HC Deb 13 February 1964 vol 689 cc681-3

9.48 p.m.

Mr. F. H. Hayman (Falmouth and Camborne)

I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you and the House will grant me indulgence and allow me to make a short speech on a very different type of constituency problem at Falmouth—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but my duty requires that I should ask him whether he has given notice to the Minister whom he believes to be responsible.

Mr. Hayman

Yes, Sir. I said that I would make a short point, but did not want a full reply. I said that it was a very important point that I wanted to put to the hon. Gentleman in order that he might convey it to his Minister.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. David Price)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member mentioned to me a few minutes before I came into the Chamber that he intended to raise a matter. I said that he was perfectly free to raise it, but that I would not be able to reply.

Mr. Speaker

That is quite all right with me. My duty is out of it.

Mr. George Lawson (Motherwell)

Am I to understand, Mr. Speaker, that you are asking that each hon. Member who takes part in an Adjournment debate in circumstances such as these individually will have been expected to have given notice to the Minister concerned?

Mr. Speaker

No, I am simply asking whether notice has been given, because the hon. Member knows what the consequences would be if it had not been given; but supposing that a reputable agent—it might be the hon. Member himself—had given notice on behalf of another hon Member, that would satisfy me.

Mr. Archie Manuel (Central Ayrshire)

Further to that point of order. I understand that because of some misgivings and doubts from the Chair on an occasion last week, or the week before, there was some discussion about this through the usual channels. I understand that what has been formally agreed now is that if the House is thought to be rising early, notice can be given through the usual channels, that is, the Whips' Office, which informs the Minister concerned. This has been agreed now and I hope that it will be accepted.

Mr. Speaker

That is quite all right, but the hon. Member is wrong in thinking that the Chair has any misgivings. The Chair has no misgivings. It has absolute confidence in every Member, but somebody else had misgivings and I am aware of the exchanges. As far as an hon. Member says that notice has been given, that is good enough for me. If a quarrel exists it relates between others.

Mr. Hayman

Falmouth and Cam-borne carry the name of my constituency but tonight I am concerned principally with Falmouth. I had an Adjournment debate last May to which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade, who is present, replied and therefore the hon. Gentleman is cognisant with the general position there.

In December last unemployment in the Falmouth employment district, which is much larger than the borough, was 12.9 per cent. In January it was 17.1 per cent. It is still running at about the same figure, but the main difficulty is that the Falmouth shipyard, which is one of the finest ship-repairing yards in Europe, though perhaps small in comparison with some others, employs just over 2,000 men now compared with about 3,000 a few years ago. Ten unions are involved and most of the skilled workmen are out of work. They have been out of work for so long, though perhaps at different periods, that most of them have run out of unemployment benefit.

The President of the Board of Trade was in Cornwall on 2nd January. He visited the shipyard and met the employers, and at my request he was good enough to meet representatives of the men who work in the yard. The whole of Falmouth is greatly concerned about the situation. Two unions have invoked the aid of their national executives, and tomorrow afternoon I am meeting the Mayor of Falmouth about a request which has been nut forward that the President of the Board of Trade should receive a deputation from the council.

The fate of the shipyard is the fate of Falmouth, and indeed of West Cornwall. We are cut off from the great industrial areas but my constituency, in particular, has centuries of history as an industrial unit in Britain. I beg the Parliamentary Secretary to give serious attention to what I am saying now. I hope that he will convey to the Minister the arguments I am putting forward and the plea that the right hon. Gentleman will be good enough to receive a deputation from Falmouth Borough Council.