§ Mr. Michael Foot
On a point of order. Mr. Speaker. I beg to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to call attention to a specific matter of public importance which requires urgent consideration, namelyto call attention to the direct and damaging intervention of the Government in the affairs 41 of the British Steel Corporation, as a result of which the Corporation is compelled to face a £50 million loss, to imperil its long-term development plan, and to threaten fresh, widespread redundancies in the industry.I apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, for not having been able to inform you in advance that I was proposing to move this Motion, but I was waiting to hear the replies which would be given by the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the exchanges in the House a few minutes ago, I shall not detain the House more than a minute or two in order to press this Motion.
First of all, the replies which were given by the Minister were in direct contravention of information which has been given on this subject by the Steel Corporation itself, and since there are widespread reports that, until a few hours ago maybe—at any rate, a day or two ago—the right hon. Gentleman himself was in substantial agreement with the proposals which the Steel Corporation was making, it does appear that the intervention is one which has come from the Cabinet on the basis of information which gives no foundation at all for such action of this nature.
On this side of the House we are all in favour of proper price control, but we are not in favour of price control applied to only one industry in the country, and applied to it in the most discriminatory and arbitrary manner. [HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not care about the people in the steel industry, but we do. We are concerned about people working in the steel industry.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think I can anticipate the point of order which the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) might be seeking to make. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), in moving the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9, must not develop his argument in the way in which he is doing.
§ Mr. Foot
Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I may be daring enough to enlighten you 42 by suggesting to the House that I was on a point of order already before the hon. Member opposite intervened. The hon. Member, therefore, had no right to intervene in what I was saying. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That is a rule of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. It was not the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. John Hall) who intervened. It was I who intervened.
§ Mr. Foot
It was to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, that I was bowing, not the hon. Member.
What we on this side of the House are concerned about is the jobs of people in the steel industry and the maintenance of an expanding steel industry, and we believe that this intervention could have the most damaging effects on the industry, not merely in the two or three years hence; we believe that in the coming weeks and months it will lead to a general review of the whole development plan of the Corporation, and we believe it is not right for this House to wait for six weeks for the review which the right hon. Gentleman has promised before making a pronouncement about the Corporation's future, and because of the action which the Government took last Friday we, in the interests of the steel workers, and of the steel industry itself, ask you, Mr. Speaker, to accept this Motion.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific matter of public importance he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,to call attention to the direct and damaging intervention of the Government in the affairs of the British Steel Corporation, as a result of which the Corporation is compelled to face a £50 million loss, to imperil its long-term development plan, and to threaten fresh, widespread redundancies in the industry.As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 Mr. Speaker is directed to take into account the several factors which are set out in the Standing Order but to give no reason for his decision. I have considered what the hon. Member has said and also what has been said earlier today about this matter. I have decided that I cannot submit his application to the House.