§ Mr. Denis Howell
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which should have urgent consideration, namely,the refusal of the Government to take action in the case of the B.S.A. Company to protect the jobs of 3,000 work people.May I first apologise to you, Mr. Speaker, for the fact that I was able to give you only a few minutes notice of my intention to raise this matter. Events are moving rapidly in this extremely serious situation. It was impossible to give you longer notice.
The points which were made in the previous application, especially those of my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson), underline the relevance of this application. The B.S.A. Company faces a devastating situation in which 3,000 out of 4,000 workers in its plant at Smallheath, Birmingham, are to be dismissed because of the financial failure of the company, notwithstanding the fact that everyone agrees that in the spring orders can be obtained in the United States whereby all the motor cycles manufactured at Smallheath can be sold. It is purely a financing operation which is causing the crisis in Birmingham.
It was the function of the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation to deal with this kind of situation. The reason I believe that it is relevant to move the Adjournment of the House is that the Government, having killed off the I.R.C., apparently find it impossible to substitute other machinery to do its work.
Last night, my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. Roy Jenkins), my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and I were received courteously by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, but he had to tell us that, notwithstanding all the social arguments about increasing unemployment in Birmingham, Messrs. Cooper Brothers have been put in as expert advisers, and Bar- 904 clays Bank have recommended the complete closure of B.S.A., Smallheath, with the consequent loss of 3,000 jobs. The right hon. Gentleman believed that commercial considerations should take precedence over the social considerations which we urged should prevail in this situation.
Today, following immediately upon that meeting last night, the company has issued the first 1,000 redundancy notices, and the other 2,000 will follow next week or the week after. In view of the growing unemployment in Birmingham, it is impossible to provide relief to those employees by way of alternative employment. It is our submission that the Government have a duty to involve themselves in this situation by trying to bring help to this company and the workers concerned.
On those facts, I submit that the House is entitled, now and not in a week's time, to discuss the plight in which these workers find themselves. On those grounds, I beg leave to move the Adjournment of the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Smallheath (Mr. Denis Howell) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent attention, namely,the refusal of the Government to take action in the case of the B.S.A. Company to protect the jobs of 3,000 work people.The hon. Gentleman was kind enough to give me brief notice that he intended to make this application.
As I have said already in relation to a similar application, it is my duty to act in accordance with the terms of the Standing Order, and the decision is mine. I must adhere to the decision that I made on the previous application. I cannot give the hon. Member's Motion precedence over the other business already set down for today.