HC Deb 01 May 1973 vol 855 cc977-9
13. Mr. Duffy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if his Department has made an estimate of the number of redundancies expected in the steel industry in South Yorkshire as a result of the implementation of the White Paper on the future of the steel industry, Command Paper No. 5226.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

The final position may well be affected by redeployment and the creation of new jobs and it is therefore not possible at this stage to make an estimate of the number of workpeople likely to become redundant.

Mr. Duffy

Meanwhile the trade unions involved are entertaining the worst possible fears about the number of redundancies. While such an assessment is being produced, will the Minister satisfy himself about retraining facilities and alternative job opportunities? Does he agree that the British Steel Corporation should be invited to accept a formal commitment, as at Ebbw Vale, for job replacement where it has been exclusively responsible for job loss?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's concern in this matter. The last part of his question is not for me. Retraining is important. There are 303 training places available in 18 trades at the Sheffield Government training centre, including 64 in the new annex which was opened towards the end of last month. There are 289 places available in neighbouring colleges of further education and 112 "limited skill" places in employers' establishments. These are almost entirely in spare capacity at BSC establishments. I think that the hon. Gentleman can be reassured about retraining.

Mr. Kaufman

Is the Minister aware that in the Manchester area, where unemployment has almost doubled in the last two and three-quarter years, the closure of Irlam will hit the unemployment situation like a bombshell and will spread throughout the whole Manchester area? All that we have been given is one advance factory the size of a shed. Will the Minister and his colleagues do something to provide jobs in an area which will suffer extremely badly?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I can hardly answer a question about Manchester when I am dealing with one about South Yorkshire. However, I have no doubt that what he has said will be taken into account.