HC Deb 29 April 1976 vol 910 cc549-50
16. Mr. Kilfedder

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about employment prospects in the Province.

Mr. Moyle

A precise forecast of employment prospects is not possible. In Northern Ireland they will depend to a considerable extent upon an upturn at national level. The extent to which Northern Ireland participates in the upturn will be heavily influenced by the political stability of the Province. At present the Government are taking all possible steps consistent with current economic policy to maintain employment and to create or promote new jobs. In addition an exercise to re-assess the economic and industrial strategy of the Province over the next few years is currently in hand.

Mr. Kilfedder

Does the Minister realise that potential employers see that Government activity in Northern Ireland is closing down, or at least not helping to keep open, the Rolls-Royce factory at Dundonald and three defence establishments in Northern Ireland? They believe, as a result, that the Government have no confidence in Northern Ireland. Have not the Government a duty to show the world that they have confidence in the people of Northern Ireland and that they intend to keep those jobs going?

Mr. Moyle

The Government are not reponsible for closing down the Rolls-Royce factory: that was a decision by the company. As for the closure of the defence establishments, it is right for people to look at the whole of Government involvement in Northern Ireland industry. The substantial sums that we are offering to people who settle in the Province and that they are spending there should be sufficient indication of the Government's confidence.

Mr. Bradford

Is the Minister aware that cavity wall insulators have been afforded the right to operate in Great Britain since October 1975 under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act? Should not the same right be afforded to cavity wall insulators in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Moyle

We intend to apply the regulations to Northern Ireland as soon as possible. The delays have been necessary because of the need to ensure proper consultations.