Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1978.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Urwin Mr Thomas Urwin , Houghton-le-Spring 12:00 am, 24th November 1978

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, but I have already referred to the problems that were caused by the oil crisis.

I am not criticising the Conservative Government for departing from the stick and carrot policy of industrial incentives to those who wished to settle or resettle in development areas.

Understandably there has been criticism of organisations such as the North-East Development Council for not being entirely successful in persuading industry to go to the Northern region. In the face of intense competition it is understandable that there is so little, and apparently a decreasing amount of footloose industry which wishes to change its location and move to the development areas.

The incentives policy has been reasonably successful. It has always been an essential part of my Government's policy to channel resources to the under developed areas. I say to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South that we are having less success in attracting new industry to the regions. This is due in part to the Government's relaxation of industrial development certificate policy. Those certificates are now more loosely allocated than they were between 1964 and 1970.

The allocation of office development permits has also been relaxed because of the measures introduced by the Secretary of State for the Environment. Every morning and evening on the underground I see the posters which are as high as the tube station. They advertise the advantages of locating new offices in London.

I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South appreciates that when industrialists and others take advantage of such opportunities they prevent a similar settlement in a development area. The construction industry is denied employment opportunities because industry goes to London rather than to the North-East or Merseyside.

London has a distinct advantage because of my Government's more liberal attitude to these policies. That attitude is indicative of the Government's anxiety about the developing employment situation in London.