§ Mr. Rhodes
In what I concede to be a rather difficult week from the point of view of the business of the House, 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 that should have urgent consideration, namely,The decision of the Secretary of State for Employment not to use the Department's conciliation machinery in the industrial dispute at Swan Hunter, Tyneside, despite the fact that there appears to be a willingness by all parties to the dispute locally to accent such machinery.I have given you notice in writing, Mr. Speaker, of my intention.
I first thought, when you kindly permitted me to ask a Private Notice Question, not to pursue the matter further, until I heard the unfortunate replies given by the Secretary of State. The right hon. Gentleman appeared not to think that 815 the matter was one of any urgency or that there was any need to intervene. He appeared to think that it was not a matter of great national importance and seemed to treat it as a local matter.
§ Mr. Rhodes
I shall not debate the merits of the comments made by the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward)—she should have rather better manners—who questions the capacity of a Member to understand the problems in his constituency. I have never questioned the ability of any Member to understand his area. The hon. Lady might learn a little more civilised treatment of her colleagues who represent Tyneside. However, that is not relevant, and I appreciate that I should not pursue the point further.
The urgency of the matter is obvious when there are 6,000 or more men who are unemployed, or out of work, during an official strike on Tyneside. Of course, there is a spin-off which affects other industries. The strike has been made official and extra assistance is being sought from other shipyards up and down the country. There is a danger of a prolongation of the strike at a time when the economic viability of the shipbuilding industry, and of the Tyneside yards in particular—especially the Walker Yard, which I happen to know because I go there almost every week, which is more than the hon. Lady does—is in question. There is a danger to the future of industries which are located in a region for which the urgency of help has only just been discussed in the Prime Minister's statement although this is a matter of major national importance and urgency.
It is a matter of national significance because of the intransigence, stubbornness and foolhardiness of the Government in adopting a rigid non-intervention policy if an offer from management is for more than £2. That attitude jeopardises seriously the discussions which are to take place on Thursday. Therefore, the matter is of major significance.
For those reasons, the House should be permitted to have an emergency debate under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss the non-intervention by the Secretary of State. I am at a loss to know, since you, Mr. Speaker, have a written copy 816 of my application, whether it is necessary for me to bring another copy to the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
As the hon. Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Rhodes) has handed me a written copy of his application, it is not necessary for him to come to the Chair.
The hon. Gentleman was courteous enough to give me considerable notice of his intention to make the application. At the same time, he asked permission, which I granted, to ask a Private Notice Question. The terms of his application are,The decision of the Secretary of State for Employment not to use the Department's conciliation machinery in the industrial dispute at Swan Hunter, Tyneside, despite the fact that there appears to be willingness by all parties to the dispute locally to accept such machinery.I have carefully considered the exchanges which took place on the Private Notice Question and also the wider repercussions of the matter. In the circumstances, I cannot accede to the hon. Gentleman's application.