North-East Coast

Oral Answers to Questions — Economic Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th April 1968.

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Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth 12:00 am, 4th April 1968

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will make a statement on the economic progress of the North-East Coast since 12th March.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

Regional development is a continuing, long-term process, and it is difficult to gauge progress on the basis of a four-weeks period taken in isolation. What can be said is that on Tyneside and in the region as a whole unemployment is falling while the number of jobs vacancies continues to rise.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

But is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the way in which the investments grants are dealt with in our region is to the detriment of large-scale industry being attracted there and to the industries already there? Will he fight the Chancellor of the Exchequer until he comes out on top?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

It would be interesting to know the basis of the hon. Lady's analysis. My knowledge of what is going on in the region is entirely to the contrary. These grants, plus the regional employment premium, plus £5 million in Selective Employment Tax, are a great advantage to the region.

Photo of Mr Robert Elliott Mr Robert Elliott , Newcastle upon Tyne North

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that before he took up his present appointment, and in days of Conservative Government, we were told that we did not know how to plan? Now the Labour Government are reverting to our development district principle, which was always right.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

The Conservatives showed us how not to plan. The analysis which I have made, showing increases in job vacancies and falling unemployment, rather shows that we are a bit better at it than they were.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

asked the Secretary of State for Economic Affairs if he will arrange for Ministers of departments who are responsible for implementing the recommendations of the Council to receive a deputation from Members of Parliament whose constituencies fall within the boundaries of the Economic Planning Council, with a view to improving the economic progress of the region.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

There have been a number of recent opportunities for M.P.s from the region to make their views known, for example, the debate on the Northern Economic Planning Region on 8th March, in which the hon. Lady took part. Although there does not seem to be a case for the meeting proposed, I am always prepared to discuss with hon. Members any further points they have to make on the recommendations.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman does not seem able to ensure that public investment in the North-East is comparable to that in Scotland and Wales, is he aware that I should like to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer face to face so that I can tell him what I think about this?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

As I pointed out in the debate to which I have referred, public investment is rising pretty rapidly in the North. While, as yet, it is not the size of that in Scotland, I believe that we are now on a rising curve which is showing results.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Labour hon. Members have had no difficulty in seeing Ministers and have always been satisfied? Is he further aware that the trouble with the hon. Lady is that she has been frustrated ever since she entered this House?

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

My right hon. Friend may be a better authority on that than I. I prefer not to venture into it.