Orders of the Day — North-East Coast (Redundancy and Unemployment)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23 July 1962.

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7.41 p.m.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I now want to turn the attention of the House from the rights and claims of individuals to the rights and claims of a region—the claims of the North-East Coast. I realise that most hon. Members who represent constituencies on the North-East Coast will be anxious to criticise the Government, and I also understand that the Minister of Labour is anxious to listen to all that we have to say and to reply to the debate.

The North-East Coast is a readily identifiable part of Britain. The people who live there are not Scots and they play Minor Counties cricket. They are also very readily identifiable because they have been callously neglected by successive Conservative Governments. Before the war, in the grim 'thirties, we were seared by massive unemployment —a vast aggregation of individual family hardships. Now, in a very different Britain, in a Britain of relatively full employment, in the North-East we nevertheless feel the same measure of Tory indifference and neglect. Persistently, year after year, we find that we endure an unempolyment level running at about twice the national average.

In the badly hit areas, the level is far worse. In my own constituency of Sunderland, we have had over the past few years an unemployment rate of 5 per cent., and occasionally very much more. We have had this persistent 5 per cent. unemployed. We had this at the last General Election, when we were told about the jobs in the pipeline and about the "new look" which the Conservatives were to bring to development area policy. Today, we have about the same level of unemployed as we had in 1959.

In spite of all this, we have been "stop-feted"—taken off the list of development districts; but we in Sunder-land are not prepared to accept as tolerable a level of 5 per cant. of unemployment. In the development districts themselves, there is at present the highest level of unemployment which we have had since the Local Employment Act. We have areas like South Shields with 5 per cent. unemployed, Bishop Auckland and Crook with over 5 per cent., and Hartlepools—and I was surprised not to see the hon. and gallant Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Karans) here today—we have well over 6 per cent. unemployed, and in the smaller areas unemployment is as high as 8 per cent. This is more than a question of some 40,000 people continuously unemployed. Within those numbers, we know that there are 1,600 not merely skilled but highly skilled engineers. This country cannot afford the enforced idleness of these people today. Within these numbers, we have 1,100 not just constructional workers but highly skilled constructional workers, and it is a crying disgrace that these men are standing idle when they should be engaged in industrial development in the North-East itself.

As this volume of unemployment has persisted, so the number of unfilled vacancies has shrunk. I have mentioned Crook. In areas like Crook, where only two new firms have been introduced since the war and where there has been no industrial development in the past 15 years, there are today 40 men chasing every vacancy. In an area such as this, what chance has a school leaver? The school leavers will be driven to find work only at the expense of breaking up the family.

Instead of these problems evoking a determined effort from the Government, we get this persistent and steady neglect —indeed, discriminatory neglect. In recent weeks in this House, we have discussed the cotton industry and Scotland. If we look at the report on the Local Employment Act, we find that by way of Exchequer aid—grants and loans—the Government have provided £10 million to aid Merseyside and £14 million to aid Glasgow and the central region of Scot- land, and that, during this time, the North-East Coast has received, not £10 million or £14 million, but a mere £433,000.

According to the latest available figures, there is less industrial building in this region than in any other region in the country. Here, we are building a trifle more than one half of the industrial building which is being carried out in the Midlands and only one third, or not much more than one third, of that which is being carried out in London. It does not matter what aspect of this problem we raise, we get this blank indifference from the Government. We see the Minister of Power about our claims for a new power station, but he shows no sign that he recognises the special problems and difficulties of the North-East Coast. We have complained about the cuts in school building, and we find that the axe has fallen more heavily in the North-East than almost anywhere else. It is true that we have begun again on the Tyne Tunnel, but, for the past few years we have had far less than a square deal on the programme for new roads and road improvements. We have had the railway closures, and now Dr. Beeching is discouraging us by suggesting that the Tyne-side Electric Railways might be dispensed with.

I do not want to be misunderstood by the Minister. We do not say that anyone owes us a living. We have had the present Minister of Pensions and the present Chancellor of the Exchequer in the North-East, and they have urged upon us the virtues of self-help. We are doing all we can to help ourselves. Our former colleague, Mr. George Chetwynd, gave up his seat and is doing a grand job in trying to attract new industries to the area. In my own constituency, we have a full-time official whose whole efforts are devoted to attracting new industries to Sunderland, and who is doing an equally good job. We have the whole-hearted backing of the Press, but the plain truth now is that in the North-East we cannot solve our difficulties on our own.

We have special difficulties because we are so very dependent on the basic industries. Today, the steel industry in the North-East has over 6 per cent. unemployed. We still see no signs of an early recovery. We know that 6,000 miners, 6 per cent. of the labour force of the industry in the North-East, left the industry last year. In his May Day message Mr. Sam Watson publicly estimated that over the next few years in the Durham coal field alone there will be 18,000 fewer miners. In shipbuilding there are 2,000 fewer jobs than there were 12 months ago. If we look at the basic essential figure—tonnage preparing, work for which plans have been approved and materials ordered—we find that we have half the work in hand that we had at the time of the General Election.

This demands some response from the Government. It demands, more than anything else, a national plan for economic growth because it is the basic industries more than any other industry which depend on this. It demands a fuel policy. It demands an end to this indifference which we have seen in the House time after time—the indifference to the problems and difficulties of a national industry such as shipbuilding.

It is no good hon. Members opposite sneering at planning. In fact, within the next few years we shall find that there will be as many people employed in Government-built factories in the North-East as there will be employed in coal mining. This is not a quarrel about planning, but if we are going to plan we had better plan intelligently. We had better be enthusiastic and determined about it. We had better have comprehensive planning, too. Time after time we find that an initiative taken in the region is lost at Whitehall. If there is drive and vigour in the region, it is lost at Whitehall. Too many chances are lost. Too many times an industrialist at the end of the day, thoroughly wearied, abandons his project in the face of Governmental procrastination, indecision and delay.

Let us on the contrary have a tough realistic I.D.C. policy. Let us give some meaning to what we are told time after time about priority in Government contracts. Let us get some benefit from this. Let us not just recognise it as a dead letter. As I have said, planning has not only got to be vigorous and meaningful. It has got to be comprehensive. This is a bigger job than merely the Board of Trade can do—and I am sorry not to see the President of the Board of Trade with us today. This is a job which affects many Departments and Ministries.

One of the urgent tasks is the civic redevelopment of some of the older industrial towns. They want a new look if we are to attract new industry to them. This demands not only priority but Government support. This planning needs not only to be vigorous and comprehensive. It also needs to be ambitious. It so happens that we have let the advance factory that was built at South Shields. Why cannot the Board of Trade take some encouragement from this? Why cannot it respond to this and plan an advance factory building programme for the North- East Coast? If private enterprise does not respond when we build the factories, let public enterprise respond.

This is really the kernel of the problem. This is why time after time we have had to complain of the lack of response from a Tory Government. What we demand is really alien to Tory philosophy. This is why those of us who have been brought up and have lived through the troublesome times on the North-East Coast know that we shall get a fair deal only when we get a Labour Government. This is the real significance of the Middlesbrough by-election. We know on the North-East Coast that we shall not get an industrial square deal until we get social justice too.

7.55 p.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

I have listened to the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) who has spoken with his usual fluency and sincerity. I would agree with him in much of what he says, but not in all. On this side of the House, too, we desire to see an end to the pockets of high unemployment on the North-East Coast, and I agree, of course, that there are pockets of high unemployment.

I cannot, however, agree with the hon. Gentleman that Her Majesty's present Government have been lacking in enthusiasm to cure the problem of unemployment on the North-East Coast— anything but. I cannot agree that the Local Employment Act has not worked. It has worked, and if anyone can suggest a better method of seeking out pockets of unemployment and doing something about them than by means of development certificates, I should like to know what it is.

We know that general direction of industry is the policy, indeed the philosophy, of the party opposite; but is it common sense to suggest that all development is mobile? I do not think it is. It is not possible in many cases, when development is desired by industry in other parts of the country, to suggest that such an extension as is proposed can automatically go to an area of low employment. It would often mean cutting a factory literally in two, the numbing of the enterprise of the concern, increased transport costs and extensive additions to administration. So it is not always possible to move an extension to areas of low employment.

Neverthless, a great deal has happened since the introduction of that massive piece of legislation, the Local Employment Act. Other parts of the country have benefited more quickly than we from the Local Employment Act. But I suggest that it may well be coming in a much bigger way. Even now it is unfair to say that the North-East has not already benefited from the Local Employment Act.

Our problem in the north-east of England is the basic problem that we have three traditional industries all of which are contracting and all of which are interdependent—coal, steel and shipbuilding. Steel at present is running in the North-East at something like three-fifths its capacity. Of course, this is due to a number of things—to extensive destocking and falling demand from the coal industry, from the railways and from the shipyards. The North-East Development Council's overall target for the area of 4 per cent. annual increase is excellent and one which I commend.

In the shipyards of the United Kingdom in the first quarter of 1962 orders amounted to 150,000 tons gross. This compares with 131,000 tons gross for the same period last year, and it represents a considerable improvement. The percentage of overseas orders to shipyards has risen from 7·6 per cent. in 1961 to 48 per cent. in 1962. This again is a highly desirable trend. We are getting more foreign trade once again. It is a six-fold increase. But it is still not enough. I wholeheartedly agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland, North that we must seek to gain still more business for our shipyards.

However, in the attempt to face the problem of continued employment in the north-east of England we must look hard at foreign competition. We must not put our heads in the national sand. We must look to our own weaknesses. Before demanding new industry let us see what can be done with existent industry.

A short while ago I was fortunate enough to be a member of a Parliamentary delegation which visited Greece, and it was with considerable interest that with my colleagues on the delegation, I visited a Greek shipyard. There were 6,000 men, all hard at work. It was a very encouraging sight—great activity, great productivity in both repair work and new construction. The manager of that yard told me that he believed that they were getting such a large amount of business—some of which might well have come to the United Kingdom—because they had no restrictive practices, no union disputes; because, as he put it, he had to deal with only two unions.

It is high time that we looked very hard indeed at restrictive practices in our own industry. Hon. Members opposite may tell me that I do not know too much about industrial restrictive practices or of their origin. I can only say that I had all my political training in the north-east of England, and I had my campaigning experience in the constituency of the hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Owen), whom I am glad to see here now, and I was very well instructed in the historical background of restrictive practices. I know their background, I appreciate the reason for many of them, but it is no good living in the past. Unless we cure this steady restrictive practice in industry we shall lose more business to Greek, Dutch and other shipyards—

Photo of Mr Ernest Popplewell Mr Ernest Popplewell , Newcastle upon Tyne West

Is the hon. Gentleman alleging that restrictive practices in the North-East are responsible for that area not getting shipping orders?

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

They axe a strong contributory factor, and it is high time that both sides of industry looked at this particular weakness. I have here a cutting from a newspaper produced in the north-east of England, reporting that Mr. Ted Hill, general secretary of the Boilermakers' Society, suggested after a recant ballot in which shipbuilding workers decided not to strike for more pay—and all credit to them for that— that the employers were living in a fool's paradise if they thought they had won a victory, and that there were other ways of going about it. He went on to say that by working to rule, by going slow, banning overtime and piece work, the worker could get his wages raised and hit the employer hard. When I refer to restrictive practices in our north-eastern shipyards, I merely suggest that that sort of approach by a union leader will not help us to maintain employment.

The Local Employment Act has done much to help us. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North particularly mentioned 'the Board of Trade factories, and quite rightly. There are currently employed in those factories some 60,000 workers. Factories and extensions already approved will provide some 20,000 new jobs in the coming four years. The difficulties of direction of industry are many, and development is not helped by the suggestion from the benches opposite that a future Labour Government might well practice complete direction of industry.

We on this side of the Chamber believe in private enterprise, and in a certain amount of harmonisation in these matters; in persuasion rather than in direction. Persuasion is working, and we must make it work a little more quickly in the North-East, but the veiled suggestion in Signpost of the Sixties that firms in receipt of Government grants and loans might well qualify for nationalisation is not encouraging to those who would seek to develop in our area. Continued encouragement is much more desirable and, as the hon. Member for Sunderland, North said, it is essential that we should help ourselves.

I join with him in his tribute to our colleague of other days, George Chetwynd, who is doing a fine job in the North-East. He is setting out whole- heartedly to publicise the area, and to point out to those who seek to extend their industry from other parts that we have a fine labour force, and that the North-East is an area of fine amenities, and one that would welcome new industry and new sources of employment.

It is essential that we should help ourselves, and we should also beware of gloom. Let us not seek to depress those who would come to the North-East. All credit is due to the regional organisation of the Board of Trade. Those of us on both sides who represent the area are in regular contact with the regional controller and his officers, and many of us have visited sites with prospective industrialists and the regional controller's officers. I pay them all a tribute for their work in helping to bring to the North-East new employment.

8.6 p.m.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

I am very much tempted to put the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) in his place, but tonight we have agreed to impose self-restraint. I confess that I was surprised when the hon. Member said that he had had his political training in the North because, if he had, he would have been able to produce a constructive idea, but that he has completely failed to do.

To praise the Government is common form, of course, on that side. The hon. Gentleman has also indulged in unfounded assumptions about conditions that obtain in industry in the North-East, about restrictive practices, and the like. We have heard it all so often, but no evidence (has been produced to support those foolish contentions. However, I am concerned not with political irrelevancy, because this is not really a political debate, but with constructive proposals for rehabilitating industry in the North-East.

We are all familiar with the facts— economic insecurity, rising unemployment, in spite of the Local Employment Act, and the like. What are we to do about it? My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said that we should try to do something for ourselves, and the hon. Member for New-castle-upon-Tyne, North endorsed that view. In the North-East we have several nationalised industries under the National Coal Board, the Central Electricity Authority and the Gas Council, and with them in mind I want to represent a view to the Minister of Labour, which he might convey to his colleagues.

Why should not the Coal Board, out of its innumerable requirements, place more contracts in the North-East for mining machinery and for various accessories instead of going to other parts of the country? It might be possible to find industrial firms there capable of undertaking such contracts. The same applies to the Central Electricity Authority. I have no doubt that some of my colleagues will propose the establishment of an electricity power station in the North-East, so I shall not deal with that, but the C.E.A. might, out of its many requirements, find opportunities for helping our industries—and the Gas Council, equally.

It might be argued that that would mean taking work from other parts of the country, and I will come to that. There has been a great deal of talk about direction of industry. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North said that there will be no compulsory direction of industry from that side, but let me make this suggestion. There are far too many industries in the South. Let us assume that, if some of them were transferred to the North, unemployment would show a slight rise in the South. In the course of time they would rehabilitate themselves, but we would be glad to absorb some of the industries which now operate in the South.

How is that to be done? There are Departments under the control of the Government—for example, the Post Office and the police. They want clothing—boots, shoes and various other articles of apparel—and stores. Is there any reason why contracts for the supply of such articles should not foe placed in the North-East? We have some clothing factories there already. I am not making a claim for my constituency. I make the claim for the whole of the North-East. After all, what benefits other parts of the North-East must in due course redound to the advantage of constituencies like mine.

As I say, we have clothing factories in the North-East. Why cannot they make clothing under Government con- tract for the police, the Post Office and other Government Departments? There are many industries there capable of producing vehicles. Why cannot they undertake the task under contract of manufacturing vehicles which are now purchased by the Service Departments in the South? This is the way to transform the North-East. To do this nationalisation is not required. Legislation is not required. Even persuasion is not required. All that the Government need to do is to examine the situation in the North-East, plan it out, and see what industries the North-East can absorb and whether contracts can be diverted from the South and perhaps from the Midlands to the North-East to provide some amelioration of the economic problem which exists there at present.

I do not pretend that this is a complete solution. It is far from that. However, it could mitigate the harsh severity of the present situation. It could instil confidence into industry in the North-East. That is what is wanted. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North dealt with this, but it was the only suggestion he made. We must instil confidence into industry. We must make people feel optimistic about the future. I heard one of my Scottish colleagues say the other day that the life of Scotland is ebbing away. We are not going to say that about the North-East. We want to attract industry, not drive it away. We want to impart confidence and give the workers in industry optimism for the future. There is a bright future for the North-East.

We cannot depend on the proposals of the Government. They are poor proposals and they will be fruitless. The Government can only provide a modicum of employment. That is not enough. Industry must be diverted to the North, even as a temporary measure. One way is through the medium of Government contracts.

8.13 p.m.

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Newcastle upon Tyne East

I am grateful to have this chance to speak on behalf of the North-East, because for too long we have been regarded as the forgotten area of the United Kingdom. We seem to spend a great deal of time on Scottish affairs. We know that Scotland has problems, but the north-east of England has its problems, also. That is why I am delighted that the debate tonight will at least give those of us who represent constituencies in the North-East a chance to put forward the claims of our area.

It is time people realised that the North-East does exist, that it has problems, and that we should like these problems to be solved. I do not want to hark back too much on the past, but in the 1930s this was an area which had very heavy unemployment. I do not think that anybody who has lived through those days in that area will ever forget them, because undoubtedly they were hard days, and I hope that they will never again return to any part of the country.

I have said in the House before that, when I was a child, I lived in the Jarrow area. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey), who talks as if only members of the Labour Party have suffered, must get his facts into perspective. There are people on this side who have also come up the hard way and had to live on very little money. When I was a child my father had 21s. a week to keep us all. Living on 21s. per week is not any paradise.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Would the hon. Gentleman say that that is typical of members of the Tory Party?

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Newcastle upon Tyne East

No, I do not think that it is typical. I do not quite know what the hon. Gentleman means by that, but among the large numbers of people who vote for the Tory Party at general elections there must be many who endured hard times in the 1930s.

The miraculous thing about that period was that so many people who had so little money on which to exist managed to keep their self-respect. They managed somehow or other to make ends meet. It is time that a tribute was paid to them for the way they managed in very difficult circumstances.

The present unemployment situation in the North-East gives cause for concern. Of course, things are not as bad as they were in the 1930s, but we must ask ourselves whether the position is good enough. In June, 1962, unemployment in the Northern Region was 3·2 per cent., as compared with 1·8 per cent for the whole of Great Britain. We must ask ourselves why the North-East has a much higher unemployment percentage than other parts of the United Kingdom.

It seems that Whitehall regards us as a backwood. It hopes that because we are so far away from London our complaints will not be heard. In any case, whose fault is it that we are so remote? We cannot help our geographical position, but I wonder why more has not been done to help to improve communications between the North-East and other parts of the country. Why do we always seem to be the last in the queue for everything that comes along? Why have not we got a real motorway? Other parts of the country have one.

I should like my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to tackle my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport and find out from him what plans he has to help us to improve our communications and thereby help us to improve the employment prospects in the area.

I should like to take this opportunity to say a little more about my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. I am sorry that when the Prime Minister was doing his reshuffling last week he did not decide to take shipbuilding away from the Ministry of Transport and have a separate Department for it. I believe that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has far too much to do when he is concerned with roads, railways and shipbuilding. We in the North-East are very concerned about shipbuilding, because it is one of our two basic industries. Unfortunately, both of them seem to have passed the peak of their prosperity. A separate Government Department is required which could do some positive thinking about ways in which to improve the prosperity of the shipbuilding industry.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) said, this does not merely depend on the Government. He was right when he said that there must be much more co-operation between employers and employees. We should have something like a shipyards charter, whereby employees would have much more security. One of the troubles in the shipbuilding industry today is that people can be finished at very short notice. This gives the workers great cause for concern. If they had more security and redundancy payments in accordance with length of service with the firm concerned, and, on the other hand, agreed to end demarcation disputes, that would be for the benefit of the whole industry. It is no good one union fighting another, or unions fighting the employers. All are in this together. If shipbuilding is prosperous all benefit and if it is in decline all suffer.

One of the problems which has resulted because of constant unemployment in the North-East is migration of people to areas of higher employment. It is estimated that from 1951 there has been a net drift of 80,000 people from the north-east of England. Many of those people would not have left the area where they had their roots if employment prospects there had been better.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, touched on the special problem of school leavers. I wish to refer to that problem, which is a tremendous anxiety to everyone concerned. It has been obvious for a long time that the intake of school leavers into employment is getting much slower each term. In the Newcastle area, five years ago, the majority of school leavers were in their first job by the beginning of the following term, but at the moment the prospect is that some of these school leavers will not have obtained employment by the end of the term following that when they left school.

The main difficulty in the Newcastle area is shortage of jobs at all levels and in all industries; and it is not a problem confined to one particular industry. While the number of engineering apprenticeships, especially among smaller firms, shows a decrease, there is just as much difficulty in the Newcastle area fox a boy who wants to work as a van boy or in a warehouse.

We also have to bear in mind the effect of more school leavers coming on to the labour market. It will mean that employers will be more selective and demand higher standards, sometimes higher than is actually necessary. There is a marked increase in the number of boys of 16 and 17 on the unennployment register. It is more difficult for those who have lost jobs to get a new job. An analysis of boys registered in Newcastle at the end of June showed that 24 had been unemployed for over a month, 23 for over three months and 12 for over six months, while (two had been unemployed for over a year. The tragedy is that some of these boys, who have been unemployed for long periods, have now become poor candidates for employment.

Just as this is a problem among normal youngsters, it is a great problem among handicapped young people. In the Newcastle area there are, on the boys' register, three epileptics, one deaf boy, three blind, five educationally subnormal, two spastics, and one suffering from asthma. At the end of this month there will be a new batch of school leavers from the special schools.

We are particularly short of semiskilled employment. I agree that there is far too much industry in the South and the Midlands and not enough in the North-East. Some of that employment which provides for semi-skilled people would certainly be good enough for those not capable of doing a first-class apprenticeship but who are too good for the menial kind of employment. The position in Newcastle is not confined to boys, although for them it is much worse, but among girls it is becoming more and more difficult to secure good employment.

I urge my right hon. Friend to bear this in mind, because the position is likely to worsen at the end of this week. We have to remember the number of school children who will leave at the end of the summer term. Over the last five years the total unemployed on the register of the Newcastle Youth Employment Bureau has risen from 116 in 1958 to 306 today. When we add to that 306 the fact that at the end of this week 2,698 will be leaving the schools, we get an idea of the tremendous problem facing the North-East now.

The figures I have given are for Newcastle only, but I am sure that similar figures will be found throughout the Whole of the north-east of England. Unemployment is a heartbreak at any time, but for a young person to begin his adult life signing on at the local employment exchange must be one of the greatest heartbreaks of all.

This is an urgent problem, and I should be glad to hear from my right hon. Friend what steps his Department are taking to deal with it. The hon. Member for Sunderland, North rightly said that in the North-East we are not asking for charity. We do no feel that anybody owes us a living. But we feel that more attention must be paid by the Government to the North-East. We are trying to help ourselves, through the North-East Development Council, which is doing a great deal to attract new industry to the area. In the North-East we have a great deal of which we can be proud. There is much skill and there are good labour relations—much better than in some areas of high employment.

Hon. Members opposite realise as well as we do that if we are to sell ourselves we must give this picture of good labour relations. It is true that in certain shipyards—not all of them—they have demarcation disputes and restrictive practices, and it is also true that in some yards there is not good management; and all these things must be ironed out if shipbuilding is to survive. But, on the whole, labour relations in the North-East are good.

In addition to having good labour relations and good workmanship, the North-East is not an unattractive area. The picture which is sometimes painted of it in the South is quite inaccurate. I have met people who have gone to the North-East to work, with great misgivings, and who, within a very short time, have become great admirers of the North-East.

I have a high regard for my right hon. Friend, who was vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and in charge of candidates when I was on the candidates' list. I feel rather beholden to him that he decided that I was a suitable candidate and started me off on my political career. I hope that he will tell us about the steps which his Department intend to take to meet the urgent situation in the North-East for school leavers. I hope that he will use his influence with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport to improve our communications and also with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade to see that he does all in his power to persuade more firms to start in the North-East. We want as diversified an industrial background as possible so that the North-East may be one of the most prosperous areas in the country, which I believe is its due.

8.28 p.m.

Photo of Mr Joseph Slater Mr Joseph Slater , Sedgefield

After listening to speeches from the Government benches on this important subject I begin to wonder how some hon. Members take their places on those benches opposite instead of sitting on the benches on this side of the House. On the other hand, while I may put that point to the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery), his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) is trying to prop up the Government in the attitude which they have taken towards the North-East.

However much the Government or their supporters may seek to cover up their lack of interest in the North-East, it will not eliminate the startling fact that pits are closing, due to the Government's policies, and that the social consequences involved are striking very deeply into our village life. Not only is this action imposing this fear on our people from the mining industry but there are others, such as the small shopkeeper and the milkman and other small vested interests, who are concerned about their livelihood, as is everyone else in the North-East.

In 1951, the unemployment figure in the North-East was as low as 1·8 per cent. Today, it is over 3 per cent. Sometimes it is well over 6 per cent. As more pit closures take place, the fear of not finding work becomes intensified among our people.

It is all very well for the Government, through their Ministers, to say that work is available in the Midlands and elsewhere for unemployed miners, and that may be true. What they are saying, in effect, is that once a miner, always a miner, and that the privilege of changing one's occupation cannot be countenanced for the miner when vacancies exist at various collieries outside the Durham coalfield.

In all probability, had interest been shown in the North-East by successive Governments before 1939 by affording the area a fair share of new factory space in those years, many of the so designated unemployed miners might not have become miners at all and would not now be facing the present state of uncertainty. Before 1939, we were getting less than 5 per cent. of new factory space whilst London and the South-East was getting over 50 per cent. The advent of the Labour Government in 1945 changed all that, however, and we received a fairer proportion of what was available.

In my constituency, at Aycliffe, we had a Government ordnance factory which was changed from its war potential factory operation into what is known as the Aycliffe trading estate, which provides about 4,500 jobs. Many of the people working there come from different parts of the county. It has been stated that within the next few years, there may be jobs at the central site for over 6,000 people. The district manager of the industrial corporation has gone on record as expressing the view that by 1965, 5,700 people may be employed there and that this number could rise above 6,000 if inquiries now being made materialise.

I congratulate the district manager on his optimism, but it is noticeable that his statement is by no means definite. He states that it may happen. So we are left hoping. Who can say that but for Government policy in suspending the operation of the distribution of industry policy from 1957 to 1959, new factories could have been established at Aycliiffe and given employment to many people who have had to leave my area and elsewhere in the county because of unemployment or the fear of becoming unemployed?

Let not the Government treat this matter too lightly, for it is a serious situation in which we now find ourselves in the North-East. Bach hon. Member knows his own area best. Not a weekend passes when, on my return home from London, I am not informed that certain people have left the area where I live for employment elsewhere. One of the many questions now being posed to me, and with great force, is Whether the Government have now written off the area and care not what may happen to the district as a whole.

It is understandable for such questions to be asked in view of the predictions which have been made concerning the Dunham coalfield. Not only is man-power to be run down a great deal more in the next few years, but we have been faced with the position that half of the manpower has been taken away from a combined mine in my area, namely, the Dean and Chapter colliery, at Ferryhill, as well as at Thrislington, the manpower being reduced from 950 to 450 men, with no guarantee that there will not be further action by the Coal Board within a certain number of years.

If pit closures are inevitable and uneconomic pits must close, surely the Government have a great responsibility to the area to bring in new industry with the object of taking up the available labour force which wants to remain in the area, which it regards with just as much affection as anyone else regards his home area.

To me, nothing is more nauseating than to see able-bodied young men trudging their way to the employment exchange to sign on and to look for work. This is happening and it is creating a sense of frustration among our young people who feel that the Government do not care what happens to them. Who can tell, while we are having this rundown in manpower due to the closure of uneconomic pits in the North-East, whether other well-established industries are not, too, feeling the pinch because of the lack of interest shown in them by the Government?

Many of my constituents are among the high figures of unemployed registered in The Hartlepools and along Tees-side. There is talk of tightening up of employment in I.C.I, at Billingham. If there should be a closing of the door to new entrants going into this industry it could have serious consequences throughout the whole area because it would affect not only Billingham itself but the areas immediately outside. At one time there was not the same fear as there is now about apprenticeship training and employment for young people in this area, but this fear is now spreading, and, therefore, some positive action must be taken to find accommodation and employment for these young people.

The North-East has always prided itself on its enterprise and initiative. Craftsmen of every type have been produced, and their work has been praised in many parts of the world. Our people fully realise that there is no room for complacency and that we can ill afford that lack of interest which this Government have shown in the North-East. If such areas are to be saved, such as Ferryhill, Chilton Buildings and West Cornforth, which are suffering at present because of the uneconomic position of pits in those areas, the Government must come to their aid. I believe that the Government could assist tremendously by adopting the same policies of previous Tory Governments when they were prepared to hand out subsidies to the coal owners prior to nationalisation. This would keep the pits open till such time as alternative employment is brought into those areas. Surely, if such assistance can be granted to private enterprise industry, as has been granted under this present Administration, to keep those industries going, why not the same form of treatment to these uneconomic units which may in time become economic?

Like myself, the people of the class from which I spring do not like to ask for charity, but I am prepared to ask and accept it if it will save these areas from becoming derelict and unwanted. In time of war our people have given of their best to save the nation which we love. Their sons have taken arms in its defence. In time of peace all they ask for is that the same consideration be granted to us as is shown to any other people—not more, but just an equal portion of what is going, and that, in common justice, is right, so that they are not just classed as a grand people and then forgotten but so that their needs are fully recognised, and recognised as just as great as those of any others.

Therefore, I hope the Government, at the termination of the debate tonight on this important subject, will recognise the importance of the North-East and the consequences which can arise if positive action is not taken.

8.39 p.m.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I think the whole House will recognise that the problem of the North-East is the same as that of Britain as a whole. It is simply to adapt itself to the changing circumstances of our time. It is no use lamenting the closure of pits when yesteryear people were complaining and grumbling about the need for them to have to go underground. How much better that we should welcome this change and hope that it will result in better working conditions. This is one field, to which I want to return in a moment, where I believe that the Government have had responsibility which in the past they have not honoured but which in the future I hope they will.

In adapting itself to changing circumstances, I should have thought, the North-East has a fair record about which we could boast. I must say that I came to the debate this evening expecting to be able to attack hon. Members opposite for moaning about the problems of the North-East. I am grateful to be able to pay tribute to them for the fact that the debate has not developed along those lines. If we moan about our problems in the North-East, as the Scots are wont to do about their problems, interminably, then we make those problems the greater. Carrying the cross of Jarrow for ever before us may well belabour the North-East with the reputation of Jarrow of the 'thirties. [Interruption.] I am sorry if hon. Members opposite want to interrupt me. I was trying to congratulate them. If they want the congratulations withdrawn, that can be done quite easily. I should have thought that the very fact that we were not bemoaning our problems as much as some of us thought possible was an outward and visible sign of the changing mood of the North-East, that we are becoming aware of, and becoming willing to shout the advantages of, our workmanship, our skill and our management where this is so. If there are some failings in terms of labour relations in the North-East—indeed, there are—so there are some failings on the managerial side as well.

I think particularly of the shipbuilding industry, an industry which, because of its very nature, is inclined to operate within fairly rigid lines of demarcation, and managerial failure in this industry is, I believe, as great as is the failure of unions to adapt themselves to changing circumstances. Many are the shipbuilding firms in Britain at large and in the North-East in particular which have not, until very recently, gone out to seek orders abroad in the way that younger, more dynamic industries do. But where we see dynamic management in the shipbuilding industry, I believe it should be praised.

If perchance I do not refer to The Hartlepools, it is purely because I want to refer to the Tyne and the Wear. Who could doubt the merits of Swan Hunter's today? On the Wear, who could doubt the dynamism—I am sorry that the horn. Member for Sundarland, North (Mr. Willey) has left the Chamber—of Pickersgills in Sunderland, and also Thompsons, in Sunderland, a yard which has expanded its facilities from a shipbuilding capacity in the region of 8,000-10,000 tons before the war to 65,000 tons at the last launch and now has laid down a keel of 80,000-85,000 tons?

These are the stories of the North-East which I wish we in this House could champion more loudly. I wish to high heaven that industry outside would tell its success story more dramatically. We in the North-East produce pamphlets and make speeches about the region of the three rivers, but to what extent do we get these success stories across? I believe—if I may make a confession to the House, I am connected with public relations, although I am not bidding for business in this respect—that industry should tell its story. If it does not, then the story will not be told by other people. If only our industries in the North-East—I.C.I., the shipbuilding industries, Headley's and the rest—would tell their success stories more positively, the success of the North-East itself would be seen more obviously.

I return for a moment to the subject of quality of management, for it is on this—on the free enterprise side—that much depends. Enterprise, I suspect, is not as forward as it should be. The art of competition may have been dulled during the war years and since. The enterprise of many businesses is rigidly sealed off in many cases. Industry gets too big. The chances of promotion are restricted, and promotion depends on time serving. Those of us—I hope I can still say this—of the younger generation get impatient with older people who will not move along the line and give the younger people more chance.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

This is just brazen effrontery. It is the young people on the Government side of the House who have no modern ideas at all. If I had my way I would make a complete change in the organisation of society. That is being moderate. It is we who are the modernists, not the young upstarts on the other side.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman the upstart from Easington (Mr. Shinwell). It is very nice to have his attention on these occasions. He and I very often agree on shipping and shipbuilding matters, and I am glad that he should pay attention to what I am saying. But I believe that one of the great opportunities of our nation today is that the younger executive is about to break through into top managerial positions. This is a great excitement in industry in this country, but I suspect that in the North-East we are perhaps half a generation behind in this general change, and I only wish that there were more opportunity for the promotion of younger people.

I want to refer particularly to certain industries where there are special responsibilities. These are the new industries which have come in either as a result of the action of the Labour Government or of succeeding Conservative Governments. I think that one of the dangers to these new industries is that they have come into State factories. There is a certain weakness there. I am sorry if I am repeating what I have said before in this House, but it seems to me that any industry which comes into an area such as the North-East merely as a tenant is not so firmly based and is not so committed to a region as if it had bought a factory and come in as the owner of it. I hope that in due course the Board of Trade policy will develop a more positive approach to selling factories to sitting tenants. I believe that this would chain the loyalties of tenants irrevocably to the area to which they have come.

Labour relations are a problem to the whole of British industry and particularly to those parts where industry is older and more rigid in its forms, such as shipbuilding, steel making and coal mining. That is where the revitalising, if I may say so to the right hon. Member for Easington, of our industrial relations is needed. We in the Conservative Party produced documents some 10 years ago called the Industrial Charter and the Workers' Charter. Why is it that these documents have not yet been implemented? I say frankly—and I have said this, as perhaps the hon. Member for Sunderland, North will know, in succeeding elections—that I want to see a better form of industrial relations being introduced and sponsored by the Government.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

I think that the hon. Member should inform the House why this policy adopted 10 years ago has not been implemented by the Government and what he intends to do about it.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

The hon. Gentleman is talking about a Govrnment of which I have not been a member.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

The right hon. Member for Easington says "Shame" and I may be inclined to agree with him, but that is another matter. To be fair, I would say that an attempt was made after 1951 to introduce a form of workers' charter. It ran into certain difficulties both on the management and workers' side. They were difficulties which, I believe, could and should have been overcome, but in fact they were not. If the Government intend to take a new initiative in this matter, I would welcome it.

There are two things which on the face of it are contradictory but which could be complementary. Management wants flexibility from labour and labour wants security from management. Security and flexibility are not contradictory items and they could be exchanged for each other. If we are not to get away from the attitude of bosses versus workers and workers versus bosses we shall never get the right atmosphere in industry whether in the North-East or anywhere else in the country.

I trust that with the revitalisation of the Government we shall get revitalisation of labour relations also. If we in the North-East are to gat that, there are inevitable facts of importance which follow on one from the other. One is that our national economy must expand at such a rate Chat it is, first of all, safe in the terms of the battle against inflation, and, secondly, at such a rate that it will set industry on the move and encourage it to go to other parts of the country. These two points are not always easily reconciled. The battle of inflation must be won, otherwise new industry in the North-East will be of little internal value.

If we can get the national economic policy right for a start, then the Board of Trade's policy must be as it has been in the past—that of encouraging industry to go to these areas of high unemployment. My hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) say that it should work through the Local Employment Act. But this depends, firstly, on industry being willing to be on the move. We cannot direct industry to go, for if we do, at the very first crisis it will go away again and the position will be worse than it was in the first place.

I ask whether the Government feel they are doing enough to use the Board of Trade offices overseas, the Board of Trade Journal and documents of that nature, to put before overseas interests the advantages of the North-East. It seems to me that other parts of the country, perhaps Scotland, have benefited rather more than has the North-East. But having said that, I welcome what has so far been done by the Board of Trade.

One of the greatest potential developments is that which is about to take place at Washington, County Durham. The Tube Investments factory going there will only be the start of a large amount of employment which will flow from it. The jobs in the factory itself will be of tremendous importance in that part of the county, where extra employment is needed, but when one thinks of the possibilities of the ancillary trades and supply industries that will be associated with it, one can see the prospect in longer terms. This is something, however, which cannot come overnight These things will take time.

But, of course, the North-East must do even more to help itself. I regret the past—and I emphasise that word— cheeseparing attitude of different local authorities who have not wanted to come in on general North-East ventures. It is regrettable that they have thus divided the North-East against itself and have made it more difficult to sell a positive package deal.

If we can get the positive package deal approach to the North-East now, I hope and pray that if, for example, The Hartlepools gets a factory which we in Sunderland might have wanted, we do not take a cheeseparing approach in Sunderland towards it. It is terribly important that not only should we get a reasonable degree of generosity in cost sharing and kudos but that when a new factory goes to the area we do not regard it as only of benefit to the district in which it is situated but of benefit to the whole of the North-East and something further about which we can boast.

We in the North-East have a success story to tell. It is a story which has to be told more positively and it is one of which we can all be proud. There are difficulties indeed. Let us champion our success, for in doing so we will bring greater strength to our coast.

8.53 p.m.

Photo of Mr Charles Grey Mr Charles Grey , City of Durham

I agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland. South (Mr. P. Williams) when he talks about the success story of the North-East. We on this side of the House say that its success is comparable with that of any other part of the country. But that is not what the debate is about. The debate is about the closure of coal mines and the general unemployment position in the area. It is to that that we must address ourselves. Let us pay tribute to what has been done, but it has not been sufficient.

We are all very glad of the opportunity to debate this issue. The Parliamentary machine has its weaknesses. There are far too many subjects, both local and national. which cannot be discussed.

The North-East suffers more than other parts of the country in this respect and that is why last December some of my hon. Friends and I put a Motion on the Order Paper to suggest that there should be a Grand Committee for the North, on lines similar to those of the Welsh Grand Committee, to meet three or four times a year and to discuss local social and economic problems more adequately than is now the case. The Motion was not put down for fun, for we felt and still feel that some way should be found for the problems of the North-East to be discussed in a way divorced from national affairs. I do not know whether the two Newcastle Members opposite are smiling at the idea—

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

What does my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Grey) mean by the "two" Newcastle Members? There are four divisions of Newcastle. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upom-Tyne, West (Mr. Popple-well) represents one and I represent the Central division. The two hon. Members opposite represent two of the Newcastle divisions.

Photo of Mr Charles Grey Mr Charles Grey , City of Durham

It is a matter of mere reduction. One is "going west" and the other is "going east" at the next election, anyway.

Photo of Mr Charles Grey Mr Charles Grey , City of Durham

I am sorry. I got the two constituencies wrong. I was referring to the two hon. Members.

The North-East is often at a disadvantage compared with the rest of the country and that is especially so with unemployment figures, which are always higher than those of any other part of the country. That is why we have seized this opportunity to put our grievances before the House. But it would be better if the Government would set up a Grand Committee for the North as I have suggested. It would relieve pressure on the House itself while enabling us to debate our problems properly. I hope that this suggestion is conveyed to the appropriate quarters and seriously considered.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Does my hon. Friend believe that the setting of up a North-East Grand Committee would make any difference, so long as we had the present Government?

Photo of Mr Charles Grey Mr Charles Grey , City of Durham

No, but we must always bring pressure on the Government and that would be a better way than this.

Four Ministers ought to be sitting on the Government Front Bench tonight— the President of the Board of Trade, who is not there, but whose Parliamentary Secretary is, the Minister of Labour, who is present, the Minister of Power, who is present and the Minister of Transport, who is not present. They are the four guilty men in this business. They are responsible for the grim picture in the North-East.

Despite the speeches of hon. Members opposite about the success story of the North-East, the President of the Board of Trade is responsible for its present unemployment figures and for the despondency being created there and the fear of many of our constituents. He is to blame because he did not listen to the warnings from this side of the House and to one or two of the bleatings from the other. He is to be condemned because he has allowed events to overtake him.

The next on my list is the Minister of Labour, who, I am glad to say, is present. All that we get from him are figures setting out the unemployment position. I remember on one occasion referring to the right hon. Gentleman as a glorified bingo man because all that he did was to dish out figures. He continually quotes the unemployment figures but never lifts a finger to reduce them.

I come next to the Minister of Power. There have been a lot of pit closures and a lot of redundancy, but my main complaint is that the Minister has allowed closures in areas where there are still plentiful supplies of coal. This is a shocking state of affairs.

Finally, there is the Minister of Transport, with his policies for shipbuilding and ship repairing and the contraction of the railways.

These four Ministers stand condemned because they have acted independently. It is no wonder that hon. Members on this side of the House get the impression that they are not even on speaking terms. If any Ministers should work in close co-operation with each other it is these four, yet they seem to work in separate water-tight compartments. I doubt very much whether they have ever had joint discussions about the problems of the North-East and how best to solve them. This is a shocking state of affairs and cannot be tolerated any longer. The sooner these four Ministers get together to discuss the problems in the North-East and find an answer to them, the better it will be for them and for the area.

What is there to prevent the Minister of Power from telling his right hon. Friends what he expects the position to be in the next five years? What is there to prevent him from discussing with them the problem of redundancy in the area? What is there to prevent the Minister of Transport from telling his right hon. Friends what he expects in the shipbuilding and the ship-repairing industries over a given number of years? What is there to prevent him from telling them about his policy for the railways? What is there to prevent them from getting together to discuss what is likely to happen in the next four or five years?

As a result of this kind of information, the President of the Board of Trade could set about building advance factories to absorb the redundancies that will occur when pits close and the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries contract. This is surely the only way in which the North-East can be dealt with on an equal footing with the rest of the country.

I hope that the Minister of Power will give us an assurance that pits will not be closed if there are large reserves of coal in the area. It might be argued that certain pits should be closed for economic reasons, but I do not believe that any pit should be closed if there are adequate reserves of coal. To do that is silly, because it means sacrificing the future for the present, and we cannot afford to do that.

The recent Ministry of Labour report is a grim affair. I know that the tight hon. Gentleman will try to claim a measure of success for his policy by saying that the overall unemployment figure is down by about 2,000, but when that is measured against the fact that many young people have not found employment at all the picture is not so bright. I understand that on 18th June 2,549 boys and 1,145 girls wore unemployed. This is the highest figure for many years.

Compared with last year there were four times as many boys and three times as many girls unemployed. In County Durham, Wearside and Tees-side, between one-fifth and one-third of the boys who left school at Easter have still found no employment. That is bad enough, but the immediate picture does not seem so bright either. The Ministry of Labour's report said that it looks as though in many places the absorptions of Easter leavers will not have been completed when the summer leavers become available in a few months' time. "No jobs for hundreds of school leavers" is a bad headline to use, but it is quite true.

This is a north-eastern problem which should be dealt with immediately. The country cannot afford to waste human material like that and, therefore, I urge upon all the Minister concerned to strive with might and main until all these young people are given their chance to -make their own contribution to the wealth of the country and to their own well-being.

I should like to conclude with a reference to the general picture of unemployment. At the present, 42,143 are unemployed. This morning I received a petition from 400 workers in Spennymoor. They are 400 frightened men. They are afraid of the future. I have also received a letter from Spennymoor, part of which reads: I have been asked to convey to you the anxiety of the furniture workers in the Spennymoor area. At present, we are doing an Army contract which is giving full employment, but the orders for domestic furniture would not warrant a two or three-day week and, therefore, unless further Government contracts are placed with the firm short-time and redundancy will follow. The present unemployment situation is aggravated by short-time working.

This is a grim picture. There is three times the national average of unemployment in the area. No one cam be happy about it, least of all the President of the Board of Trade. I wish that the right hon. Gentleman had been here. He should be listening to the whole debate. He would then realise how deeply we feel about this. Hon. Members opposite may say that they dislike unemployment, but we on this side of the House loathe it.

The Government should get down to this great problem. This is why we arranged to have this debate. I assure the Ministers concerned that they can save themselves from further debates of this kind only by getting down to doing more for the North-East than they have ever dome before. I hope that they will spare no effort to remove this scourge of unemployment from the area. If they make the effort asked of them, the debate will have proved worth while. If they do not, I can promise them another debate like this in future.

9.9 p.m.

Photo of Sir Harwood Harrison Sir Harwood Harrison , Eye

You, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and hon. Members may wonder why I, who represent an eastern constituency, should seek to take part in a debate on the North-East. I do so for three reasons. First, it was my job for many years to sit on the Treasury Bench and listen to debates. I listened to many debates about coal. I thought then, and I still think, that hon. Members who speak with practical experience of the coal mines are some of the most sincere and loyal Members to their trade of any in the House of Commons.

I felt then, and I still feel, that they were very often mistaken. Particularly, I remember an impassioned speech by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), in which he suggested how terrible it was that there were fewer men employed in the coal mines. Today, we ought to throw up our hats when we hear of fewer men being employed in the coal mines. The job of digging coal in filthy conditions is shocking, in the twentieth century, and this feeling is reinforced when we have a debate on pensions and we hear of the pathetic cases of men whose lungs have been pitted with coal dust and whose future is so grim.

Therefore, I intervene to say that, in my view, as quickly as possible, if we have to continue using coal, mechanisation of the mines should take place, and the conversion of coal into other forms of power, even underground, should be welcomed. I believe—and I am surprised that no reference has been made to him so far—that Lord Robens is doing a very realistic and excellent job as chairman of the National Coal Board. I do not believe that it is right, either economically or in the interests of the men themselves, that for the sake of finding employment we should continue to operate mines that are uneconomic. In these days, when we have a great deal of industrial work going on, it is not necessary to put a drag on the rest of industry in the country by working uneconomic mines.

My second reason for intervening in the debate is that I know a little bit about the area, because a brother of mine was adopted as a candidate for the old division of Houghton-le-Spring, before the war. He, like many others, joined up among those famous Territorials the Durham Light Infantry, and, again, like so many others, is now only known on the roll of honour in the wonderful cathedral at Durham. As a result of his connection with Durham, I made many journeys there before the war and since, and I have seen the conditions and have many friends there.

My third reason is that in my own constituency, in Suffolk, there js the small town of Leiston, in which, three years ago, there was a very high degree of unemployment. Fortunately, we have been helped by Government action, because a mile away, at Sizewell, there is a new atomic power station being built, and the transformation which has taken place in that small town is almost beyond belief. I know full well the despondency that comes to a town when there is a certain amount of unemployment, but I believe that the Government which I support have taken great many steps to try to influence industry to go where labour is available. It is certainly cheaper in the national interest that industry should go where labour is available, and where there are shops, schools, houses, roads, sewers and everything else, as is the case when moving into a new town.

I should not like to conclude without making one practical suggestion. Government help is given to firms which will move into certain areas, but this is mostly financial help to firms which are in being. Thousands of pounds, perhaps millions, are given to firms, like Col-villes, for instance, and smaller amounts to those which go on trading estates. I should like to make a plea for the young man who has educated himself and perhaps proved himself in business as having a good deal of ability. I am thinking of a young chemist or someone like that. We are a very inventive people. Most of the great ideas in industry throughout the world have come from the British people, and if a young man like that has a good idea which would be distinctly useful in the export field, I should like to see him get a grant of perhaps £500, or even £300, to start him off. He may employ only four or five people, but a lot of such cases would mount up to a considerable total.

Consider the interest that the competition organised by the Daily Mail has aroused in bringing forward people with bright ideas who want capital to develop them. I put this suggestion to the Government. Would it be possible to arrange for a small panel to consider cases of young people—the sort of people to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) and the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) referred—so that they could get a little more financial assistance? It is very difficult to start a business today. I believe that we should lose on half of those cases, but the other half would be a real asset. If there is such a need in the North-East, as I am sure there is, and there are people with ideas which would benefit the export trade, it would be useful if they knew that they could get assistance if they were to go to the North-East.

9.16 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) has given further evidence that the House is united in its approach to the subject that is being debated tonight. He has also illustrated how in his own division, where there was temporary unemployment, the introduction of new industry rejuvenated the place.

Therefore, I think there is still hope for us in the North-East. We certainly have a right to expect better treatment than we have so far had from the Government. There have already been several debates on the need to bring further industry to the North-East, and this is another attempt tonight, when we have a special debate on the subject, to bring to the notice of the Government the need for more industry.

I was in my constituency on Saturday last and I took the opportunity to ask many people whom I met, "If you had to make a wish, what would be your first requirement?" Many of them said "Win the football pools", but (he majority said, "A job, because without a job we have no self-respect or dignity, we cannot pay the rent, and we have difficulty in buying the food and clothes that we want." Unfortunately, this is happening in the North-East at the moment. There would be no unemployment if a proper approach to the problem were made by the Government. It is a Government responsibility. The Government have cut down production and have stopped investment in essential industries. They have prevented building and industrial development in the right places.

This primarily is the cause of the temporary unemployment in the North. It is certainly the reason for the slackness in the steel industry. The responsible leaders in the steel industry, and the Iron and Steel Board Report, say that steed production this year will be lower than it was last year. Last year it was 2½ million tons down.

Reference has been made to the fact that the President of the Board of Trade is not present, and I regret his absence. He should have been here. In the Evening Gazette on 7th July one of his spokesmen is reported as having said: It is the belief of my Department that the recovery of the iron and steel industry on Tees-side will make an appreciable impact on unemployment. Somebody from the Board of Trade ought to tell us on what authority that statement was made, because it is contrary to the views of those in the steel industry.

Let us not forget that steel is basic to our whole economy. Steel production should be 'expanded. Certainly it should not be contracted. The iron and steel industry is, in fact, the foundation of all investment in this country. We should do everything possible, not to stop but to increase the production of steel. We must do everything we can to build up the country's economy so that we can improve our standard of living and help the less-developed parts of the Commonwealth, and basic to that is increased steel production.

We have to face the fact that in the steel industry, in the shipbuilding and ship repairing industries, and in the engineering industry generally, new methods and techniques are developing, modernisation is taking place, and as a result it is calculated that thousands of the men now employed will not be employed in the future. We are all for that, so long as it betters the workers' standards of living and gives the consumers a better deal, but the very fact that those men will be put out of work places an obligation on the Government to do something to diversify industry.

Many industries ancillary to the basic industries could, and should, be brought to the North-East Coast, and the Government have powers to do that. To achieve what I know is the aim of us all who are taking part in this debate— a viable economy in the northern region —we must not only diversify industry but get a more balanced economic structure and alternative forms of employment. Unless we do that, the area's prospects will be limited.

The Government are being very unwise in not using their powers to stop industry going to already over-congested areas. To allow that means drawbacks on the whole economy. A greater demand for labour in those areas will send up costs. There will be a greater demand on less space for the new factories that have to be built, and industry cannot modernise and expand in a very congested area. In addition, there are added burdens on the rates, because very often extra services such as sewage and refuse disposal have to be provided at very heavy expense whereas, if industry is taken to parts of the country where those services are not over-employed, it can bring benefits, not only to the North-East but to the economy as a whole.

If the Government will only use the powers they have under the Distribution of Industry Acts and the Local Employment Act, they really can do something. I have had experience of this. When I was a Board of Trade Minister, I had responsibility for a time for the distribution of industry policy, but I had an unfortunate experience in the constituency—Rochester and Chatham—that I then represented.

Rochester and Chatham were dependent on two industries, the Royal Dockyard and the Short Bros, aircraft firm. Consequent on the ending of the war, shipbuilding and repairing at the Royal Dockyard was run down, and thousands of the workers had to be dismissed. In addition, Short Bros, had to close down for national reasons. That was a difficult decision for me to make, because that aircraft industry was a vital constituency interest, but in the national interest I agreed that Short Bros. must go from Rochester to Belfast, but I saw to it that under the Labour Government's distribution of industry policy alternative industry came into the district.

There was the electronics industry, mechanical engineering and tractor making, the manufacture of oil pumps, and the production of electrical goods —a whole diversification of industry— and there was over-full employment. Indeed, the very prosperity that resulted possibly cost me my seat because, in 1959, the Prime Minister visited the constituency and said, "This booming area and this full employment is due to the Conservative Government." If the policy applied to the North-East had been applied to Rochester and Chatham, there would still be unemployment in those towns—

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that his party started the drift to the South-East?

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

Certainly not. My right hon. Friend the Member for Batter-sea, North (Mr. Jay), who introduced the distribution of industry legislation as a civil servant, will confirm that it was drafted precisely to keep industry out of the South and the Midlands so that it could go to the north of England, Scotland and Wales. This happened.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

My geography is a little hazy. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will help me. Where is Chatham?

Photo of Mr Arthur Bottomley Mr Arthur Bottomley , Middlesbrough East

I repeat that the obligation upon this Government and upon a Labour Government is to send industry where there is unemployment. There was unemployment at Rochester and Chatham at that time. The Government had an obligation to send industry there, as they had an obligation to send it to Wales, Scotland and the north of England. If there was unemployment in the Eye division, as the hon. Member for Eye said earlier, it was right that the Government should take action to send industry there. I am saying that the Government should now take action to ensure that employment is provided on the North-East Coast where there is at present unemployment.

What I had to do in the case of Chatham was not done without some solace. The more stable part of the constituency, Chatham, made me a freeman, I am very glad to say, and the citation, was that I was able to bring full employment and a balanced distribution of industry. I believe that if we had a Labour Government now and a Minister in charge we could do this for the North-East Coast.

I am a relatively new person in the North-East. Perhaps like a good many other Londoners I am inclined to think of the grime, dust and dirt. I have travelled the world a little, but I can honestly say that I have never seen such beautiful country as when I went for a trip in the North-East last Saturday. We should be talking about this and encouraging industrialists to came to see it for themselves. Apart from the pleasant surroundings, there is also some of the best labour in the world, as I knew from past experience. There are seldom any industrial difficulties there. The other day the Archbishop of York said that there should be help for releasing the vigour and vitality which arc to be found in the North but not in the South. I am not sure that I agree with him altogether about there being no vitality and vigour in the South, but I am certain that vigour and vitality are to be found in the North. It ought to be used. I hope that the Government will give us a much more satisfactory answer tonight than they have in the past.

9.28 p.m.

Photo of Commander John Kerans Commander John Kerans , Hartlepools, The

I do not intend to detain the House for long, as I had an Adjournment debate a short time ago on the subject of unemployment in my constituency. However, I want to point out to the House that The Hartlepools have the highest unemployment rate in the North-East. It is 6·4 per cent. at the moment. For a long time I have done all I can in the House to draw attention to the high rate of unemployment there and try to get the Government to take action. I have great sympathy with my Durham colleagues on the other side of the House on their efforts. In an area of persistent high unemployment greater action is needed by those responsible.

I hear quite a lot about the many new industries which are coming to the area. However, since I became a Member of Parliament in 1959, when unemployment stood at the rate of 5·9 per cent., incidentally, there have been remarkably few industries compared to the number of school leavers, which continues to rise. We have not yet reached the bulge.

I am faced with the steel recession. There is a very large new steel works at Greatham, at the edge of my constituency. A large sum of money was spent on it. Within a few months of opening, those running it were forced to close the blast furnace so the number of unemployed rose. Because no orders came in a problem was created which still faces us.

I want to mention B.O.T.A.C. A number of industries have asked me to obtain assistance from the Board of Trade. Inevitably, the answer is, "No". We are not told why we cannot have any assistance. We cannot be told why.

I ask for a more liberal attitude in helping a firm over financial matters and the taking of a slight risk in an area of high unemployment such as mine. I do not think that that is asking too much in these days. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunder-land, South (Mr. P. Williams), who spoke about distribution of labour. We cannot force labour into areas where it does not want to go. We cannot expect men who live in the area to seek employment elsewhere when their roots in the area are so firmly planted.

There is a large port in my constituency which has now ceased building altogether. In June, 1956, its tonnage of building was 52,000 tons, but by June, 1961, it was nil. It is now dealing entirely with ship-repairing and ship conversion, which is only a temporary palliative which cannot last for very long. Firms cannot expect the Admiralty to give them orders overnight. I quite agree with what has been said from this side of the House, that firms must go out to find their orders throughout the length and breadth of the land. There is plenty of skilled labour available in shipbuilding in my area, but, if there is not full employment there, it will go to other areas and it will not come back. There are plenty of means of obtaining long-term finance for building and many private firms which can do that apart from Government assistance.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Power has now left the Front Bench. I raised a question with him a short time ago. Hope was given to some of us in Newcastle a year ago of the possibility of a power station being built not far from my constituency. It is a great mistake not to look at that matter again. I do not mind exactly where it will be built, but it would at least give some help in bringing industry to the area. It is little help to say that the question may be considered in 1970, for that is a very long way ahead. I hope that the Minister of Power will reconsider that matter, because it is serious. There is a port on which £2½ million has been spent but it is suffering from lack of shiping in the area.

We must put the North-East on the map, especially my constituency, which not long ago someone said was somewhere near Liverpool. The whole problem of the North-East area, particularly Tees-side, is basically one of communications. We want a good airfield somewhere near the area. We tried to get one at Middleton St. George, but that operation is now out of consideration. Surely the Minister of Aviation could look at that matter again in order to extend existing facilities of the area.

There is also the question of railway facilities to enable people to get to The Hartlepools, which sometimes is a very difficult job. Those who have to change at Thornaby in the early hours of the morning will know what I mean. Access by road could also be improved. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has approved certain plans of extensions of the A.1, in my constituency, but such facilities are needed in the whole area and they should not be made merely piecemeal.

I wish to tackle my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on the question of advance factories. I ask him to reconsider that matter. I know all the arguments about them being uneconomic, and that they may not be sold, but for an area of high unemployment that question should be considered again. I should like to put a question to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour. I have a Remploy factory in my area. Surely it could be extended and the facilities increased and thereby the employment in the area increased. I have a large housing estate with large vacant areas—any number of football grounds—and this state of affairs has existed for a long time.

May I also refer to unemployment in the building industry, where a recession is now conning about? I have received a letter from the Northern Counties Regional Federation of Building Trade Employers, which ends as follows: My members inform me that many would-be purchasers of new houses are not able to go ahead because they cannot dispose of their existing premises. Sales of older houses have in fact fallen away since the Government suspended last July the house purchase scheme under which building societies were able to borrow Government funds to finance the purchase of houses built before 1919. Will my right hon. Friend consider exempting the North-East from that provision while unemployment persists?

May I also refer to the Middlesbrough highways programme now being discussed in a conference of Tees-side authorities? This is a question of communications in the area. Unless communications are first-class, it is no good asking industry to go to the area. I hope that that will be taken into consideration.

I feel that the North-East is somewhat conservative in its outlook—and I do not mean politically; the people are inclined to remain as they are and not to change. In other words, we need a new look in the area. Labour relations are fairly good and strikes are almost non-existent. Let us put the area, and especially my constituency, on the map. The North-East needs help now—quickly and urgently. This requires a team effort by a large number of Government Departments, including the Ministries of Transport, Aviation and Labour and the Board of Trade, and perhaps the Admiralty. We must end the uncertainty which undoubtedly exists in the area.

I will conclude with a quotation from a leading article in my local newspaper: Clearly, The Hartlepools need more help than they are at present receiving in attracting new industry. That is correct. We need help in the North-East, and we need putting across to the public. In the last few days we have had the advent of Telstar. Why cannot we advertise the potentialities of the North-East by the means of Telstar to the Americans and Europe? Let us hope that some initiative will be taken in this matter, which is vital to the north-east.

9.38 p.m.

Photo of Mr James Ede Mr James Ede , South Shields

The hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams), to whom I listened with great attention and, I hope that I shall not offend him in saying, with great approval, complimented hon. Members on the fact that there had been no moaning about the position of the North-East. I am sorry for him that the hon. and gallant Member for The Hartlepools (Commander Kerans) has, at any rate from that side of the House, destroyed the distinction which the hon. Member found in the debate.

I do not want to speak for every long, but I want to recount my difficulty with, the Ministries. I share with the hon. Member for Sunderland, South the belief that new industries coming into this area should attempt to establish themselves in their own factories. There is one in my constituency that has done exceedingly well. It is not dealing with an industry that is typically native to the North-East. It manufactures ladies' lingerie. It has established the most excellent relationships with the whole of its staff. It has expanded and it now wishes to obtain part of the factory that was provided by the Government when it moved in. It is asked to calculate its costs for it on the basis of 6¾ per cent. I do not think that that is the way in which to help the people who have helped themselves. They are entitled to a rather better deal than that from the Government.

My hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough) and I went to see the President of the Board of Trade a few weeks back. We wanted to talk about the Local Employment Act, because so far neither of our two boroughs has received any real assistance from it. We went to inquire of the President of the Board of Trade whether he could not arrange fox us to get some of the benefits that have come to some of the other areas.

The right hon. Gentleman said to the two mayors and the town councillors who were present, to my hon. Friend and myself, "I will explain to you Government policy." Then, of course, we heard all about the pipeline which, I understand, is Government policy. Things seem to be put in at one end but, somehow or other, they never get along to the other end. The President of the Board of Trade assured us that while he could not promise us anything on that occasion, if only we would be patient and wait for a few years there would be a tremendous upgrowth of employment in our area with new industries. We declined to thank him at the end of the meeting.

More recently, I went with the majority of my hon. Friends in the representation of County Durham to see the Minister of Power about the failure, to which the hon. and gallant Member for The Hartlepools alluded, to build a new generating station in the county. He listened to us politely and then said, "Well, you do not need a new generating station in your area. We have taken into account all the employment and all the need for power in your area, and somewhere about the 1970s is about time for you to get a new power station." I heard one hon. Member suggest that there should be meetings between Ministers when they have to consider the area. After considering those two interviews, I am bound to say that the Minister of Power made on Government policy a better case for his attitude than the President of the Board of Trade did for his.

The area whose plight has been the subject of discussion in this House this evening is one that has a proud record in the last 200 years in the industrial history of the country. It has carried on great industries. Its ships are recognised throughout the world for the skill of their construction and for the way in which they are navigated. One in seven of the members of the British Mercantile Marine come from my constituency. They suffered about the same proportion of the casualties in the Mercantile Marine during the Second World War.

Shipbuilding is carried on by firms who build up teams of men who work together and have a great pride in their own firm and their own handiwork. The teams of Shipbuilding Securities Limited, just before the Second World War, were broken up, and when we needed them most during the war it was very difficult to find them, because they had been scattered so far. We found two of the most skilled men of the shipbuilding yards in my own constituency, building barges in Birmingham, for use on the canals. If this depression in the shipbuilding trade, and the ship repairing trade, for that matter, also continues we shall have a repetition of that kind of thing, and a commercial, industrial, maritime community, such as we are, cannot afford twice in one generation to have that experience.

We do what we can to help ourselves. Firms in my own constituency have started new industries and have carried them through successfully. When I go to inquire about B.O.T.A.C. I get exactly the same treatment as the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for The Hartlepools. Let us be quite certain of this. The President of the Board of Trade is quite impartial in the way in which he prevents any expansion in this area, even among people who are striving to help themselves. I looked with hope when the knives were being flashed. I thought of my interview with the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Power and I had hopes about their survival. Their policy remains, I am afraid. Whether one is knifed or whether one is not, with this Government nothing is ever going to change.

This great district we have been discussing tonight has still high potentialities in its population, in men and women who for centuries have prided themselves on the part they play in the industrial life of this country, and they have the right to demand from this Government something infinitely better than anything which has been hinted at so far in their endeavours to maintain and extend the part they would like to play in the industrial life of this nation.

9.48 p.m.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I am a little sorry that the development of this debate is, so to speak, taking a political aspect.

Hon. Members: She has only just come in.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I have not just come in. I came in specially to listen to the opening speech made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey).

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

A great many hon. Members opposite were not in for the debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "We have been here all the time."] Nevertheless, I am very sorry if this debate is going to develop into a political controversy, because I think that the future of the North-East Coast is far too important to be dealt with on a political basis.

I should like to congratulate right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite on deciding to bring forward on the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill the problems of the North-East Coast. Because I have been in the House of Commons for a very long time now, I have watched a great many of the developments on the North-East Coast. Consequently, I want straight away to tell the hon. Member for Sunderland, North that I sometimes take a very anxious view about its future. I realise that a very great deal needs to be done.

I take exception to the fact that in the opening speech from the Opposition Front Bench the whole history was not told. I believe that one serves the interests of one's part of the country even if one is critical, as I often am, of one's Government. It is much better to put the facts fairly and squarely and truthfully. It is completely untrue to say that the present Government, or any Conservative Government, have not taken a keen interest in the progress of the area and the employment of those living and earning their livelihood on the North-East Coast.

I very well remember that, following the period of great unemployment in 1929–1931, naval orders were cancelled which vitally affected shipbuilding interests on the Tyne. That was done by the Labour Government of the day— though I think it is true to say that they were then kept in office by the Liberal Party. The true history must be told. When for international reasons—I shall not argue about them—naval shipbuilding orders were cancelled, that vitally affected employment in the shipyards on the North-East Coast.

I always like to pay tribute to the fact that after the National Government came to power it was Mr. Stanley Baldwin who first had the idea of trying to attract industry to those areas of high unemployment. The first trading estate, the Team Valley Estate, has now developed into a great industrial estate. The Team Valley Estate and the Treforest Estate in South Wales were the creative idea of Mr. Stanley Baldwin and those who supported him in those days. Only a year or two ago on the Team Valley Estate a plaque was unveiled paying tribute to the long period that it has been in being.

I am equally glad to draw attention to the West Chirton Trading Estate, which was established in my constituency through the far-sightedness of the local authority trade and commerce committee and the creative ideas of the hard-working town clerk of the Tyne-mouth Borough Council. The great Formica works was established on that estate. The first sod for the building of that great establishment was cut in 1938.

I am very willing to pay tribute to the fact that when the Labour Government came to power, in 1945, the late Lord Dalton and Sir Stafford Cripps produced new Acts which developed the original Special Areas Act which was the contribution of Mr. Stanley Baldwin in the 1930s. Therefore, it is quite right for me to say that both the Conservative Party and the Opposition joined together in trying to devise an entirely new policy for attracting industries to the areas where they had all their eggs in one basket.

I think that it is sometimes wall to remember that it was the greatness of the North-East Coast in shipbuilding, coal mining and engineering which made them put all their industrial development into the basic industries. Now that the basic industries are contracting it has been of advantage to that part of the country to have been as great in the field of industrial development in the basic industries as it was in the early part of this century after the First World War.

I want to emphasise that the whole idea of attracting new industries to an area like this was the result of the united efforts of both parties. I pay tribute to that even if hon. Members opposite do not like to pay tribute to it, because I think that it is only right and fair to do so.

I agree that an area must sell itself. I noticed that my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. Elliott) paid tribute to Mr. Chetwynd for the way in which the has attempted, through the North-East Development Council, to sell the North-East Coast, but, again, I must point out there are other ways of selling an area. I see no reason why I should not pay tribute again to my own Borough of Tynemouth, where, with the exception of one area which it is specially keeping, the whole of the rest of the industrial estate has been used for redevelopment of very important industries. That work was done entirely by the trade and commerce committee and the officials of the County Borough of Tynemouth.

Sometimes I hear comments from other local authorities that the Tynemouth local authority is not contributing to the North-East Development Council, but I must say that we carried a large amount of our expenses on the ratepayers to the very great benefit of employment in that part of the country. I am glad to say that developments are taking place there. We have had an extension in commercial plastics, an expansion of the Ronson factory and we have this great Formica undertaking and a whole variety of new industries which have played a very successful part in helping to solve the employment problem on Tyneside because all the employment in those factories does not necessarily come from the County Borough of Tynemouth. They employ people from Wallsend on the other side of the river, and we feel that the county borough has made a great contribution to employment on Tyneside.

We on this side of the House have recently scored quite a success on coastal shipping. Although I joined my colleagues in fighting hard for that success, I want to pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport for agreeing to the safeguards for coastal shipping which we eventually got into the Transport Bill.

We were very anxious that coastal shipping, which is very important to trade and commerce on the North-East Coast, should be safeguarded, for we feared that this trade would have a rough time at the hands of the British Transport Commission. The shipping interests and hon. Members on this side of the House went to work in a big way on the Minister. He is rather difficult to pin down, but we did pin him down and I am glad to say that Amendments in another place were accepted. My hon. Friends on the Standing Committee which considered the Bill pay tribute to my right hon. Friend for listening to the representations for the safeguarding of our coastal shipping.

I am getting a little tired of hearing about jobs in the pipeline. I would like to know exactly what those jobs are. They always seem to be couched in thousands. I think that it was the hon. Member for Sunderland, North who mentioned that there were 20,000 jobs in the pipeline. What are they?

Photo of Commander John Kerans Commander John Kerans , Hartlepools, The

There are 11,000 for men and 9,000 for women.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

That does not tell me what the jobs are. What industries are these people to work in? It is very important to know what the developments are to be.

I am sorry that I did not hear the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery), for I want to say something about the future for our school leavers. It seems that our organisation for giving training in skills to our school leavers does not seem to be as effective or as comprehensive in the North-East as in other parts of the country.

I have always understood that part of our problem in engineering is due to the fact that we have so many very small firms. Here I want to pay tribute to Messrs. A. Reyrolle and Co., which has done some of the most magnificent training schemes in this country in the post-war years. This firm has always been a great asset to Tyneside and there are several other great firms which have also co-operated magnificently. I pay tribute, also, to Messrs. C. A. Parsons, Ltd., and to Messrs. Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson, which are doing a great deal of research into marine propulsion with, I hope, benefit to employment on the North-East Coast in due time.

But I understand that our engineering works vary tremendously in size and work and that it is, therefore, not so easy to ensure good training schemes and apprenticeship schemes for school leavers. I know that a new training centre has been set up on the south bank of the Tyne, but I should like to know what else my Government have in mind. I can assure hon. Members that there are great anxieties among parents whose children are due to leave school this year about what can be offered for the future. That is of tremendous importance.

There is also the difficulty of "selling" the North-East Coast to the world. People in managerial capacities in any of the works of the North-East Coast who have gone there from other parts of the country will always say how much they appreciate the labour under their control. We have the best workmen in the country. I always like to say that during both world wars all Army commanders liked to have in their regiments men from the North-East Coast, for they found them co-operative, resourceful, responsible and lively. Part of our difficulty is that we do not tell the world what good quality workmen we have.

I was very glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North referred to restrictive practices in the shipbuilding industry. There were interruptions from hon. Members opposite when he was speaking, but I notice that when the shipbuilders and the boilermakers, under the control of Mr. Ted Hill, reach wage agreements, it is always said that if wages are increased the unions will take steps to end or scale down restrictive practices, so increasing the competitive efficiency of the shipyards. The shipyards on the North-East Coast, especially on the Tyne and Wear, have a reputation second to none. Our ships sail to the contract day, which is most important in international competition for shipbuilding orders. I think that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North will agree with me that if, during wage negotiations, agreement can be reached to improve the competitive efficiency of the labour in the yards, that lends colour to the statements of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

The hon. Lady is falling into the error which she is trying to avoid—that of denigrating the North-East Coast. When we are talking of shipyard workers, we should also consider ship-repairing. Our repair yards have attracted a great deal of work from the Continent over the last twelve months and have done so in the fact of intense competition because of the extremely hard work by the men engaged on repair.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I made it perfectly plain that our labour on the Tyne and the Wear is second to none, and I know that in the face of great competition we have attracted a great deal of repair work to our yards. The largest ship-repairing yard in the world is in my constituency and I watch its achievements closely and with great pride.

All I am saying is that to have ship-repairing we must also have ship building, and it would help the ship-repairing yards not only today but in the future if we were as competitive in ship building as we are in ship-repairing, and I repeat what I said before the hon. Member for Sunderland, North interrupted me, that my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North was right in saying that there was room for the abandonment of restrictive practices.

I do not think that the employers take nearly enough trouble to put their workers in the picture. I think that there could be a great deal more cooperation between both sides of industry, and I sometimes think that this would be a good job for the Minister of Labour and the new Parliamentary Secretary, who, of course, was my Parliamentary Whip before, and to whom I now offer my congratulations. I am sorry to lose him as a Whip, but I wish him well in his new office. I think that if the big employers were to take more trouble to put the facts of life before the workers and explain to them the need for increased efficiency they would really get their co-operation.

I have not very much to say about the workers except to praise them, but I have quite a lot to say about some of the trade union leaders who seem to be much more concerned with power politics than with creating industrial efficiency in this country. I think that if employers played a greater part in putting their workers in the picture some of the difficulties would be overcome.

I do not want to detain the House any longer except to say that the Government could do a great deal more to help the North-East Coast. I do not want either to turn this debate into a criticism of Dr. Beeching, but the hon. Member for Sunderland, North made a very important point. When Dr. Beeching went to Newcastle and said that we might have to face the closure of the Tyneside electric railway, he was talking in terms of whether the railway paid or not. I am not complaining about that because that is his job, but it is not good public relations. What he did was to depress the railwaymen, and it is not possible to attract people into an industry if they do not think that they will find secure employment in it. Neither was he doing vary much good to those industrialists who want to go to the North-East. I gather that Dr. Beeching is coming here on Wednesday. I took great exception to the speech that he made in Newcastle, and I should like to give him a talk about good industrial relations.

I do not stand for the employers, or for the men, or for the Opposition, or for the Government. I stand for the North-East Coast and I support the Government because I believe that even with some of their deficiencies we are more likely to get the interests of the North-East Coast safeguarded by them than we are by any other Government which anybody could possibly envisage.

10.15 p.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) started by saying that she wanted to get the record straight. Therefore, for the sake of the record, we had better point out that she left the Chamber immediately after the opening speech of the debate and did not return until immediately before she was called to speak. She had not heard one of the intervening speeches but I hope we may look forward to her presence for the rest of the night.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Will the hon. Member give way so that we may have the record straight?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The hon. Lady is a fine one to talk about keeping this question non-political. She is obsessed with politics. She of all hon. Members in the North-East opposed, and opposed ferociously, the formation of the North-East Development Council. She wrote a letter to the Press when it was on the point of being established, attacking it violently. It was a letter which was quite untrue and inaccurate. The hon. Lady's local authority, as she said, is the only one between the River Tweed and the Cleveland hills which does not support the North-East Development Council. I do not know whether the authority was advised by her. If it was, then it was very wrongly and badly advised.

Every other local authority contributes one-fifth of 1d. rate but the attitude in Tynemouth is "I am all right, Jack." I do not think that Tynemouth has anything to congratulate itself upon. It is not only the matter of a North-East Development Council. It has also refused to come into a scheme for a regional airport. Tynemouth will not come into any regional organisation whatever. The parish pump principle operates entirely, from the hon. Member downwards.

I am glad that my Member of Parliament, the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) has returned to the Chamber. I am sorry that he did not get a job in the recent massacre, but he probably gave the reason why in his own speech when, to his credit, be said that has father earned 21s. a week. That is the reason why he did not get a job in the Government. Every member of the Government with any working-class connection whatever was sacked. I am not the only one to say this. The hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) said it the day after the sackings. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East is sitting opposite. I have always felt that he should be sitting on our side of the House.

Photo of Mr Fergus Montgomery Mr Fergus Montgomery , Newcastle upon Tyne East

In view of the fact that my views are so congenial to the hon. Member and he is my constituent, may I be assured of his support at the next election?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

There is an even better man putting up at the General Election in Mr. Rhodes, and I shall vote for him.

The hon. Member stressed the good industrial relations in the North-East. He might tell his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) that, because it is the sort of humbug that we heard from his hon. Friend that really injures the North-East. Mr. Ted Hill is his hon. Friend's great bogyman, but I am told by industrialists on the Tyne that Mr. Hill is regarded by them as one of the most responsible and co-operative of trade union leaders, and I think that we should pay tribute to the work he does.

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

Would the hon. Member regard the sentiments expressed by Mr. Hill in a recent speech, which I quoted, as being conducive to good labour relations and a high rate of production in the shipyards on the Tyne?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

When I look at the lifetime of work given by Mr. Hill and then listen to the sort of speech the hon. Member made, I know who has made the greatest contribution to labour relations and production.

There are some days in the Parliamentary Session when the Government choose the subject for debate. There are other days when the Opposition choose it, but there are some days, like today, when the Opposition choose the subject but the debate can take place only with the good will of the whole House. It is extremely significant that, despite the pressure of previous business, this debate started exactly on the minute when we had hoped it would start. It is equally significant that the business so far today has been a debate on disarmament, which is probably the central problem in the world, followed by perhaps the most important personal debate for many years, and then a debate on the North-East.

That is very significant. It is a recognition by this House that the Government are not paying nearly sufficient attention to regional problems. This is a small country, but each of the geographical regions has its own distinctive problems. The Kingdom of Scotland, the Principality of Wales and the much older Kingdom of Northumbria have been completely ironed out into a dull uniformity with the less illustrious areas of this country.

I believe quite sincerely that the electors are becoming perturbed by this neglect by Parliament of specifically regional problems. I do not think the result in the West Lothian by-election was so much a vote in favour of Scottish nationalism as a protest against the over-centralisation of government here in London and the neglect of regional problems, with the consequent failure to tackle local difficulties. I believe that the House and the Opposition are to be congratulated on this debate, and I hope that the Opposition will work out some machinery before the next election for the discussion of regional problems in the next Parliament, when we shall have a Labour Government.

Certainly, the Government deserve no congratulation whatever. As my hon. Friend said, a group of us, in December last, put forward the idea of a Grand Committee for the North, similar to the Welsh Grand Committee. I do not see why these things could not be worked out so that we could have three or four debates a year in the mornings, with the Ministers present, to deal with our regional problems. The present Leader of the House scarcely gave the matter a second thought. I do not think that the Government deserve any congratulation either, because their only instrument to deal with our regional problems is a completely fatuous, fiddling, ineffective instrument known as the Local Employment Act, and a good deal of what I have to say will be about this Act.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Since the war, there has been considerable economic growth in this country, and the basic problem we are considering is that although this economic growth affects different regions in different ways, the growth has been unequal as between different regions of the country. Oddly enough, the areas which were the growing points of the economy in the 19th century and the last industrial revolution—the North-East, Yorkshire and South Wales—are now the areas where least growth is taking place. In areas like the North-East, there is, as many hon. Members have said, a decline in the basic industries of coal, shipbuilding, ship repairing, heavy engineering and steel. This has had two results.

First, it has led to lower industrial profits. I picked up the Newcastle Journal today and read the annual Report of Richardson, Westgarth, the Wallsend marine turbine, electrical and general engineers. The nominal value of its shares is 10s., but they now stand at 4s. Its profit has dropped in a year, from £231,000 to £67,000. That is the first result of this decline in the basic industries—lower industrial profits. The second is that there is a much lower level of personal incomes in an area like the North-East, and I very often think that people from other areas do not appreciate the fact that personal incomes in an area like ours are much lower.

These two factors—lower industrial profits and lower personal incomes— mean that there is less capital available in the region for industrial expansion or for the replacement of obsolete housing and town centres. It is very important, as the Civic Trust has just stressed in its excellent booklet, to realise that there is a connection between housing and the depression and decline of our basic industries. It is very important to realise that this decline of the older basic industries is not simply a matter of statistics or graphs. It is a matter of dire sociological consequences. In other words, it affects people and their lives. This is, after all, the fundamental cleavage between hon. Members opposite and us.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

It is a question of the relative importance that one attaches to the balance sheet or to the welfare of the people. This, in my view, is the fundamental cleavage between Toryism and our philosophy—how much importance one attaches to people and how much one attaches to the balance sheet. The Tory says, "Does it pay? How does the balance sheet look? Is there any profit in it?"

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I cannot give way. Time is getting on and other Members wish to speak. Hon. Members opposite say, "What about profitability?" when deciding whether a pit or a branch line stays open. We on this side of the House say, "How does it affect the people? How does it affect welfare and well-being?" The low rate of economic growth inevitably coincides with the low rate of urban renewal, and the lower rate of urban renewal is a disincentive to economic growth. So we have a vicious circle which the present Government have shown no sign of understanding in their policy for financing local government—as witness the general grant system with its monstrous injustices—or in their policy for stimulating regional economic growth. In neither of those aspects have the Government shown any appreciation of this problem.

A few months ago we had a debate on shipbuilding in which I took part and made what I thought was a very good constructive speech. I put forward a three-point policy but the Minister of Transport sat there doodling in all his monumental—I was going to say insignificance and perhaps that is not inappropriate—and took no notice whatever. When he wound up the debate he gave no inkling of a policy for shipbuilding, and to this day we have had no indication of a policy for shipbuilding from the Government.

As for coal, profitability is the only criterion used by hon. Members opposite. I venture to tread in this field with some caution because I am very much a layman here. This is our only indigenous raw material, and I should have thought that we ought to have focussed all our scientific knowledge on this indigenous raw material. I do not think we have begun to exploit the possibilities of coal. I think that a day will come, if the subject is tackled properly by a future Labour Government, when we shall cease to think of coal primarily as a fuel. I am sure that it has tremendous possibilities in new materials like plastics. The only policy of this Government is to look at each pit and to say, "What does the balance sheet say?" That is their only policy.

With regard to transport—[Interruption]. The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) is doing a lot of shouting but has not made a speech yet. In one of those speeches which are never made but which appeared in the Newcastle Journal today, he discussed rural transport. All the transport in the 600 square miles which he represents—I pity him for that—is drying up. Shortly he will have no railways left except the main line from Newcastle to Carlisle. All the lateral lines are going. The buses are packing up too.

Here, again, there is no question of "What is the contribution of this branch line to the economic well-being of the region?" The only question is the old Tory one, "What does the balance-sheet say?". The Government are governed by the accountants. The well-being of the people of Alston and Haltwhistle does not concern this lot; they are concerned only with, "Does the railway line from Alston to Haltwhistle pay?".

We have a new Minister at the Board of Trade—I am sorry that he has left the Chamber, although it is difficult to know who are the Ministers now. There is another Minister at the Board of Trade, the hon. Member for Pennith and The Border (Mr. Whitelaw)—

Hon. Members: No.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

We cannot keep a check on all these changes. Anyhow, the Minister of Labour is here, and perhaps he will convey what I now have to say. In the Penrith and The Border constituency a line has been closed. It is not a branch line, but the only cross-Pennine route between the Carlisle-New-castle railway and the railway through Skipton; the only cross-Channel railway—

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Is the hon Member talking about the tunnel?

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The bon. Member gets more fatuous every time she speaks— [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw".] She used that word about one of her own Ministers only a fortnight ago, so perhaps I can use it now. The hon. Lady is the Member for Tynemouth; she must not imagine she is the mouth of the Tyne.

The line through the constituency of the hon. Member for Penrith and The Border has been closed. I wrote to the Prime Minister about it, because I had an interest in it. This railway is particularly relevant to the economic life of the North-East. The Prime Minister's only retort was profitability—"It doesn't pay, therefore it has to be closed." That is the Government's policy for transport and for coal; for shipbuilding they have no policy of any kind. At the same time, they cam find, and I do not complain about it, a subsidy of £240 million a year for the farmers—or more than that. That is not given because farming is an industry that is basic to several industries, as coal and transport are; it is simply a subsidy that goes into the pockets of private individuals—

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

Is the hon. Member seriously suggesting (that the agricultural subsidy is designed to put money into the pockets of the farmers? It is a consumer subsidy. The most elementary student of modern economics realises that if the agricultural subsidy were removed tomorrow, the farmer would either cease to produce or would produce at an economic price. Therefore, in the second instance, as it would be, the consumer would pay more for food. It is a consumer subsidy.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

If the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North is trying to tell me that the £240 million, or more, goes into the pockets of the consumers it really is Alice in Wonderland. The agricultural subsidy goes into the farmers' pockets—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

In addition to all this, the North-East has, I believe, the smallest major road building programme in the country. We have recently had a small section of the A.1 renewed—a by-pass in the village of Pity Me, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Grey). The Whole of the A.1 as far as Durham is double carriageway but, here, the Minister of Transport has made a single carriageway on a new by-pass. That is how the Government treat us over our roads.

I turn to the Government's general economic policy and its effect on the North-East. The general economic policy of the Government has been one of our greatest difficulties in the last decade. The main regulator used by the Government, the manipulating of credit, has been applied to the Midlands, where it may have been needed. It has been applied to the South-East, where it may have been needed. It has been applied also to the North-East, where it was not needed. It is like a mother who has a child with a tummy ache but she gives the castor oil to the whole family. That is precisely what the Government have been doing over the last 10 years. They are neither intelligent enough nor diligent enough to apply their medicine only to the areas where there is inflation. They have ignored our suggestions for making the credit squeeze selective and have gone on applying it equally to the North-East as the Midlands.

So much for the Government's general policy and its effect on us. I come now to their specific policy for industrial promotion. This Government demolished the really effective machinery established by the Labour Government. One hon. Member said that he knew of no other way of doing this. There was another way of doing it. This Government demolished it. They erected in its place one of the most footling, fatuous instruments ever devised by a Government, the Local Employment Act.

I want to give three reasons for using these very rude words about that Act. First, as a number of my hon. Friends have said, it has produced so far in the two years it has been in operation less than £½ million to assist industry in the North-East. It has produced £14 million for Scotland. I do not complain about that, but our population is half that of Scotland. Yet we get less than £½ million. Ten million pounds have gone to Merseyside. The North-East has had £400,000. Every so often we hear of jobs in the pipeline. I have been here for 11 years and the figure has always been round about the 20,000 mark. The North-East would be a land of milk and honey if all these jobs came out of the other end of the pipeline. What has really happened in the North-East? Since 1951 unemployment has more than doubled and, according to the preliminary report of the census, 86,000 people have migrated from the North-East in 10 years. These two figures add up to far fewer people at work relative to the population. This makes nonsense of this perpetual story about 20,000 jobs in the pipeline. That is my first complaint about the Local Employment Act.

My second complaint is that the Act is based upon a really fantastic premise, namely that assistance should be given only if the percentage of unemployment rises above 4·5, without considering numbers. On 18th June, the Northern Region had 42,000 unemployed. I understand that the figure is rather higher now. These 42,000 are concentrated in a relatively small area of the region. Because the percentage is only 3·2 over the whole area, most of the area cannot get any assistance under the Act. Social developments—housing, schools, and so on—in recent years have tended to move people further and further from their place of work. It is an interesting fact that 1½ million people who work in London do not live in London but in areas outside. In spite of this change in social habits in the last 10 years, the Government persist in the foolish and spotty, to use the word employed by the hon. Member for Tyne-mouth, solution of scheduling—

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I did not call it spotty.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

—only the local employment area, not the local authority area. The criterion is a local employment area with unemployment in excess of 4·5 per cent. It produces this kind of result: Newcastle-upon-Tyne, part of which I represent, has 4,022 unemployed, Ilfracombe, which covers approximately the same area of ground, has 173 unemployed but, because the 173 represents a higher percentage than 4·5 per cent. and 4,022 does not, Ilfracombe is scheduled and Newcastle-upon-Tyne is not. This method of ignoring numbers in a big city or built-up area and going entirely on percentages is the wrong way of proceeding. I do not say that Ilfracombe should not be scheduled, of course it should, but other areas should also be scheduled.

My third reason why I think that this is the wrong instrument to use is that I do not think that B.O.T.A.C. works properly. I do not impugn their motives, but with the best will in the world the businessmen who comprise its membership are bound to give undue weight to the profitability of a project. I do not think that it should be composed of businessmen. An hon. Friend and I visited the Board of Trade about a firm which wanted to make bricks in the area but was turned down by B.O.T.A.C. I knew the man who wanted to establish the brickworks. I knew his father and the whole background and I could not imagine a more reliable man. He wanted to establish the works in Hetton-le-Hole, a scheduled area, but the Board of Trade was obliged to say "No". I do not think that B.O.T.A.C. in its present form is the right body to advise the Government.

The Government's policy has kept the North-East short of credit when credit was urgently needed. To use a veterinary term, they wormed us for inflation when in fact we were suffering from deflation. The Government's specific policy, the Local Employment Act, has been an almost complete failure in the North-East because, in spite of it, there are far fewer people relative to the population at work in the region. This has meant that in the North-East far more people are condemned to live in slums and general urban renewal is longer delayed there than in the Midlands or the South-East.

I once more pay tribute to the Civic Trust for pointing out the connection between these two things. The Government have failed us because they are either not intelligent enough to diagnose our malady or just because they do not care. They give a subsidy of £240 million to the farmers—and there are only 900,000 people employed in agriculture —and a subsidy of less than £½ million to the 2 million people of the North-East.

I agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland, South who said that we should never cease to tell people about the North-East and its achievements. He spoke about its achievements. Perhaps I may say a word or two about the area. In my view, it is one of the most attractive parts of the country in which to live and work. To North-East Members of Parliament who do not live there I can recommend it. I can recommend it to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South as a really good place to live in.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

If the hon. Member wants to make cheap jibes about my not living in the area, he should know that I was born and brought up in Newcastle. Cheap jibes of that nature cut no ice with me.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

All I said was that I recommended it to hon. Members who do not live there, including the hon. Member for Sunderland, South. He does not live there and I recommend it to him. I recommend it to those on my side who do not live there.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

What about the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). He does not live there.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

It was a stupid point to make.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

It was a very good point. Those who represent the area should be prepared to live there. When I get out of the train at Newcastle I breath the fresh air of the North. The area has a bracing climate, a very low rainfall and a very high sunshine rate. The area has the finest beaches in Britain along the Northumbrian coast. It has a number of delightful valleys. The hon. Member for Hexham lives in one of them. It has the great, sweeping glory of the fells—

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

The hon. Lady knows nothing about the North-East. The fell sweeps up to Teesdale from the Tyne.— [Interruption.]—I imagine that my hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley) will have something to say about that.

The North-East has some of the grandest people in the country. They are kindly, hard-working, humorous, intelligent people. It was the people of the North-East who brought civilisation and Christianity to Britain.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

It has ancient towns like Newcastle, new towns like Peterlee and Aycliffe. It has educational facilities—

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Rugby

This is the first time I have ever heard that St. Augustine was born in Newcastle.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

One always felt that the hon. Member was one of the most inappropriately named Members of the House. It has educational facilities second to none. It has the third oldest university in the country, residential, in Durham, which has a similar atmosphere to Oxford.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

If the hon. Member's speech lived up to his name it would be better.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Of course, the hon. Member does not like speeches that expose things as they are. In his speech, the hon. Member said that we must not criticise the things that are wrong in the North-East.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

I said nothing of the kind.

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

I am talking about some of the things that are right. We have in the North-East the third oldest university in the country—

Photo of Mr Edward Short Mr Edward Short , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

But not before the hon. Lady. In the Newcastle section of the university, which is shortly to become an independent university, we have modern faculties which are right into the atomic age. For those people coming into the area who want public schools, we have in the North-East one or two of the best in the country, including the oldest in the country. We have the finest Norman cathedral in England. We have in the North-East the most extensive Roman remains north of the South of France. We have co-operative and progressive local authorities Who will go out of 'their way to help industries coming into the area.

I believe that this North-East is a very good land in which to live and to work, but this vicious spiral of declining major industries, of low industrial profits, low average earnings and, consequently, reduced capital available for industrial expansion and urban renewal, is forcing the area down. The decline can be arrested and the spiral can be broken only by some sort of new and imaginative policy, both for industrial promotion and for the the financing of local authorities, in a region such as this, because that is equally important.

I believe that the Government are utterly incapable of such a new initiative. In the name of the people I represent, I say to the Government that we are absolutely fed up with their incompetence and with their indifference to the North-East. Middlesbrough served them with notice to quit. On behalf of Newcastle, I reiterate that and say the sooner the better.

10.49 p.m.

Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham

I have been brought to my feet by the extraordinary speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short). I have never seen so many crocodile tears loosed off in such a short time. The hon. Member said that he goes to the North-East week-end after week-end and gats off the train at Newcastle Central station. He then said what wonderful things were available in the region.

But what does the hon. Member do? Week-end after week-end, the gets into his car and speeds out of the region across to his cottage, not in the North-East region, but across in (the Lake District, far away from the place. I have never heard such humbug in all my life.

However, hon. Members opposite, by bringing attention to the problems and difficulties which the North-East is facing at present, are doing the North-East a good service. I personally am glad that they have taken this opportunity to bring home to the Government, and to Members on the Front Bench, the seriousness of the problems in the North-East and the need for dealing with them in a sympathetic and considerate fashion. I am quite sure that with the new -Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour and with the new Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trader—I am glad to see him in his place —both of whom have good northern if not Scottish blood in their veins, both of whom have intelligent and imaginative minds, we in the North-East will get sympathetic consideration of our problems.

I really do not think it helps the North-East to exaggerate the situation and I would say to hon. Members opposite, particularly the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central, that to exaggerate one's case is to weaken it. That is what I think the Opposition are doing at the present. Everyone knows that throughout the world today, in this country and generally overseas, we are going through a difficult period. There has to be a step back before we can go forward once again. That is a worldwide feature of the situation at the present time, and, of course, it does make our problems much more difficult for us in the North-East.

But every one of the arguments which have been put forward by hon. Members opposite this evening has been as weak as was the platform the Durham miners put up for Members attending the gala at Durham on Saturday—and which could not even stand the weight of the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition without collapsing. Their arguments collapse in much the same way.

The country ought to remember, as my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) pointed out, that we in the Conservative Party have got a far better record in maintaining employment and in tackling the problems of unemployment than have the Opposition. The Opposition have got a very short memory in these matters, conveniently short. When they are talking about the wonders of a "planned economy," the wonderful legislation which they introduced—before the Local Employment Act was introduced—and which did not allow the Government to anticipate trouble hut allowed the Government of the day to deal with it only when the problem had arisen, it is time that we reminded the country of the record of the Socialist Party in tackling unemployment. Let us remind the country of the facts, and not of the fiction.

I remember that well, because I started to take an interest in politics in 1929, just before the General Election of that year. I was a little Socialist-inclined in those days, but that was soon cured by my going to a meeting which was addressed by the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). That put me on the right road once again. But I remember how leading members of the Socialist Party, including a prominent member of it in those days, Miss Susan Lawrence, promised that if the Socialists were returned to power in the 1929 General Election they would cure unemployment within a fortnight? What happened?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

They did not get power.

Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham

They took office—even though they had little support. No doubt, they will try to do it again. No doubt, unable to support themselves, they will take office with Liberal support.

That is exactly what they did then— and within two years they more than doubled the number of unemployed. I think that is worth recording that. They appointed a special team to deal with employment policy. They appointed Mr. J. H. Thomas, of the National Union of Railwaymen, and he was assisted by a gentleman, still very much alive—he was performing in Trafalgar Square yesterday—Sir Oswald Mosley. They more than doubled the number of unemployed, which went to very nearly 3 million in two years. These things ought to be remembered when the Opposition come forward with specious promises about curing unemployment and all the other difficulties of the North-East.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he is talking about days before many hon. Members on this side of the House were born?

Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham

It is because I realise that there are some babes about the place that I say they should be reminded of what happened in the past. We have been through all this in the past—these promises about curing the situation and what Socialism can do. We are told that if we went in for the "loss" system we could have prosperity all round, full employment and a higher standard of living. We went through all this before —and the result was that the number of unemployed was doubled within two years, from 1¼ million to more than 2½ million. The public ought to remember that when they are told what would happen under Socialism. I am glad to have this opportunity of reminding people who were not born in those days what can happen when one has a Socialist Government. When the public in the North-East read tomorrow some of the speeches made by hon. Members opposite in the debate tonight, they should remember what happened about Socialist promises in the past.

Many people say they would like to have a change. But one can have a change for the worse as well as one for the better. Tonight we have heard a great deal said by Socialists against the Local Employment Act. I believe myself that it is an imaginative Act. Although it has only just come into full operation, it has already brought many new industries to the North-East. It has brought us many thousands of jobs. Of course we want to see it doing more, and now that South Wales and Merseyside have been dealt with under it, I think we are fully entitled to press for the North-East to receive the same treatment. Although it has not cured the problem in the North-East, it is helping in the right direction.

I do not think that continual moaning and groaning by hon. Members opposite helps to bring industries to our area. I should have liked to hear some constructive ideas put forward by hon. Members opposite. I should have liked to hear about ways in which we could achieve more efficient production and more competitive conditions in this highly competitive world. All we have had has been gloom and moans and groans from hon. Members opposite. A stranger listening to the debate would be justified in thinking that Tees-side, Tyneside and the Wear were as depressed and as red as the Clyde. But that is not true. We have first-class workers in the North-East who are prepared to be reasonable and co-operative, and it is a pity that we do not make more of that fact. They are workers who not only work well but respond to new ideas and methods and learn very quickly. That is a trump card which the North-East has to play at this time. All the industrialists who have gone there recently have said that they have been very pleased with the conditions which they have found there.

At a time like this it is worth remembering that the Socialist Party has always taken the view that if only we go back to "planning" we shall be able to have full employment. It is also worth remembering a verse written by a former Member of the House, Sir Alan Herbert, in the middle of the war when the Socialist Party, led by the late Mr. Aneurin Bevan, was calling prematurely for a Second Front. I cannot remember it all, but I recall the concluding phrase: Dear old Uncle Joe,We laud, we love, you,But the nonsense—no!". That goes for what hon. Members opposite have been saying tonight.

11.0 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ernest Popplewell Mr Ernest Popplewell , Newcastle upon Tyne West

It has been most interesting to hear speeches by hon. Members opposite. Most of them have been critical of Government policy. Those among them who have tried to support the Government have had to take as their theme something that happened in pre-war years. Indeed, the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) went back many decades, while the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) also had to go back to the period when the Labour Party were in Government but not in power. That was unlike her.

The hon. Member fox Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) attempted to support the Government but was hopelessly wrong with his facts and figures. The difference between him and his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) was obvious and needs no elaboration by me. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East said that the Government treated the North-East as a forgotten area, whereas his hon. Friend said that they were not lacking in enthusiasm to cure unemployment there. I leave them to fight it out.

I welcome this debate. We on this side of the House have been pressing the Government, year in and year out, to do something for the North-East. We have met successive Presidents of the Board of Trade in our efforts and have always received the stock answer. This was particularly so from the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, on whom now much depends, so I hope that he changes his tune. He always used to tell us, "You must get the North-East to sell itself a little better."

This is not only a question of the North-East selling itself, although that has a bearing. The position is that the area is losing its people at the rate of 14,000 a year in migration to London and the Midlands. New jobs have gone to the London area at the rate of about 15,000 a year, while the North-East has been losing people at the rate of 15,000 in 1960 and 14,000 in 1961, bringing the loss over the last decade to about 86,000 people who have had to leave their homes in the North-East in order to find jobs in the already congested areas of London and the Midlands.

Between 1952 and 1960, London, with 27 per cent. of the population, gained nearly 40 per cent. of the new jobs available in the country. What could this do but further denude other parts of the country of their people? In the City of London, there is a working population of about 500,000 during the day. During the night there is a resident population of only 5,000. That, to me, seems to make complete nonsense of the whole of the Government's arrangements.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle, Central (Mr. Short) rightly pointed out that the Government are trying to deal with the economy of the country on just one broad basis, fighting inflation and deflation with the same monetary policy. It is a policy which makes nonsense. Nobody can justify the type of development that is taking place. From the skilled areas, if I may put it that way, migration has been, and is, taking place, and it is those areas upon which our industrial potential depends for its basic products of coal, iron and steel, shipbuilding, and ship repairing. Yet many of the skilled men of these areas are having to leave this most useful productive element which means so much to our economy and go to the Midlands and to the London area where they are employed on non-productive work.

At the same time, one also sees in London, among all this non-productive effort, development in the electronics and motor car and engineering industries. So, while it may be argued that some skilled labour is required, the fact is that people have to move their homes hundreds of miles in some cases instead of industry being guided to those areas where the skilled labour already is and where it can do useful work.

I wonder how many hon. Members have seen the letter in today's Guardian from Mr. K. G. Collier, Principal of St. Bede College, Durham? Mr. Collier points out that we are suffering … from a vicious circle of neglect; 50 years of declining industries (cotton, shipbuilding, coal) and 100 years of unplanned urban growth … which, Mr. Collier says, have meant low rateable values and low industrial revenues, which in turn have meant inadequate capital expenditure on urban landscapes … and so on.

I think that this letter from the Principal of Bede College accurately describes the situation. It is well worth noting and, in short, it is a standing indictment of this Government. The Government are indicted for having done nothing at all to encourage any change in the pattern of industry in the North, or to attract new industries. They have gone even further. The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth and other Government supporters have referred to the development which has taken place in the North, seeking to claim that the foundations for this were laid in the prewar years.

That may be so—one does not want to decry efforts which have been made— but the real development of ancillary industry in the North-East has been that guided by the Development of In- dustry Act, 1945. Through the operation of that Act we have seen nearly as many people employed on light industries as there are in some of our basic industries, and we are extremely grateful for it. Had that piece of legislation not been operated as it has been, with sense and wisdom by the Labour Government, the North-East would be in an even more difficult situation than it is today. Since the Tory Government took control in 1951 they have done their best to nullify that Act. Eventually they threw it overboard and introduced the Local Employment Act. I do not know what the hon. Member for Hexham is muttering about. If he wishes to say anything, let him stand up and become audible He should not sit there muttering as if he were in a four-ale bar around the corner.

The hon. Member comes to the North-East, to areas where he will not be strongly challenged, and says that the Local Employment Act has done a good job, but let us analyse what it has done. My hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) put down a Question today asking what was happening in the North-East about new factories and extensions which had been approved in the last 12 months. He was told that during that period only 14 factories or extensions had been approved by the Board of Trade out of about a hundred applications. That is disgraceful. All the time development is taking place in London and the Midlands. The Minister also told my hon. Friend that five new building grants had been given to the North-East in those 12 months and that industrial development certificates had been issued for 41 projects with a total area of just over a million square feet.

We have all heard much about jobs in the pipelines, but if we analyse the figures given in that Answer today we find that the jobs visualised in the dim and distant future may mean the employment of about 8,000 people which is quite a contrast with the 20,000 jobs in the pipeline about which we have heard so much, The prevailing rate of unemployment in the North-East is 40,000 to 45,000. In May it was 45,000, in June 42,000 and a little earlier it was 50,000, giving a rough average between 40,000 and 45,000. Against this we set 8,000 jobs, instead of the 20,000 promised. There are about 6,000 to 8,000 jobs available, with 45,000 people applying for them.

This is the state which we have reached again in the North-East. It is no wonder that hon. Members from the North-East have pestered Ministers at the Board of Trade and that we have this debate to try to stir the Government into greater activity, instead of their taking the line of least resistance, with the comment, "Do something for yourselves".

Let us consider what the North-East is doing for itself. For a considerable length of time the North-East Industrial Development Council was in being. For the most part it was controlled by a group of businessmen who did not energetically pursue an effective policy of development. They just footled about with the problem. Eventually, in spite of considerable opposition, local authorities began to play an increasingly important part in tackling the problem, and the name of the Council was changed to the Northern Development Council. Local authorities decided to contribute a portion of their rates to enable this Council—and appointed Mr. Chetwynd as Director—to carry out various projects, and at long last we can see some progress being made.

In Newcastle-upon-Tyne itself a new civic centre is being built. This project was discussed for 50 years but nothing was done until Labour took control three years ago. A new education precinct is also being developed, as well as a new shopping centre. The old houses in Scotswood Road are being pulled down and very soon this road wild be a place of beauty.

That is what local authorities are doing to try to make the area more attractive and to induce people to live in the North-East. Instead of the ugly industrial development carried out by the Tories in days gone by, the cities of the North-East are being redeveloped on more attractive lines, but where do the Government fit into this picture of development? By imposing the block grant system of payment to local authorities, the Government are stultifying the efforts of local authorities, and it is about time that they changed their policy and helped them.

I admit that the Government have helped by building roads, but it is not surprising that the Mancroft Civic Trust draws attention to the need for the Government to help local authorities in their development plans. For a long time the Government have made political capital out of the word "planning", but recently they have begun to talk about it. There has been some drastic pruning in Government circles, and I wonder what this really means. Does it mean that at long last the Tory talk of planning is to be put into operation? Is it to be put into operation to plan the general well-being of the nation and to increase production so that we can improve our trading relations instead of being at the bottom of the league table? I hope that the Government will plan to move some of the industrial development in the South back to where it belongs—the North-East —and to adjust the balance of population.

I hope that that is what the Government mean by planning, but I fear that their planning between now and the next General Election will be concentrated on how to bribe the electorate to forget the misdeeds of the past and to give them a further lease of life.

11.20 p.m.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I hope that hon. Members opposite will not begin to interject even before I have begun my speech, because I am not one of those who fail to respond to interjections. Some of my hon. Friends have been waiting as long as I have to speak and I am certain that the Ministers present are anxious to get home. They will not be able to get to their beds until all my hon. Friends have had their go and therefore, if hon. Members opposite have any respect left—and I know they have not much—for their Ministers they had better be quiet.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell) said that the Government at long last had come round to the idea that "planning" was no longer a dirty word and that something must be done in that respect. Is not this an admission of Government failure both in the North-East and nationally? They have been saying for 11 years that Conservative freedom works. It does not work in the North-East. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nor anywhere."] The Government do not know why. They say, "We have been in power four 11 years and the country has economic problems and unemployment problems which we are unable to solve." They then appoint "Neddy," and Neddy is an admission of Government failure. It has been appointed to produce a plan which the Government cannot think of for themselves. In other words, the men who have been elected are handing over responsibility to men they have selected. Neddy will advise the Government on how to deal with the problems which the nation faces.

Three of the nation's industries which face very acute problems are mining, shipbuilding and the railways. The people of the North-East can do little about these problems. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) knows as well as I do that the problems of the British shipbuilding and repairing industry can be solved only by Government action.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

It is no good saying "No." What are the problems? They are flag discrimination, subsidies, and flags of convenience.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

The hon. Gentleman says high cost. I might inform him that Palmers (Hebburn,) in my constituency, have just won a contract in face of the fiercest world competition. In order to execute the contract, when the ship docked at Liverpool 70 workmen were there to start the job. While the ship was being unloaded they were ripping out the berths, etc. The ship was taken back to the Tyne and the job will be completed before schedule.

There is talk about demarcation disputes in the industry. I wrote to the manager of the local employment exchange in my constituency and asked for the figures of demarcation disputes in shipbuilding and ship repairing. We have not toad one in the last six years. The labour record is comparable to that of any industry in the country. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Pressed Steel?"] I am asked about Pressed Steel, but what about I.C.I. and Prudhoe? The Government had as much control over I.C.I. when it decided to leave Prudhoe as I had over Pressed Steel not coming to Jarrow. The Government were not sufficiently interested.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) said that we should never direct industry. But he voted for the Army Reserve Act which directs lads into the Army and keeps them there beyond their contract time. He sees nothing wrong in conscripting young lads and sending them here, there and everywhere; but to direct capital would be sacrilege and far more dangerous. It is far more revolutionary to direct capital than to direct the lives of human beings.

Hon. Members opposite have never hesitated when it has suited their purpose to conscript manpower. They have never hesitated to send it When they liked and where they liked.—[Interruption.]—If the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) will shut up muttering for a minute I will give way. If he spoke intelligibly I would be able to understand him. He has been muttering unintelligibly and it is difficult to understand him. Hon. Members opposite have always had their values mixed. They have always thought that capital, wealth and property were far more important than human beings.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

The hon. Member should find out what capital is before he denigrates it as he is doing. Wealth can only be produced by capital. Then the wealth can be Shared out.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Is it not marvellous! One would think that when the world was created God put the capital here and let the people follow after. One would think that God created the gold, the banks and the insurance companies and then said, "Now, people, come and inherit this". The truth is that mankind produced the capital. Capital did not produce mankind. It is not capital that produces the jobs. The jobs are done. Every worker in a factory does a week's work and then he is paid. He has produced what he is paid before he is paid. The profit which the capitalist gets is the result of the week's work.

One would like time to give hon. Members opposite a few elementary lessons in economics; but, after all, my hon. Friends want to take part in the debate. I am sure that it would be educative to the Government Front Bench Members, some of whom are new to their jobs. I am sure that those who are new will be paying a visit to the North-East. They will be following the usual trail. They will come there full of hope.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

The hon. Member will "fix" them.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

When they leave we shall be devoid of help. They come along telling us what they are hoping to do and always, like Mr. Micawber, they are waiting for something to turn up. The truth is, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) made clear, that there is plenty of opportunity for the Government, if they want, to tackle this problem of unemployment in the North-East ox any other part of the country. The gross national produce last year was something like £23,000 million. The Government took some £7,000 million in taxes of one kind and another, and a lot of that must have represented substantial orders in a thousand and one ways.

Why should the Government not say to those firms supplying our schools and hospitals with furniture, equipment, medical requisites, and so forth, that they should put some of their factories in the North-East instead of aggravating the problems of housing, schools and transport in the choked Midlands and London areas?

Photo of Mr Roy Wise Mr Roy Wise , Rugby

I should like the hon. Gentleman to develop that argument a little further. If we are to move to the North-East the factories that are now making the stuff, what will we do with those factories? Just leave them empty?

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Hon. Members opposite just do not understand. We have never asked those people to stop making things. We have asked that they should be stopped from expanding in those areas. If half of the expansion that is taking place in the Midlands, London and the South-East had been compelled to go into South Wales, Scotland or the North-East we would not have had this problem at all. The truth is quite simple. If it were in the national interest to do it—if we were at war—it would be done. There would be no hesitation then, because the national interest takes precedence over private profit and personal convenience—

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

I said in war, but let us take 1945–50. If, in my constituency and countless other constituencies in Durham, we could only have had from 1951–61 the new industrial establishments we had in 1945–51, we would not be discussing this problem tonight—and the hon. Member knows it. He knows that the Labour Government built factory after factory, and persuaded, cajoled or bludgeoned employer after employer to go to the North-East, and into South Wales and the Clydeside. They did not do that necessarily because they thought that it would be popular with the industrialists and the capitalists, but because they thought that it was necessary for the self-respect and the dignity of men who wanted to earn their living, and who had the right to do so but who were being denied that right.

When we talk about the national problem, I get sick to death to hear it said that unemployment is only 5 per cent. or only 3½ per cent. These are men and women, boys and girls—and, unfortunately, they are not like the dismissed Ministers. I picked up the newspapers at the weekend, and found that one firm after another was after the dismissed Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. They will find jobs. The fact that they were sacked does not mean that their wives and kids will suffer, or that they will be apprehensive about paying the rent, or have any of the difficulties that the ordinary unemployed men and women have to face up to.

Unless the Government are prepared to do more than they have done so far, what will be the position in the areas we now have in mind? The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) talked of what had happened under the Local Employment Act. He said that in 1929 the Socialists said that if they got to power they would do X, Y, Z. But we did not come to power. We never had a majority Labour Government until 1945. I know that hon. Members opposite are so indifferent to facts that they have always said that we had majority Labour Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why is not the Labour Party still in power?"] I will tell the House why— because we did not do what the Tory Government have done. I believe that this Government have written off all the old industrial areas, for one simple reason. There are only a very few winnable Tory seats there. They do not mind doling out £250 million to the farmers, because most farmers vote for them. They do not mind doling out money to the aircraft industry. They do not mind paying £50 million to the cotton industry for the bosses to do what we sent the Luddites to prison for, smashing machinery. But they do not do anything for the mining villages and the railway towns and the shipbuilding industry.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

The Tories will not have York and Darlington after the next general election. I do not think that the hon. Member himself will be here after the next election.

The figures which I want the Minister to take note of, particularly as regards the County of Durham, are these. In December, 1961 there were just over 20,000 unemployed and 2,400 vacancies. In other words, there were nine men and women unemployed in Durham in December, 1961 for every job which was unfilled at the labour exchange. In June, 1962, six months later, the number of unemployed had increased by 2000 and the number of vacancies had decreased by over 2,000. In other words, although in December, 1961 there were nine unemployed men or women or both for every job, last month there were fourteen men and women for every vacancy. In the six months period the position very much worsened. This is why there is growing apprehension and anxiety.

This applies particularly to the young people leaving school. What are we going to do? What right have we to expect young boys and girls of 15 to tear up their roots and transfer to other counties if there are not jobs available for them in their own neighbourhoods? Does anybody believe that we can defend the system which necessitates boys and girls of 15 and 16, for whom there is no employment in their own counties, leaving their homes and being away from parental guidance? Does anybody believe that in the long run that is a good thing for the nation? These youngsters, at least, should be the concern of the Government. In my constituency when the August school leavers are added to those already unemployed, the figure is likely to be three times higher than it was at this time last year.

I had news today that 300 men were paid off at Palmers. They are to be added to those already seeking jobs which do not exist. It is not good enough for hon. Members opposite to make the kind of speeches they have made tonight, what I call sugar and vinegar speeches. They make a sugary speech to try to defend and please their Ministers, but they have to add a little vinegar because there are thousands of voters in their constituencies who might misunderstand their speeches if there were too fulsome praise of Ministers who are falling down on their jobs.

Hon. Members opposite have had eleven years of power. They told us: Tory Freedom Works. Don't Let Labour Ruin It. Now, after eleven years, they find they have no idea how to tackle the job, so they appoint "Neddy" and the only advice they give "Neddy" is to control wages. "Neddy" will fail if that is to be its main purpose and function because the trade unions will not stand by and allow wages to be managed while the rest of industry is completely free to do what it likes.

When I was interrupted I was about to make a point about the Local Employment Act. The Minister came to the North-East and said to the North-East Development Council, "We hope you will not be too parochial in your attitude. If there is help going to one town, I hope you will be happy about it because it is good for the North-East." What is the Local Employment Act except a parochial Measure? It does not treat an area. If there is 4½ per cent. unemployment it is on the list, but if there is 4·25 per cent. unemployment it is not on the list. What kind of planning can there be with that? Under the previous Act areas were treated as regions and there could be regional planning. The present Act is a piece of legislation which takes each separate little community and treats it on its own and it stands or falls by the figures. It is no use hon. Members opposite shaking their heads, they should read the debates which took place when the Bill was before the House. There is no town, village or city in the Schedule where unemployment is below 4½ per cent.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

There a blow is anticipated. It will fall when 700 workers lose their jobs in I.C.I. and have to seek work elsewhere. It would be better if the whole region were planned as one co-operative effort than to deal with the problem piecemeal.

Apart from the human problem, which is the greatest of all, the Minister should remember that as long as he allows this drift from the North-East, from Scotland and other areas where there is high unemployment the headaches for the Government will become bigger. When men transfer from the North-East, from Scotland or Wales to Birmingham, Coventry or London the housing problem is aggravated there. The transport problem is aggravated and the problem of school places and the problem of hospitals in those towns. At the same time in the areas from which those people come there are left problems of social capital the cost of which has to be borne by fewer and fewer people. It would not cost as much to keep some of the industries in those territories as, ultimately, it will cost the Government in having to face the ravages which this policy is causing.

The sackings last week in the Government were well deserved. There has not been a slaughter of the like since Herod set out to find Jesus. That slaughter is nothing to the slaughter that will take place whenever the next election comes, because no matter what hon. Members opposite may say, they know in their heart that they have not only failed the North-East, but they have failed the nation. The by-elections are making it perfectly clear and the General Election will simply reinforce the verdicts of recent by-elections.

11.46 p.m.

Photo of Mr William Owen Mr William Owen , Morpeth

The debate this evening has crystallised thought which has been in the minds of most hon. Members for many years. I hope that the Minister now has adequate evidence of the urgent need for a dynamic policy affecting the North-East. I give second place to no one in my admiration for the people and the facilities extant in the North-East, but I ask the Minister to recognise that he and the Government cannot abdicate their responsibility for undertaking immediate action to deal with the problem that faces this section of the nation.

Like other hon. Members, I have listened throughout the debate to the commendation which has been paid from both sides of the House to the facilities that are extant in the area, and to the tribute paid to the skill of its workers and to the enterprise of its administration, both commercial and industrial. What seems to have been wholly forgotten, however, is that this has emerged largely as a reflection of the abysmal failure of a system. It has not emerged casually as a product over the last four years but has been reflecting itself in the whole decade that followed the Second World War with the complete inability of private enterprise to march in tune with the increasing tendencies of the twentieth century.

We were told earlier in the debate to recognise the changing pattern of our age. That commendation might be placed substantially at the foot of the managerial set-up in the north-east of England. How far have those people over past years marched with the trend of inherent changes of our time? How far have they been content to draw the substance of industrial productivity and fail to reinvest it in the expansion which is necessary and essential in the interests of the community? The verdict of history will be one of wholesale condemnation of their failure to make that essential adjustment.

We have been told that the need has been for increasing Government help and encouragement so that industry may be rehabilitated and given new life and purpose. When from this side of the House we have urged recognition of the fact that this can be achieved only on the basis of applied overall national planning we have been told that that in itself will curtail and frustrate the enterprise which has been so popularly acclaimed —the freedom of Tory purpose. I would ask the Minister whether and to what degree he is prepared to take action in limiting the application of development certificates which seem to contribute to the encouragement of industrial development in both the Midlands and in the south-east of England. Why is it that more resolute action cannot be taken to curtail this increasing concentration of industry in the South which denies opportunities to the people of the North-East?

Photo of Mr William Owen Mr William Owen , Morpeth

Tory freedom, very largely, but surely, if the Minister is to undertake his responsibility in this respect, it is time that some very definite and direct action was taken to curtail the expansion here in the South, by refusal to endorse development certificates for more industry here in the South, so that industry may be encouraged to go to the North.

If it is said that the facilities are not there, on what count can that be argued? There is the facility of skilled personnel, there is the facility of existing technical colleges; there is in the North the great residue of willingness to meet the requirements of a changing age. All we plead for is that those people should be given the chance.

This applies not only to the problem of unemployment among the adult population, not only to the problem of contraction of the older industries. Is the Minister adequately aware of the tragedy which faces the younger generation now coming out of our schools and faced with the problem of beginning life on the employment exchanges? I am told that the Industrial Training Council in May of this year passed a resolution urging that the Government should give immediate consideration to the need for new industries in the north-east of England. The people who serve in that capacity have been working resolutely now for years to encourage the development of the apprenticeship system, to provide assistance and guidance to young people emerging from school, and they are now reaching the point of frustration and discouragement.

In my own area of Ashington we have the lamentable picture that in the 12 months from May, 1961, to May, 1962, there has been an increase of 40 per cent. in the number of teen-agers on the junior employment exchange. The inability of young people to find work in our area is a reflection of the fact that 18 months ago we were able to encourage them to go into the area of Newcastle with its diversity of industry. Now that avenue of employment is closing down.

The south-east Northumberland area is concerned basically with mining. In fairness to the National Coal Board, it has stretched to the limits the opportunity of accepting young people for apprenticeship training. But that still leaves us with an ever-growing problem of finding employment for the young people. I recommend the Minister to hearken to the guidance of the juvenile officers there who are facing the oncoming school "bulge" with considerable anxiety. Is it not possible to give some encouragement to the development of industries in and around those areas so that the young people may be retained there with an opportunity for a secure future?

Otherwise we face a future of an ageing population, a declining community, and, frankly, the people of south-east Northumberland are not prepared to accept this. We feel that we have made our contribution to the general economic and social progress of the nation, and that we have a right to tell the nation, "Give us a helping hand so that we, too, may be able to step out into the future."

I call the attention of the Government to another problem. The County of Northumberland, facing the need to provide accommodation for overspill from the City of Newcastle, set out to plan new towns. The new towns can be largely conditioned by the availability of new industries. How far are we meeting the requirements in that field by ensuring that we not only build homes for people but provide industry in the vicinity so that they may have a modicum of security?

Frankly, I place the responsibility for the difficulties that face the North-East squarely cm the shoulders of the Government because of their policy. Unless tonight we are given some assurance of a new approach to the problem, the verdict will come at the next General Election, when it will be a question not of new faces but of new policy, new determination and new hope for the people of the North-East.

11.58 p.m.

Photo of Mr John Ainsley Mr John Ainsley , North West Durham

Over the past few years I have likened the North-East area to a sort of no-man's-land. Our Scottish and Walsh colleagues can raise the problems of their countries in their respective Grand Committees, but since 1951 we in the North-East have been neglected by successive Tory Governments. It seems that the administration is stopped by a line drawn across the Midlands. Politically, the whole of the North of England beyond that line has been neglected.

In the North-East there are varying degrees of unemployment and depression. The position is most acute in west Durham. The result is that there is not only migration to London and the Midlands from west Durham but also migration to east Durham.

I represent the constituency in which I was born. I was brought up with the people. I know their feelings and anxieties. My constituency covers 264 square miles, embracing the high altitudes of the Pennines, with their forestry workers and hill farmers, and the agricultural and industrial areas of west Durham, with their small farmers and miners. At one time, this area produced coal that was the richest in Europe for by-products. But the National Coal Board was not allowed to sell that coal at its commercial price in the Scandinavian market.

I was secretary for 17 years of the miners' lodge in my township, and I know the value to the area of the sales to Scandinavia. I remember coming to London when the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) and the late Ernest Bevin appealed for more coal for the nation. We miners then gave up the five-day week to work six days; some worked seven days a week. Yet we were not allowed to get the commercial price for our coal. That policy has been to the detriment of the National Coal Board, and it is now "in the red."

The coal industry was regarded as a social service until the Government changed the pattern to one of commercialism. Now, uneconomic pits are to close. In my constituency, too, lead mines are being closed, although felspar is being extracted from the residue of lead mines. There are also limestone and sandstone quarries and by-product plants.

What have the Government done? The help received in the Crook area came under the Distribution of Industry Act, when two factories were set up there. We have sought to help ourselves through a local development board. I quote from a letter by the technical director of a large firm: The Marshall Richards Company, a branch of the ' Marshall' Organisation, originated at Gainsborough in Lincolnshire in 1937. In 1946 … and I ask hon. Members to note the date, … we moved the Company to Crook bringing only half a dozen men with it. We now employ some 250 engaged in the manufacture of specialised machinery for the wire, cable, tube, and steel industries.Our products are high grade machines weighing up to thirty tons, needing skilled craftsmen for their building, and a relatively large percentage of technical staff, including mechanical and electrical draughtsmen and technical salesmen for their design, development, and sale.Marshall Richards machines have a reputation all over the world and have been sold to every industrial nation. Our exports have been fifty to seventy per cent. of our output ever since we came to Crook, a considerable quantity to the U.S.A. and Germany, a few to Iron Curtain countries, including Russia and China. Our success has been due in no small measure to our decision to locate our works at Crook.To the east we have one of the most important and progressive industrial areas of England—the north-east coast—a reservoir of technical and skilled workers with engineering in their blood and in the blood of their sons, and with generations of hard work behind them.To the west, the north, and the south, we are surrounded for scores of miles by some of the most beautiful and inspiring country in Britain.The success of our undertaking, and indeed of any undertaking, is due to the quality of our men who carry it on. We brought our Company to the north-east to find the right men and also, strange as it may sound to those who imagine County Durham is one vast coal pit, to find the right environment". That letter is signed by H. Richards, technical director of the Marshall Richards Machine Company, Ltd., of Crook. I could go on to speak of another company, and will give just one comment by one of its directors. It is: In conclusion, we feel that the Crook and Willington area could and should be developed into a thriving industrial area because, as we have found, the advantages of having a large factory in the district with pleasant amenities, far outweigh any possible disadvantage of being away from the centre of our industry in London". That letter is signed by D. Latner, director of Ramar Dress, Ltd., of New Road, Crook.

One could go on quoting to show that we in the North-East have really tried to help ourselves. I have in the past taken to the Board of Trade the question of extracting limestone and manufacturing cement. We can find all the ingredients in our area; but what happens? All our requests have been turned down and it is at this point that we charge the Government with having sheltered behind the "phoney" Local Employment Act. In Crook we have 8 per cent. unemployment, and I say to the Minister that these are not statistics: they are human beings with hopes and aspirations; these are not merely percentages, but human beings who want to use their talents. They want to develop their own initiative in the national interest, and the Government are denying them the opportunity.

A fortnight ago in the House I referred to juvenile unemployment and gave a figure which links with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden); there are 2,432 young people out of work. That is Tory prosperity and Tory freedom. I put it to the Secretary of State for War that he no longer requires Brancepeth military camp training centre and I asked him to consult the Ministers of Labour and Education. But the Ministers have changed. That is the position with the Postmaster-General. Before leaving home this morning I turned the knob of the wireless to listen to the weather forecast and the news, and I heard, "This is the Northern Ireland News." We are sharing a programme with Northern Ireland. That is how the Government treat the North-East. In my area if they want good television reception they pay 2s. or 2s. 6d. extra a week. Yet there is talk of increasing the licence fee. I shall protest until the people in the North-East get justice. With 2,432 juvenile unemployed in the area, there is a military training camp standing empty. Cannot the Government use it to give free industrial training to these people?

I have here a list from one of the local authorities showing the loss of rateable value through the closing of industries in the last three years. There has been an increase of £5,444 from new industry but a decrease of £12,374 as a result of industries closing, making a loss of nearly £7,000, with additions still to be made. That is one area—and there are five areas in the same position. The national average is £16 12s. per head of the population, but here it has been reduced to £8 6s. Loss of rateable value further depresses an area. That is the price which we are paying for Tory freedom and the challenge which faces the Government. Until the Government plan for the good of the nation we shall continue to wallow in unemployment and industrial depression.

Because of Tory freedom over the past this nation is failing in its national and internal problems. We have brought problems forward and offered solutions to many of them, but we still ask what the Government intend to do for the boys and girls, men and women, who want to make a contribution to the common weal. That is the challenge, and it is why we have brought the problems of the North-East before the House tonight.

12.15 a.m.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley) because I was born and raised in Crook Town, which is rather famous for its football team. I am disappointed that the hon. Gentleman has gone about the task in hand in this way. In fact, I am disappointed with most of the speeches made by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We must stop this talk of failure and misery. It does not do us one little bit of good. This business of being prophets of doom does not help. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are the world's worst salesmen when it comes to selling the North-East. What they say hurts the North-East and causes a lot of unnecessary worry.

I understand the North-East. As a boy, I remember that there were 3,000 on the dole out of a population of 15,000 in Crook. I understand this area, and I believe that last year the last of the pits closed in my home town. The Local Employment Act is the best Measure of this kind that we have ever had in this country. It has far greater flexibility than ever before. Areas can be put on to the list and taken off again without the great political fuss that we used to have before, and I ask my hon. Friend to use this flexibility to the utmost because it is this that will help in the end.

But it must be remember that incursion in a development district is not the millennium. The problem is not solved because an area is designated a development district. There has to be industrial development, such as I have seen in my time. Incidentally, I remember the factory to which the hon. Member for Durham, North-West referred being built. The local school gave the children the day off to watch General Gough turn the first sod on the site, and I am proud to say that my father served on the development committee.

What does it mean if an area is on a development district list? Hon. Members no doubt have experience of this. If a wife wants to move to another house, what does she do? She does not take the first one offered to her. She has a good shop round before deciding which house to have, and industrialists have the right to do precisely that. They are offered development by industrial development certificates and pushed to areas where they are needed, but it must be remembered that if we stop them developing in some areas no development will take place at all. This is a fact which we as a nation have to consider. We have to regard this as an industrialist going to look at a site. He looks at several before making his choice. The Board of Trade says that sites are available at X, Y and Z, and the industrialist looks at them all to decide which is the best one for the development of his project, and it is in the interests of hon. Gentlemen opposite and the community that he should pick well because part of the cost of his production is inevitably bound up with the site he chooses. Hothouse plants soon wilt, and I would rather have a locally created industry than any other kind.

When we talk about the North-East, it must be remembered that we have to create industries there. We have to sell the advantages of the area. We should point out that we have less congestion. I can drive from Scarborough to Newcastle and see only three sets of traffic lights. If I am lucky, I can get through all three while they are at green. Where else can one travel 80 miles south-east and see only three sets of traffic lights? I challenge hon. Members to name such a stretch.

Photo of Mr Charles Grey Mr Charles Grey , City of Durham

It means that the roads are deserted.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

The roads are not deserted.

It must be remembered, too, that housing is easier up there than in the South-East and Midlands. We should make this fact well known. I served on a housing committee for eight years and We solved our housing problem, and as far as I know this happy state of affairs exists in other areas. Our only problem is slum clearance, and it must be remembered that in my division the population has increased 22 per cent. since the war. Most hon. Gentlemen have a slum clearance problem in their areas, but not the problem of providing new houses, and this ought to be made known to everyone.

Another selling point is that we have plenty of room for people to move into the area, which is a beautiful one in which to live. When I was in the Forces I remember arguing with people about the pit heaps and pit ponies in the area. At times I used to get mad with some of the chaps from other districts who did not understand mine.

I do not know how many National Parks we have. I think there are three, but to get to my division I drive through the one on the Whitby Moors. Tees-side is a perfect industrial development area with a river-rail transport and—though admittedly it needs improvement—road transport. On the edge of the river there is an industrial area, behind that a dormitory area, and behind that again a National Park. What could be a more congenial atmosphere in which to work? The quality of the labour is second to none, good, honest and hard-working. I spoke to Mr. Thorn, who has an electrical factory in the town from which my grandparents came, Spennymoor. He is absolutely thrilled by the quality of the labour. The workpeople are invigorating and always looking for new ideas and he is completely satisfied.

I should like to quote from an article published, unfortunately, in the Northern Echo. Perhaps it should take a leaf from the Guardian and drop the "Northern" and so be more widely road. It is little good talking among ourselves. We must tell the outside world about the North-East. In the 10 years, 1949 to 1958, the strike figures for the North-East are fabulous and terrific and should be shouted from the house-tops. In shipbuilding 1.6 days were lost, compared with 9.6 in the rest of the United Kingdom. In other words, the North-East record was six times better. In mechanical engineering 0.4 days were lost, against 0.6 for the rest of the country. In electrical engineering, I am sad to say, our record was not as good as that of the rest of the United Kingdom. We lost 0.3 against 0.2 days. In metal manufacturing our record was 0.3 days against 1.3 days, in other words, four times better. In chemical and allied trades, excluding coke ovens, we lost no days at all, compared with 0.1 days for the rest of the country. We should go out and talk about this magnificent record. We should be careful of the image we present to the outside world.

We should also talk about the good industrial sites we have available. In this connection tribute must be paid to the North-East Development Council and other bodies, such as the Tees-side Industrial Development Board, which are making further researches so that sites shall be available on the shelf ready for industrialists to take over. I served on a development committee in my home town and I realised fully the need to have sites prepared for industrialists to look at. This is happening in the North-East.

We have express freight trains from Tees-side which deliver overnight to London. Docks and we have ports to serve all points of the European market. Let no one think that this is not important. I talked to an American manufacturer who delivers goods to Europe from King's Lynn. I did not know before that there was a port there. He delivers to countries of the Common Market, to Denmark, Germany, France and Belgium, more cheaply than he can sell the product which he manufactures in his Northern Italian factory. Our ports in the North-East are bang opposite the Common Market countries.

I have details of sailings from Tees-side to all parts of the world. We should talk about this. I hope that hon. Members from both sides of the House will give details of the sailings from Newcastle and Sunderland. There are regular sailings from Tees-side to 227 ports. The maximum periodicity is one month, and some of the sailings are biweekly. There are also a further 157 ports which the pamphlet details as "inducement offers". This is important when we come to sell our exports. We should talk about this outside the North-East.

We in the North-East have a duty to perform. Let us lobby the economists and journalists who write in the Financial Times and such newspapers. There is a myth growing that the South-East will grow more rapidly than other areas through entry into the Common Market. That is not based on fact. There is an opportunity for the North-East to show that there are facilities there for getting goods into the Common Market, and I hope that every Member in the North-East will say so.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

When my hon. Friend talks about sailings to the Common Market, will he bear in mind that it is usually the ships that sail from the North-East which are the first to get up the St. Lawrence Seaway?

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

I could not agree more, though for three months of the year they cannot do it because the place is iced up. I hear that there is talk about sending submarines, for that reason. What should the Government do?

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

I expect that type of retort from hon. Members opposite. I am not pleading as if I were interested only in the North-East. I feel that I am a nationalist. We should consider the problem in this way. The Government are losing opportunities for national advancement because they have neglected the North-East. I recommend my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour to read the Financial Times leader of this morning. It says: Whenever business slackens, the effect is first felt in those parts of the country beyond the Tees-Exe line". I discovered that the Exe is in Devon. The writer of that leading article went on to draw a line between those two rivers and said that it would be found that unemployment in London was 1·1 per cent., in Yorkshire 1·4—below the line—in the North-West 2·3, Wales 2·6, in the North-East 3·2, Scotland 3·3 and Northern Ireland 7·2—above the line.

The great problem which is facing us, and has faced us since the war, is that of obtaining growth without inflation. In the North-East there is opportunity for growth without inflation, though I acknowledge that when we have to have a credit squeeze in order to defend our currency we "catch out" in these areas. We look to the Government now to recognise this fact, and I do not denigrate "Neddy". That body has a part to play here, and we in the North-East should say to "Neddy", "Look at these areas. Your job is to find out how we can have growth without inflation. Here is an opportunity in these areas. Give us new industry and we will give you growth without inflation." That is the constructive way of going about it.

What else should the Government do? They should speed depreciation and investment allowances. This is important in my division. If the Government do this, the steel works will pick up production again. Those firms in the North-East which carry out gigantic engineering projects will be able to step up production. My accountant told me the other day—and I have no reason to disbelieve him—that if the manufacturer is allowed to write off his capital investment in one year it makes no difference to the Treasury. The Kennedy Administration in America is doing something like this. It is speeding investment and depreciation allowances. This is one way of stimulating growth in our economy.

I plead with my right hon. Friends to let the senile industries go. It is no use trying to keep senile industries alive by public moneys. Hon. Members opposite think that we should keep coal mines going purely as a social function, to give people work. I do not believe that. If the coal mines are not profitable and cannot be worked for the national good, we must let them go and we should concentrate on the ones that can be worked profitably. That may sound harsh from the humanitarian point of view, but I do not believe that it need be that way.

A few weeks ago in my division Nos. 1 and 2 Britannia steel mills were closed. Those mills were virtually wooden mangles compared with the washing machines our wives now use. We must give industry the new tools and scrap the old ones. Those two mills went out 10 years after their planned time; the companies got 10 years' extra life out of them. They were the last steam-driven cogging mills left in Cleveland. I was glad to see them go, although I was sorry that they had to go now; I wish they could have gone when steel was buoyant.

One speaks of industries dying. The lead mines died in the North-East. Jet died in Whitby—it was knocked out by Spanish jet, which was cheaper. Whitby jet was the best in the world, and I am told that at one time there were 60 jet mines there. They all vanished in a short space of time. An ordnance survey of my division shows old alum mines there. I do not quite know what that was used for, but I believe it was used to get impurities out of iron and steel at that time. We must not fight against change. We must let the senile industries go, and make sure that the growth industries go ahead with all possible speed. It has been said that no capital has been spent in these areas, but hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent in my division in the most modern of industries.

I said that it sounded harsh to say that mines should go that are no longer viable, but I believe that we have to retrain the people displaced from them. The older people are a problem, but there are the younger ones. I lived through the anxiety of leaving Crook school at 14 years of age and wondering who on earth would employ me. I had that anxiety at 14, and I understand it in others. We have to train and retrain these people. We must have schemes to deal with redundancy, and I look to the Government to do it.

When it comes to training people for technical jobs, I can only say that I was a fitter in the Royal Air Force at one time, and I can file a "thou" of an inch with the next man. I learned that job because war-time conditions demanded that I should; 16 weeks for the mechanics' course, another 16 weeks for the fitters' course, then three weeks on the instructors' course, and I was teaching people to be fitters, and enjoying every moment of it.

We have to use the Local Employment Act to the utmost, and we must not think in terms of areas that are too small. Hon. Members opposite fall into the trap of thinking that nobody wants to travel to work, but young people do not want to stay in the small local area; if they live in a village they want the bright lights of the small town. They are attracted to the more vigorous action in the towns. We cannot stop them— it is a human frailty. We have to think of travelling in terms of going 10 miles to work. We have to think of these development districts as gathering in people from an area of approximately 10 miles around.

The next thing is self-help. What can the North-East do for itself. It is doing quite a lot already, but it has to stop crying stinking fish. It has to get out and sell its wares hard and commercially. And we must stop calling it the North-East. It conjures up a certain picture in this House, and when people are asked about it they think of Jarrow and the hunger march, and think of us as living in a sort of Siberia. I can assure those who are not knowledgeable of the North-East that it is not a bit like that. I think that we should call it the Three Rivers Country, and reject the name of North-East. I have test marketed it and find many people in the North-East think that that is a pleasant name. It is a pleasant name. It lends itself to advertising and plugging. It presents a nice picture of the area and the three rivers point at the E.E.C.

We must accept change and sell change to the people in the North-East. We must let them know that it is in their interests that things are changed. We must get the unions to accept more apprentices. I come across this problem every day in my division. They must in their own interests accept more apprentices. Employers must allow more apprentices to go out on day release. Ultimately our main shortage in the North-East will be skilled labour. We must recognise this. The trade unions must be asked to recognise it, because it is in their own interests that they should recognise it.

Further, we must start tidying up our towns and villages. Some of them are not quite what they should be. Nobody in the North-East can deny this. Some of the towns I know still look like they did when I was a small boy. I can take hon. Members to lots of ball alleys in the North-East. It is a game which was dying out when I was a boy. They are there as a sort of monument to the past. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) keeps wanting to save old factories as monuments. I want to get rid of them. I do not want to kept them. They are industrial litter. I do not mind one or two being retained, but the rest should be cleared out of the way.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

Will the hon. Gentleman say when I said that I wanted to save old factories?

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

If the hon. Member checks on some of his Questions, he will find that he asked that Question. I was tempted to put a supplementary question when he asked it.

Further, we must give the right priority to local roads. The priorities for roads in my division are shockingly hopeless. The county council eternally blames the Government. As far as I can ascertain, for local roads the Minister of Transport accepts the priority given him by the county council. The county council is opting out of its responsibility and trying to blame the central Government. I suppose that this is an eternal game between county councils and central Governments. We in Cleveland need better roads from the older areas—from the old ironstone mines—to the banks of the Tees, to the industrial areas. Some of these roads will be quite cheap to improve. They have right-angled corners in flat green fields and sudden dips. One genius, who was the road engineer for the North Riding, decided that the safest way to organise traffic was to put bridges at an oblique angle to the road to slow the traffic down. That gentleman is responsible for more deaths than anybody in the North Riding.

Photo of Mr John Ainsley Mr John Ainsley , North West Durham

The hon. Gentleman has never been a member of a county council, otherwise he would not say that. The highways and bridges department of a county council sets out a list and submits it to the Minister of Transport. He is the one who decides the priorities.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

The priorities are offered, suggested or advised by the county council. I served on a council for eight years. I remember bidding up what we in Scarborough could get from the North Riding County Council. People were shocked when I suggested that we should go for three times more than we expected to get. We got twice as much as we expected to get. I hope that my local authorities will do that.

I sometimes think that the North Riding County Council does not realise that my area has had a 22 per cent. increase in population, probably the most fabulous area of growth in Britain. This terrific growth has not satisfied us in Cleveland. We want further growth. We want a greater variety of industry. I acknowledge that this greater variety will come in good time when we get plenty of people trained. I am glad to say that the two major industries in my division are very enlightened. They train many apprentices. When we get that future picture, I am sure that some of the young chaps with skills will go off and start back-street factories. Probably in a few years' time, or perhaps 50 years' time, Members of Parliament will be complaining that there is congestion in the North-East and that back-street factories are competing with the big boys. I do not know. I am confident that in time there will be plenty of small back-street factories. This would give enormous flexibility and resilience of employment.

Has my right hon. Friend any news of a factory which is empty in my division on the North Skelton Trading Estate? It is of 50,000 square feet. Has my right hon. Friend any news of possible tenants for the factory?

I am sorry to hear hon. Members opposite denigrate the pipeline of jobs to a division. We all ask this question. In my constituency there are 3,000 in the pipeline and everyone asks, how long is the pipeline? To show how I trust the pipeline, I quote what was said in the Scottish debate last week. The President of the Board of Trade pointed out that the number of jobs in the pipeline estimated for 1960 to 1962 was 55,000 and by May, 1962, 51,000 of those jobs had materialised and there were still seven months to go. He gave additional figures after that, so this gives me some hope that these figures will prove correct.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Will not the horn. Member agree that there is constantly a failure to admit how many jobs will be lost altogether? Unless we strike the net balance, to talk about the pipeline is useless.

Mr. Prondfoot:

I agree with the hon. Member, but those figures are very difficult to get. I went to a meeting a fortnight ago and had previously suggested to the Tees-side Development Board that it should get exactly the figures the hon. Member has mentioned. It did so, but it considered that the figures were so hush-hush that the horn. Member and I could not be told them. If we think about those figures we can see that it would be dangerous to issue them in any area, because people would lose confidence. There are always some jobs which must go because of the march of progress.

This is what I mentioned before when I said that some mines must close. An ironstone mine was closed in my constituency recently, but ironstone mines were being closed before I was born. There used to be 60 of them in my division and now there are only two. When the last one closed the local politicians had nothing else to talk about and they gloated over the unemployment. I do not gloat over it; I am distressed by it. I have done my best to help in this problem of unemployment, but I would rather do it behind the scenes than gloat and make political capital out of it as my opponents have done.

Photo of Mr Ernest Fernyhough Mr Ernest Fernyhough , Jarrow

Did the figures which the President of the Board of Trade gave about jobs in the pipeline include the figures which the hon. Member was not given?

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

My right hon. Friend has never maintained that these figures were included.

Great play has been made about what the Socialist Party did about direction of industry when it was in power. I take another figure from last week's Scottish debate. In six years when hon. Members opposite were in power they spent £4·8 million on the redistribution of industry. In the last two and a half years this Government have spent £73 million. This is a pretty good showing when we compare the figures. I cannot see that the party opposite has anything to be pleased about.

The President of the Board of Trade and the Government must realise that there are real opportunities in the North-East and we can profit by them if they manage to get new and more industry to the area. I am sure that so far the Government have done a good job. I hope that they will carry on in the same fashion.

12.44 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Stones Mr William Stones , Consett

The hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proud-foot) and some of his hon. Friends have criticised hon. Members on this side of the House during the debate, saying that they were moaning and groaning about the situation in the North-East and that such groaning and moaning would tend to destroy confidence in the North-East. I wonder what course is open to hon. Members who represent constituencies in the area other than that of voicing grievances and bringing to the notice of the House the conditions which are causing them so much concern. That is the only way we can deal with the matter. As for destroying confidence in the North-East, our constituents' confidence in us would be destroyed if we did not make an effort to bring to the notice of the Minister and of the House the situation in the North-East. The hon. Member for Cleveland preferred to call it the "land of the three rivers," but whether one uses that name or calls it the North-East makes no difference to the situation.

I am glad that the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) has remained in his place. This has been a long debate and one could have excused the hon. Member had he left, like some of his hon. Friends have done. He referred to the mining industry, which his hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland called a senile industry. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South asked, however, a question similar to that asked some time ago by his noble Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Viscount Lambton), namely, whether we on this side did not consider that it would be much to the advantage of the miners if they were no longer miners.

As a miner for many years, first as a practical miner and then as a mines inspector, I have viewed with concern the conditions in our mines. Mining is an arduous and hazardous task. Whatever the improvements which have taken place in working conditions, mining still remains an unpleasant task. If we could be guaranteed that all our miners, if taken from the mines, would be given more congenial tasks with equal remuneration, if we could guarantee a constant and adequate supply of the fuel that we require, both in peace and in war, and, what is probably even more important, if we could guarantee supplies of the alternative fuel when it is no longer the alternative but is essential, and at an economic price, I would say that we should close the pits and bring the miners to the surface. The hon. Member for Sunderland, South, must, however, agree that those conditions have not yet been fulfilled.

The hon. Member and his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) referred to labour relations. It was suggested that there were restrictive practices in industry which should be swept away. I agree entirely that there are certain restrictive practices which, in the interests of the nation, should be swept aside. Far too many people, however, are of the opinion that good labour relations simply mean that the employer must have everything his own way. That is not good relations.

There may still be some hon. Members who would prefer to have a pool of unemployment so as to exercise undue restraint upon the activities of so-called militant workers in the effort to better their conditions of labour and their 'living standards. In the not too distant past, many of us on this side of the House very often heard the statement that if a man was not satisfied with his job, there were scores of people in the pityard waiting to take it. That cannot be denied. Many of us have heard it, not only in the pits, but elsewhere. As a result of a vast reservoir of unemployed labour, an employer could, by the use of such statements, at least attempt to intimidate the men who were in work.

I agree that a tremendous improvement has taken place over recent years. However, it may well be that some people on the employing side would regard this as being a desirable situation. It is true enough, of course, that we have our idle Jacks, men who prefer to live at the expense of others, the work-shy, the irresponsible, with no scruples, but I would say again that not all of those people are on one side of industry— not by any means—and we are very fortunate in this country in that the vast majority of our workpeople are honest and hard working. Were it not so, we could not have been enjoying the high standard of life we now enjoy.

I, like many of my hon. Friends, have had experience of being unemployed and of taking home the totally inadequate dole we got weekly, and in spite of what the hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) said—I am pleased to see him entering the Chamber again—when he referred to the 1929 Government, it is a fact that there were millions of unemployed—3 million unemployed—following the demise of the 1929–31 Government. I was one of them. There were then literally millions of unemployed permanently, and many hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, more who were working only one, two and three shifts a week. I had that experience, too.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North—I am sorry to see he is not in the Chamber—suggested that While this was true of the 'thirties it was not any longer true in the North. I am not suggesting for a moment that the present situation in the Northern Region is anywhere near as crucial as the situation in the Northern Region was in the 'thirties, and I am not suggesting, either, that any Member on that side of the House would have us return to the conditions which we suffered in that period, but what I am saying is that when a man is unemployed—let alone 10,000 or 3 million—he suffers, and that we must be concerned when a man becomes unemployed. With unemployment for an extended period, such as we had in the 'thirties, or between 1929 and 1931, there is very grave danger of demoralisation, not only of the man himself, but of his family, too. Because of this, not because we are groaning and moaning, we express our concern for the northern region, and I think that such concern should be—and can be and is—readily understood by some at least of hon. Members on the other side of the House.

I may be forgiven if I refer now to my own constituency and the situation which we find there. We have two employment exchange areas in the Consett division, Consett and Stanley, both of which are now listed as development districts. In Consett we have 2.5 per cent. of unemployment, not a large percentage, but it is double what we had a year ago, and that is very significant. In Stanley we have 3.5 per cent. of unemployment. At least, these are the figures given in the Ministry of Labour Gazette for June. The figures included all classes of unemployed. I am told that there is very little prospect for those areas in the immediate future. There is very considerable apprehension in my constituency about the future despite its being listed as a development district.

The main industries in the constituency are coal and steel. The Stanley area is one of the oldest mining areas in the country. Coal has been worked there for centuries. Now many of the pits are closing because of exhaustion and one or two because they are uneconomic. As miners, we appreciate why pits should be dosed when seams are exhausted. We know what pits are for; when there is no coal there, we do not need the pit. We can also appreciate the reason for closing pits in the other category. There are bound to be further closures in the very near future.

I do not blame the Dunham division of the National Coal Board for the situation. With the co-operation of the Durham area of the National Union of Mineworkers, it has done its very best to stave off the worst effects of the inevitable contraction of the industry. It is very largely, in my opinion, due to the Government's policy, or lack of policy, for fuel that the closures are taking place.

Despite the efforts of the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers, the manpower in the Durham division—these figures were given by the chairman of fine Durham division of the Board and ought to be accepted as authentic—has been reduced by nearly 18,000 in the past four years, and it is estimated that there will be a further reduction of 16,500 in the next five years. Whether the reduction is brought about by natural wastage, by men unfortunately being incapacitated by injury or respiratory disease or by non-recruitment, the fact remains that there will be that number of jobs fewer in the county. Whatever may be said about jobs in the pipeline, we shall still be losing that number of jobs, and that must not be forgotten.

Turning to steel, much the same can be said about the Consett Iron Company and the trade union there as I have said about the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mine-workers. The company has a very large steelworks which is known throughout the world for the quality of the material that it produces. I am sure that it has done its best to cushion the effects of the recession in the steel industry, but hundreds of its employees are being rendered redundant. Despite the efforts of the company to maintain its labour at work as constantly as possible, it is having to resort to short-time working for many hundreds. The system is for men to work for a certain number of weeks and then have a week off.

I am told that prospects for the company are very dim. I have here excerpts from the report of Viscount Ridley, the chairman. The hon. Member for Cleveland talked about obsolete plant in his constituency. Last year, Lord Ridley's company spent £14 million on the first of three new projects by installing one of the finest rolling mills in the country.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

It is only one small small item of plant which is out of date in my constituency. Most of my steel works there are bang up to date.

Photo of Mr William Stones Mr William Stones , Consett

The owners of that out-of-date equipment should have brought it up to date.

Viscount Ridley says in his report Chat the new rolling mill is working at 50 per cent. capacity, but it is only economic if it is working at least at 70 per cent. capacity. He adds that output and profits are falling and the company is actually working at a loss. He can see no prospect of improvement in the near future.

It has been suggested that there are vacancies for redundant miners in other coal fields. But how can we expect men of 50 and over to migrate with enthusiasm to other areas? Is it fair even to the younger men, with all their ties to their own home districts, to compel them to move like this?

There are other aspects. My hon. Friend the Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley) referred to falling rateable values. Facilities and social amenities have been built up over the years in many districts now being left derelict by migration. Migration is taking place, and we can understand men, despairing of the future in this area, who are leaving. But we are not overjoyed at the prospect of losing them. We do not wish to be an ageing population.

I, too, want to refer to the problem of the school leavers. I am told that one in 15 of the boys and girls in my area who left school at Easter have still to find jobs. They will be joined by nearly 800 others at the end of the summer term. I am told that there may be just a few vacancies for girls by then but that so far there is little prospect for the boys, though a limited number may find jobs in the mines. I think that we are entitled to ask the Government, in all sincerity, what they intend to do about this situation.

It is not, I admit, a simple task and I recognise the fact that we cannot expect a magic wand to be waved to bring about remedial action, but we must ask the Government to apply themselves to the task, not only in order to avoid the serious consequences of the present unemployment, but also to deal with the effects of the inevitable contraction of the mining industry in this area. I say "inevitable" because it is bound to take place. One or two of the least economic pits we already know are to close and, because of the topsy-turvy capitalist economics of this country, we experience from time to time crises and recurring depression.

Heavy industry such as we have in the North-East suffers first from any recession, and it is, equally, the last to recover. We in the North-East "get it in the neck" all the time. What is the solution? Our rejoinder to that question is that it is up to the Government. But a partial solution to our problem would be for the Government to adopt an expansionist policy in our economy. In the last few years everybody knows that there has been no expansionist policy and, consequently, heavy industry, shipbuilding, ship repairing, and coal mining, have not worked to full capacity.

Only this morning I read of a survey by British manufacturers telling us that in the whole of the country about 35 per cent. of the industries submitting reports showed an upward trend, while about 45 per cent. were stated to be stagnant, and about 20 per cent. were in decline, and no improvement was seen to be likely in the immediate future.

In areas where mining has ceased or is about to cease we must have alternative industries. Mention has been made of the North-East Trading Estates; and in this connection I am glad to see that the hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) is in her place again. I do not wish to enter into an argument with her as to who was responsible for this development. The fact is that the trading estate is there and we are very glad to have it. I am particularly pleased because in the Greencroft area there is a ball-bearing factory which employs more than 2,000 people. What we should have done without the trading estate and, particularly,, without the ballbearing firm, I can only leave hon. Members to guess.

We must have alternative industries in the region. I am told that nearly all of Durham County is listed as a development district, but there does not seem to be any rush of industrialists to take ad-vantage of the many opportunities which are provided as a result of the area being so listed. I am not sure whether being listed as a development district is a very great inducement to industrialists. It is a purely marginal matter and I wonder if there is the fullest co-operation between the various departments responsible for the siting of industry and the making of grants available in the North-East to potential industrialists.

In the North-East we have sites, water and power and some of the finest labour power available. I have talked to industrialists in my division, and they have all expressed the view that they are quite satisfied with the calibre of their employees, many of them ex-miners. They are adaptable, hard-working men and women.

Why do industrialists concentrate on other regions with as low as 1·2 per cent. unemployed, such as London and the South-East? There are many factors to be taken into consideration when choosing a site, and we know that these people go shopping for sites. We have everything available for them. It has been seriously suggested to me that one of the factors responsible for industrialists failing to set up industries in the North is that their wives object to going North. It is said that the North is not a nice place to live. Hon. Members on both sides of the House have made it clear that in fact it is a very fine place to live. We have the industrial scars of the pits and slag heaps, but most industrialists, and their wives, have cars, and within a few minutes they can leave the industrial scars behind and be in countryside as pleasont as one would wish to see. We have everything necessary. I leave the Government with this thought: as we have all that is necessary, it is up to them to provide the rest as an inducement to potential industrialists.

1.12 a.m.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

I welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate even at this hour and to add my voice to those of my right hon. and hon. Friends about the problems which we face in the North-East. My hon. Friend the Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) said that we had everything which was needed for industrialists to be induced to go to the North-East. I will take this up with him; already there is a threat to close the branch railway lines in vital parts of the North-East. Only recently we were told that the Central Electricity Generating Board had decided to postpone indefinitely the project which we had expected in the County of Durham—a new power station. The Minister of Power has promised to have a further meeting with us about the estimates of demand for electrical energy in the North-East in the future.

But we must bear in mind that if projects for power stations are to be turned down and if branch lines are to be closed, the lines of communication will be disrupted and the future demand for electricity will not be met. In that event, how can we plan industrial development for the North-East as it should be planned? These facilities must be provided before deciding what industries should be encouraged to come to our part of the country.

I want to refer to the issue which has been raised time and again this evening, the success or otherwise of the Local Employment Act. When the Bill was introduced into the House by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was then the President of the Board of Trade, it was with great enthusiasm and optimism that he talked about how it would benefit the areas about which we are talking tonight. He led us to believe that this measure would supersede all previous Government measures to deal with the location of industry, and that the problem of areas of high unemployment would be expeditiously and efficiently dealt with. Further, it was said that the measure would not only deal with existing unemployment, but would anticipate further unemployment and deal with it before much harm was done. As many of my hon. Friends have said, the Act has done very little to solve the problems of the North-East. Very few firms have been attracted into the area to set up new factories.

I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Consett that the North-East, because of the highly specialised nature of its industrial structure, is extremely sensitive to the economic situation in the rest of the country. It is true that we have had periods of economic expansion when the economy as a whole has been expanding, but these periods of expansion have not lasted very long. Indeed, as soon as our industries have got into their stride the Government have introduced restrictionist policies which have out back production, and as a result industries in the North-East have been the first to suffer because of Government action.

The Government's attempts to solve the problem of the distribution of industry have been futile. I know that it is not easy to solve this problem in the North-East. I know ail about the difficulties. I know of the resistance by industrialists to the blandishments of the Government to go to our area, and we all know of the bogies which have been raised by industrialists who have been asked to go there by the Board of Trade. They have raised the bogy of extra transport costs, the prestige value of siting an industry in the right area, and so on. Also, as my hon. Friend the Member for Consett pointed out, the wives of industrialists and managers are reluctant to move from the South to the North-East.

We have heard about these difficulties on many occasions, and it is a sad reflection on the present system— indeed a condemnation of it—that economic stability and the future prospects of thousands of men depend on the whims and fancies of the wives of managers and industrialists. That is the situation with which we are faced, and of course under the Local Employment Act industrialists and managers are able to raise these bogies with the Board of Trade when the Board tries to induce them to establish industry in an area of high unemployment, like the North-East.

This fact lies at the heart of the problem. We must accept that the Government's main instrument in carrying out their policy of industrial location is inducing private industry to go to areas such as the North-East. I believe that to continue this policy, without any alternative, means that in the long term the situation will only become more serious and in the process will seriously undermine the country's economic strength. It is therefore hopeless for the Government to rely entirely, as they do under the Local Employment Act, on private industry to deal with problems of persistent high unemployment and the siting of industries in places like the North-East. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) that the Government should produce an entirely new policy to deal with what has become the No. 1 priority in that part of the country.

If the Government are sincere in their desire to deal with the contraction of the long-standing basic industries of the North-East they must be prepared to allow public enterprise to play a more important part in solving the problem of unemployment. They should be prepared to assist and encourage the nationalised industries to widen their activities in these areas. Local authorities, with their direct labour schemes, should also play their part in clearing out pockets of unemployment. Bodies like the North-East Development Council—and this has been suggested by Mr. George Chetwynd, the chairman of that Council—should be given the opportunity and financial assistance from the Government to enable them to play a more positive part in buying sites and building new factories at strategic points in the North-East. These are only some of the suggestions to which I hope the Government will pay proper regard.

As usual, we hon. Members on this side of the House who represent North-East constituencies have been condemned by hon. Members opposite as exaggerating pessimists in dealing with these problems. This is far from being true. We are super-optimists, as we must be when a Tory Government are dealing with them. No one realises as well as we do the potentialities of the North-East and the quality of the labour force there. Men who have grown up in the rough tradition of coal mining, shipbuilding and heavy engineering, with all their dangers and anxieties, are men of outstanding qualities. They are the country's greatest assets, and not one of them should be allowed by the Government to rot on the dole. Furthermore, experience has shown time and time again that not only are these men used to hard work but they are highly adaptable to new skills and techniques. The tragedy of it is that tens of thousands of them are waiting to prove this very point.

The Government must take realistic and positive action to overcome the serious position that is developing in our part of the country. I hope that they will pay proper regard to some of the methods that have been suggested from this side of the House. We cannot ignore the fact that tens of thousands of our people are unable to forecast when they will find another job. Out of every 1,000 of the insured population, 35 are unemployed at the moment. As has been said time and time again from these benches, we have thousands of youngsters looking for jobs and many of them do not know what the future holds for them. This problem of youth employment is causing the greatest worry imaginable to the parents, the local education committees and youth employment organisations because none of them can see any solution to the problem.

I ask the Government to remember that the north-east of England has contributed tremendously over the years in experience, skill, culture and leadership, not only to this country but to many parts of the world. Therefore, the Government have a great responsibility and obligation to this part of the country, and they should give serious consideration to the suggestions which have been made so that our people may look forward to the future with security and dignity.

1.27 a.m.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

It is a sign of the bankruptcy of the party opposite that they claim credit for ideas that they did not originate and for schemes that they did not develop. I refer to the Distribution of Industry Act. Pushed by forces particularly in the North-East just before the outbreak of the war, they set up the Uthwatt and Barlow Commissions. On the Reports of those Commissions the Distribution of Industry Act was based. Anybody who knows the inside history of the Cabinet struggles in which my predecessor, the late Hugh Dalton, took part will know that it was only with reluctance that the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) accepted the ideas of the Uthwatt and Barlow Reports which Hugh Dalton subsequently carried out.

It was technically correct, as the President of the Board of Trade said the other day, that the Caretaker Government enacted the legislation, but behind the scenes there was the greatest pressure from the soldiers, the industrial population and the leaders of the Labour Party to get the scheme carried through. The hon. Member for Hexham (Mr. Speir) fell into the same trap as the President of the Board of Trade fell into the other day when he claimed credit for this scheme.

Photo of Sir Rupert Speir Sir Rupert Speir , Hexham

It originated in Measures adopted by the Stanley Baldwin Government in about 1936.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

If the hon. Member claims credit for what the Baldwin Government did for industrial development, he had better look up the history books. Even the simple hisrtory books record the events in a different way. This sort of ambivalence, as it is called in university circles, or as it is called in my constituency "double-talk", has been fairly symptomatic of the speeches from the other side of the House in that they are talking in one voice to the Front Bench and in another voice to the newspapers in their constituencies.

My first impression of the vigour with which the President of the Board of Trade was conducting the administration of the Local Employment Act was gained in a deputation, which I attended in my first few weeks in this House, on the problem of industrial development in County Durham. I remember saying to one of my colleagues—I believe it was George Chetwynd—"Well, the North-East is bottom of the list." That is how it proved to be. The North-East is bottom of the list.

The hon. Member for Hexham unconsciously said that now that South Wales and Merseyside have been dealt with satisfactorily, he thought it was the turn of the North-East. This is one of the things that we complain about. At least the North-East ought to be considered as an equivalent of Merseyside, South Wales and Scotland. We do not claim priority, but for people automatically to assume that the North-East is at the bottom of the list is a downright scandal. That is, in fact, what the figures of the money spent on development show, and what the current unemployment figures show as well.

The trouble with hon. Members opposite, and with the Government, is that they consider the Government's role in the development of industry to be a minor one. When the President of the Board of Trade wound up the Scottish debate on industry and employment just the other day his league table of unemployment was something one could hardly have expected from any Government. He quoted Austria as having a higher unemployment rate, and Jugoslavia as having a higher unemployment rate. He took credit in the fact that our rate was lower than theirs. It was as though Tottenham Hotspurs, having won the Cup and the League two years running, were to congratulate themselves two years later on being top of the Third Division. For a country like ours to have a responsible Minister, who survived the axe, talking like that shows that he does not feel about unemployment as do we on this side.

In the economic debate, he spoke of the 31 I.D.C.s that had had his personal attention. He said that they were issued because it was not possible for brickworks to go anywhere else, and for the other factories to go elsewhere, but it never seemed to dawn on him that if industry were expanding there would be a great amount of industry that could go elsewhere, and far more applications for I.D.C.s than the 31 miserable ones to which he gave his personal attention. The basic trouble is that the economy is barely expanding, and if the President of the Board of Trade is touchy about league tables, surely he should respond to them, where we do badly, with a sense of challenge—but not a bit of it; he invents a phoney league table to show how well we are doing.

It is that attitude of mind that is frequently brought to the House when we on this side ask questions. We are told that a place is in a development district. I think that it was the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot) who said very emphatically that being in a development district did not mean very much, but that is the sort of technical answer that is given time and time again to hon. Members on this side who press the Minister of Labour and the President of the Board of Trade about what is to happen.

My second charge against the Government is that their administration of the development districts is full of administrative blunders. An example is the pit closures. The right hon. Gentleman who was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade and has since been promoted said in front of a number of us in Newcastle that he thought that there was possibly a defect in the notification time that the Coal Board gave to the Board of Trade for dealing with the closures and the setting up of new factories. When pressed by myself and my right hon. Friend the Member for Batter-sea, North (Mr. Jay) he could add nothing further. At Newcastle, a fortnight earlier, he had said that there was the defect of not enough notice being given; in this House, he said that about 12 months was about the maximum notice he could expect. Can anybody believe that in 12 months factories can be built in Bishop Auckland to cope with the closure that is to take place at Eldon Drift Colliery in October?

Again, if the administration is going so well, how does it happen that on 4th July the Railway Workshop Towns Committee should minute the following —and that Committee is not made up of Socialist town councillors. Minute (b) reads: In particular the Government is called upon to promote the preparation of advance plans to ensure alternative employment for men to be declared redundant, and that the Government should require the British Transport Commission to help by making land and/or premises more quickly available for other industries.(c) The British Transport Commission should be required to give very much longer notice of redundancies; naming the towns concerned and should co-operate with the local authorities and Government Departments as to the phasing of the redundancies so as to match up as far as possible with the provision of alternative employment. Hon. Members opposite may well tell me that Shildon is a development district and that the unemployment rate is only 1·2 per cent. I can tell them that the Shildon Council has a factory site of 12 acres to which it has been trying to attract industry. It has been trying to do the job of the Government for nearly two years and has got hardly anybody interested in the factory. There has been no industrial development in expectation of the rundown of the workshop since the passing of the Local Employment Act. Putting Shildon in the list has so far meant nothing.

I will give an example of a different kind of administrative incompetence. There is a firm in my constituency which has two branches one in a small place called Cockfield, up in the fells—we call them fells in Durham—and another in Bishop Auckland. The management of the factory would like to concentrate the two works into one for the sake of efficiency. The Board of Trade according to the law is quite powerless to use its money and influence to decide the concentration in the place which would do the most social good. The Board of Trade does not care about the respective merits of Bishop Auckland and Cock-field.

I represent both places. I shall not be particularly popular for saying that it is highly desirable that the factory should concentrate in Cockfield. This will not be popular in Bishop Auckland. However, if the factory is concentrated and developed in Bishop Auckland three-quarters of the people now employed in Cockfield—that is, three-quarters of the total labour force—will have to travel to Bishop Auckland and the last source of work in Cockfield disappears.

The Act is useless if it cannot bring influence to bear to have the factory concentrated in Cockfield, where the surrounding area is quite denuded of employment. The employment that is in Cockfield should be maintained. The factory will probably concentrate in Bishop Auckland. I hope that it will not, but it looks as if it will. In that case, the Cockfield people will have to travel seven miles and the people living at Copley, Butterknowle and other places will have to travel still further. This will be yet another blow to the industrial development of West Durham.

As I go round talking to industrialists in the area I find this sort of thing. A firm which is making a particularly interesting and useful kind of chassis for sale overseas just cannot make any progress in getting credits—bank credits or Board of Trade credits. Criticism has been levelled today at the rigidity with which B.O.T.A.C. works. It is a fatal mistake to separate B.O.T.A.C. from the Board of Trade The Treasury Bench takes much credit for the fact that B.O.T.A.C. is an advisory body which advises them, but they lose much administrative strength by not being able to influence B.O.T.A.C.'s decisions in a way favourable to areas like mine.

I could make out a staggering case showing the lack of co-ordination between Government Departments. The hon. Member for Cleveland would no doubt like a job on the Front Bench. I was thinking that he might very well do as the television adviser to the new Chancellor, or possibly he could do another job of that description. I would mot mind him being a Secretary of State or a Minister of State for the development of special areas, such as the North-East. It certainly needs some administrative action of this sort to co-ordinate all the things which are necessary to put the North-East really on its feet.

Pitheads are being afforested by the county council. How much more sensible would it be if the Forestry Commission undertook this work and relieved the county council. The Commission by spending a small amount of money could do it with much greater technical competence. It would probably get its trees cheaper. It would probably plan the work better. If it made a big drive, I am sure that this would be a worth while contribution.

In my constituency 420 men in the construction industry are out of work, more building industry workers than miners unemployed. There are 360 miners out of work and 420 in the building industry, yet in the North generally and in my constituency in particular there must be more slum houses which need reconstruction and greater pressure for that kind of thing than in many other areas of the country. I recommend to hon. Members a Fabian pamphlet by a former colleague Member, Barry Culling-worth, "New Towns for Old", which says that in London and the south of England there were 2.8 per cent. of unfit houses—this was in 1955, some time ago, but it is difficult to bring the figures up to date—and in the Northern area the figure was 6.8 per cent. What would be better than to use unemployed building workers to get more accelerated slum clearance?

When I asked the former Minister of Housing and Local Government what he proposed to do about Bishop Auckland, which was among the 50 worst places from a slum clearance point of view, his answer was that when the other places had solved their problem the surveyors, technicians and other people who would he required to service those 50 places would no doubt move in and do the job. I could give many examples of the same kind of thing. As was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell), referring to the letter in the Guardian, a drive to improve amenities and to improve housing, a drive to bring hospitals up to standards in some other parts of the country, could all be accomplished today with the building labour which is available if only there were co-ordination and drive with that co-ordination.

As my hon. Friends have been advocating a Grand Committee for the North-East, I go a step further and say that if the Grand Committee had a sufficiency of responsible Ministers and sufficiently high-powered civil servants to see that the schemes were produced those schemes could be translated into plans.

1.42 a.m.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

One common thread has drawn together hon. Members who have participated in this debate. That thread has been the praise rightly lavished on the people who live and work in the north-east of England.

There has been a suggestion that the area ought to be called the "Three Rivers Area", but I think there is something about the term "North-East" that has a great deal of pride in the past and a good deal to look forward to in the future. As a Northumbrian by adoption, I add my praise to what has been said in this connection. Possibly one of the greatest tributes paid to the area was the decision recently taken, although it was not carried out, to build the new Cunarder on Tyneside instead of in its traditional home in Scotland. I can think of no greater tribute to the shipbuilding skills of the North-East than that decision. The pity is that the policies of the Government did not allow it to come to fruition.

Tribute ought to be paid to the Minister of Labour for the way in which he has sat on the Front Bench throughout this debate. I only wish that he had been flanked during that time by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the President of the Board of Trade, although what I have to say later may seem a little strange. [Interruption.] It is all very well for hon. Members opposite—especially one who has no particular interest in the North-East, although I am glad that he has remained here for such a long time—to point to our Front Bench. Of course, our Front Bench is not yet responsible for solving this problem.

I wish to deal with one point before dealing with some of the matters affecting my constituency. One or two hon. Members opposite have delved back into the historical past. They have endeavoured to prove in the course of those delvings that the theories of industrial development under the Local Employment Act and the other Measures flowing from it were the brainchild of past Conservative statesmen.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

Of all people to be given the credit for this, the most incongruous of the lot was the late Stanley Baldwin.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

That is true. That is history.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

We are now asked to deal with history. If it is an assessment of the manner in which Stanley Baldwin dealt with the industrial and the economic problems of Britain, I recommend the hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) to go no further than to read the writings of the right hon. Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill). When it comes to dealing with Baldwin and with history, despite my reservations on many other matters, I would far sooner listen to the right hon. Member for Wood-ford than the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I am jolly glad to hear it.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

The choice is limited when I have mentioned only the two persons concerned.

Two figures serve as an indictment of the Government's policy. The very fact that this debate has to take place at the end of the Session in 1962 is in itself an indictment of the Government, who have been in power since 1951. It is no use hon. Members opposite getting up and reciting remedies for problems that exist when their Government have had 11 years in power to solve them.

If we look at the figures in relation to that indictment, we can see the pattern emerging. Between 1955 and 1959, something like 340,000 new jobs were created in Britain and only 20,000 of them went to the North-West, the North-East and Scotland. An overwhelming preponderance of jobs came to the Midlands and to the South of England. From 1951, as many hon. Members have pointed out, the drift from the North-East was about 80,000 to 86,000 people.

The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott), who is no longer in his place—I do not blame him for that in a debate of this length—mentioned the direction of labour. He raised his hands in holy horror at the thought of it. Every time that a factory is built, however, we direct labour. Every time that an industrialist decides to set down a plant, there is some degree of direction of labour. [Interruption.]

It is strange that the interruptions that one gets in the course of a debate in this House are always in inverse ratio to the amount of time that the interrupter spends in the House on other occasions. We are entitled at this stage at least to be able to develop points without stupid interruptions of the type that we are hearing. If the hon. Member wants me to give way, I am perfectly wiling to do so, but I am not willing, nor should I be, to be interrupted in this fashion.

On the question of direction of labour, the steering of industries to the areas of high unemployment must be the priority of any Government. As I have said on more than one occasion in the past, the North-East needs only a major break through in one of our major industries and the problem of the area could possibly solve itself—the motor car industry, or plastics or chemicals or steel; but something is needed in addition to those industries we have already in the North-East. That is what makes the tributes to our labour force so important at this stage and in this context.

Hon. Members opposite have paid a great deal of tribute to jobs in the pipeline, and figures were drawn from the debate on Scottish industry last week to demonstrate that the pipeline was an effective method of channelling jobs into the various areas of high unemployment. I turn to my own constituency for a moment. A Question was put down to the President of the Board of Trade as recently as last week. Since December last year, two-thirds of my constituency has been scheduled as a development district. The President of the Board of Trade told us from November, 1960, up to the present moment fewer than 300 new jobs have been provided in an area which has suffered in the same period from considerable pit closures, and the President of the Board of Trade went on to say that he was unable to give any figure for the next 18 months of the number of jobs which would be moved into my constituency. If this is the type of forward planning which the Government are now indulging in, in place of the airy promises which have been given over the last two or three years, then the prospects for the future are duller even than they were. It is not a question of shouting, "Woe," nor is it a question of writing the area down: it is a question of attempting to face realistically the difficulties which confront us in the north-east of England.

I agree with the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) and others who touched on this question of keeping people underground in order to extract coal: I agree that is not in keeping with the needs of the second half of the twentieth century, and that the extracting of coal by different methods and the use of coal in other forms are questions which occupy the attention of the National Coal Board at the moment, but it is not sufficient to say that this is what we want for the future of the coal industry. If we agree that this is so, if the Government agree that this is so—and hon. Members opposite have indicated that it is—then the question of producing alternative industries for the areas of pit decline is the No 1 priority of the Government at the moment.

It has bean said—I hope there is only some truth in it—that until the National Coal Board has the required intake of miners in the receiving areas, the prospect of industries being sited in the areas where pits are being closed is fairly remote. I hope that the Minister of Labour will pay particular attention to this aspect of the problem because the figures we received from the President of the Board of Trade did not indicate this trend. It may be that Government help will be needed in the areas of pit closure during the transitional period between the closing of the pits and the arrival of new industries.

Tribute ought to be paid in this debate to the far-sighted social policy of Jim Bowman when he was at the National Coal Board, when stocks of coal were being piled in and around the pit areas. That policy was beneficial not only to those working in the pits but to the Board and ultimately to the country. I am not saying that that is a policy which could go on indefinitely, but it is one for the transitional period between the closing of pits and the provision of alternative industry.

What is true of the mining industry is equally true of the other great basic industries of the North-East. My right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) raised the question of the nationalised industries and the contracts and orders that they were able to give to firms in different parts of the country. Apart from contracts being diverted to those areas, there is no reason why the firms which have benefited from those contracts should not, when they are considering expansion, be persuaded to move into the areas to which the products of their orders are being transferred. All this could have an effect on the present unemployment figures.

Not a great deal that is new can be said in a debate of this description at this hour. I want to close as I started, by paying tribute to the people of the area. This is not something which can be overdone; it ought to be stressed again and again. We have been told that what is needed for the North-East is self-help. I pay tribute to what the Northumberland County Council has done to attract new industries to the area, to the advertising methods that it has used in showing the amenities of the county, the industrial sites and the potential labour force available; and to the local authorities in my constituency and other constituencies which have struggled in season and out of season to attract new industries to their areas and have done a first-rate job in providing sites which are second to none in Britain.

The one thing lacking in all this effort has been the Government's ability to do the job. We are suffering not only from neglect of the North-East but from neglect of the nation's economy as a whole. If the Government allow the nation's economy to run down, then the North-East and similar areas are the greatest sufferers. The real trouble with the Government Front Bench

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

I know that hon. Members opposite are tired at this stage and cannot get on their feet, but that is no reason to interrupt hon. Members in this fashion.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I only asked a question.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

The hon. Lady has been long enough in this House to know that she should get on her feet when asking questions. The real trouble with the Government Front Bench is that they are completely unfitted to lead a great industrial nation in the second half of the twentieth century. They have been losing their grip and impetus since 1955. We watched the great post-war developments; now there is a state of decline. We have made our appeals to the Government, but in the last analysis the only solution to the problems of the North-East, as it is of the problems of the country as a whole, is a change of Government as quickly as possible.

2.2 a.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Woof Mr Robert Woof , Blaydon

Whether or not hon. Members opposite dislike hearing tales of misery and woe, I must remind them of the motive behind this debate, for a clear conception of the black clouds looming over the people of these mining districts, who are affected by the adverse changes taking place, is necessary. These changes prove how severe is the test of events that will make it very difficult for people to obtain alternative employment, and what we seek is of enormous importance to human welfare.

I believe, for what is morally right, that the cast of thought which emerges from such changes and the troubles that arise in their wake enables one to judge for oneself in witnessing the prospects for economic life in these areas coming to a standstill as the result of pit closures. The picture is all the more vivid when it is realised that the problem is more far-reaching in extent than any other problem we are encountering. It can only lead to further unemployment and depressed standards.

There is redundancy in practically every part of the mining industry in my constituency. We cannot blindly accept such retrograde conditions. We are forced to face the problem of the provision of alternative employment and we in turn must force the Government to do so. The discouraging signs of the present time compel us to devote the most careful and serious attention to this. There is much to be said about redundancy, but to find the cause of such a matter of fact thing is allied, I suggest, to the positive outcome of Tory Government policy; it is not a superfluous undertaking. I ardently believe that such an indubitable undertaking is right to place exact stipulation as a merciless and ruthless attack by the Government.

Judging developments that are taking place, it is not in vain to be consistent with the facts in recognising that the Coal Board is charged with the responsibility to implement policy; but in the circle of activity, the test to be applied cannot be separated. For what is regarded to be in the form of strictest obedience to the Government, none has been nearer to success than the pit closures. They are being carried out with so much acumen as to result in the disintegration of the mining industry in certain areas.

Apart from the galaxy of philosophy that we are accustomed to hear from this Government, there are probably few people who would disagree that muscles and lives are the essential materials needed to produce coal—with all the risks involved—but to add my own varied experience I can say that no miner can ever hope to gain an inestimable reward from the skill, sweat, and toil of working in the mines. The point which should claim attention, and which can be summed up as the necessity to keep in mind, is that the loss of even such a livelihood is a much more serious affair.

For many, it will be the last time that they will ever see inside a coal mine for, being victims of the circumstances, they have no hope of ever returning to the industry in which, hitherto, they have earned their living. In the meantime, the dismantling and breaking up of the surface plants is being carried out, with the withdrawal of haulage equipment and the withdrawing of underground roadway supports, resulting in the cutting off of ventilation. This creates great earth movements in falls of roof, while the flooding of mines is conclusive proof that they will never again go into production.

This is unlike anything ever before witnessed in the industry and this method of extinction is maintained by the element of fear and uncertainty. An unwarranted assumption would be an error but I believe that experience and stern facts oblige us to view the prospects for the future with serious concern. In the circumstances, I feel that it is incumbent upon me to refer to the great human problems involving the happiness and the livelihood of our people. I would be prepared to say with all solemnity that so many different sides of human affairs attract attention that the problems presented are among the gravest in the social and economic life of people that I know of.

This is not gloomy imagery. Redundancy is not without reaction. The more we think over it, the more we must realise how mental anguish has got hold of the public mind. Every passing day affords us to confine such thoughts, as to know in advance where we stand in matters of closures is most disconcerting. Such thoughts are warranted by facts, for amid the welter of economic change to guess precisely what form the transformation will take is not beyond the scope of prophecy. It is not difficult to fathom the mood which dominates the domestic position.

At a time of unprecedented distraction it is vitally important to gain a general idea of the inadequate pool of jobs and built into this, the more staggering it is to think that we are moving into a downward phase of permanent decline by gravitation to a greater crop of pit closures. It is not a situation which is being jerked by blind faith. Those who are already experiencing the growing frustration cannot rest satisfied while their existence is being invaded by economic farces and other factors. The sources of the present difficulties are thwarted by economic causes which go deeper as a consequence of these economic movements, and the requirements actively to deal with the circumstances which confront us can be improved only by the introduction of new industries.

To give a fuller and franker recognition of redundancy in my constituency, I do so for the reason that it has followed in continuous succession for some time now. I was never so firmly persuaded that the problem of trying to soften the blow could be solved by merely patching up. The transferring of men, which has operated by degrees, assumes greater gravity when viewed in the clear light of trying to keep men in employment. The fact is that serious problems were involved in the effort to facilitate the objective of employing as many men as could be found places in the industry.

These heavy responsibilities are accompanied by the closing of collieries and various transfers of men here and there to relieve the pressure. Although I do not want to be more generous in the use of adjectives, I must say that the efforts of the Divisional Coal Board in this respect could be called praiseworthy, but even although it has been able to initiate these measures, it has to be frankly admitted that we have reached the stage when further transfers in the constituency will have to be completely cancelled out.

In one form or another I think that what should be placed on record is the ample evidence of men who for some time past have been transferred, and who still continue to be transferred, out of the area to such places as the Midlands and South Wales. While this represents toleration, I must reserve my own apprehension about security for such areas, particularly in regard to the success of a final phase in the competitive struggle with other sources of power and energy. However, taking transfers into account, many have felt the urge to migrate and have decided to try their luck because prospects seem a little brighter. It may well 'be that these transfers will thin the ranks of the younger people, but it will also mean removing their spending power from the area. Such a loss is felt most keenly in various businesses and one can well imagine how the order of such things contributes to the worry of business people.

Whatever might be the desire of individuals, there is another important facet which brings us to the core of our difficulties. Nothing can obscure the fact that many excellent workmen, while possessing qualities of heart, but partly because of the fear of the break-up of the family and broken ambitions, prefer to stay behind. But continued in many forms, the one chief fact that weighs its meaning is that the cream of the population is by no means skimmed off. Let it not be assumed that the remaining population consists of the least efficient and the least active members of the community.

Perhaps nothing shows more clearly than those thousands that are tied down. Without fault of their own they are victims to the contingencies of closures but a little reflection suffices to make it dear that in relation to the non-mining community the broken end of change has its unfavourable effect. Without any figurative exaggeration, the non-mining community makes up the majority. Its inclusion shows the true density, because its roots are a direct product of the attraction to the mining areas that took place in years gone by. Therefore it is easy to understand the part that altruistic feelings play, and allowances must be made in the conduct of social and recreational activities, and religious associations.

Perhaps going further I might say that the trend of decline in which the scales are so heavily loaded gives these people legitimate grounds for anxiety, inevitably evolving on the basis of inadequate opportunity of acquiring alternative work in the area. The sensitiveness of the individual mind always turns on the need for industrial development. This is a task which specially calls for attention and thoughtfulness. There is nothing to compare with these rapid changes. It is not much use groping blindly for escape. What is needed is a broad and humane outlook which should at least attract interest in the mental picture when the common routine of work is withdrawn.

Nevertheless, in the conduct of public affairs, it is vital to avoid sinking into difficulties and becoming more discouraged. Over and above everything else, just as events have contributed to effects under a number of phases, in the last resort I ask what of the future? We cannot escape our obligations. The Government cannot abdicate their responsibilities. There must be opportunities for absorption in new employment which will enable 'people to take their rightful places in useful production. I might be told that I am sadly misjudging the situation, but if any Member on the Treasury Bench thinks that this is capricious thinking on my part I would gladly welcome any steps which the Government may wish to take to inquire into these conditions.

Whatever may be necessary to improve the outlook, nothing could be nearer to our thinking than all the wants and desires that should be projected to achieve a steady rate of long-term economic growth. In any standard of duty, if the setting up of the National Economic Development Council, as we have been told over and over again, represents the attempt to achieve a 4 per cent. growth rate, then we must be emphatic that changes so fundamental must proceed from it as a sequence in which every age and every generation must adapt itself to changing circumstances.

We should really look upon it as a goal to which we should push on with all possible speed, consistent with the. fact that all intelligent and conscientious workers try to express themselves in creative effort. Under whatever form expressed, it is sometimes nauseating to hear remarks about having to work harder, longer and efficiently as a remedy. But it is not asking too much to expect a new drive when the point has been reached An the task to make work for those who want. There can be no doubt about the answer from this side of the House. We believe it must be fitted into a proper utilisation of the available productive resources and geared to a systematic planning of the entire economy.

Things being as they are in the conditions of existence, the only bright note I can conclude on is to express appreciation to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade for being kind enough to draw my attention in a letter to the fact that my constituency has been added to the list of development districts under the 1960 Act. I assure him that I sincerely appreciate the effort and the decision that has been made, but now that it has been made, I also trust that every effort will be made to attract industry into an area that so badly needs it.

2.23 a.m.

Photo of Mr Robert Cooke Mr Robert Cooke , Bristol West

I have no wish to prolong the debate but, having listened for a long time to hon. Members opposite on employment in the North-East, with which area I have as much sympathy as with any other, I should like to ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour one question. Before doing so, I must say that I cannot believe that hon. Members opposite do any great service to the problem of their own area by being quite so depressing about it. The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) deplored the fact that there were difficulties of one sort or another, but he spoke with such an air of doom that I cannot imagine anybody trying to bring industry and life into the area about which he was speaking. I appeal to horn. Members opposite to do something—

Photo of Mr Robert Woof Mr Robert Woof , Blaydon

It probably would sound strange to the hon. Member. The difference is in his constituency and mine. I assure him that if he spent a Saturday night in my constituency he would soon get to know the truth of what I tried to convey in my speech.

Photo of Mr Robert Cooke Mr Robert Cooke , Bristol West

I thank the hon. Member for his intervention. Although I am in the happy position of representing a part of the south of England which does mot have quite the same problems as the North-East, there are just as many depressing sights to be seen on a Saturday night in the great industrial city which I represent.

Photo of Mr James Boyden Mr James Boyden , Bishop Auckland

I served on Durham County Council with my hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) and I know how hard he worked all that time in trying to develop the industrial area which he represents. It does not do much good to the argument to criticise my hon. Friend for this activities.

Photo of Mr Robert Cooke Mr Robert Cooke , Bristol West

I was not criticising his activities at all. I was expressing the hope that hon. Members would co-operate with me in the spirit that I was trying to introduce into the debate. I was saying that I appreciate the problems of other parts of the country as well as my own, but that I thought that a spirit of optimism might be more helpful than some of the gloomy remarks of the hon. Member. I am sure that Her Majesty's Government must be well aware of the difficulties; they have heard of them from both sides of the House.

One reason that our part of the country has not had quite so big an unemployment problem as the North-East—and my reason for rising in this debate is that we have had a small increase in unemployment —is that we have a slightly more diversified industry. The City of Bristol does not depend upon any one industry in particular. If one industry were suddenly to become inoperative there would be others to carry on. I know that Her Majesty's Government are doing a lot to help and I hope they will continue to do all they can to make some of these areas which have difficulties more diverse in their industry. In my own city the Government have done a great deal to encourage those people who are engaged in the export trade, and that is good for the city and for the country as a whole.

The question I want to ask my right hon. Friend is this, and I think it has some substance. I hear that a proposal has been made by the Ministry of Education that all school leavers should leave school at the end of the summer term. This seems to me to be a dangerous idea because it means that the labour market will be flooded with people wanting jobs all at one time. As a schoolmaster in past years, there seems to me something to be said for ensuring that pupils do not all leave at the same time, so that they can then gradually be fitted into employment, whereas if the labour market were flooded all at once they would not all necessarily find jobs.

I am well aware of the problems of the north-east of England, but that area is not unique. We have heard a good deal about Northern Ireland, for which many of us have a great affection. They have their problems too. Even we in the south of England have our difficulties. I hope that the Government will try to preserve a correct balance by considering these factors which I have mentioned.

2.28 a.m.

Photo of Mr William Rodgers Mr William Rodgers , Stockton-on-Tees

This is the first occasion that I have been called upon to make a speech to an audience larger than one at 2.30 a.m. and for this reason I intend to be brief.

During the course of this long debate I think that the problems of the North-East, which are very well known to hon. Members on both sides of the House, have been thoroughly discussed. I want to limit my brief remarks to one aspect of the problem in the southern part of the area, on Tees-side, and particularly in my own constituency of Stockton.

Anybody who has not lived in a mining area or has been closely associated with one can have nothing but respect for the way in which such areas have faced the problem of the declining coal industry. I am not surprised that they have had problems. What surprises me is that those problems have been so often overcome and that so much understanding and patience have been shown by those who have had to face them.

The problem of the declining coal industry is not one which Tees-side faces, nor is my own constituency of Stockton directly affected by the steel industry working so much below capacity. For this reason the present unemployment figures are extremely distressing. At 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon I spoke to my own local exchange and I was told that the total register of men and women was 1,828. This is 255 more than the June figure and well over twice the figure in July, 1961.

The roost terrible figure here is that for the men, which is the highest for any month in the last six years, and the highest June figure since before the war. When I received this figure I asked for it to be checked, because I could not believe that unemployment was now running at such a level—tout it is. It is a very distressing prospect, indeed, and I hope that the Minister will be able to give some indication of the causes.

As I say, we are not affected by the decline in coal, or directly affected by the steed industry's problems; ours is a form of creeping unemployment which is most dangerous because it is the most difficult to locate. If one cannot locate it, one cannot easily find the right solution. We have had no large-scale payoff, no major close-down. It is simply a question of people coming out of jobs and finding no other jobs to go to. It is an exceedingly serious problem, and one that all would agree is the result of the present economic stagnation.

When thinking of the problem in the Northern Region, and after listening to this discussion, we must all have been impressed by the need to get the economy moving again; that is the only fundamental solution of all the individual problems with which we are now trying to deal. A number of my hon. Friends have drawn attention to the need for co-ordination between Departments in dealing with the area's problems; so often the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Transport has been mentioned, and I must confess that I have a certain sympathy with a moving towards a more competent closely-knit and effective railway system, and I am quite willing to face the fact that it will cause some social pain. On the other hand, I see no reason for contracting a system when one wants to get employment moving and industry expanding, and provide facilities to attract new industries to the area. Therefore, when the future of the railways in the area is being considered I hope that general industrial development will also be borne very much in mind.

The same is true of roads. On Tees-side, we have been awaiting authorisation of improvements to the A.19. Not only would they greatly facilitate the flow of traffic through Stockton, which is congested, but they would also facilitate the transport of very large engineering products which cannot go by railway but must go by road and are not encouraging firms to expand on Tees-side.

The airport and other things that have been mentioned and the need for this also and for the other transport improvements must be looked at together. I quite agree that we should not be depressed about the North-East, but I see no point in having such a debate as this unless we face up to the problems. I greatly enjoyed the remarks of the hon. Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot), but while there is a place for salesmanship in the North-East there is also a time and place for the serious consideration of its problems, and one cannot get away from them by pretending that they do not exist.

I also agree with what the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) said about the need for the North to adapt itself to changing circumstances—a view repeated from this side. On the other hand, we must not be a prisoner of circumstances. We must believe that we can play some part in ensuring changes which cause a minimum of pain and inconvenience.

When, not very long ago, I was elected to this House, I was naive enough to say to an hon. Friend that I would telephone the Board of Trade and ask to be sent a copy of its forecast for the economic and social development of Tees-side in the next five years. My hon. Friend looked at me and showed his surprise. He said, "You have not been here a long time. You will learn." At that point I realised that one could not do this. It is incredible that it is not possible to get on to the Board of Trade and say, "Please send me your forecast for the development of this area, how the engineering industries are expected to expand, how the chemical industries are expected to expand, changes in the distributive trades, and changes in the demand for skilled and unskilled labour."This would not be asking for a plan. It would be asking merely for a forecast of expected development. I see no reason why this could not be done.

Of course there would be an element of conjecture. Of course a number of firms would find it difficult to give an indication of their intentions. They would say, "It is dependent upon overall economic policy. It is dependent on whether we enter the Common Market. It is dependent on the international situation". All these factors could be taken account of if an economic and social survey were undertaken.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

I am interested in this point, because most hon. Members opposite when they are given a figure of jobs in a pipeline just do not believe it. I do not know what the hon. Gentleman would do with this forecast.

Photo of Mr William Rodgers Mr William Rodgers , Stockton-on-Tees

The hon. Gentleman clearly does not understand the difference between discussing jobs in a pipeline and trying to forecast industrial development in one industry or another industry or over a geographical area.

Photo of Mr George Proudfoot Mr George Proudfoot , Cleveland

I budget for sales in my grocery business. I understand forecasting.

Photo of Mr William Rodgers Mr William Rodgers , Stockton-on-Tees

I should think that the hon. Gentleman is a bad grocer if he could not tell me the demands he expects for his products and what he expects in the way of capital investment over the next five years. I ask for no more than this from the Government. It is a reasonable request. It is not a request to plan to a Government who do not like planning. It is merely a request to the Government to collect information which ought to be available to any individual, whether he be a member of the House, whether he be an industrialist, or whether he be a trade union leader, who attempts to look into the future.

We have had a good debate today. I hope that it will have important and desirable consequences for the North-East. I am a comparative newcomer to the area, but I strongly support all that has been said by my hon. Friends about the attractiveness of the area, about the people there, and about its tremendous potentialities. It is for this reason, because it has so much to offer and so much deserves prosperity, that I should like to see the Government do something to help it in its present difficult position.

2.43 a.m.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it is a great pleasure to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers), and I cannot help wondering what was in the back of your mind in keeping us in store for the smallest hours of the night. Perhaps it had a certain skeleton in the cupboard significance for hon. Members on the Government Front Bench. I want to press on as quickly as possible and detain hon. Members with nothing but the bare bones of an argument.

We have heard talk of the staple industries in the North-East. The hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, North (Mr. R. W. Elliott) mentioned coal, steel and shipbuilding. To understand the situation we must add two others to those—chemicals and the construction industry.

We have heard a great deal, and rightly so, about the difficulties of the coal industry. The House may well feel that what has been said today and on previous occasions in the House has been abundantly worth while. I do not claim that the figures that are quoted are a full measure of the social problems involved in the contraction of coal mining, but it is a striking fact that over the country as a whole the unemployment of former miners is less than 1 per cent. of the mining industry.

This is the more surprising because it is in such marked contrast to the steel industry which has a very different record of labour relations and a very different approach to labour problems. This industry, too, is faced with difficult times but, taking the country as a whole, unemployment in iron and steel is about 5 per cent. and its problems are no greater than those of the coal industry. There is a difference in the approach to labour and a difference in the point of view adopted to industrial enterprise. It is this that we feel most strongly on Tees-side today.

There are 3,000 men from the steel industry unemployed, another 3,000 from the construction industry and another 6,000 from a variety of industries. This House will have an opportunity to debate the situation in the steel industry more fully on Friday this week and I hope that there will be an opportunity to go into the situation facing the industry more thoroughly.

Part of the problem is due to another North-East industry, shipbuilding. There we have had talk of labour difficulties, demarcation troubles and restrictive practices. This House would be doing a grave injustice to many union members and officers if it did not realise that there are in those unions people who are very well aware of those difficulties who are working very hard in their branches and district committees to sort out these problems in great detail in their places of work. We do a great disservice by continually harping on these troubles as if they were the sole cause of our industrial difficulties.

Photo of Mr Paul Williams Mr Paul Williams , Sunderland South

Will the hon. Member (recognise that some of us on this side of the House who take an interest in shipbuilding, and some hon. Members opposite, say that the main difficulty rests on the shoulders of management?

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Middlesbrough West

I am grateful to the hon. Member for saying that. I was concerned recently in a wage negotiation, or rather its outcome, where the increase was granted on condition that the unions co-operated in the improvement of productivity, just as vague as that. At a meeting held to discuss how the unions could co-operate in increasing productivity I ventured the suggestion that there might be some restrictive practices at the place of work which might be discussed. There was an embarrassed silence all round the meeting. No one could suggest a restrictive practice that was restricting productivity, yet that had been made a condition of the wage concession.

I move on to a subject which has not yet been explored in this debate. We are facing in the chemical and the steel industries on Tees-side what I think is an acute situation. No one could describe those as obsolete or declining industries. The chemical industry on the south side of the Tees is still investing about £1 million a month and the steel industry is expanding.

The elaborations of the universal beam mill at Dorman Long's are continuing, but whereas there is on the I.C.I. site at Wilton about £10,000 investment per man, in the planned extensions now going on the capital per extra man employed is in the region of £50,000 to £100,000. In other words, the increases of plant capacity are not producing appreciable increases in employment. This is in new plant, not in the modification or replacement of old plant where of course the investment tends to reduce demand for labour as at Billingham.

In steel this process has been even more violent. We had mention earlier tonight of the Nos. 1 and 2 mills at the Britannia Works of Doorman Long. The hon. Member fox Cleveland (Mr. Proud-foot) referred to them as the wooden mangle. That is true enough. I suggest, however, that had the steel industry had the kind of social research division which the Coal Board has and had it adopted the approach to joint consultation which is used in the mining industry those Nos. 1 and 2 mills would have been taken off five years ago and the new universal beam mill would have been brought up to full capacity much more quickly to replace that old and obsolete capacity at a time suitable to the labour market.

As it is, on Tees-side there is still no consultation between the major employers between Donman Long and I.C.I. The reason for this is the history of I.C.I, moving into the area, "pinching" in the view of Dorman Long all its stilled labour and the refusal to discuss labour demands at the highest level between the firms. In the result, both firms have made their peak demands on the labour market in the same years regularly since the war and have dropped off in their demands. Consequently, we have the figure of 6,000 unemployed in the affected industries on Tees-side.

Increasing automation and mechanisation and the increase of scale which is going on in industry is something the economic effects of which one notices only considerably alter the technical development itself is stale news. Everybody read about the beam mill at Dorman's five or ten years ago, but it is only now that its impact is being felt on the labour market. This will be true of future advances in automation.

The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research will shrug off the economic implications because it will point to developments which have already taken place but which have not yet shown an effect. That is because the effect is still coming. Engineers and technologists are always over-optimistic in the timing of the results of their work but they are always over-cautious in estimating the final effect. It is this final effect which is overtaking us on Tees-side today.

We are not a backward area; quite the opposite. It is because we are, perhaps, the most intensive area of capital investment in the country that we are suffering unemployment. We are in this sense the most advanced area in the country. It is most important to realise the new nature of the problems which are arising. It means that there must be a much greater watch on the rate of construction.

This industry has 3,000 men unemployed on Tees-side. My hon. Friend the Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) referred to the possibility of using these men in meeting the social needs of his area, in housing—and, indeed, there is a terrifiic backlog in housing need on Tees-side. It remains true, however, that for all its advanced progressiveness, Tees-side is still a one-sided area. It lacks variety of employment, it does not have good consumer goods industries and the national interest certainly requires that the full resources of the North-East in general, including Tees-side, should be used.

And so we come to ask what can be done. It is helpful to distinguish the short-term from the long-term problem. Immediately, the problem is to make effective use of the labour that is available to diminish unemployment. The prospect is that the unemployment situation will get worse. If the Board of Trade carried out locally the kind of inquiry which the Federation of British Industries carries out for the economy as a whole and conducted a brief informal questionnaire-type survey of the heads of industrial firms on Tees-side, it would discover that there is the prospect of increasing unemployment in the area.

The question arises, "Is this area unbalanced and can one do anything about it? In other words, is it all unskilled labour and is there no skilled labour available?" I do not think this is true, because there is in fact a great deal of hidden skilled labour available, of disguised redundancy, in firms which have been unwilling to lay off skilled men until absolutely the last moment, and there are very considerable reserves available even among fitters and electricians on Tees-side for any developments which are launched in the immediate future

If that is what is available I think that we must say first that the situation in steel does need urgent attention from the Government. There is talk among economists of steel stocking and the question of commodity stabilisation schemes. Surely a Government with any intellectual vigour left in them can face the financial situation such as we have in steel today and tackle this problem of recession in demand and the reduction of steel stocks? I am sure that there are members of the Government who appreciate the need for this. I should like to think, too, that they were capable of dealing with the problem, and I am sure they wish to deal with the problem.

Then there is, too, the question of rapid increase in the investment programme. I would put first here the overseas projects. It is a little ironical on Tees-side we should be equipped to handle the building up of the infrastructure of not only our own economy but overseas. In India and Africa there is great need for the long-term type of investment programme which we can support and which we are supporting—the new steel mill in India, for instance— and docks and harbour schemes all over the world, and bridge construction. We on Tees-side can cope with a big increase in orders from underdeveloped countries, for which, of course, special development funds are required. It is not going beyond the wit of man to suggest that a certain increase in the generosity of this Government towards financing overseas developments would pay handsome dividends in the whole economy, too.

But there is, too, an immediate need in developing the infrastructure here at home. We should be getting cracking on the modernisation of docks and harbours and in building roads and bridges which not least we need on Tees-side. I think that here perhaps the Minister of Transport applies the wrong criteria to road improvements. He reckons the number of vehicle hours per £ spent on road improvements he can get in different areas, and the South, by this criterion, always comes out top because it has the greatest total of road traffic at present. If he is concerned with salving the trains-port problem he must realise that money needs to be spent where road improvements will result in a more convenient spread of industry throughout the country.

The importance of communications is shown very clearly by the map of the development district of County Durham. We see the spread on either side of the Great North Road and the main railway line both to the west and to the east. Where transport is good it is much easier to attract industry. This means that improved communications generally in the Narth-East would produce a great improvement in the investment in other industries in the area.

The Board of Trade regional controller estimates that if a real investment programme were launched in the North-East 90 per cent. of the capital expenditure would go directly into increasing the personal incomes of the people in the area. It would have a direct effect on labour in areas where there is an excessive demand for labour at present and no effect on imports except that of increasing incomes in an area where incomes are already gravely depressed among all sections of the community. So there cannot be any national argument against an increased programme of investment for the North-East immediately.

The long-term situation demands the selling of the area. People in the North-East need to realise this. Towns should be made as gay and as tidy as they can be. There is already good progress in this in the development of new town centres, but it needs to go much faster, and it needs a great deal of imagination to push it through on the lines advocated by the Civic Trust. This would certainly do a great deal to liven up our towns in the North-East.

It needs, too, a deliberate attempt to diversify the area in its cultural and human aspects, not simply looking at industry as a merely automatic productive process. I refer here in particular to the decision of I.C.I. to locate its new central research laboratory dealing with plastics and petro-chemicals, a very important project for the future of our chemical industry, not on Tees-side where three-quarters of the manufacturing capacity in the country for these products is located, but in Cheshire where there is no shortage of this kind of scientific research effort, which breeds in the district around it.

One of the observations of the Toothill Report for Scotland was that the modern science-based industries grow up from a climate of research. This means that we must have a completely balanced industry if we are to retain its future developments. It is a sad loss to Tees-side and to the employees of the chemical industry there that this future development of their work should have been taken out of the area and transferred to the other side of the country where it is not needed in anything like the same way. I think that generally in the problem of the development of the North-East the rest of the country is the main loser in allowing things to continue as they are.

As I have said, circumstances are such that technically and economically we are in many respects ahead in the North-East. But we are less prosperous. I think that if we can redress this the character of the Northerner in all its open warmth and generosity will do a great deal to rectify the rather arrogant, brash, self-satisfied mood into which the country has been led today. I think we see in the North the shape of things to come, not only politically.

In the time that is left to them, the Government would be wise to accept the privilege of assisting the North-East. Since the Toothill Report was written, the Government have been converted to the idea of planning nationally, and in the National Economic Development Council they have a framework for both industrial and regional planning. I think that if they consult the staff of the Council they will acknowledge that the two-fold analysis of economic activity on an industrial basis and on a regional basis is not yet properly represented in its plan of work and that the North-East could very well provide a pilot scheme for the regional planning which is needed to complement the industry-wise planning on which the North-East Development Council is concentrating at the moment.

3.0 a.m.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I think that I am the twenty-seventh speaker in this debate. I am glad to say that I think I have heard everybody who has spoken. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We have had a good debate, Which was occasionally enlivened by exchanges between the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West (Mr. Popplewell), my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams).

Throughout, there has been expressed a genuine concern about the future of human beings. The fact that the rate of unemployment in the North-East is very nearly double that of the country as a whole has been reflected in most of the speeches. It is true that in the North-East there are pockets of unemployment at over 4 per cent.—in some cases even higher.

I was not as surprised as perhaps a stranger might have been that every one on both sides paid such tribute to the merits of the people of the North-East, because I happened to spend six months as a soldier up there in 1940. In fact, I guarded the south bank of the Tyne, from South Shields to Sunderland exclusive, with 80 gallant men. Little did the inhabitants of Durham realise in what capable hands they were.

Photo of Commander John Kerans Commander John Kerans , Hartlepools, The

In 1940, as a naval officer, I was in charge of the anti-parachute defence of the yards of the Tyne.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

That is very interesting, but my hon. and gallant Friend should listen carelully. I said that I was responsible for the area from South Shields to Sunderland exclusive. I did not cover the yards on Tyneside.

In speeches such as the one made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cleveland (Mr. Proudfoot), it became clear that the majority of hon. Members want to see not only an expansion of industry in the country as a whole, but an expansion of industry in the North-East, where the level of unemployment is higher than in most places. AM of us want to see growth. I think that somebody said that we want growth without inflation. I agree.

If we want growth, we have to accept change. It is inevitable that some industries will contract whilst others expand. This means that, in terms of human beings, we must be prepared for redeployment. Thus, human problems automatically come to the fore, and we have to try to deal with them as reasonably and sympathetically as we can.

The coal mining industry, naturally, has occupied a major part in the debate. It is true, as hon. Members (have said, that the process of adapting the industry to the needs of modern conditions means reducing and redeploying its manpower. But it is very important that people should realise that coal mining is not a dying industry. This is more a question of redeployment rather than of contraction in the ordinary sense of the word.

Yet the answer does not lie in the negative policy of keeping open uneconomic pits and thereby imposing on the industry a handicap which it cannot afford. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Gaitskell), said in the Scottish debate last week that one could not expect the Coal Board deliberately to produce coal in more expensive, rather than in cheaper, ways. He said: I do not see how one could justify producing coal where it was more difficult to get it when it could be produced where it was easier to get it".—{OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1962; Vol. 663, c. 660.] As a Government we have to do all that we can to assist in the provision of alternative jobs. I want in a moment to discuss in some detail how we can make progress in this field, but I should like, first, to say something about shipbuilding and the iron and steel industry. These were mentioned by at least two speakers. I suppose that hon. Members who have spoken know more than most of the difficulties facing the shipbuilding industry. I do not share the view of those prophets of woe who see no future for this great industry, and I hope that hon. Members agree with me. To a large extent it must depend on how the shipbuilding industry reorganises itself to meet the fierce international competition which it now has to face.

My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison) appeared to think that the sooner men were removed from the pits altogether, and some alternative form of fuel found— to say nothing of alternative jobs—the better it would be. I wonder whether this is not overstating the case. We all want to see the pits mechanised, with the most economic pits being used, and to this end the National Coal Board has, for a fairly considerable period, carried through a substantial number of pit closures.

In the necessary changes the Board has, I think all hon. Members have agreed, made great efforts to cause as little dislocation and hardship as possible to the mien affected. The hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Stones) and his hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. Woof) both paid tribute to the way in which the Coal Board has carried out these changes. It is surely clear that uneconomic pits cannot be allowed to impose a heavy burden on other pits if coal is to compete effectively with oil and all the other sources of power today. Wherever possible, workers who have been displaced have been re-allocated to other jobs within the industry; and, in doing this, the Coal Board has been working An the closest consultation with the National Union of Mineworkers.

Such changes as are to come cannot take place overnight and it will be some years before the process of redeployment is completed. Very real human and social problems are involved—the hon. Member for Blaydon referred to this—and this is especially so where whole communities have depended on coal mining for their livelihood.

I was glad that the hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) found that a great deal of ship (repairing has come to 'the North-East, thanks to the fact that the ship-repairing yards have proved as competitive as yards on the Continent. Hon. Members know of the considerable modernisation programmes which (have been undertaken in many shipyards. As this is in many ways a human relations debate as well as dealing with other matters in the shipbuilding industry, it is appropriate to express the wish to see a more up-to-date approach in the use of manpower in that industry. I have myself initiated joint talks between the two sides of the industry on this problem, and I am glad that both employers and trade unions are getting on with these talks.

My hon. Friends the Members for Tynemouth and Sunderland, South and the hon. Members for Consett, New-castle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Montgomery) and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short) all referred to a new dead in the shipbuilding industry. I am sure that if employers can give greater security of employment—and I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South that in this the employers must give a lead—and the trade unions in their turn can put an end to demarcation disputes and provide greater flexibility in the use of labour, this will do an immense amount to improve the prosperity of the industry.

Hon. Members will agree that the problems of the iron and steel industry are different. It would be wrong to assume that the present difficulties will continue indefinitely. As a result of the modernisation programme, the steed industry is well placed to take advantage of the revival of demand which is bound to take place. On Friday hon. Members will have the opportunity to discuss this in the debate on the Report of the Iron and Stool Board.

I have mentioned these three industries, but it is important to remember that they employ only one-fifth of the working population of the North-East. There is now a far wider distribution of employment than an impartial observer would imagine after listening to this debate. This is all part of the pattern of change, in which the decline in the numbers employed in the older industries is being offset by the growth in the new industries.

Photo of Mr William Stones Mr William Stones , Consett

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned communities built around pits. Many more people depend on the purchasing power of the miners than those who work in the pits. Does he not agree that although only a fifth of the total working force is employed in the three industries, many more are dependent on their purchasing power?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

That is a perfectly fair point. I wanted to develop the point that there had been a considerable drive to increase the diversification of industry in the North-East, and that the Government had done a lot to assist in this process. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that the Government have not done enough, but let us admit what they have done. During the ten years 1951 to 1961, industrial development certificates were issued for projects providing 63,000 new jobs. These were not just jobs in the pipeline. They were actually created. Much of the industry introduced has been of the lighter type of which, as hon. Members know, the North-East had comparatively little before the war. I think that a notable example of this is the advent of the radio and electronics industry.

The Government have also made a useful contribution in non-industrial employment. The establishment of the central office of the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance at Newcastle was an imaginative and sensible step. In the same way, the transfer of the Post Office Savings Division to Durham will eventually result in the provision of 1,000 new clerical jobs in the area represented by the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Grey) and his neighbours.

What more can the Government do to help? About one-third of the insured population of the North-East is in development districts. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) held up a plan for us to see. We have just made Blaydon a development district and we have restored Prudhoe to the list of districts which qualify for assistance under the Act.

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Power and my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade have been present throughout this debate, and we have all taken to heart the words of wisdom which have been offered to us from both sides of the House. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will do all that he can to encourage new industry to go to the North-East. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth was mildly "pulling the Government's leg" when she talked about jobs in the pipeline. These jobs are not to be despised. The jobs which matured between 1951 and 1961 were in the pipeline at one time. They are not there now; they are in existence. These 20,000 jobs which are now in the pipeline will come into being, and I do not think that they should be shrugged off.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

Within the next few years.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tyne-mouth asked for a breakdown of the figures. Perhaps I might give just a few examples: metal manufacturing and metal goods—nearly 2,000; engineering and electrical—over 7,000; clothing and footwear—nearly 3,000; paper, printing and publishing—over 1,500. I will not detain the House with further details.

Photo of Mr Norman Pentland Mr Norman Pentland , Chester-le-Street

The right hon. Gentleman gave the net increase between 1951 and 1961. Can he give the migration figures from the County of Durham during the same period? My information is that the figure was 5,000 a year.

Photo of Mr John Ainsley Mr John Ainsley , North West Durham

The right hon. Gentleman admitted that the North-East was the hardest hit area in the country. I referred to north-west Durham which has been scheduled for development since the Local Employment Act came into being. What has come into that area to compensate far the closing of the mines and certain other by-product plants? I am not interested in what is in the pipeline, but in what has gone to the area, which is desperately in need of new industries to absorb the present unemployed population.

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I hope that the House will sympathise a little with me. I have a large number of points to answer and I am sorry that I cannot answer every single one which was put to me.

On the general point, the hon. Member himself gave the figures of migration. Why, therefore, should I give them? I was not trying to be clever. I merely said that these were new jobs created as a result of the issue of industrial development certificates. I was not saying that they were a net addition to jobs in the area.

The hon. Member for Sunderland, North and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools (Com- mander Kerans) mentioned advance factories. I was interested to hear them say that these could make a useful contribution. I agree. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is very much aware of the part which suitably placed advance factories can play in providing—and stimulating—employment. As the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who is not now present knows, the advance factory at South Shields has just been let. I am glad to be able to tell the House that my right hon. Friend has decided to put up two more advance factories in the North-East, one in County Durham and the other in Northumberland. Their precise location has not yet been decided, but in reaching his decision my right hon. Friend will have in mind both the employment needs of the area and the likelihood of the location being attractive to industry. As my right hon. Friend the then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade told the House on 21st June, we are considering now whether, in view of experience gained so far, more advance factories should be made available.

A great deal of comment has been rightly made in the debate about training. As men are switched into the growing industries in the North-East, we must see that there are adequate numbers of men trained in the new skills required. Here my own Ministry has a major part to play. As far as adults are concerned, as my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Scotland announced on 11th July when speaking about the coal industry in Scotland, we are ready to expand the Government vocational training scheme not only in Scotland but also in the North-East. As I announced myself on the same day, I am increasing considerably the allowances paid to men undergoing training.

The hon. Member for Morpeth (Mr. Boyden), my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East and others quite rightly brought out the question of the young. The general position of school leavers is not too bad. In the first six months of 1962 nearly 800 more boys entered apprenticeships in the North-East than in the same period last year. The proportion of boys obtaining apprenticeship was 39 per cent. This is 5 per cent. better than the figure for the country as a whole, and much the same as the figure for the region in the corresponding period last year, which was itself an improvement on the previous year. This is in spite of the increase in the number of school leavers.

But, as was perfectly rightly brought out in debate, the employment and training of young people in the North-East does represent a serious problem. The famous "bulge" is now right on us and we can expect the number of school leavers to be one-third higher in the North-East this year than it was last year. So far these young people have not been entering employment as quickly as school leavers last year or as quickly as school leavers in other parts of the country. I share the concern felt about this. But we must keep it in perspective. I know that this will be of particular interest to the hon. Member for Durham who referred to this subject, as did the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough).

The vast majority of young people have been entering employment without too great difficulty. For example, at Easter this year 12,000 young people left school, which was 4,000 more than last year. Yet by the middle of July, of those 12,000, all but 475 were at work. In other words, within three months, 96 per cent. had entered their first jobs.

The hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Ainsley) and for Consett pointed out that the bulk of those 475— they are mainly boys—are living in localities where there are particular difficulties. These are the coal mining areas of north-west Durham, mid-Durham and Wearside. These boys present a very special problem.

The House will know about the existing first-year apprenticeship classes for boys who have already been taken on by employers as apprentices. My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth expressed interest in this matter, as did the hon. Member for Durham, North-West. I am now considering the possibility of providing for boys in these particular areas a first-year apprenticeship course without requiring that they must first have been taken on by an employer. This would be an entirely new departure and would be based on a recognition of the very exceptional circumstances which at present exist in these particular areas.

But to secure more adult training as well as the success of the new proposals that I have in mind for apprenticeship, I shall require the co-operation of both sides of industry, and in particular of the trade unions. Unless the trade unions are willing to accept more adult trainees into skilled employment, and to recognise the year's course that I have in mind for boys as counting for the first year of apprenticeship, it will be very difficult for me to make any headway. I am proposing to discuss these matters with some of the union leaders this week.

The hon. Members for Sunderland, North, and Chester-le-Street, the right hon. Member for South Shields, and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for The Hartlepools referred to the possibility of increasing the demand for Durham coal by building a new power station in County Durham. The immediate difficulty, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Power said in the House the other day, is that with the completion of the new power station at Blyth local demand in the North-East should be adequately met for some years ahead. Because of the high cost of building these new transmission lines it would appear to be uneconomic to construct a new power station in Durham now in order to export electricity to other parts of the country. But my right hon. Friend has asked the Central Electricity Generating Board how it made its estimates of potential demand and whether all sources of increased demand had been adequately taken into account. I think it was the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street who mentioned that point. I cannot go any further than that at the moment. What I can say is that the possibility of a further power station in Durham at some future date has most certainly not been ruled out.

I have tried to suggest in the short time available that it would be wrong to draw from present difficulties the conclusion that the North-East is in any way a declining area without a future. I think that the very character of the people who live in that area makes that a truism, and certainly that feeling was expressed on both sides of the House.

Photo of Mr Ernest Popplewell Mr Ernest Popplewell , Newcastle upon Tyne West

We have listened very attentively to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, and we are all extremely interested in his observations, but he has not yet touched on the main point. There are still migrating from the North-East between 14,000 and 15,000 people a year. In the last 10 years we have lost 86,000 people, who have gone to the South and the Midlands. What is the Minister doing to stop that, and to attract our people back again?

Photo of Mr John Hare Mr John Hare , Sudbury and Woodbridge

I have, I hope, covered a good deal of that ground. I have talked about the advance factories, and I have said that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is determined to encourage new industry to go to the area. We have to keep this matter very much in perspective, and I would again remind the House of what the Leader of the Opposition said on 19th July. He said: Let us have no more talk about direction of labour and direction of industry. No one has ever proposed this. Of course, we cannot direct labour in peace time, and no one suggests that we can. We cannot direct industry if we mean by that that we compel people to make losses. It is no use thinking in those terms. What we want is something that can be done, namely, to be extremely tough in refusing to allow people to set up in areas of full employment and be extremely generous, if that is the right word, in giving inducements to them to set up in areas like Scotland."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th July, 1962; Vol. 663, c. 664.] I am sure that he would extend the same principle to the North-East. These are all policies that Her Majesty's Government are pursuing.

Let us look at this matter more in a spirit of hope than of despair. I am quite certain that we shall move forward into a period of expansion, based on expanding exports, and without inflation. I am sure that in the process we shall need to see a change in the industrial pattern, if we acre to get the growth that so many of us are determined must be our main objective. In this process the Government's role is to see that change is carried out as painlessly as possible. That is our duty, and we shall certainly carry it out to the best of our ability.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we appreciate very much what he has said about the advance factories and the training schemes; that many of us will think those items, in themselves, make this debate well worth while, but that, in general, we must remain disappointed, and will return to the subject? But does he also realise that everybody who has taken part in the debate would be sorry if I did not thank him for the interest and endurance that he and his colleagues on the Front Bench have shown throughout the debate? We also very much appreciate the pains he has taken, at this late hour of the morning, to reply to the points in the debate.