Special Development Areas

Oral Answers to Questions — Trade and Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1972.

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Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell 12:00 am, 7th February 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received for giving to companies within special development areas the same inducements to increase employment as are offered to companies considered to be incoming to those areas.

Photo of Mr Thomas McMillan Mr Thomas McMillan , Glasgow Central

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will consider applying operational grants to firms already in the areas of need who wish to expand.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

A number of representations have been received and replies have been sent explaining the grounds for providing a margin of extra assistance to new incoming industry.

Photo of Mr George Lawson Mr George Lawson , Motherwell

The right hon. Gentleman may recall that the Prime Minister, as far back as the debate on the Queen's Speech, undertook to look at this matter specially. Surely it is now time that he had some specific answers to whether or not the measures are to be applied to the established industries as well as the incoming industries. Does he recall that I have put a specific case to him and have had no reply except a mere statement of the rules, which I found very unsatisfactory?

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

My right hon. Friend undertook to look into any submissions which might be made on this subject, and several have been. The nature of those submissions is not such, at this stage at least, as to guide one towards a change in the rules which currently apply. The requirement to maintain a very real and contrasting advantage for incoming industry still represents an important element of regional policy.

Photo of Mr Thomas McMillan Mr Thomas McMillan , Glasgow Central

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the West of Scotland we are fighting a desperate, losing battle to maintain the established industry and manpower and that if the operational grant were given to those established firms which wanted to extend a little good could be done in that direction? Incoming industries which compete with the established industries get an advantage over them which is quite unfair. The West of Scotland is fast becoming an industrial desert as a result of the inactivity of the present Government.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

I am deeply concerned about the situation in West Central Scotland, as the hon. Member knows. I am certainly open to any proposals which seem to me to have a real contribution to make. On this one, I am afraid, I have not yet been persuaded that it would make any real contribution.

Photo of Mr Hugh McCartney Mr Hugh McCartney , Dunbartonshire East

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What is the difference between Question No. 82 and the two Questions which the right hon. Gentleman has just answered?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

That is not a matter for me.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

On a point of order.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I would prefer points of order about Questions to come at the end of Question Time, because they all take up time.

Photo of Mr Henry Brewis Mr Henry Brewis , Galloway

Is it not a fact that the last Socialist Government always set their face against extending S.D.A. status except for colliery closures and that this is a procedure which could be transferred to other areas of West Central Scotland with great advantage?

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

Yes, I believe that the extension of S.D.A. status, notably in West Central Scotland, has been and will prove to be a great contribution to overcoming some of the great problems there.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask whether my right hon. Friend will remain in his place until I have raised my point of order at the end of Questions, because I want him to hear it?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I would have called the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire East (Mr. McCartney) to ask a supplementary question if he had wanted to. Does he want to?

Photo of Mr Hugh McCartney Mr Hugh McCartney , Dunbartonshire East

Thank you Mr. Speaker. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am deeply dissatisfied with the way in which he answered the other two Questions which are directly related to Question No. 82? Is he not aware that a town development scheme, into which was introduced several new industries, is collapsing because this special measure which is being asked for is not being agreed to by himself and his Government? Is he not further aware that in the new town of Cumbernauld we are losing industries which were introduced into the area under the Labour Government?

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

Yes, but surely the hon. Member will realise that the expansion of such arrangements spreads still more thinly any efforts which one can make in these ways. I am sure he will realise of what enormous importance it is to the area in question to try to have the maximum of facilities and incentives available for incoming industry.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

Now, if the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), wishes to ask a supplementary question, I will allow it.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

I am very grateful, Mr. Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "You ought to be."] I always am. Could I ask my right hon. Friend whether, on a matter of principle relating to these Questions which are being discussed, he is aware that the Prime Minister told me only last Thursday that a decision would not be very long delayed? I am rather at a loss to understand why my right hon. Friend replied in the way he did to these Questions.

Photo of Mr John Davies Mr John Davies , Knutsford

I hope that a decision on these matters will not be long delayed. It is, however, not ready yet, so I cannot answer my hon. Friend's question.