Hunt Committee

Oral Answers to Questions — Economic Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th November 1967.

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Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn 12:00 am, 16th November 1967

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs whether he will make arrangements for the Hunt Committee to visit the areas of the country having below average incomes.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

It is for the Committee to decide whether visits to any type of area will help them in their inquiries. My Department is, of course, ready to assist in making any arrangements the Committee may need.

Photo of Mr Derek Page Mr Derek Page , King's Lynn

Bearing in mind that low earnings must be the main factor to be considered by the Hunt Committee, does the Minister not agree that a visit to areas such as Norfolk to see the difficulties encountered by many thousands of people is essential if the problem is to be understood fully.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

This is a matter for the Committee to decide. It has invited evidence, but should it feel that that written evidence could be supplemented usefully by visits to the area, no doubt it will consider such a proposal.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

When does the Minister expect the Report of this Committee?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

That is another question. I am not able yet to give an effective answer, because the Committee had its initial meeting only in October of this year.

Photo of Mr Iain Macleod Mr Iain Macleod , Enfield West

Can the Minister clear up one point? If we are to have, overall, a larger measure of unused resources, and if the development areas are to do better, does it not follow that the Government have in practice abandoned the grey areas?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I am not quite clear how the right hon. Gentleman has arrived at that conclusion, nor on what he bases the assumptions on which the latter part of his question was put.

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what progress has been made by the Committee set up under Sir Joseph Hunt to consider the question of grey areas; and when the Committee is likely to report.

Photo of Mr Charles Haseldine Mr Charles Haseldine , Bradford West

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs when he anticipates receiving the report of the Committee set up under the chairmanship of Sir Joseph Hunt; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I would refer my hon. Friends to the Answer given on 9th November to similar Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Henig) and the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke).—[Vol. 753, c. 1235–7.]

Photo of Mr Roy Hughes Mr Roy Hughes , Newport (Monmouthshire/Gwent)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this Report in anxiously awaited in South Wales, particularly in Newport, which employs many people from the mining valleys of Monmouthshire, and that firms in the town are waiting for this Report before deciding on future development plans?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

I have already made it clear that the Hunt Committee will produce its report as quickly as possible. Of course we know, as does the Hunt Committee, just how welcome any early report would be.

Photo of Mr Thomas Swain Mr Thomas Swain , North East Derbyshire

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in Derbyshire we, too, are patiently waiting for this report but that our patience is fast running out? In Derbyshire we have 7 per cent. unemployment in one of the grey areas, and by the time that we get the report our percentage will be higher than that of most of the development districts in the country?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

The Committee was set up only this summer. It was announced in July and formed during the summer, and it met for the first time on 5th October. The Committee is getting ahead as quickly as it possibly can.

Photo of Sir Walter Clegg Sir Walter Clegg , North Fylde

What will the Hunt Committee find out which his Department and the regional economic planning councils do not already know?

Photo of Mr Peter Shore Mr Peter Shore , Stepney

One of the points with which it will need to deal is the criteria by which one can define an intermediate area. As the hon. Member may have noticed from Questions on the subject, hon. Members are speaking against a background of very different conditions in different parts of the country, and there is a big job to be done of analysis before proposals can be made.