Development Areas

Oral Answers to Questions — Industry – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th March 1983.

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Photo of Mr Allan Roberts Mr Allan Roberts , Bootle 12:00 am, 14th March 1983

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the average length of time it takes to process development area grants

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

On average, regional development grants are now paid eight or nine weeks after receipt of the grant application.

Photo of Mr Allan Roberts Mr Allan Roberts , Bootle

I know that the Minister is aware that the question relates to a firm called Fusidex, in my constituency, which has experienced considerable delays in getting Government grants. I received a letter this morning from the Minister about the matter. Will he do all he can to help the company, which is hoping to employ a considerable number of my constituents and has export orders, but none of which will come to anything if Government grants are not made available quickly?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

We shall, of course, do everything we can to help the company. My right hon. Friend has written to the hon. Gentleman about the matter. No application for regional development grant has yet been received from the company, although my officials visited the company and there have been discussions about selective financial assistance. The company made an application for urban development grant, which, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, but we shall do all we can to help.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Warren Mr Kenneth Warren , Hastings

I sympathise with the concern of the hon. Member for Bootle (Mr. Roberts). Does my hon. Friend feel that the time has come to review the value of development area status to the country as a whole, bearing in mind that it is a considerable burden on industry, reduces its competitiveness, and is not available to substantial areas which would like to have the same opportunities?

Photo of Mr Norman Lamont Mr Norman Lamont , Kingston upon Thames

As my hon. Friend knows, there has been a fundamental review—the Quinlan review—of regional policy. We have completed the first stage and are now considering what further work needs to be done. My hon. Friend is right in thinking that very serious issues are involved.