HC Deb 01 March 1973 vol 851 cc1700-2
Q3. Mr. Molloy

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Employment in regard to factory closures.

Mr. R. Carr

I have been asked to reply.

Yes, Sir. There is close co-operation between the two Departments, at both regional and headquarters levels.

Mr. Molloy

Greater London would not agree with that reply. It is that sort of languid—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member should not preface a question with a statement. May we have a question?

Mr. Molloy

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that that languid and complacent reply in no way helps the situation in the metropolis generally and West Middlesex particularly? Is he further aware that many firms are moving out, creating many problems, and that despite repeated requests to Government Departments nothing much has been done to help? Will he be good enough to convey to the Prime Minister the concern of the people of greater London and West Middlesex particularly about this problem on their doorsteps?

Mr. Carr

Local problems are always caused when a firm closes down and moves elsewhere. What I am aware of is that in the Ealing district and the greater London area generally the number of unfilled male vacancies has more than doubled in the past year, and unemployment is at present at the rate of 1.6 per cent.

Mr. Molloy

There are much lower wages.

Mr. Carr

I am also aware that it has been the policy of successive Governments to do their best to attract industry to the development regions where there are major unemployment problems. When we are successful in doing that I would hope that we would have the support of all sides of the House, and not criticism.

Mr. Adley

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in the South-East and elsewhere there are many people who, if they wanted to work, could jolly well find it?

Mr. Carr

In some parts of the country that is true, but in other parts, alas, it is not. That is the reason for a strong regional policy, and that is why we ought to welcome—while regretting the temporary difficulty caused in the hon. Member's constituency, and in neighbouring districts—the movement of the one firm that I expect he has particularly in mind to a development area.

Mr. Atkinson

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that when he was Secretary of State for Employment he advised Londoners to retrain for clerical work if factories closed? Is he further aware that in the last 11 years London has lost 440,000 manual jobs? Should he not review his ideas and advise employers in London not to close down their factories if we are to maintain a balance between manual trades and clerical workers?

Mr. Carr

All I can tell the hon. Gentleman is that there is no sign of a shortage of jobs in the London area at the moment. There are increasing facilities for training and retraining, which is most important. We must take an overall national view of this and welcome the dispersal of manufacturing industry to those areas of the country where it has been the policy of successive Governments to try to attract it.

Mr. David Steel

Since the Government have taken powers to help substantial "lame ducks" will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that the machinery will be used for the small "lame ducklings", one of which I drew to the attention of the Department of Trade and Industry this afternoon?

Mr. Carr

As Home Secretary I am responsible for wild birds, but I am not sure about "lame ducks". One thing I do know is that the firm whose move I believe has given rise to this question is far from being a "lame duck".

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