asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development if he will introduce legislation to amend the Local Employment Act to enable grants to be paid to local authorities who are building their own advance factories in order to combat unemployment.
No, Sir. Under the Act grants are payable only to persons providing continuing employment in development districts, and I do not think it would be right to extend this to local authorities providing employment for workers involved in the construction of the factories. Grants are, however, available to industrialists who acquire factories built by local authorities in advance of demand.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that does not go far enough and that we are concerned not merely with the labour involved in the construction of factories but with the number of jobs which those factories will provide? Is he not aware that it would be a great incentive and encouragement to local authorities building their own advance factories to have assistance of this description? As his Department is constantly pressing for local initiative and local enterprise, when it is shown why cannot it be backed up?
What my right hon. Friend says is not exactly correct. Is it not true that if a local authority builds a factory, neither the authority nor the person going to occupy it can get a grant unless at some stage the future occupier puts in one brick; in other words, circumvents the law in this way?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that those areas which are excluded from the plan for the North East are finding their enterprise severely handicapped when it comes to attracting essential industry to their areas? As they are prepared not only to make excellent sites available but to set about the provision of advance factories, ought not something be done to encourage their efforts?
Industrialists continue to receive the inducements given under earlier legislation. The hon. Member's other question is a repetition of the same point. It is a question of where the advantages go, where the inducements go, when the factory is built.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is over two years since the Government decided to build this advance factory? Surely during that time they could have found a tenant for it? Can the Minister tell me what efforts are being made to find such a tenant? Secondly, s the Minister aware that under the Beeching proposals the railway station at Shotts is to be closed? Will the Minister make strong representations to the Minister of Transport that any effort made by the Board of Trade to attract industry to that area will be nullified by the Beeching proposal to close the railway station?
We are grateful to the hon. Lady for the views she has expressed on this occasion and those expressed on my right hon. Friend on other occasions. We shall certainly bear them in mind. I assure the hon. Lady that we are as anxious as she is to find a suitable tenant for the factory, and we shall continue to bring the factory to the notice of tenants who might be suitable. However, I would remind the hon. Lady that there are two factories in Shotts and that the second one will be ready at the end of this month. A firm application has been received and it will provide 150 jobs.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is over a year since the building of this factory was authorised? All that has happened since, under the aegis of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, is the building of one wee road, which I saw when I visited it at the weekend.