HC Deb 02 December 1958 vol 596 c1015
34. Mr. Short

asked the President of the Board of Trade what specific steps he has taken and proposes to take in the next twelve months, to reduce unemployment in engineering and ship-repairing on Tyneside.

Mr. J. Rodgers

The diversification and prosperity of Tyneside is one of the great post-war achievements. Unemployment in the northern region, including Tyneside, is under 3 per cent. My right hon. Friend is watching closely the level of business activity in total in the area.

Mr. Short

The Minister's reply is not related to my Question at all. Is he aware that unemployment in these two industries is the highest since before the war? What faith does he expect Tyneside to have in the Government's wish to preserve employment when they sit back and do nothing about it, and when indeed they actually turn work away from this country which might have benefited it?

Mr. Rodgers

I admit that shipbuilding and ship-repairing face special problems, but I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that the engineering industry and many other industries will benefit from the recent measures taken to stimulate the economy of this country.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a naval purchasing mission from Indonesia sitting at Rome at the moment waiting to place orders for ships and that there are British shipbuilding companies which are ready to accept those orders? Will he kindly invite the naval mission to-come here to see whether these orders can be placed?

Mr. Rodgers

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question to which I can give a specific answer.

Mr. Callaghan

Is the Parliamentary Secretary not aware that, in order to disguise his incompetence, the Foreign Secretary refuses to give any answer about the refusal to invite this mission to come here? Is not it time that he resigned before more men are thrown out of work?