North-West Industrial Development Association

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th May 1971.

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Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick 12:00 am, 20th May 1971

asked the Prime Minister what communciation he has received from the North-West Industrial Development Association concerning the unemployment situation in the North-West; and what reply he has sent.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I have been asked to reply.

I have nothing to add to the answer which my right hon. Friend gave to a similar Question from the hon. Member for Manchester, Exchange (Mr. Will Griffiths) on 13th May.—[Vol. 817, c. 157.]

Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman , Manchester Ardwick

Why does the right hon. Gentleman refuse the request of the North-West Industrial Development Association to meet the Prime Minister so that it can put to him its request for intermediate area status for the area? In view of the fact that all these unemployment figures show that the number out of work in the Greater Manchester area has risen yet again, that the number of wholly unemployed in the North-West is up yet again and that the number of unfilled vacancies is down yet again, how can the Prime Minister be so callous and complacent?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

As my right hon. Friend explained on an earlier occasion, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry have recently been in touch with the Association, and its views are, therefore, well known to the Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr David Waddington Mr David Waddington , Nelson and Colne

Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us on this side of the House see little sense in turning more and more chunks of the country into either development areas or intermediate areas and that we believe that the Government are making the most valuable contribution by improving the environment and improving communications?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

I take note of what my hon. and learned Friend says.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Marks Mr Kenneth Marks , Manchester, Gorton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that one of the factors in this matter is that public investment in the North-West is far lower than in the rest of the country, on average? Will he seek to assist this—the local election results will assist to some extent—by giving the North-West the same rights and grants for clearing derelict land as are given to Scotland and Wales?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

This assistance is pretty extensive and there are special provisions for areas of particular difficulty. As to the amount of public investment in that particular area in relation to the population, I should want to check the figures before accepting that premise.

Photo of Mr John Tilney Mr John Tilney , Liverpool Wavertree

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the need for multipurpose capital investment in the infrastructure of the North-West, particularly reclamation of the Dee and the More-cambe Bay barrage?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Public investment in infrastructure of a multi-purpose character is one of the most important factors.

Photo of Mr Frederick Lee Mr Frederick Lee , Newton

At Irlam in my constituency, where we face grave redundancies, there is no development area or intermediate area grant at all. On that basis alone, would it not be right for the Government to meet the development council from the North-West?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

As my right hon. Friend has explained, the views of the council are well known to him through his colleagues, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Photo of Mr Robert Redmond Mr Robert Redmond , Bolton West

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the main problem in Lancashire is to attract new industry, particularly from the South of England? Is he not aware that the shocking industrial relations of Merseyside reflect on the whole of the North-West, and could not publicity be given to other areas, such as Bolton, where industrial relations are extremely good and where we have the best quality of workers in the world?

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

The solution to all these problems rests in stimulating more investment in the economy generally, and the Government's courses to that end are the Budget proposals of my right hon. Friend and the attack on the problem of cost inflation.

Photo of Lieut-Colonel Dick Crawshaw Lieut-Colonel Dick Crawshaw , Liverpool Toxteth

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, especially on Merseyside, one of the worst aspects is the number of teenagers who have never worked yet? While the Government may, for electoral purposes, have wiped off Merseyside, nobody is entitled to wipe off the people of Merseyside as far as work in concerned.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

That is not the intention of any Government. I must repeat that the way to tackle the problem of unemployment, locally and nationally, is fundamentally to get economic expansion, which depends on dealing with cost inflation, on dealing with industrial relations, and on carrying through the Budget proposals.