question which was put to him: does he or does he not agree with the propositions put forward by the President of the Board of Trade on the question of depopulation?

This depopulation, despite what this Government have done, and, indeed, despite what the Labour Government did, is continuing at an increasing pace, and we are asking the Secretary of State about it, and we are entitled to more than a two-minute brush-off. We are entitled to more than that. This depopulation is increasing and is accentuating other problems. We have to tackle the problems of the conurbations. Not only in this country but throughout the world the problem of conurbation is exercising the mind of every responsible individual. The depopulation of the Highlands and indeed of other areas within the industrial belt of Scotland is aggravating first of all the problem of the Highlands and also the problems of conurbation.

I do not think there are two more damnable social scourges than unemployment and the feeling that one is not wanted. In the locality where I live, within ten miles of London, living next door is a girl from Lewis, in the Islands, and acting as a nanny. She is out of her own community. She feels isolated. I am certain of that. She is not there by choice. She is driven there because successive Governments have failed to tackle the problem.

Why have successive Governments not tackled it? Because those communities are isolated communities, politically not very powerful. The people there are in the same position as old-age pensioners. Their political power is not very great. They have not the will and the right to strike or the desire to strike; they cannot withhold their labour. They have none of these weapons at their disposal. So they are treated by the Government as unwanted people. In a civilised community—I hope we still claim to be one —we ought to spend days dealing with the problems of minorities. I believe that the test of a civilised community is the way it regards minorities, and these people are minorities. I believe they are a valuable social and cultural asset, and it will be a sad day if they disappear.

I understand that my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) delivered his election addresses in Gaelic and that some of my Welsh hon. Friends delivered theirs in Welsh. I regard these characteristics as valuable. When a Welshman or, indeed, when a Highland man comes to London there is something lost to the community from which he comes and to the individual.

For the Secretary of State for Scotland to stand at the Box and to speak for only two minutes and then to say that actions and not words count is just fantastic. He did not even speak for two minutes. He was not so retiring at the time of the election. He did not then speak for just two minutes and promise the Highland people and others what he was going to do; nor did the other Scottish Tories who are now absent from the Chamber. I guess that there are not more than one in ten of the Scottish Tories present here at the moment.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

It may be they will be among the unemployed very soon. I hope they are.

I want to put one further point to the Secretary of State. I have always complained—and I supported the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) in this—about the high taxation that we have to pay. I agree with the noble Lord. I always feel that I pay far too much tax, and I do so because part of my tax goes to pay the Secretary of State's salary. He is my employee, and I am a hard taskmaster. I want my money's worth. I have not had it today, and I hope that Scottish Members will see that we get it before the right hon. Gentleman gets away tonight.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

The Secretary of State for Scotland has just made his first intervention in our discussions in Committee on the Bill. I should think that the right hon. Gentleman has seldom made a more untimely intervention than the one he made tonight. He did not seem to realise that he was speaking on behalf of the Government in refusing an Amendment which asks the Government to take into account depopulation when deciding whether or not to take action to steer industry into certain areas. The right hon. Gentleman merely threw out, without any statistics to support it, the assertion that his Government in recent years had done more for the Highlands of Scotland than their predecessors in office.

May I fill in the figures mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan)? In the hundred years between 1851 and 1951 the population of the Highland counties, which represent almost 50 per cent. of the land area of Scotland and, indeed, one-sixth of the land area of Britain, declined from 386,000 to 286,000, a loss of 1,000 people per year for a hundred years. During that time countless commissions were appointed to consider what action might be taken to halt the depopulation of the Highlands.

10.45 p.m.

The first time that action was taken to stop depopulation was when the great public works schemes were undertaken by the Labour Government after 1945. What has happened since 1951? I can tell the Secretary of State for Scotland that, according to the reports which he himself publishes, depopulation is now running at 1,500 a year. One thousand a year for 100 years, numberless commissions appointed to consider what might be done to hold depopulation and then, under the administration of Governments of the same political complexion as the present one, since 1951 depopulation has been running at a rate 50 per cent. higher than for the preceding one hundred years. And the Secretary of State boasts of what has been done and what is now to be done under the Bill.

The right hon. Gentleman could not have listened to the speech of the President of the Board of Trade who said that it would be ridiculous to accept an Amendment which says that action should be taken by the Board of Trade in an area in which further employment was required to avoid further depopulation of the locality. Goodness gracious! Is there a single hon. Member who thinks that action might be necessary on the part of the Government to deal with unemployment in some of the seaside towns, spoken about in the debate from both sides of the Committee, which have increased their populations tremendously in the past 25 years, is there a single hon. Member who thinks it ought to be possible for the President of the Board of Trade to take action to promote a higher level of employment in Margate and Ramsgate and all these holiday towns, but that it is not desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should take action to stop further depopulation in Caithness and Sutherland, the Western Isles or Ross and Cromarty, or Inverness? I am not surprised that the hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. John MacLeod) is not in his place tonight, nor the hon. Member for Inverness (Mr. N. McLean).

Is it not equally desirable, and far more desirable, that action should be taken by the President of the Board of Trade, using the powers which he is taking in the Bill, to help these areas? I said on an earlier Amendment and I do not think that it would be improper to repeat that we cannot have a large number of people in the aggregate unemployed in Sutherland or in Ross-shire or in the Western Isles. I am equally sure that we cannot have a large number of people in the aggregate unemployed in North Wales. We cannot because there are too few people there just now. And if the Government delay any longer in taking action to provide employment in these areas, and in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland, the time will come very soon when it will not be possible to take any action to promote employment because there will be no people left at all.

I should have thought that this was an Amendment which the Secretary of State for Scotland would have very much wanted to have made in the Bill. I wonder whether the position is that he really wants the Amendment but has been refused it by him right hon. Friend. Perhaps it is for that reason that he came to the Dispatch Box a few minutes ago and did not say a word against it.

I wonder if the Secretary of State would answer this question. Does he not think that the powers being given in the Bill should be exercised in the Highlands to avoid further depopulation?

Hon. Members:

Answer.

Photo of Hon. John Maclay Hon. John Maclay , Renfrewshire West

I do not want there to be any misunderstanding about my position in this matter. I agree with everything that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has said. [HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] I believe that the powers in the Bill, used in the way which, as the Bill is drafted, they will be used, plus the other action which is open to us, can do a great deal to arrest depopulation over a period. I recognise that depopulation has been a desperately anxious problem to successive Governments for a great many years. Various methods have been tried, and will be tried, to arrest it. It is my firm conviction that the Bill, plus the other powers we are using, can in time help to solve this problem, but I do not pretend that rural depopulation, which is common to the whole of the civilised world, is a problem that can be solved overnight.

Photo of Mr Thomas Fraser Mr Thomas Fraser , Hamilton

The right hon. Gentleman must have gone right back to assuming that there are powers in the Bill which he does not possess at the present time. There is no power in the Bill which the

Government do not possess under existing Statutes. Yet with all these powers depopulation of the rural areas has continued. We find that since the present party became responsible for the government of this country in 1951, 350,000 jobs have been created in London, 900,000 jobs have been created in England, and no additional jobs have been created in Scotland. That is because the Government have failed to exercise the powers they have for the better distribution of industry; and they have refused to allow the Bill to be so changed in its terminology that it might be described as distribution of industry legislation. It is not.

We want by the Amendment to make it imperative on Her Majesty's present advisers to take such action as is available to them under the Bill as is calculated to provide employment in areas which have suffered depopulation and will suffer further depopulation. That is the issue before the Committee, and if the President of the Board of Trade cannot give us a more sympathetic answer, I hope that the Committee will now come to a decision.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 151, Noes 208.

Division No. 10.]AYES[10.54 p.m.
Abse, LeoFernyhough, E.Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas
Ainsley, WilliamFinch, HaroldJohnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)Fletcher, EricJones, Dan (Burnley)
Awbery, StanForman, J. C.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Bacon, Miss AliceFraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Beaney, AlanGeorge, Lady Megan LloydJones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.)Ginsburg, DavidKelley, Richard
Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.King, Dr. Horace
Benson, Sir GeorgeGourlay, HarryLawson, George
Blackburn, F.Grey, CharlesLee, Frederick (Newton)
Blyton, WilliamGriffiths, David (Rother Valley)Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S.W.)Griffiths, W. (Exchange)Logan, David
Boyden, JamesGrimond, J.Loughlin, Charles
Braddock, Mrs. E. M.Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson
Brown, Alan (Tottenham)Hamilton, William (West Fife)McInnes, James
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)Hannan, WilliamMcKay, John (Wallsend)
Carmichael, JamesHart, Mrs. JudithMacMillan, Malcolm (Western Isles)
Cliffe, MichaelHayman, F. H.MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)
Corbet, Mrs. FredaHerbison, Miss MargaretMahon, Simon
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Hill, J. (Midlothian)Manuel, A. C.
Cronin, JohnHolman, PeroyMapp, Charles
Crosland, AnthonyHolt, ArthurMarquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.
Davies,Rt.Hn.Clement(Montgomery)Houghton, DouglasMarsh, Richard
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)Howell, Charles A.Mason, Roy
Davies, Harold (Leek)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Mellish, R. J.
Davies, Ifor (Gower)Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)Mendelson, J. J.
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Millan, Bruce
Deer, GeorgeHunter, A. E.Mitchison, G. R.
Dempsey, JamesHynd, H. (Accrington)Monslow, Walter
Ede, Rt. Hon. ChuterHynd, John (Attercliffe)Morris, John
Edwards, Robert (Bilston)Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Neal, Harold
Evans, AlbertJanner, BarnettNoel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Owen, WillRogers, G. H. R. (Kensington, N.)Wade, Donald
Pulley, W. E.Ross, WilliamWarbey, William
Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)8ilverman, Sydney (Nelson)Watkins, Tudor
Parker, John (Dagenham)Small, WilliamWeitzman, David
Peart, FrederickSmith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Wheeldon, W. E.
Pentland, NormanSoskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWhite, Mrs. Eirene
Plummer, Sir LeslieSpriggs, LeslieWhitlock, William
Prentice, R. E.Stewart, Michael (Fulham)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)Stonehouse, JohnWilkins, W. A.
Probert, ArthurStones, WilliamWilley, Frederick
Proctor, W. T.Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. EdithWilliams, W. R. (Openshaw)
Rankin, JohnSwain, ThomasWillis, E. G. (Edinburgh, E.)
Redhead, E. C.Symonds, JosephWilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Reynolds, G. W.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)Winterbottom, R. E.
Rhodes, H.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Roberta, Albert (Normanton)Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)Woof, Robert
Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)Thornton, ErnestYates, Victor (Ladywood)
Robertson, Sir DavidThorpe, Jeremy
Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)Timmons, JohnTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mr. Irving and Mr. Short
NOES
Agnew, Sir PeterGodber, J. B.Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir R.
Aitken, W. T.Goodhart, PhilipMarkham, Major Sir Frank
Allason, JamesGoodhew, VictorMarlowe, Anthony
Arbuthnot, JohnGower, RaymondMarten, Neil
Ashton, Sir HubertGrant, Rt. Hon. William (Woodside)Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Atkins, HumphreyGrant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich)Maudling, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Barber, AnthonyGreen, AlanMawby, Ray
Barlow, Sir JohnHall, John (Wycombe)Mills, Stratton
Barter, JohnHamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh
Batsford, BrianHarris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)Montgomery, Fergus
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Harrison, Brian (Maldon)Morgan, William
Berkeley, HumphryHarvey, Sir Arthur Vere (Macclesf'd)Morrison, John
Biggs-Davison, JohnHarvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)Nabarro, Gerald
Bingham, R. M.Harvie, Anderson, MissNicholson, Sir Godfrey
Bishop, F. P.Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir LionelNoble, Michael
Black, Sir CyrilHenderson-Stewart, Sir JamesNugent, Richard
Bossom, CliveHendry, A. ForbesOsborn, John (Hallam)
Box, DonaldHiley, JosephPage, Graham
Brooman-White, R.Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)Panned, Norman (Kirkdale)
Browne, Percy (Torrington)Hinchingbrooke, ViscountPartridge, E.
Bryan, PaulHirst, GeoffreyPearson, Frank (Clitheroe)
Bullard, DenysHobson, JohnPeel, John
Burden, F. A.Hooking, Philip N.Percival, Ian
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)Holland, PhilipPlckthorn, Sir Kenneth
Carr, Compton (Barons Court)Hollingworth, JohnPilkington, Capt. Richard
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Hope, Rt. Hon. Lord JohnPitman, I. J.
Chataway, ChristopherHopkins, AlanPott, Percivall
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.)Hornby, R. P.Powell, J. Enoch
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.)Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. PatriciaPrior, J. M. L.
Cole, NormanHoward, Hon. G. R. (St. Ives)Ramsden, James
Collard, RichardHughes-Young, MichaelRawlinson, Peter
Cooper, A. E.Hutchison, Michael ClarkRedmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin
Cordle, JohnIrvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)Rees, Hugh
Corfield, F. V.Jackson, JohnRenton, David
Costain, A. P.James, DavidRidley, Hon. Nicholas
Coulson, J. M.Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)Roots, William
Courtney, Cdr. AnthonyJennings, J. C.Royle, Anthony (Richmond, Surrey)
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)Scott-Hopkins, James
Critchley, JulianJohnson, Eric (Blackley)Seymour, Leslie
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Johnson Smith,C.(Holb&S.P'ncr's,S)Sharples, Richard
Cunningham, KnoxJoseph, Sir KeithShepherd, William
Curran, CharlesKerans, Cdr. J. S.Skeet, T. H. H.
Currie, G. B. H.Kerby, Capt. HenrySmith, Dudley(Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)
Dance, JamesKerr, Sir HamiltonSmithers, Peter
Deedes, W. F.Langford-Holt, J.Speir, Rupert
de Ferranti, BasilLegge-Bourke, Maj. H.Stodart, J. A.
Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm
Doughty, CharlesLindsay, MartinStorey, S.
Duncan, Sir JamesLit oh field, Capt. JohnStudholme, Sir Henry
Eden, JohnLongbottom, CharlesSummers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury)
Elliott, R. W.Longden, GilbertTalbot, John E.
Errington, Sir EricLoveys, Walter H.Tapsell, Peter
Farr, JohnLucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Teeling, William
Finlay, GraemeLucas-Tooth, Sir HughTemple, John M.
Fisher, NigelMacArthur, IanThomas, Leslie (Canterbury)
Fletcher-Cooke, CharlesMcLaren, MartinThomas, Peter (Conway)
Fraser, Hn. Hugh (Stafford & Stone)McLaughlin, Mrs. PatriciaThompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)Maclay, Rt. Hon. JohnTiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Freeth, DenzilMcLean, Neil (Inverness)Tilney, John (Wavertree)
Gammans, LadyMcMaster, StanleyTurner, Colin
Gardner, EdwardMacmillan, Maurice (Halifax)Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.
Glyn, Dr. Alan (Clapham)Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)Tweedsmuir, Lady
Glyn, Col. Richard H. (Dorset, N.)Maddan, Martinvan Straubenzee, W. R.
Vane, W. M. F.Whitelaw, WilliamWoollam, John
Vickers, Miss JoanWilliams, Dudley (Exeter)Worsley, Marcus
Vosper, Rt. Hon. DennisWilson, Geoffrey (Truro)Yates, William (The Wrekin)
Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)Wise, Alfred
Wall, PatrickWolrige-Gordon, PatrickTELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)Wood, Rt. Hon. RichardMr. Legh and
Watts, JamesWoodhouse, C. M.Colonel J. H. Harrison.
Wells, John (Maidstone)Woodnutt, Mark

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

We have had two long days' discussion, and I think that I have heard almost all the speeches. But although we have discussed, I do not think that we have made very rapid progress, and we must try to make more progress next week when I hope that you, Sir Gordon, will have been refreshed by the weekend, and I hope that I will have been refreshed by seeing something of Scotland, which I hope to visit during the next few days.

Photo of Mr Douglas Jay Mr Douglas Jay , Battersea North

In view of the voting figures, I certainly think that it would be wise to give the Government time to pause for reflection, and for the President of the Board of Trade to visit Scotland. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that, in the future proceedings of the Bill, the more of our Amendments he accepts the more rapid will progress be.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.