Abolition of Investment Grants

Part of Investment and Building Grants Bill – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1971.

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Photo of Mr William Rodgers Mr William Rodgers , Stockton-on-Tees 12:00 am, 22nd June 1971

I support the thoughtful and convincing case made by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. Sutcliffe). Anybody who entered the House this evening prepared to listen to what the hon. Gentleman was saying must have been convinced that the case was overwhelming. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) said that it would be a clear breach of a moral obligation if the Government did not accept the Amendment. The hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet) said simply that it would be wrong if the Amendment was not accepted. That fairly sums up the position if the Minister is unable to make this concession.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North referred to the total situation on Teesside. I shall not develop that point now, except to say that there is a crisis of confidence. I shall not attempt to describe why it has arisen. I ask the Minister to believe that it exists. It is within his capacity to play a part in remedying it.

The Minister and his right hon. Friends should change many of their policies. Tonight he should make one small concession in answer to one of his hon. Friends. The case is powerful and overwhelming. Those of us who have served in government have been in the Minister's position. We have been told by our officials, or more often by the Treasury, that there can be no concession. When I was at the Treasury I played some part in telling other Ministers that there could be no concession.

The test of a Minister is whether he says "No" to the Treasury and to his officials. I hope that this Minister will say "No" to the Treasury and to his officials tonight and say "Yes" to the House.