asked the President of the Board of Trade how many applications for industrial grants and loans from industrialists wishing to develop in the Northern Region are being considered by the Board of Trade Advisory Committee; and how many of these have been before the Committee more than 12 months, between nine months and 12 months, between six months and nine months, between three months and six months, and less than three months, respectively.
Is my hon. Friend aware that this matter has been of great concern in the North and that a number of representations have been made to the Board of Trade? I was hoping to congratulate her on an improving position. Is she aware also of two major short-term problems? First, the new Bank Rate increases the difficulties being experienced in the North. Secondly, exporting industries there are in short supply. We need some quickly. Will she please expedite the procedure for dealing with B.O.T.A.C. applications?
Is the hon. Lady aware that it is accurately estimated that we need 15,000 new jobs each year in the North-East to cover losses from declining industries alone? Is she aware further that this figure was achieved in 1964–65 but has not been achieved since? Will she do what she can to speed up the procedure of applications?
Yes; we are considering all the time ways of increasing the speed at which B.O.T.A.C. applications are dealt with. In some cases the applicants themselves are responsible for some of the delays because they do not return the requisite information.
This is a difficult situation. The Board of Trade Advisory Committee is an independent body and, for obvious reasons, it goes into the cases very carefully. We do not ask the Committee for its confidential information.