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Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Aberdare 12:00 am, 12th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proposals he has for the long-term future of the National Enterprise Board and the Welsh and Scottish Development Agencies.

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

So far as the National Enterprise Board is concerned, I refer the hon. Gentleman to my statement of 19 July, and to the Industry Bill presently before the House. Responsibility for the Welsh and Scottish Development Agencies rests with my right hon. Friends.

Photo of Mr Ioan Evans Mr Ioan Evans , Aberdare

Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement about the relationship between Rolls-Royce, British Leyland and the National Enterprise Board? Is it true that resignations of NEB members are on the table? Will he assure the House that there will be a long-term future for the work of the NEB?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I have always been chary of predicting the long-term future of anything, including the NEB and the Opposition. When the Government have anything to announce about relations between Rolls-Royce and the NEB, a statement will be made.

Photo of Mr Michael Grylls Mr Michael Grylls , Surrey North West

Does my right hon. Friend know that there is great support for the firm line that he is taking with the NEB over the return of control of Rolls-Royce to his Department, where it would probably do very much better than in the bureaucratic mess of the NEB? If NEB members threaten to resign en masse, will my right hon. Friend accept their resignations and let them step off this State bureaucratic gravy train, thus saving the taxpayer £2 million a year?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

Without commenting on the answer that the Government will give on the present issue, I confirm that there is a substantial job for the NEB, as spelt out in the Industry Bill now before the House.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarvon

In view of the devastating effect on employment in Deeside, and, indeed, further afield in the county of Clwyd and Gwynedd because of the closure of Shotton, can the Secretary of State give any indication of the additional resources that will be made available to the NEB and the Welsh Development Agency to overcome the problem of unemployment in those areas?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales is beside me on the Front Bench, and I understand that he will make a statement on that matter tomorrow.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell and Wishaw

Will the Secretary of State discuss the issue with his colleague the Secretary of State for Scotland, who will tell him that the Scottish Development Agency is accepted by industry, commerce and the banks in Scotland as doing a first-class job? Will he take the SDA as a model for regional development agencies in England, rather than dismantle the work of the NEB?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I do not think that the Industry Bill which is before the House could be thought to be dismantling the work of the NEB, but rather focusing and concentrating it, as well as returning to the taxpayer some of the investment which, in the view of many, was unnecessary in the first place.

Photo of Sir Anthony Meyer Sir Anthony Meyer , Flint West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that even those of us who deplore excessive Government intervention recognise that in the kind of situation that has arisen at Shotton immediate pump priming aid, as opposed to sustained intervention, will be necessary by bodies such as the Welsh Development Agency?

Photo of Sir Keith Joseph Sir Keith Joseph , Leeds North East

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. Even people such as I who think that the Government have intervened too much since the war, believe that Government have a function in cushioning change.