HC Deb 03 June 1964 vol 695 cc1068-9
4. Mr. McMaster

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will give the number of persons at present employed by Short Brothers and Harland; and what is the average number he estimates will be employed by the firm in each of the next five years.

Mr. J. Amery

The number at present employed is about 7,300. As to the future level of employment, I have nothing to add to the statement which I made during the debate on the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill on 19th March.

Mr. McMaster

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is considerable apprehension in the firm about a serious run-down of employment in three or four years' time? What steps is he taking to place further orders with Short Bros. in order to prevent this run-down of employment and to maintain a balanced design and production unit in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Amery

I am, of course, aware of the different statements which have been made. It was my impression that the firm had gone back somewhat on one of the statements made which had caused some despondency. I stand by the earlier statement which I made that the figure of employment will not fall, we think, much below 6,000 for the rest of the decade.

Mr. McMaster

Could the Minister be a little more specific in telling us what he means by "much below 6,000"?

Mr. Amery

I should not like to be pressed into exact detail, but I should have thought within a few hundreds of 6,000.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the Minister bear in mind that there is a growing feeling in England, which I share, that it is time that the industrial parts of England received attention from the Government in matters of this kind?

Mr. Amery

I fully see what the hon. Member means, but Northern Ireland has a very serious unemployment problem.

Mr. Rankin

So has Scotland.

Mr. Amery

The Northern Ireland problem is perhaps the most serious in the Kingdom at the moment, and we must pay some attention to it, even if it involves certain sacrifices.

Mr. Speaker

Order. When the general conversation in the House has reached an end, I will call Mr. Pounder to ask the next Question.