HC Deb 01 July 1975 vol 894 cc1183-5
Q2. Mr. Wrigglesworth

asked the Prime Minister if he will make an official visit to Middlesbrough.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he had visited Middlesbrough he would have found amongst my constituents considerable confusion about the Opposition's economic policy? Will he therefore consider appointing a Select Committee to investigate which alternatives they propose, and will he consider including on that Com- mittee the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) and the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph)?

The Prime Minister

Since the confusion referred to by my hon. Friend is not confined to Middlesbrough, I do not see why I should make special arrangements to visit Middlesbrough to hear about it.

Mr. Brittan

Will the Prime Minister accept that if he travelled only eight miles from Midldesbrough he would find a wide understanding of the Opposition's policy —the recognition that what is needed is firm action to cut public expenditure and to deal with inflation and, above all, an understanding that the present Government have failed the nation totally?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I am not sure whether he was proposing that the eight miles should be in a landward or a seaward direction. Whichever it is, it he or anyone within eight miles of Middlesbrough has this valuable information he owes it to the nation and to the Leader of the Opposition to make clear to the nation what the Opposition's policy is.

Mr. Arthur Bottomley

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the people of Middlesbrough recall with affection his last visit and would like to see him again? Does he not think that the time is opportune for him to come to Middlesbrough and the North-East to see what is being done in that area to help the North Sea development, which will do so much to help our economy?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I well remember the visit, which, I hope, played a small part in the winning of a seat for Labour in Middlesbrough at that time. Certainly my right hon. Friend is right to draw my attention and that of the House to the work that is being done in relation to the North Sea. Apparently 400 companies in the Northern Region, including Middlesbrough, are doing, or intend to do, North Sea oil work. Twelve of them are currently engaged on large-value North Sea contracts Northern industry has between 15 per cent. and 20 per cent. of the British share of the North Sea hardware market. and the estimated value of work so far undertaken is £200 million, which represents 5,000 jobs. [Interruption.] This is important to the people of Middlesbrough. The number of jobs directly attributable to North Sea offshore work in the region is about 5.000, with a further 3,000 estimated over the next two years.