Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Development (Newcastle Offices)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 17th April 1972.

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Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth 12:00 am, 17th April 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will consider setting up a Government office in Newcastle for the new Minister for Development in view of the fact that the other main development areas, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have offices in being for their respective areas.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

The Department's offices in Newcastle and the other development areas in Great Britain are responsible to me and I intend that they shall all have substantial delegated powers.

Photo of Mr Edward Milne Mr Edward Milne , Blyth

Is the Minister aware that we are not asking about the responsibility of the departments in the various development areas to him but about his responsibility to them? If development area policy is to mean anything in reducing the high unemployment figures, the Minister would do better to tackle that job sited on the spot. For the reasons I stated in the Question, Newcastle is the obvious centre from which this Ministry should operate.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

I hope to spend a good deal of my time in the regions. Obviously, I have a responsibility for all the regions, but the hon. Gentleman may rest assured that I shall certainly not overlook the North East.

Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East

As the Conservative Government before 1964 appointed Lord Hailsham as Minister with special responsibilities for the North East, and the previous Labour Government had a Minister with responsibility for the North East, will the right hon. Gentleman look again at this point? Special needs exist there which would best be met by arrangements more comparable with those which have operated in respect of Scotland and Wales.

Photo of Mr Christopher Chataway Mr Christopher Chataway , Chichester

Obviously the appointment of Ministers is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I believe that the integrated approach upon which we are embarked is the most promising means of assisting the regions.