asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development (1) how far he has proceeded with the delimitation and designation of a Yorkshire regional planning area;
(2) if he is aware that, despite the present economic position of the East and West Ridings of Yorkshire, between 1951 and 1961 there was a net loss of population of 92,000, mainly young skilled workers, from this area, which contains a relatively small proportion of the modern growth industries; and what regional plan he has made to deal with these long-term problems.
In developing the new machinery for regional development I must at present concentrate on those parts of the country where the most pressing problems exist: but I am aware of the general situation, prospects and problems of the East and West Ridings, and I am now considering the position.
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that on 3rd December last he stated that he was concerned with planning for the country as a whole? Is he aware that it is very important for us to know whether the East and West Ridings will be put together with Lincolnshire or Derbyshire and that this would at least be a first step?
Yes; I appreciate the importance of the point the hon. Gentleman has raised. I was able to discuss this with many of the local authorities and others in the East and West Ridings during my visit before Christmas.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a statement he made during his recent visit to Yorkshire has been critically received in many quarters in industry? Will not he reconsider his position? Is it not true to say that there are certain parts of Yorkshire, particularly in the West Riding, which are mainly dependent upon old industries, some of which will need less labour in future years? Is not now the best time for future planning to bring diversification of industry to these areas, rather than waiting until there is a gross level of unemployment in Yorkshire as well?