HC Deb 22 June 1972 vol 839 cc729-30
Mr. Charles R. Morris

In the light of the statement by the Leader of the House this afternoon regarding the steel industry, 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 statement published this afternoon by the British Steel Corporation on the future of the Irlam steel plant, which envisages a further 2,400 redundancies as far as the steel industry in this country is concerned. I submit that this matter is specific and urgent because the statement made this afternoon is the last in a series of four statements which have brought anxiety, dismay and alarm to thousands of steelworkers and their families in Ilkeston, Scotland, Manchester, my constituency, and today in the district of Irlam in South-East Lancashire.

The matter is urgent and important because it is vital that it should be seen that the House of Commons is not indifferent or complacent when the future well-being of thousands of steelworkers and their families is in jeopardy.

I submit that it is important in so far as the envisaged redundancies, added to the 7,500 announced for Scotland yesterday and the 20,000 which took place in the steel industry last year, seem to indicate that the Corporation's target of 50,000 fewer employees by 1975 is likely to be exceeded. That in itself is an important new development which should receive the consideration of the House.

Finally, perhaps I may make one brief point as to why I feel that this matter should have the urgent consideration of the House. The fact that these four statements have been made outside the House gives all the appearance of a conspiracy of Ministers who have political responsibility for the steel industry seeking to divest themselves of their obligations to the House. On these grounds, I hope you will consider my application.

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for having given me notice of his intention to make this application. I say again, as I have said before, that my decision does not reflect in any way upon the merits of the matter. I am not allowed by the Standing Order to give my reasons. Sometimes I find that very frustrating, since I would like very much to give my reasons why I cannot agree to an application.

The point for me to decide is whether I should allow this matter to be debated at the expense of business already arranged for today or Monday. I am afraid that I cannot agree to the hon. Gentleman's application.