Development Areas (Factory Closures)

Oral Answers to Questions — Board of Trade – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd November 1967.

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Photo of Dr John Dunwoody Dr John Dunwoody , Falmouth and Camborne 12:00 am, 22nd November 1967

asked the President of the Board of Trade by what means he is informed of the impending closure of industrial concerns in the development areas.

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

In the case of Board of Trade factories, we are informed when tenants give notice of their intention to vacate a factory. In the case of privately-owned concerns, there is no legal obligation to notify the Board of intended closures, but we normally learn of them either through the Ministry of Labour or other sources.

Photo of Dr John Dunwoody Dr John Dunwoody , Falmouth and Camborne

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it seems illogical, considering the time, effort and manpower which his Department puts into directing industry to development areas, that the Department has very little means of preventing industry leaving those areas? Will he consider taking steps to ensure that employers of, say, more than 50 workers should notify the Department three months in advance when they are considering closing works down?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

I should like to consider the second part of that supplementary question. We normally do learn of this, but I will consider whether there should be some clearer obligation. On the first part of the Question, there is a real difficulty in the sense that if a firm in a development area wants to close down because it is not making a commercial success of its operations there, I do not want to be put in the position of propping up a firm in those circumstances.

Photo of Mr Gwynfor Evans Mr Gwynfor Evans , Carmarthen

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that of all the advance factories built in Wales since October 1964 only two are now tenanted and that he has been unable to give me the number of men employed in them? Is the wretchedly small number of factories tenanted due to the fact that many firms have had to leave?

Photo of Mr Anthony Crosland Mr Anthony Crosland , Grimsby

That is a totally different question. There are an unusually high number of advance factories untenanted all over development areas. One of the objects of building advance factories is to attract industry and they are built before we can know who the tenant will be, but with the faster rate of expansion which we shall certainly get in the next twelve months I am quite confident that the number of advance factories untenanted in a year's time will be far smaller than it is today.