asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development how many new industries have been established in the North-East between April, 1963, and the latest convenient date; and how many workpeople they now employ.
Is the Secretary of State aware how alarming his statement is? Does he realise that it indicates that during the last two years there has been a net loss in the North-East of 29 firms, meaning approximately 2,700 fewer personnel, coupled with the migration of about 12,000 people from the North-East during the year? Will the right hon. Gentleman now accept that his policy, which has been talked about so much, is a complete failure? What does he hope to do in these closing days of this Government to try to redress the situation and bring some new life into the North-East?
We debated this last week. I do not for a moment accept what the hon. Gentleman says. Neither do I accept the basis for the figures on which he has been trying to work this out. If he will set down a Question asking for the specific information he wants I will do my best to give it to him. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman recognises that 37 additional firms have decided in this period to go to the North-East, although they are not yet in production. These 37 firms are of immense importance, so I entirely repudiate what the hon. Gentleman said.
I am able to give a large number of figures if I am asked for them. I naturally do not have all these figures here, but the point which my hon. Friend makes is a very sound one.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the figures which I quoted are comparable with those which his right hon. Friend gave to me last Monday regarding the number of firms which have closed down and the total loss of employment in this area? Since those figures were given to me by his right hon. Friend, is it not obvious that they are comparable?
The hon. Gentleman is entirely leaving out of account the expansion and increase in existing firms in the area. These provide jobs in the North-East and it is not a sound basis of comparison just to quote the figures which the hon. Gentleman has obtained of firms which have left the area.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is not just a matter of figures but that the people of the North-East believe that this Government have done the right thing by them?