HC Deb 03 February 1977 vol 925 cc820-86

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Stoddart.]

Mr. Robert Kilroy-Silk (Ormskirk)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I have your guidance and assistance? We are now beginning a debate on a most serious subject affecting the North-West, where there are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed, particularly on Merseyside. This area has the highest rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom. More than 90 hon. Members represent that area, all of whom want, or should want, to participate in the debate. Many will not have the opportunity to do so because all we have is a derisory three hours. Would it be possible to extend the period of the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Oscar Murton)

It is impossible for the Chair to extend the time limit.

7.1 p.m.

Mr. Fred Silvester (Manchester, Withington)

I am sure that the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) will thank us for calling this debate even if is not as long as he would wish. We have done so because we think that the unemployment situation in the North-West is one of the most devastating and probably most visible aspects of the failure of the Government's policy. When my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) was the Prime Minister, and the right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) wore the employment hat for the Opposition, she quoted with approval from the The Times, which stated that the situation on unemployment was then morally, economically, socially and politically intolerable. The figure then was 833,000. It is now two-thirds higher, and it will be interesting to hear what Labour Members say now.

I say to those hon. Members who represent other parts of the country that we are well aware of the problems that face them. Our concentration tonight on the North-West indicates no intention to belittle those problems. This is not only a question of numbers; we have called the debate because of the social and human problems that arise from unemployment and make this a suitable matter for discussion in the House. Unemployment causes a sense of depression and frustration, which settles on people. There is a loss of pride and of job satisfaction, and in the big cities the growth of unemployment is a contributory factor to the growth of vandalism, which affects not only those who are out of work but the old who live alone and are frightened. In parts of London and in the North-West unemployment is undoubtedly a contributory factor to the growth in racial tension. So, for all these reasons, it is right and proper that the House should tonight devote some time to the question of unemployment.

The North-West is a particularly worrying problem. Its share of unemployment has risen from 13.4 per cent. of the total unemployed in 1970 to 15 per cent. currently. The figures for other regions, such as North Wales and Scotland, which may be higher, are coming down. The North-West Industrial Development Association quotes other figures. Those figures show that the most revealing indicator of the seriousness of this problem is the deterioration in the relationship between unemployment numbers and the number of vacancies.

Figures show that the North-West has moved from a position similar to that of the national average in 1968—in which two people were available for every vacancy—to a position in 1976 that is worse than that of any other region, and where 18 people are unemployed for every notified vacancy. The North-West has almost twice the level for the country as a whole. It has 12 per cent. of the working population and 15 per cent. of the unemployed for the country as a whole. Industrial and capital investment is only 11.7 per cent. of that for the whole country.

The North-West has suffered a series of blows in recent years, and these are now beginning to show in terrible measure. Many hon. Members are anxious to speak in the debate, and in the interests of ensuring that, we shall try to keep our speeches short—and that includes mine. I shall simply draw attention to one or two specific matters before going wider.

It is right that in talking about the North-West we should refer to textiles. The industry is a major employer in the area, and the closure of mills continues. There were 14 closures in 1973, 17 in 1974, 35 in 1975 and 20 up to September 1976. Those are the latest figures I have, obtained from Hansard.

One important feature in the debates must be to continue the pressure on the Government to make such adjustments as they can through international agreement, and particularly on the renegotiation of the Multi-Fibre arrangement in Europe, to secure some safeguard against the continuing flood of imports, which is having a devastating effect on this area.

I wish to refer to the situation at Woodford Chadderton. I am informed that unemployment in the Stockport area has risen by 12 per cent. in the last few months. It is therefore dependent on the Nimrod airborne early warning project. The preference of those in the North-West for continuing with an English rather than an American project needs no underlining. Its importance can be gauged from the fact that it is estimated that about 18,000 jobs at Hawker Siddeley may be dependent on that decision alone.

As a Manchester Member, I hope that I may be allowed to make an aside about that city. Like many other conurbations, it is suffering from the problem that affects the inner cities. We calculate that since 1959 about 200,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost from the city. That represents about 25 per cent. of the total of such jobs there. An analysis of the Salford and Manchester employment exchanges confirms that the figure includes a very high proportion of unskilled workers. In particular, the young are affected.

Government aid to Greater Manchester works out at £2 per head of the population, and that compares with £35 per head for Merseyside and £43 per head for the North. This is a problem that the Government should look at. The problems of the inner cities should receive special attention in Manchester and Liverpool as well as in the other conurbations. This point is emphasised in the report from the Greater Manchester Council which emphasises that general answers are unlikely to have much immediate impact on the problem. It underlines the tremendous importance of restimulating the development of small and medium-sized firms which are likely to flourish in these areas.

There are many long-term problems which will not be solved tonight. Some have been with us for many years, and they include industrial obsolescence. It is because we suffer so much from these long-term problems that we are so vulnerable to unemployment arising directly from Government policies. The kaleidoscope of these local problems will no doubt be dealt with by the other hon. Members who take part in the debate, but it is clear that unemployment is reaching every industry and every area.

Let me give a quick resumé of the figures showing the changes in employment in the last two years. In farming and fishing, unemployment is up 700 per cent.—admittedly from a very small base. In textiles, paper and chemicals, it is up 155 per cent. In printing, clothing and similar industries, it is up 181 per cent. In metal and electrical, the rise is 96 per cent., in transport 110 per cent., in selling 196 per cent., and in clerical 92 per cent. Even managerial and professional jobs show an increase in unemployment of about 100 per cent. All parts of the North-West are suffering from this upsurge of unemployment.

It is not only concentrated, as it always has been, in Merseyside; it now afflicts places such as Blackburn, Bury, Warrington and Nelson and Colne. They have experienced increases of 200 to 300 per cent. since February 1974. Although some of them started off better than the national average, they are creeping closer to it, and in the case of Blackburn the figure has exceeded the national average. So, this is not simply a sad tale of Merseyside.

I admit freely and happily that the Government have taken some action, and I will not knock it. When one is facing a deluge, one is silly to refuse an umbrella, even a small one. These projects are likely to stand us in good stead for the future. Projects such as the accelerated projects scheme are the best way forward, and the training schemes are desirable. But it would be silly to ignore the fact that they attempt to solve but a tiny part of the total problem and that many of the projects have problems of their own. The job creation scheme is an example. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) is here today, but he has explained some of the many points. In Greater Manchester, the job creation scheme has had severe problems in dealing with voluntary bodies—and one-third of the money in the job creation scheme is going to voluntary bodies.

I remind the Minister that although, according to the method of calculation used by the Government, the amount of money that the North-West receives from the European Fund is satisfactory, in fact it is not satisfactory when one recognises that 15½ per cent. of the unemployed are in development areas in the North-West.

The regional employment premium has been dropped, and I am glad to see it go. It was a relatively ineffective way of dealing with the problem. But the way that the scheme was dropped was rather odd. First the premium was doubled and then it was chopped. We lost just over £10 million in July and now we have lost £36 million by the abolition of the scheme in the coming year. What has affected most people has been the suddenness of its demise, and that has had a remarkable effect on some companies.

On Tuesday the Minister said that as a result of all the schemes, 220,000 jobs were created nationally. But that is about one quarter of the number of workers who have become unemployed since February 1974. We must recognise that the schemes have a marginal effect. In spite of all the work that has been done in providing jobs for youngsters, 25 per cent. of school leavers who were unemployed in August were still unemployed in January whereas we would normally expect that figure to be down to 10 per cent. or 15 per cent.

The North-West has been suffering from the results of Government policies. We have not been excluded and did not expect to be. We have seen industry starved of funds as a result of Government spending; an unfavourable attitude to profit; an irresistible urge to pile upon companies obligations that, however marvellous they might be in the golden future, are often the last straw; and policies that frequently sap the energies of management and skilled workers.

A recent North-West survey conducted by the CBI among five large companies employing a total of 53,000 people showed the importance of self-help for these industries rather than their having to rely on uncertain handouts from London or Brussels. That makes the Government approach to the profitability of companies all the more important. The survey showed that the 53,000 workers in these companies produced jobs in supporting and supplying companies for another 40,000 workers, as well as another 12,500 jobs from the money that the employees spent. Altogether, the companies produced £45 million for investment. That, surely, is where there is hope for the North-West and other parts of the country.

I now want to turn to small businesses. In the North-West they are in a special position because there is a large number of them. Eighty-seven per cent. of Manchester firms are small businesses, and they employ 35 per cent. of the work force. In Fylde, they account for 47 per cent. of the work force. The importance of these small businesses cannot be over estimated. A feature of them is that they have a better record of industrial peace than large companies. Small firms have been weighed down with a large number of problems that I do not need to enumerate, but there is one important feature that I want to draw to the Secretary of State's attention. Many small firms which would like to take on one, two or three extra people face a whole range of new problems. About 18 major employment provisions have been passed since February 1974. I shall not go through them all, but they ilnclude requirements for maternity leave, time off for other functions, and redundancy. I do not say that these are not good things but, in the present circumstances, they act as a real drag on the ability of small companies to take a number of people off the labour market.

The situation is gloomy. It may be said that I am being unkind, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister are now making speches that are probably better received on this side of the House than by Labour Members. Perhaps we should welcome the sinner that repents. But a sinner should both repent his ways and do his penance. The repentance seems to be limited to Press gossip. The furore that has surrounded the Bullock Report has made us begin to wonder. The penance is being borne by the unemployed of the country while the people responsible are swanning on.

The argument used by the Secretary of State on Tuesday was that the wicked Tories were responsible. Let us examine that myth. When the Labour Government came to power unemployment in the North-West had been declining for about two years and then had been steady for a year with about 97,000 unemployed, that is about 3 per cent. of the total work force. By the October election, it was about the same, at 98,000. Presumably, when the Government went to the country they included in their election proposals the policies that would put unemployment right. Even if the plans were not carried out, they were there and were presented to the eager country. There was no mention then of 1.4 million unemployed. One North-West Member of Parliament showed confidence in his election address. He said: Basically Britain is sound. We do not need panic measures like a wage freeze or high unemployment to 'cure' the problem. No one who knows the misery which unemployment has caused in Britain would be a party to restoring it as a feature of British industrial life … Britain can only emerge from its difficulties by working together which does not mean one million not working at all". That was the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) and presumably he knew what he intended to do. I know that he would have written only what he considered to be true. That was the Tory inheritance.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) said that he was going to be brief.

Mr. Silvester

I am coming to an end.

Since that time, employment has risen from 100,000 to 200,000 in the North-West, and that is apart from hidden unemployment.

The Secretary of State has told us that it is all to do with external factors. His Department publishes the figures of international comparisons. The December edition shows that in the period from mid-1975, apart from Italy and perhaps France, unemployment levels in other countries have been holding or declining whereas here they have continued to rise. One cannot jump off the world. One has to deal with it as it is. The present plight of the North-West springs from the policies implemented by the Government. It is the fruit of their labours.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)

The hon. Gentleman has made an anlysis without giving any solutions. May I ask him before he finishes his speech, whether he has not omitted to mention public expenditure cuts. Surely they made some contribution to unemployment? Would not the increased cuts advocated by his party lead to more unemployment in the North-West?

Mr. Silvester

The hon. Member has failed to recognise that the difficulties that we are now discussing did not result from the recent public expenditure cuts but from the high level of public expenditure that occurred in the early years of the Labour Government. It is that which has brought about the present situation and it is a bitter harvest that the Government are about to reap.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine)

Order. Before I call the next speaker, I ought to say that there is a list of 27 hon. Members who would like to speak and the debate ends at 10 o'clock.

7.20 p.m.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Albert Booth)

I very much welcome this opportunity to debate unemployment in a regional context. The North-West is particularly appropriate for this purpose, having as it does 12 per cent. of the country's employees within its boundaries and 15 per cent. of our unemployed.

I should like to start on the basis of agreement with the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester). The level of unemployment in the North-West is totally unacceptable, and I agree with what he said about the hardship that unemployment produces. This hardship is related not only to the difference between what is in the wage packet and what is received in unemployment benefit but to the denial of the opportunity to work, which is a real deprivation for many people. When a person loses his job, he loses most of his income but he loses all his job. We are dealing with a subject that the whole House acknowledges to be a problem.

This is the first time that I have heard the hon. Member for Withington speak from the Dispatch Box, and I congratulate him on his contribution. It was a better balanced speech about unemployment than I have heard from many of his hon. Friends. I take him to task only for the way in which he quoted my statement that 220,000 jobs were being sustained by measures taken by my Department. The way in which he used that figure suggested that these were the only jobs sustained by Government action. It took no account of the many policies of regional support that are being operated by the Government and the many measures taken by the Department of Industry.

At a time when the House is debating the legislation associated with devolution for Scotland and Wales, it is important that Ministers should come to the Dispatch Box and demonstrate the Government's commitment to the English regions, particularly against the background of the present appalling unemployment.

If we are to debate this subject constructively, we must recognise that we are dealing with long-term structural problems of the regions as well as problems which result from the world recession. If we seek to debate it as though all the unemployment in the North-West is a product of the present recession, we shall be missing some of the essential features which must be tackled if there is to be a long-term solution to that unemployment.

We must also recognise that within the North-West there are a number of subregional problems, including the longstanding problem of unemployment on Merseyside, which has a disproportionately high number of unemployed youngsters.

Mr. Churchill (Stretford)

The right hon. Gentleman has pointed to various factors which he believes have caused the unemployment in the North-West. Why has he so conspicuously omitted the responsibility of himself and his colleagues for the greatest job destruction programme ever undertaken by any Government? I refer specifically to the speech of the Secretary of State for Defence, who said in the House 10 days ago that for every £10,000 cut from defence expenditure one job was lost. The Government have cut £1 billion from defence—the equivalent of deliberately destroying 100,000 jobs—and we in the North-West have a high proportion of the employment in defence industries. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to comment on this situation?

Mr. Booth

The hon. Gentleman's concern about defence policy and his criticism of the Government have led him to ignore the fact that it is hardly possible to deploy all the causes of the unemployment in the North-West in the first four minutes of a speech. I shall be referring to others before I finish.

It is important that we recognise that a number of the industries which have been particularly hard hit by the recession have been concentrated in the North-West. There is also the problem of the inner areas of major conurbations such as Merseyside.

Under the chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, my Department is taking part in an exercise to explore the extent to which employment policies can contribute to the solution of problems in special unemployment areas affecting the centres of a number of major conurbations. I am in close touch with this exercise because part of the problem in Merseyside can be solved only if we recognise the aspects of it which relate to the concentration of a particular conurbation.

Mr. Kilroy-Silk

My right hon. Friend said that unemployment on Merseyside was unacceptable and was causing hardship. So it is—but those words were uttered as long ago as 1974. He has told us that there are structural problems, but hon. Members from the area have been saying that for three years. There is no point in my right hon. Friend saying that he recognises the problems; we want action. The time has come for him to bring forward policies and programmes which are tailor-made to Merseyside's problems. Our regional policies have failed when firms in my constituency, despite the fact that they are making profits, choose to go elsewhere. Unless we can have a compulsory planning agreements and a proper plan for the area, we shall never solve the problem of unemployment on Merseyside.

Mr. Booth

I agree with much of what my hon. Friend says, but in the interest of limiting my contribution—recognising how many hon. Members wish to speak —I think that I should deploy the Government's actions fairly briefly. My hon. Friend knows that I am not usually slow to give way, and if I try to press on it is not out of discourtesy to him or any other hon. Member.

I wish to outline a few of the steps that we have taken to mitigate the worst effects of the present recession and then to refer to the measures which are necessary to redress the long-term structural decline which has affected the North-West.

My Department has been working with the Manpower Services Commission in the implementation of the temporary employment subsidy, the job creation programme, the work experience scheme, the youth employment subsidy and the job release scheme and to bring about the most massive increase in industrial training that this country has ever known. These measures have proved to be cost-effective in providing jobs for many people who would otherwise be unemployed. The temporary employment subsidy has proved to be particularly effective in the North-West; it has already saved about 50,000 jobs.

I agree with the hon. Member for Withington that we cannot stop all the redundancies. However, I think he will agree that but for the requirements of the Employment Protection Act that unions and the Government should be notified of major redundacies, and but for the existence of assistance such as the temporary employment subsidy, should have had even more redundancies. According to the hon. Gentleman's figures, we are stopping one redundancy in four. The situation would be a lot worse if we were not stopping those. We have to stop a great many more.

The temporary employment subsidy has had the greatest effect in the North-West, with its particular industrial problems, and 8,000 jobs on Merseyside have been saved by the subsidy. The special measures which my Department operates, excluding any support for training in industry or TOPS—the training opportunities scheme—have helped 68,000 people in the North-West at a cost of £66 million.

The training schemes which the Government are operating in the North-West through the Training Services Agency have raised the numbers trained under TOPS from 10,600 in 1975, a historic level, to 13,576. I believe that we have to raise the number even further during this year. This massive support for training, particularly in industry, which is being worked out through the industrial training board at a cost of £55 million a year, is sustaining a level of intake of apprentices and of people to many other forms of vocational training in industry, which during a recession is a unique experience. In all previous recessions the level of intake for training in industry has dropped, and this has a part to play in the problems of the North-West. My hon. Friend the Minister of State will deal in detail with the effect of many of these special measures when he replies.

I shall deal quickly with the question of the industrial strategy for the North-West. It is in this area that the effectiveness of policies for dealing with the structural problems of the North-West must lie.

Mr. Churchill


Mr. Booth

Many hon. Members, when talking about the structural problems of the North-West, have urged upon me and my colleagues the importance of greater investment in industry, of bringing more manufacturing industry into the North-West and of getting more factories, more new firms and better capital equipment for the firms already in the North-West.

First, I shall deal with two major components of this industrial strategy—the accelerated capital projects scheme and the special industries scheme. Under the accelerated capital projects scheme, operated by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, some £8 million worth of assistance has so far been approved for projects in the North-West. This brings forward investment programmes totalling £60 million. It is by this form of support that we can advance the investment plans and make it possible for firms in the area to advance their investment plans, so that the North-West can be in a better position to compete for industrial orders.

About 35 firms in the North-West have benefited substantially from the ferrous foundry scheme and the machine tools scheme. Under the foundry scheme more than £900,000 is to be spent on 11 projects already approved, involving altogether—taking the contribution that the firms are making—investment of more than £4 million. This is a major contribution to the regeneration of industry in the North-West.

The hon. Member for Withington rightly and understandably raised the problem of the textile industry. He conceded the importance of the negotiations which take place internationally on matters of employment and of trade between us and other countries. Here also the Government have given considerable help to the textile industry, an industry which is vitally important to the North-West. The Government are providing up to £15 million to the clothing industry to raise productivity by modernisation and re-equipment and are providing a further £5 million under a new scheme to help the wool textile industry.

Mrs. Elaine Kellett-Bowman (Lancaster)

Will the Secretary of State be kind enough to give the figures of take-up for the amount that is available?

Mr. Booth

The figures which I quoted anticipate full take-up both of the £15 million for the clothing industry and of the £5 million for the wool textile industry. I shall deal later with money on offer as opposed to take-up. I agree that it is an important consideration.

Going round the North-West, and as one who was a North-West Member until local government reform forced me out of Lancashire and into Cumbria—

Mr. Churchill

It was the electorate.

Mr. Booth

It was local government reform.

Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)

Does the Secretary of State realise that the scope of this debate on the North-West embraces Cumbria, where he and I have constituencies? I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Page) is anxious to put the same point. When the Secretary of State talks about the problems of the clothing industry—I include the boot and shoe industry—and about the regeneration of that industry, does he realise the serious damage which has been done by the precipitate abandonment of the regional employment premium? I am thinking of a firm which operates in my constituency and that of the Secretary of State where investment plans and budgets have gone haywire by the short-notice abandonment of the regional employment premium.

Mr. Booth

There are still purposes for which Cumbria is considered the North-West, but in the regional boundaries set out by the Department of the Environment the hon. Gentleman's constituency and mine are now in the Northern Region.

Mr. Jopling

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you agree that as the subject of this debate is the North-West—it does not refer to the North-West Region or regional planning area—any discussion on problems in Cumbria, which is in the North-West, is entirely in order?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that, as the debate is on a motion for the Adjournment, I have no method of curtailing the right hon. Gentleman in his observations.

Mr. Booth

I am not seeking to avoid the hon. Gentleman's point, I assure him. My hon. Friend the Minister of State when replying to the debate wants to deal in part with this question. I am aware of the problem of the firm in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. It also has a factory in my constituency. I have met representatives of the union and of the management of the firm concerned to talk about the problems arising from the withdrawal of the premium.

The payment of the regional employment premium in two parts of the North-West—I use the hon. Gentleman's geographical definition—has not prevented major redundancies being declared. It has, therefore, been necessary to bring to bear on those areas, irrespective of whether the premium was available, measures such as the temporary employment subsidy and the special industrial support which I am indicating as a way of aiding those firms through the recession.

The whole of the North-West is an assisted area, based on the boundaries used by the Department of the Environment. Although regional policy is inevitably less effective in drawing new industry into assisted areas in a time of recession when there is not much footloose industry about, nevertheless the regional incentives available in the North-West are playing a major rôle in helping to sustain and safeguard employment opportunities there.

More than £47 million has been paid out in the form of regional development grants to the North-West in the last financial year. In addition to the regional development grants, up to the end of December last year—here I make the distinction that the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) raised —offers of assistance have been made for projects in the region with a total cost exceeding £387 million, and it is estimated that if they are taken up some 40,000 new jobs will eventually be provided. The offers to Merseyside alone, if taken up, would create 9,000 new jobs. Under the heading of regional aid, the North-West has also benefited from the advance factory programme. Since July 1974 nine advance factories have been completed, and a further 18 are under construction.

Part of the Government's regional policy has been the dispersal of Civil Service posts to the regions. Following the Hardman Report, nearly 4,500 posts are to be located in the North-West. The massive help which the Government have given to the North-West needs to be seen against the background of the considerable changes which are taking place in the structure of employment in the region.

Mr. Edward Gardner (South Fylde)

Does the Minister agree that the solution to the problem of unemployment in the North-West lies not in costly temporary subsidies and grants but in the rejuvenation of private, profitable industry, which alone can save the North-West and the country from economic degeneration?

Mr. Booth

I agree that the total solution does not lie in temporary grants and subsidies related to a recessional situation. But if the Government were to sit back and wait for private investors to come forward to finance the regeneration of industry in the North-West, we would face an even bleaker prospect than the one we are debating.

I want to impress upon the House that whatever policies we advocate for dealing with the problem must be seen against the changes which are taking place in the structure of employment in the country as a whole, and particularly in regions which are heavily dependent upon manufacturing industry for employment. The North-West depends for 40 per cent. of its employment on manufacturing industry, compared with the Great Britain average of about one-third. Therefore, the extent to which any strategy or policy attracts or brings about investment in our manufacturing industry will have a substantially different bearing on the take-up of jobs compared with the situation a decade ago because manufacturing industry is becoming more and more capital-intensive.

Some industries could increase their output considerably by the adoption of new capital-intensive methods of production without increasing jobs in manufacturing industry in the region. But that is no reason for not going for more manufacturing industry in the North-West. Far from it. Indeed, it is a reason for recognising that proper manpower and employment policies will have to take that factor into account.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

Does the Secretary of State agree that the textile industry has a fine record of investment and innovation but that the Government—perhaps successive Governments, but certainly the present Government—have failed to bring in satisfactory anti-dumping legislation to enable this good industry which is a substantial employer in the North-West, to provide the employment which is so desperately required?

Mr. Booth

I have already acknowledged that the problem with the textile industry is not merely one of investment. In this context, international discussions which must take place under the Multi-Fibre Arrangement and other arrangements which will control or adjust the flow of trade have an important part to play. I do not want to debate that issue now. I want to stay with the effect which capital-intensive manufacturing industry will have on future employment in the North-West.

I take as an example the decision announced on Friday by ICI to invest £25 million on a new PVC plant at Hillhouse near Blackpool. That decision to construct a plant which will come on stream in 1979 and increase the ICI's capacity to 350,000 tons a year is a welcome piece of news for that area in terms of its industrial development. But how many jobs will it bring about?

Mr. James Lomond


Mr. Booth

My hon. Friend is right. The investment of £25 million will result in 90 permanent jobs, and some of those 90 jobs will go to workers in other ICI plants which are being closed.

Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale)

Is not the right hon. Gentleman now arguing that the Government ought to be considering the point which has been made in previous debates—namely, not full employment but full production and the social consequences which flow, such as a reduction in the working week or in the retirement age for men?

Mr. Booth

Certainly, on the argument that I am putting forward about the capital-intensive nature of British industry, if we are to have the highest investment levels and equipment to enable us to be competitive in world markets, one option is to reduce working hours. to introduce earlier retirement or to keep young people at school longer. That is one component. As representatives of the North-West, however, we would not claim that that was the first priority. Would we not claim that the additional wealth created by that capital-intensive manufacturing industry should find its way to providing the region with the schools, the hospitals, the houses and the social furniture which is so necessary to the improvement of the quality of life in the region? But that does not rule out the option. That is part of it.

There are other priorities. One of the major political questions facing us is how we should transfer some of the additional wealth created to achieve our social objectives.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

Surely my right hon. Friend is arguing that the time has come for a reversal of Government policy. What he is saying is that we must concentrate on developing work in the construction industry and on using the investment not to decrease the numbers of workers involved in the industry but to build houses, schools and so on. That is precisely what some of us have been arguing for a long time.

Mr. Booth

My hon. Friend runs ahead of me. If we are to achieve an industrial performance which will enable us to pay our way as a country and get rid of the limitations on Government budgeting which flow from the necessity to redress our balance of payments deficit, we must have a better investment structure in our industry. Having done that, we shall then make the wealth available for use in the way described by my hon. Friend. We cannot spend money on socially desirable objectives before the wealth has been created. I contend that nowhere is that more important than in the North-West. The success of industrial strategy there offers more towards ensuring prosperity and growth of the region in the longer term than possibly in many other places. What I am saying clearly has implications for manpower policy.

Mr. George Rodgers (Chorley)

This is a most interesting part of my right hon. Friend's speech. Does he concede that the policy of draining workers from the public sector on the pretext that they are required in manufacturing industry is contradicted by the theory he has just advanced?

Mr. Booth

On the theory which I am advancing, in a period when the right kind of investment policy is running in manufacturing industry, one cannot justify taking people from the public sector merely to man industry. I agree with my hon. Friend.

I was going on to say that what I am arguing has tremendous implications for manpower policy. It raises possibilities of enormous transitional problems. The deputations which come to see me at the Department of Employment make it clear that people in the North-West and other regions heavily afflicted by unemployment are increasingly looking towards the Government to provide answers to some of the problems.

If we are to bring about the restructuring of industry which is necessary for growth in the North-West, certain prerequisites are essential. First, we have to minimise the disruption and hardship which many people experience during periods of industrial change. This means matching job growth in certain areas to job losses in those areas. It calls for a much more sophisticated manpower planing capability than has previously existed in this country, and a much closer partnership between Government and industry. I believe that this is now emerging.

It was clear in the discussions which we had on Wednesday at the National Economic Development Council that in 40 sectors of British industry, covering 15 per cent. of its employees, representatives of trade unions had sat down with representatives of management to assess the possibilities in their own sectors for investment programmes and increased market shares. This shows that there is a possibility of developing the sort of policies which will make the restructuring of our industry possible.

Obviously we have a long way to go, but significant steps have been taken by the Government, including steps under the Industry Act 1975 to increase the powers of the Government to develop regional policy. The creation of the National Enterprise Board and the provision of very substantial funds to the NEB for the regeneration of industry is part of the solution. The Employment Protection Act, as a basis for improving industrial relations, can also play a part in the success of our industry. Certainly, the funding of the Manpower Services Commission to strengthen and accelerate training programmes was the only way to safeguard the opportunities on which we shall depend in future for skilled labour.

It would be ridiculous to pretend that we have anything but an awfully long way to go to deal with the fundamental structural imbalance in the region. But a start has been made in building that framework and creating the relationships which are necessary for a long-term solution.

Unemployment is a cancer in civilised society. The North-West has a great part to play in the eradication of unemployment, from which it will reap major benefit.

7.52 p.m.

Mr. Mark Carlisle (Runcorn)

I am sure that the whole House will be grateful to the Opposition for giving us an opportunity to debate this important matter. As I am the first Back Bencher on the Opposition side to speak in the debate, I should like at once to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) on his first speech from the Front Bench. I propose to be very brief, so I shall restrict my remarks to the perspective of my own constituency.

The national unemployment figure is very nearly 1,400,000, which is about 6 per cent. That is bad enough, but I often wonder what Labour Members would say if that figure had been reached under a Conservative Government. The unemployment rate in the North-West—7.2 per cent.—is worse still, but in that part of my consetituency which is within the Runcorn and Widnes travel-to-work area the figure is 8.9 per cent. That figure means that today there are 2,308 men and women out of work in Runcorn, which is an increase on the figure of three months ago. Against that there are only 86 unfilled vacancies.

It is a grim and depressing picture. If we compare it with the situation that the Labour Government inherited in 1974, we find that, when Labour took office in the aftermath of the three-day working week the number of people out of work in my constituency was not 2,308 but only 839. The unemployment rate was not 8.9 per cent.; it was 3.8 per cent. Of course, I accept that the rise in unemployment is not entirely the fault of this Government, but I believe that the vast increase in unemployment that we have seen in the North-West and the figures in themselves are an indictment of the failure of the Government's economic policies.

The current level of unemployment has killed for all time the myth so widely promoted by members of the Labour Party, particularly Labour Members below the Gangway, that in some way the Conservative Party is a party that stands for high unemployment while the Labour Party stands for full employment. The facts prove that that is just not true. I do not believe that anybody on either side of the House wishes to see any of his fellow men or women out of work, or the consequences that flow from unemployment.

What we have seen over the past three years has put an end to another myth which the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) was promoting this afternoon, namely, the claim that the policies put forward by the Opposition for a reduction in central and local government expenditure lead to increases in unemployment. The Secretary of State must face the fact that the increase in unemployment over the past three years has coincided with a period during which we have seen enormous increases in public spending. All the figures that the right hon. Gentleman gave, when he told us about additional money being provided for various projects, show that the money is not providing more jobs. It is being spent at a time when unemployment is going up.

There will not be any real reduction in the level of unemployment unless we change the financial and economic climate in which industry, and particularly small industry, is working. We have been taking too much out of the economy for public spending by central and local government, and we have left too little for industry to invest. We have imposed too high a rate of taxation and have allowed insufficient opportunities for expansion. All this has created a climate that is totally counter-productive to providing more employment.

No one decries what the Secretary of State says about such projects as job creation schemes. They are necessary, but they are palliatives, and very small palliatives at that. We must change the climate generally and give encouragement to industry. That means restoring incentives, reducing taxation on companies, and changing the whole mentality that was expressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he talked of "taxing people till the pips squeak". That attitude has done immense harm and is reflected in the loss of jobs that we see today.

I turn now to a matter that affects my constituency directly. Runcorn is an expanding and very successful new town, which has recently been compared to the new town of Skelmersdale, represented by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. McGuire). The basic difference between the two new towns is that Runcorn has been more successful in having a diversification of industry and in being less dependent on individual substantial employers.

I believe that Runcorn has advantages for the further development of industry, and I pay tribute to the way in which the development corporation has encouraged employers to come to the town. I have heard high praise for the corporation from those who have been attracted there. The diversity of small businesses in Runcorn has avoided the problems that face Skelmersdale.

In the North-West we shall have to rely largely on small businesses in future to take up the slack in unemployment. The message that the small businesses want to put to the Government is that the welter of legislation that has been passed—however admirable individual pieces of it may be said to be—has put a burden on them that is a disincentive to expansion. Their message to the Government would be "Get off our backs and let us do our own work".

7.59 p.m.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, East)

My hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, in what was an interesting and absorbing speech, in some parts, gave a list of the measures that the Government have taken in attempting to stem rising unemployment. It was a formidable list, and it was good that we heard it, because sometimes we tend to forget how much has been done by the Government not only in this field but in many others.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend on the energy with which he has tackled this job and I sympathise with him in having to try to bring employment not only to the North-West but to all parts of the country. The harsh reality is that despite all the commendable efforts of this Government, at the end of the day we shall be faced with more unemployment than we had two or three years ago.

All hon. Members must consider the situation in their own constituencies. In the Oldham and Chadderton area 4,000 people are wholly unemployed. That does not sound many compared with the astronomical figure for the whole country, but for 4,000 people this is a difficult time. Between 2,500 and 3,000 more people are unemployed than when I first became a Member of the House. I take my responsibility for the situation. I do not place all the blame on the Government. I have to answer to the constituents who returned me to the House.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester), who opened the debate, discussed the brief that was issued by the Greater Manchester Council, but he chose a paragraph that illustrated his argument, and there is no doubt that it makes a powerful case for the North-West.

Manufacturing jobs fell by one-quarter in the 13 years from 1959 to 1972. That is an enormous reduction, which I hardly believed when I read it. Some of those jobs have been taken up by the expansion in the service industries. However, in the Greater Manchester area there are still 100,000 fewer jobs than there were in 1959. The Greater Manchester area has received considerably less help from the Government than other areas, including areas in the North-West.

Wages in the Greater Manchester area are £5 a week less than the national average. That is important for the whole community, because low wages produce unemployment in the service industries.

The solution that hon. Members often put forward is that we need more investment. They say that as if investment will create more jobs. We must look more carefully at that. The Secretary of State used the example that I intended to use. I read of it in the Financial Times last Friday. Apparently ICI proposes to invest £25 million in a plant near Blackpool. But that investment will create only 90 jobs in that plant, some of which will be filled by workers from another area. That investment represents almost £300,000 per job created. That is not an extreme example. Honourable Members who attended the debates on accelerated investment grants will remember that the Government advanced £10 million towards a development and investment scheme worth £100 million and that the number of jobs to be provided was infinitesimal.

The cost of jobs is running into millions in the chemical industry, because it is the most capital-intensive industry. The textile industry in the North-West has moved from being a labour-intensive industry to being capital intensive. The number of people employed in that industry has fallen to 10 per cent. of what it was when 750,000 people were employed in it, in the early 1920s. That is a drop of 90 per cent. in one industry.

We cannot expect that jobs will be provided merely by investing in industry. My hon. Friends the Members for Luton, East (Mr. Clemitson) and Chorley (Mr. Rodgers) have done some research, which has been published in The Guardian. After reading those excellent articles I am satisfied that additional investment does not guarantee additional jobs.

We must look closely at the argument of the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith). That is because, if there are 1½ million people unemployed now and, in the short-term, a further 1½ million are coming on to the market, we shall not be able to absorb all of them into the work force. There will be improved output from investment, but we must use the wealth created by that not only to expand social services and housing, and to improve the situation in the construction industry; we must examine the length of the working week, the length of holidays and retirement age.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

I endorse the observations made by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) about the textile industry, but is he not being unnecessarily critical of ICI? Surely that organisation must be considered to be one of the most progressive and enlightened employers in the country. It pays vast sums of money to the Government—money that could be used to provide the improvements that the hon. Member seeks.

Mr. Lamond

I welcome that intervention because it gives me an opportunity to say that I am not in any way critical of ICI. I welcome its initiative and I wish that we had many more firms like it. I was not being critical of its investment; I was using its investment in a particular plant as an illustration.

The textile industry is passing through a difficult period. Its support campaign, which is based in my constituency, has produced a pamphlet setting out its attitude on the Multi-Fibre Arrangement negotiations. New arrangements must be introduced by the end of this year to replace those which came into operation in January 1975. Changes in the world economic situation have occurred since then.

I hope that the Government and hon. Members will read the pamphlet. It sets out a reasonable attitude towards the arrangements. We want to protect the textile industry from unfair competition. We not only want to protect it against dumping, although that is important; we want proper limits set to the volume of imports. The problem concerns not Britain alone but almost every country within the EEC. EEC countries have changed from being net exporters, particularly of textiles, to being net importers. That is why attention is being focused on the new arrangement, not merely in this country but in the other eight member States. The Government must take a tough line in these negotiations and not be diverted by the attitude of the United States. Motives could be ascribed to the United States that are not acceptable to people in the textile industry in this country.

I hope that nothing said in this debate will damage the prospects of the North-West. There are opportunities there for new enterprises. My constituency, amongst other places has moved from being heavily dependent on textiles to being highly diversified. I welcome that change. Fibrocell, a small firm that started six or seven years ago in my constituency making sailing boats, is now one of the largest producers of this type of boat in the United Kingdom. Textile machinery firms are doing well, and are expanding their exports. There was a talk on the radio this morning about the prospects for these firms. Engineering, which in the North-West is almost as important as textiles, has in the past six months had a 22 per cent. increase in its profits.

These are things on the credit side that must not be forgotten in this debate. Let us not paint the picture too black. If we want to attract industry to the North-West, we must make it clear that our industrial relations are first-class. The opportunity is there to expand. Local authorities and the Government will give every encouragement to people who want to come to the North-West. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House will do their utmost to encourage anyone who shows an interest in bringing employment to our area.

8.12 p.m.

Mr. David Hunt (Wirral)

No one can exaggerate the present extent of unemployment in Merseyside. The Secretary of State called it a cancer. In Merseyside it is a cancer well developed. Unemployment is unacceptable and intolerable. Those words roll easily off the tongue. What sometimes happens with this Government is that the temporary palliatives which we are given disguise the roots of the real problems.

The extent of our present unemployment—11 per cent. in the Liverpool travel-to-work area—is very depressing indeed. What is more depressing is the way in which certain major industries in Merseyside seem to be facing a critical stage, which if it becomes more critical could result in a very serious fundamental increase in our structural problems.

In my constituency in North Wirral the stark facts of unemployment make horrifying reading. In North Wirral alone there are at present 13,876 unemployed and only 313 vacancies. In the small community of Neston there are 380 unemployed. In certain parts of my constituency—in the Ford estate in Birkenhead—unemployment is now reaching 30 per cent. If there is unemployment of 30 per cent. within a community, there is a social problem which is not merely a cancer which cannot be easily removed but is something which will cause fundamental social problems for many years to come.

In Birkenhead there are 7,000 unemployed. Those to whom I have spoken in the Department of Employment throughout my constituency tell me that they are concerned that this year will see an enormous increase in the number of unemployed school leavers. Because of the small number of vacancies, there will be no jobs for them to go to and they will leave school and go straight on to the dole.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Liverpool, Wavertree)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the job creation programme, which sucked young people into artificially created jobs, is now throwing them out on to the streets again, and is he aware of the serious damage that that is doing?

Mr. Hunt

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Wavertree (Mr. Steen) has researched this matter considerably. One of the worrying factors is that many employment exchange managers who see the whole problem within the area recognise that the job creation programme and the training schemes will throw back a pool of young unemployed and make the situation even worse.

I want to suggest three things in the limited time available to me. First, it is on small businesses, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) said, that the survival of Merseyside can so easily depend. There has been a £1 billion increase in national insurance contributions—an increase of 23 per cent. We have seen also the hasty removal of the regional employment premium. As the Merseyside Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in a note to all Merseyside Members of Parliament, The REP for even a small manufacturing firm with 40 employees would be over £5,000 per annum. This is a not insignificant sum to be withdrawn at 14 days' notice which firms will have to find out of reserves. Those are firms which are suffering to some extent also from the serious problem of having entered into contracts on costings which took the REP into account.

Mr. Ronald Atkins (Preston, North)

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that these contributions which the firms have to make are the cause of unemployment? It is well known that in the United States, where there are no such contributions, the unemployment rate is much higher.

Mr. Doug Hoyle (Nelson and Colne)

May I put a slightly different point to the hon. Gentleman? Will he please liaise with his Front Bench, because the spokesman on the Front Bench, the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester), said that the removal of REP made very little difference?

Mr. Hunt

To answer that latter point first, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) has an adjectival indifference, because I spoke of the "hasty" removal of regional employment premium. I mentioned the figure of 14 days. Many firms had accepted that it was a temporary measure and that it would soon be phased out because the Government had indicated that that was their policy. I am saying that its withdrawal at 14 days' notice causes a liquidity problem.

To take up the question raised by the hon. Member for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins), I am saying that national insurance contributions deter a small business man from taking on more people because he has more overheads to pay. There are many small businesses in my constituency—in Birkenhead, in Hoylake and in other parts of the constituency—which would like to take on more people but are deterred from so doing by the sheer weight of contributions. If only the Government would recognise that their penal policy towards small businesses is having this detrimental effect, we should see a take-up in the private sector and an increase in the number of vacancies.

Secondly, regional policy under the present Socialist Government must be seen to have failed. The Chairman of Merseyside County Council said at a recent meeting that all that the special development area policy did was to reassure those who were suffering while the fundamental problems continued. I agree with him. We need a fundamental re-think of regional policy.

Thirdly and lastly, I plead in this Chamber for an all-party approach to unemployment. I also plead for a far more effective lobby of Merseyside Members of Parliament. I have been a Member of this place for a comparatively short time, but one of the things I have heard time and time again is that Merseyside does not have an effective and strong lobby of Members of Parliament. That is what we need. We should be pressing for attention to be given to the special problems of Merseyside at the highest possible level.

I welcomed the remarks of the Secretary of State for Employment and I welcome the presence on the Government Front Bench of a representative of the Department of the Environment. I was pleased to hear the right hon. Gentleman tell us that he was considering the special problems of inner city areas with Ministers in the Department of the Environment.

Mr. Heffer

The hon. Gentleman has talked about a lobby from Merseyside. He must be aware that SDA status was gained during the Government's early life. As a matter of fact, I was the Minister responsible. Many other efforts were made to bring in new factories, for example. In that sense a great deal has been done by the efforts of Members of this place. This is not only a Merseyside problem. The problem goes far deeper than that.

Mr. Hunt

I shall always pay tribute to the hon. Gentleman when it is deserved. On Merseyside today we have a problem that recently caused the hon. Gentleman to explode. Indeed, it has caused a great many others to explode. Surely we cannot ignore the fact that Merseyside has special problems and needs special solutions. I am sure the hon. Gentleman agrees that at the highest possible level—this can come only from the Prime Minister—there should be an initiative to provide the special solutions that Merseyside so urgently needs. That initiative can come only from the Prime Minister, because it is necessary for the Secretaries of State for Employment, for Trade, for Industry and for the Environment and the other major Ministries to co-ordinate their policies so as to provide the special solutions that Merseyside needs.

8.23 p.m.

Sir Thomas Williams (Warrington)

No one who has listened to the debate can feel anything but sympathy for the problems that the Government face or any other Government would face in the conflict between unemployment and inflation. Yet the debate, despite the intesting things that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told us about what is being done, for which tribute is properly to be paid to the Government, will cause a sense of deep depression.

The employment situation has been considered by all those who have spoken so far largely from the point of view of the past two, three or four years. The truth is that for 50 years and more the economy has been drifting steadily and inexorably to the situation in which we now find ourselves. I believe it was a former Conservative Prime Minister who said that apart from 1945 to 1950 this country has consistently been badly governed. During the greater part of my lifetime I have listened to Minister after Minister and economist after economist saying virtually the same thing when faced with the problem of unemployment.

They have said that unemployment is unendurable, that it is at an unacceptable level and that we must do something about it. For the greater part of my childhood and youth I lived in a home where my father had 28 shilling a week with which to keep six people. Not only us; nearly everyone in the town in which I lived faced the same situation while Ministers and Members of Parliament kept saying "Unemployment is unendurable. It is impossible that people should be expected to live in such conditions." That was said increasingly about conditions in the North-West, the North-East and the north of England and about South Wales, but we stayed impoverished, bitter and idle.

Now we are being told again that unemployment is unendurable and that it is impossible that people should be left to live in the conditions in which so many millions are now living—including the unemployed themselves, their families and those who are disabled. In the North-West there is a desperate need for housing in every part of the region, not least in my constituency. There is a desperate need for hospitals and new schools. At the same time the region has major unemployment, especially among those who would be best able to supply the region's needs.

In my constituency, in the North-West and in many other parts of the country, we have overcrowded school classes —and unemployed teachers. We now have the added misfortune that training colleges for teachers are closing down. There is the threatened closure of one of our own local colleges—namely, Padgate.

In a recent speech, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science said that young people were being schooled for the dole. Whatever the other problems may be of any Government, that of unemployment must certainly be paramount in the minds of those who sit on these Benches. A Government can claim to have succeeded if they say not only that they cannot tolerate the measure of unemployment that we now suffer in the North-West—but that they will not tolerate it.

It was true probably more literally than my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science intended when she said that young people were now being schooled for the dole. The present position in the North-West though this is but a microcosm of the problem that we face throughout the country, is exemplified in my own constituency, for instance, which now has the largest number of unemployed school leavers in its history.

During the last recess I spent a good deal of time meeting the employers of large industrial undertakings in my constituency. I was told by almost each employer not only that they were not taking any more apprentices but that in the foreseeable future they could not see how it would be possible for them to increase the number of apprentices in their employ. Surely this is to eat our seed corn.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

I take up the tragic statement that the hon. and learned Gentleman has just made. Why are employers not taking apprentices? I should like to know why they will not take them now.

Sir T. Williams

The simple reason is that for many years the steel industry in particular, which is the largest industry in my area, has been consistently running down. The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) once said that he had made every attempt to ensure that the industry was encouraged to develop and invest—by encouraging investment which did not take place for all his encouragement after his "lame duck" policy, which had also failed. Over the past 40–50 years the development of industry and investment has been consistently neglected. Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Over the modern history of our country we have continually been faced with the problem of soaring unemployment. I am deeply concerned about the matter and about the individual problems that result. Expedient after expedient has been used, and we are still trying expedients. The time has come for a genuine and comprehensive plan for dealing with unemployment, not solving our problems as they arise but looking at the long term. We need a public works programme. We need a new scale of values when it comes to the apportionment of public expenditure. We need to tell the people with a clarion call that they should make sacrifices in the interests of winning the war against unemployment.

Mr. Steen

The hon. and learned Gentleman has painted most vividly the tragic plight of young people in his constituency. Does he agree that it is more important for them to do something rather than nothing? If so, as he has mentioned public works, does he agree that doing work for the benefit of others in the community is much more important for the future life of those young people than simply doing nothing on the dole?

Sir T. Williams

I agree that it is more important that they should do something rather than nothing, but it is even more important that the something should be something that gives them hope for the future, for their future and the future of our country. What we need supremely for young people is some kind of national apprenticeship scheme so that their abilities may be used and they may look forward to the future with real hope.

I have long since become weary of hearing from those who have it within their power to deal with it that unemployment is unendurable and intolerable. The choice that must be made between inflation and unemployment is a difficult and bitter one. I believe that it must come down on the side of ensuring that the people of this country can live with decency and dignity. If the present Government in the end fail to achieve that, although in my view any alternative Government would be worse, the people may in their bitterness dismiss the Government whom in the beginning they elected with so much hope.

8.32 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Smith (Rochdale)

Bearing in mind how much time we have spent on Wales and Scotland, I am glad that the North-West is having a bit of a do. I sincerely thank the Secretary of State for Employment for being present throughout the debate so far. I have taken part in a number of debates on the North-West since I entered the House four years ago, and I remember only one when a member of the Cabinet was present throughout the debate.

There are many aspects of unemployment in the North-West about which one could speak, but time forbids. The general economic depression has created unemployment problems all over the country, and not least in the North-West. The fishing industry in the North-West, in the Fleetwood and Fylde area, has been affected by the Icelandic fishing limits. The textile industry has been bled by successive Governments over the years. If one names any problems associated with unemployment, one finds that they have affected parts of the North-West.

We could fill the whole debate with speeches about the textile industry alone. Government after Government have promised aid to the industry. I was interested to read in the national Press not long ago that the official Opposition had sent some hon. Members to the North-West to meet textile employers and investigate the industry, so that the Opposition could recommend what they would do for the industry. The textile workers of the North-West wonder what the Conservatives did when they had the opportunity from the 1960s onwards. I led a deputation of Lancashire mayors to the Board of Trade on this matter in the 1960s, and Government after Government did nothing. Surely by now the Conservative Party should have decided its policy on textiles and should not need a committee of investigation to discover what is wrong.

The textile workers in the North-West should no longer be kidded and strung along by Government utterances and the setting up of committees. They want jobs. I remind the House that since 1973 100,000 jobs have been lost in the North-West.

We must examine the question of import controls and import duties. Other countries appear to be able to impose import duties and control the flow of textiles into their areas. I have tabled Parliamentary Questions on this matter and have tabulated all the controls and duties in respect of imports imposed by other countries, but we appear to be unable to do anything in that regard. We are now negotiating a new Multi-Fibre Arrangement. I join the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) in hoping that the Government will ensure that the EEC negotiators stand firm in those negotiations.

Mention has been made of the document "Stop the Flood!". We are calling for maximum permitted levels for all imports and the establishment of global quotas. We also wish to relate the level of imports in any year to the state of the market, to permit unilateral restraints, including safeguard clauses, and to use more realistic base periods when establishing quota levels. I hope that the Government will take note of that document and ensure that this time the textile industry is not ratted on, as it has been by many Governments in the past 15 or 20 years.

There are many other matters, apart from textiles, that should be mentioned in this debate. Perhaps I may throw out a few ideas that are not controversial but are worth mentioning, if only to excite some Government thinking.

I should like to advance the suggestion that Preston Docks could be used as a fish farm to replace some of the fishing areas. I understand that BP might be interested in that possibility. That suggestion might be examined by the Government.

There is also the possibility of designating Fleetwood as a disaster area because of the effects of the Icelandic situation. I should also like to mention the proposed Central Lancashire New Town and the need for a speedy conclusion to all the discussions that have been taking place over many months about the future of that project. I hope that the scheme will be dropped, but let us at least put an end to all the uncertainty. There will be little investment in the area while uncertainty remains. I hope that we shall have a quick decision on the subject.

Some of my colleagues in Liverpool—and I know that many Labour Members subscribe to this view—have suggested that that city should become a free port. I shall not enter into the argument on that matter, because I am not an expert on ports. However, I understand that the ports of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hamburg and Stockholm are free ports, and therefore it would be worth examining whether Liverpool could be so designated.

I should like to put forward the idea that special tax advantages should be given to firms that are prepared to invest in the Merseyside area. There are one or two anomalies to be examined. Wrexham is nearer to the Midlands than is Liverpool, but because Wrexham is deemed to be in Wales it is able to benefit from the activities of the Welsh Development Agency. I believe that the question of tax incentives to investors in the Liverpool area should be carefully examined.

The Government should also examine the question of Government offices in the North-West. We welcome the fact that the Equal Opportunities Commission is coming to Manchester and that the Land Registry is to be established in the Wirral. More of these offices are needed. Certainly we ought to think of the transfer of the office of the Government Chemist to West Cumbria.

Mr. Dan Jones (Burnley)

Is the hon. Member prepared to agree that, despite the hundreds and thousands of administrative jobs that have been directed all over the country not one has gone to North-East Lancashire? He may have noticed that Bill Kendall has now taken the view that no more Civil Service jobs are to be dispersed in this way. Will the hon. Member use his influence in Rochdale and join with other towns in North-East Lancashire in persuading the Government to direct more such jobs to that area and persuading Bill Kendall to see what we have to offer?

Mr. Smith

I am certainly prepared to lend any help that I can. The Minister for the Civil Service visited my constituency recently, with a view to exploring the possibilities of job dispersal. I make that point so that it shall not be overlooked.

Hon. Members have referred to training. I have already said in earlier employment debates that we ought to make much greater use of our technical colleges. I constantly stress this, because I know something about technical colleges. I was a governor of one for 20 years. Their training facilities are used for an extremely limited period, not only of the week but of the year. Some of the best engineering workshops in the country are in technical colleges. It is scandalous that they should stand empty for so long. I hope that the Departments of Education and Science and Employment will get together to make sure that we make the best use of this facility.

We have also to examine the question of development area and intermediate area status. Over the weekend I heard of one company that was leaving Salford because that town did not have the development area status of the town to which the company was moving. If we are to continue with these development and intermediate areas there ought to be a review of the boundaries.

The footwear industry is now facing quite unreasonable competition not only from behind the Iron Curtain but from South America. I gather that some sort of Government subsidy in these countries is being applied to assist the industry. The textiles, footwear and fishing industries in this country appear to be a soft touch.

The modern building components industry has a high export potential. In the North-West, firms manufacturing building components have banded together in the Building Component Manufacturers' Association. The total export turnover of these firms is in excess of £1 billion a year. The Association feels that its members are gravely handicapped when competing for export orders, because of the much greater amount of assistance that their overseas competitors are receiving from their respective Governments. The Governments of Scandinavia, Eire and other EEC countries make our Government's contribution look rather feeble. I am told that many of these other Governments pay the cost of consultants' fees in advising customers and provide cheap air travel for export personnel. These Governments are far more liberal than ours in granting tax allowances to persons employed in the industry.

I agree with what the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Sir T. Williams) said about the construction industry. In an earlier intervention I spoke of full production, as opposed to full employment. The Secretary of State pointed out that we want schools, hospitals and factories. The point he was making, which I understand and recognise, was that even with a reduced labour force we produce extra wealth. With the extra wealth we have to do something about reducing the labour force required in the economy. That can be done in a number of ways.

The Minister put forward suggestions, such as raising the school leaving age, reducing the age of retirement and reducing the working week. Those proposals form one possibility. The other possibility is to create extra work in the construction and other industries. I agree that the latter would have priority over the former. I do not think that in the long term we should lose sight of the need to improve benefits to employees as a consequence of increased wealth.

The joke is not funny any longer, so I will not call myself a small employer, but as an employer with a small business I must tell my hon. Friends that it is rubbish to talk as though the national insurance stamp influenced employers in taking on labour. I employ about 70 people. Neither I, nor, I am sure, any other employer, considers whether the national insurance stamp is £1.50 or £2 in deciding whether to take someone on. The profit motive and so on are important, but what really matters is the opportunity to sell and to get orders. Schemes like the temporary employment subsidy and the job creation programme are excellent, but after a while one runs out of work for people taken on under them. There is a limit to how many windows there are to paint, for example, One simply runs out of work.

The true way in which to get industry going is to get into a situation in which there are orders and things to make and sell. I believe that most people are motivated by selfishness. I do not say that in a nasty spirit. We are able to control it, because we are civilised. But it is so. Therefore, individual incentives matter. They matter to middle management, which is vital. Whether the economy be Communist, Marxist, Socialist or free enterprise, middle management is vital, and it is therefore important that it should be given incentives in the next round of wage negotiations.

For some months I have taken the view that the Government were not off course in their economic and industrial strategy. That is why, for the last six months, I have constantly refused to go into the Lobby against that strategy. I believe that the Government have got their priorities right. They are pushing for more investment in industry, and I hope that the next step will be to encourage industry even further by allowing it some incentive, because, in the end, financial incentive is what matters to people, whether they be directors, manual workers or middle managers.

Other things have to be done first, but as soon as the economy allows—and I believe that that time is not far off—we must take certain steps, such as tax concessions and a reflation of the economy, certainly in the construction industry and in social service work. I believe that this is a step that the Government will be able to take, and the people of the North-West will thank them.

8.48 p.m.

Mr. Mike Noble (Rossendale)

So many hon. Members in the debate have quoted the unemployment statistics for the North-West that I can safely leave them aside. A grim but realistic picture has been painted. One thing, however, needs saying. I do not think that anyone has mentioned the significance, at least for North-East Lancashire, of the change of course by the Conservative Government in 1972, when the Industry Act was introduced and the relative advantage that North-East Lancashire then had vanished.

One of our problems in the regions is that the jam is spread so widely and so thinly that in many respects it makes little difference. When talking about Government aid, we are really talking about relative advantages and disadvantages. I urge my right hon. Friend to consult the Department of Industry with a view to holding a total review—not a continuing or a temporary or partial review, but a total review—of regional policy. It seems nonsense to us in North-East Lancashire that North-East Scotland should have greater advantages than we have, bearing in mind the decaying industrial base that we have in many of our constituencies. Therefore, it is realistic that such a review should take place.

It has been said that one of the main problems of the North-West is that our unemployment is not caused simply by the recession but is part of a long-term structural decline and that it needs direct intervention to reverse it. In the textile industry, for example, about 100,000 jobs have been lost since the mid 1960s. In footwear and clothing, the figure of jobs lost is about 25,000. In electrical engineering it is 40,000, and it is about the same in mechanical engineering. That is the situation that we face in the North-West, and we have what might be described as an abundance of very sensitive industries facing long-term structural decline. So far, regional policy has done little to restore the balance.

The hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) gave us a very interesting statistical account of the composition of unemployment in the North-West, and he told us the causes. However, I failed to detect anything in his speech in terms of a policy that a possible Tory Government would introduce to deal with the problems. It should be pointed out that the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) has been more forthright. In an article in Industry North West just before Christmas, his answer to the problems of the North-West was to withdraw the lot: he said that the Government should get off industry's backs, that industry had far more trouble getting grants than they were worth, and that there should be an end to the whole system. I do not think that that would get a very welcome response from many manufacturers in footwear and textiles in Rossendale who at the moment are anxious about the continuation of a number of Government grants. But at least the hon. and learned Gentleman put forward an honest point of view.

However, if we are to deal with structural decline, we need a policy of intervention and not one of disengagement. So far in the history of this Government, the interventionist policies on the basis of which we were elected have not yet worked in the North-West.

We have heard about the problem of the Central Lancashire New Town and the uncertainty that that is causing. In my view we need a structural plan linked around the Central Lancashire New Town, even without the full development which was envisaged, going right across Lancashire so that we can bring in basic manufacturing industries to ensure that, within the confines of such a plan operating through the NEB and planning agreements, the component manufacturers of those industries are in North-East Lancashire—

Mr. Dan Jones

Either that, or abolish the new town.

Mr. Noble

My hon. Friend makes a sedentary comment. I shall not disturb him too much, because he may get to his feet and then perhaps we shall not be able to finish this debate.

Before my hon. Friend's helpful intervention, I was making the point that we had to plan the situation in Mid-Lancashire and to make sure that the Government intervened in directions which were helpful to the area.

I support what my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) and the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) said about textiles. The Government have got to be tough in Europe. Let us talk politics for a moment. There are more marginal seats tied up with textiles than with any other industry in the country. If the Government are not tough in Europe and in the forthcoming GATT negotiations, our textile workers will be tough with the Government when election time comes round.

It was very interesting to hear about the tour round the North-West by Tory Members who wanted to find out some- thing about the textile industry. If they had taken part in debates in this Chamber, they would have had a briefing before they went. I exclude the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) from that comment because I know that he has played an honourable rôle in the struggle for textiles, but many of the others who went up to the area seemed to know very little about what had been going on in the industry.

We look forward to the results of the Department of Industry's survey of the footwear industry with considerable interest. We would want those results published as soon as possible and a guarantee of Government action. The indications are that we produce very good shoes and that technically we are efficient, but we could do with a boost in marketing management and design. I should like to correct the comments which have been made tonight about competition from Eastern Europe. The Government have taken considerable steps to control this, and a fortnight ago I receive a letter indicating that further restrictions had been placed on Polish footwear.

Both the textile and the footwear industries are concerned about the future of the temporary employment subsidy. This is causing a great deal of uncertainty, and I urge the Government to make an early announcement that if the TES is not to be continued an alternative will be introduced to meet the problems of manufacturing industry in the North-West.

I turn to the problems of small manufacturing businesses. We usually hear a great deal from the Opposition about small businesses. However, from the comments tonight I do not think the Opposition are paying a great deal of interest. Their usual cry is that there is too much legislation. They claim that if the Government get off the backs of small business men they will be all right. But it was the hon. Member for Rochdale who put his finger on it. The problem is not the insurance stamp. The problem facing small business men is one of cash flow. I have not heard Conservatives mention that tonight.

The situation in the North-West is that almost 40 per cent. of manufacturing units employ fewer than 25 workers, and 75 per cent. employ fewer than 100. The important thing about this, in the relationship between investment and employment, is that most units are labour-intensive. In terms of pound-for-pound value, we would get better returns if more money were pumped into those industries than into capital-intensive industries. The main problem is cash flow, particularly at a time of economic upturn when firms are trying to invest but cannot get the money.

The average time for payment of bills to a small contractor dealing with a large firm is three months. Clearing banks' lending to manufacturing industry is diminishing because the criteria for lending money are becoming more stringent. Because profitability is less in manufacturing industry, the banks are less willing to lend. In fact, many banks would be happier to lend money to a string of betting shops than to a small manufacturer. Obviously, something needs to be done.

At the Labour Party Conference last year there was a very interesting debate about public ownership in the banking sector. I will leave the merits of that for a different debate. What I would like to recommend to the Government is a regional development bank, based in the regions, with the purpose of factoring invoices for small businesses. This has been discussed with small business men and with sympathetic banks which can find no technical fault with the idea. If invoices were factored in this way, a manufacturer could send out his goods with an invoice with a tear-off slip which would be returned to him and taken to the discount bank, and his money could be paid on the nail—

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

That is done already.

Mr. Noble

Yes, it is, but at exorbitant interest rates. This system could be used to apply discrimination in terms of regional policy. There is no reason why a Government regional bank should not allow different discount rates according to the level of unemployment in a particular area. In that way, selectivity could be employed in a manner which has not been possible before.

The money is available. There is still £750 million in the FFI. This kind of approach to small businesses is worth thinking about, and it is far more important than the constant carping by the Conservatives that the problem with small business men is that they have to cope with too much legislation. Their problem is cash, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will take this point on board.

The North-West as a regional microcosm is exactly what the election policies of the Labour Party in 1974 were about. Those polices were concerned with the regeneration of British industry. The people in the trade unions in my constituency and in the constituencies of my hon. Friends are awaiting far more effective promotion of those policies than hitherto. Times are perhaps beginning to run out for the North-West in employment terms. We are looking to my right hon. Friend to put things in better perspective.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

There are still 19 hon. Members who would like to catch my eye before 9.30, when the winding-up speeches start. I therefore appeal to hon. Members to keep their speeches brief.

9.2 p.m.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

The hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble) put his finger on the matter when he said that the problem of small businesses is cash flow, or simply cash. However, a lot of things go to make up that problem, including, in a very small way, the increase in the employment stamp. Many things go to create a shortage of cash. Some of them, such as increasing taxation and the increase in the stamp, are the direct fault of the Government. Some of them, such as the increase in rates of interest, are the indirect fault of the Government. But most of them are the responsibililty of the Government in one form or another. It is because small business is likely to employ more labour, proportionately, that it is upon the small business that we must concentrate.

If any one speech in the debate has done anything, it was done by the hon. and learned Member for Warrington (Sir T. Williams), who, in a moving speech, said that he would no longer tolerate the adjectives "unacceptable" and "intolerable" from the Government Front Bench when it was dealing with the rate of unemployment.

There is a sort of incantation that takes place from the Government Dispatch Box when, month after month, and, now, year after year, Ministers say that the rate of unemployment is unacceptable. What do they think they are doing by using that adjective? Everybody knows that the rate is terrible. To say that it is unacceptable does not advance a solution. It is a mere incantation, and it is beginning to irritate the House and the country a great deal.

I must take off my hat to the Secretary of State, because he spelled it out better than I have heard any Minister do before when he said that the dishing out of grants to large industry did not produce the answer. Large manufacturing now employs, proportionately, so little labour that it is impossible to buy one's way out of unemployment by the methods that the Government selected two years or even one year ago. That lesson is now learned. These large grants to manufacturing industry, although they may be important for other purposes, will not solve the unemployment problem.

The only way in which the problem can be solved, and in which the Government can hope to make a serious impression upon it in a relatively short time, is by making it more profitable for small and medium-seized businesses to take on more labour, by making it more worth while for potentially skilled labour to become skilled, and for people to work rather than remain on the dole.

I have been sent a letter by a business man—a bleacher and dyer—in a medium-sized firm in my constituency. I shall read it, or, at least, parts of it because some of it is in unparliamentary language. It begins with an extremely encouraging sentence: We are full of work, some of it export and some of it Government and our delivery is eight weeks against four weeks that the poor spinners and weavers have, so unlike the poor spinners who are short of work, we want men. When I read that I thought that for the first time this was good news. But the letter goes on: This week I contacted the employment bureau in Bolton and Mrs. Parks went through 200 or so names and not a single jig dyer to be found. In the past we have interviewed a number of aspirants to train as jiggers. We have only two training now. It is expensive training both from the production point of view both as regards trainer and trainee. But what happens now, if the men are married with families, it only means two or three pounds a week more than they can get on the dole. Out of every four that we start training only one lasts a fortnight. The majority, as soon as they have done a week and qualify for the dole, go and disappear". The problem is the interface between wages and benefits. That is a problem that is familiar to the Government and one that they say they will put right. Perhaps they will put it right in the next Budget, but every week this goes on and every week people start training and then find that it is not worth continuing because there is little difference between what they can get as a trainee for skilled and important work dealing with export production and what they can get on the dole. While we have a continuance of the situation in which there is lack of common sense in the interface between unemployment and social security benefits and the wage differential, the Government cannot stand at the Dispatch Box and say that they are doing all they can to resolve the unemployment problem.

9.9 p.m.

Mr. Paul B. Rose (Manchester, Blackley)

The employment problem in the North-West is capable of solution in the long term only within the context of a total Government economic strategy. But there are actions, in both the national and the regional context, that the Government can take. I endorse the admirable analysis by the hon. Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) with regard to unemployment in the North-West, but I failed to hear any positive proposals from him for dealing with the problem. Some of the methods might be temporary or emergency ones. Some methods have been referred to as palliatives, but we are in an emergency situation.

I hope that, given recent trends, we are facing temporary difficulties. We therefore need short-term measures to deal with short-term problems, as well as a longer-term strategy to overcome the problem of unemployment in the North-West.

I last raised this matter in the House last year, when the North-West had overtaken the percentage unemployment rate of Scotland. Since then, there has been a slight relative change, though, in absolute terms, there are still 189,000 unemployed in the North-West, compared with 160,900 in Scotland. Without disrespect to my hon. Friends from Scotland and Wales, I must say that I find it a little odd that after days of debate on devolution we should have only three hours to debate the problems of the North-West, which was, after all, the cradle of the Industral Revolution and which, as I have said before, I hope will not become its graveyard.

The regional disparities are appalling. Unemployment in the South-East is 4.6 per cent., in the East Midlands 5 per cent., and in the North-West 7.2 per cent. The North-West is an area of high manufacturing skills and experience in such areas as engineering, chemicals, and fibres. The fact that the gap between other regions and the North-West has narrowed is not because our position has improved but because of the general deterioration in the unemployment figures.

We are troubled because it is not merely structural changes affecting coal and cotton that we are facing. There are problems in electronics, television tubes and chemicals. A whole ICI manufacturing plant in my constituency is being closed. There is concern, too, at the failure to give approval to the HS146 project and the Nimrod AEW project. If another place had not played high jinks with the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

That had nothing to do with it.

Mr. Rose

It did. The hon. Gentleman should talk to the workers at Chadderton and Woodford. But for the action of the House of Lords, we might by now have the HS146 project, which could employ 20,000 people. Of course, it would also be better to build the Nimrods and save £50 million for our balance of payments.

We are concerned at the decline in parts of industry which we have been taking for granted. There are parts of the North-West, including Merseyside and the Fylde coast, which have been suffering particularly hard under the blight of unemployment. We need an integrated strategy for the North-West as a whole and not merely to look at each part of the area in isolation.

Even in the vital engineering industry, many of us are concerned about the GEC turbine generating plant at Trafford Park, in our industrial heartland. Even in that sector, of which we are proudest we find a danger of skilled employment being lost.

We need positive regional policies. I cannot understand why only 10 per cent. —9.9 million—of the allocation from the EEC Regional Fund between October 1975 and January 1977 has come to the North-West when we have 15 per cent. of the country's unemployment and are fast becoming what may be termed a Cinderella area. This is the fault of our Government and not of the EEC.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

It is certainly not the fault of the Community. It is entirely the fault of the Government if they refuse to allow each part of the North-West to become a development area and if only 20 per cent. of the money from the EEC Regional Development fund goes to intermediate areas. It is because the Government will not make us development areas that we cannot get the money. The Commissioners would be glad to send us funds if the Government changed their policy.

Mr. Rose

If the hon. Lady had been listening instead of reading she would have heard that that was what I said. I do not know why she interrupts me in order to agree with me, but I am grateful to her for pointing out that the North-West ought to be a development area.

If one looks at the United Kingdom as a whole—the rosy prospects for Scotland and the bonanza that is expected there —and compares that with the long-term gradual erosion and decline of industry in the North-West, which has gone almost unobserved, it is obvious that the North-West should be a development area. I was making precisely that point. The North-West is not getting its fair share. That decision was the Government's and not the Commissioners'. Similarly, the placing of contracts is an area in which the Government could intervene to help the North-West.

I believe that temporary and selective import controls ought to be introduced, not only for textiles and footwear, but in micro-electronics—one of the most important future development areas in industry, where we are fast losing ground to Japan. We need both swords and shields to establish industry in the North-West.

I should like to see the job creation programme greatly expanded, with far more money put into it. I should like to see a different emphasis, not just on providing jobs for 10 months, but on providing development training for young people with a view to permanent employment, and a specific emphasis on training young people from inner urban areas who are most in need.

Mr. Rose

In co-ordinating that, the National Enterprise Board should be brought in, in conjunction with local authorities and with voluntary bodies.

Mr. Steen

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that there are still about 500,000 young people under the age of 25 without work? Is he aware that the job creation programme at its highest created between 30,000 and 35,000 jobs for that section of young people? Is he aware that however much money one puts into the job creation programme, and we have already spent £90 million, we shall never solve that problem?

Mr. Rose

The way in which Opposition Members take advantage of my generosity is such that I shall not give way again. The hon. Gentleman is posing questions as if I were the Minister in charge of the programme, which I am not. I am pointing out that we need a larger programme—a different emphasis—in relation both to those in whose direction the programme is pointed and to the areas most in need—the inner city areas. I am asking for a far larger sum of money to be spent on the programme. That is only one of many proposals that I am putting forward.

The infrastructure and the environment of the North-West are hardly the kind to attract, for example, middle management. Some time ago we had Operation Eyesore. I should like to see that revived. I want to see the Coronation Street-type houses erased. We have successfully removed them in Manchester.

As my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington (Sir T. Williams) said very effectively, in an area in which we need new schools and hospitals, and more public expenditure, it is nonsense to cut down on the construction industry. Here I entirely differ from my Front Bench about our priorities. It is only through that sort of public expenditure that we shall obtain employment and the improvement of facilities that will attract new industry to the North-West. It is not the chicken-and-the-egg question there is an inter-relation between the two. Unless we have facilities for schools, hospitals, housing and the rest we shall not attract industry, and vice versa.

I turn now to the Greater Manchester area. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond) made the point that the Greater Manchester area lost 180,000 jobs between 1959 and 1972. That is 15 per cent. of all jobs. But what is of concern to us is that 25 per cent. of all manufacturing jobs have gone in an area with traditional skills. Therefore, we need this regeneration in manufacturing industry, above all in inner urban areas.

We need to attack the problem facing great conurbations in inner urban areas. The problem is distorted in terms of the statistics of migration from those areas. The position is far worse than the statistics show, because many young people are leaving those areas for the more attactive areas of the Midlands and the South. Our town centres have suffered disproportionately. We must tackle the whole problem of industrial dereliction, because that in itself is a great hurdle in attracting investment and interest in the North-West.

One matter that has not been mentioned—people seem to laugh at it in the context of the North-West—is tourism. The North-West has a great airport. It is the centre of an area of great natural beauty, whether it be the Lake District, the Trough of Bowland, the Yorkshire Dales, or Snowdonia. It is within striking distance of the Cotswolds or London for those American tourists who wish to go there. I believe that there is a great natural potential for tourism in the North-West—a potential that has not been developed and that has a spin-off in terms of prosperity for the area.

We face a particular problem because of the way in which successive Governments have treated the North-West in terms of grants. According to the Greater Manchester Council, in its recent contribution to thought on the matter, there has been a net drain of £20 million a year from the Greater Manchester area, because although it has contributed £25 million it has received back only £5 million in incentives. Therefore, we have the situation of the richer areas getting richer and the poorer areas getting poorer.

Turning to unemployment, there are great unused human resources. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington said that it was time that we stopped talking and paying lip service to the fact that those unused human resources are at an unacceptable level and did something positive about the situation. To pay a temporary employment subsidy is not enough. To pay people virtually to do nothing is not enough. Whether we pay subsidy, unemployment or supplementary benefit, the fact remains that we are not producing anything. Even if the HS146 and Nimrod projects were not commercially viable—I believe that they are—at least we should be producing something that we can export and build up potential for.

I realise that hon. Members may wish to speak. I have been interrupted twice, and my speech has been doubled in consequence. Hon. Members will reap the seeds that they have sown.

I believe that the North-West has all the possibilities, the experience and the skills that are needed. We need positive incentives and urgent action to deal with the situation here and now, as well as the long-term strategy to which my right hon. Friend referred.

9.24 p.m.

Mr. David Walder (Clitheroe)

I suppose that in shorthand terms this debate could be described as the realisation that unemployment in the North-West has increased above the national level. What are the Government going to do about it?

The Secretary of State told us of his regret that unemployment exists and set out one or two promises and hopes. I had better make my own position clear. I have never been much of a supporter of regionalism or of the idea of creating assisted areas all over the country—until we reach a point when there is probably only a small area around Sloane Square Underground station which is not assisted in some way or other. The process of creating assisted areas can destroy itself.

Before any Labour Member reminds me that I have taken part in deputations to Ministers on this subject, I must say that I have done it with something of a half-hearted approach, because when I look round my constituency I find it difficult to identify firms that have come into the constituency because they have been persuaded entirely by the smallish tax advantages offered.

I think that there may be a problem for us in the North-West—I speak more in a spirit of inquiry than of dogmatism —in that we are a little old-fashioned in our attitude when we are thinking of what sort of firms we want to attract to our part of the country. I agree with the Secretary of State when he says that the pattern of industry in the area is changing. I can cite my constituency as a good example. Many mills in name are no longer concerned with textiles. There is a considerable demand from school leavers in my constituency for office jobs, especially for young women. In the old days of the textile industry many of these young women would have been absorbed into the mills, but the mills no longer exist. I repeat that sometimes we are just a little old-fashioned when we think of the North-West in those terms. We should, perhaps, modernise our approach when we think of encouraging firms to our part of the country.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), talking with that sort of rough common sense which is so much his professional expertise, said that he regarded himself as a small employer, employing 70 people. By the standards of my constituency, that makes him a rather large employer. It is when we get Iowa to employing seven people that we start thinking of financial advantage and disadvantage, thinking very much in terms of national insurance premiums and the like. A great deal of industry and commerce in my constituency is made up of very small firms indeed. There is no doubt that the Government's financial and economic policies bear very hard on these small business men.

It is extraordinary, in the light of the policies pursued by the Government, to hear their regrets at the amount of unemployment and to hear them talking about attracting investment in present circumstances. Now that the Government have promised to implement the Bullock Report, can anyone imagine a private investor saying "Yes, these are just the firms that I want to invest in. They obviously have a great future and a great potential"? Talk of investment incentives by Labour Members really smacks of hypocrisy.

I do not think that the Government have a solution to this problem, but, in fairness, I do not think that any Government could say that they had a complete solution to unemployment. So much depends on outside factors. I do not think that it is a question of pouring more public money into assisted areas merely—as the Secretary of State said—to maintain the present situation. That will not solve the problem.

I therefore beg leave to doubt some of the assumptions which have run through the whole course of this debate. Naturally, I agreed with my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke), but to my constituent the hon. Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble) I can only say that, if I had been given an opportunity to contribute to the magazine to which he referred, I should have done so in almost exactly the same words as those used by my hon. and learned Friend.

I return to my shorthand introduction. Unemployment exists in the North West and it is increasing. I find it sad to remember that in the past when we were arguing for development area status the Government reaction was to say that it was impossible because of the high level of employment in the area.

What are the Government planning to do about the situation? The Secretary of State said—and I paraphrase—"I shall spend and promise more public money". In my language, that means "I shall spend and promise more of the taxpayer's money". I beg leave to doubt whether that is the answer to our problems.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)

I am pleased to be the first to be called from the Greater Merseyside region. I promise to honour my commitment to sit down at 9.35 p.m. I am pleased that my right hon. Friend attended the debate, as I was pleased that he attended the recent debate on North-West affairs on 17th November, and on my Adjournment debate on Skelmersdale on 18th November I paid tribute to him and his colleagues for their attendance.

The problem of unemployment is world-wide, but we tend to overlook that. We have been hit by the effects of that world-wide unemployment perhaps because of some basic defects in our structure which have not been attended to for many years.

Skelmersdale New Town is in my constituency. It could be declared a disaster area because male unemployment is over 21 per cent. I hope that the Minister will take that on board and will agree that we need special measures to deal with that special problem.

I was going to speak about the need for a sensible import policy, but much of my argument has been deployed already. I believe in fair dealing with other nations. Poland has been mentioned. The Poles have been reasonably good to us. The firms which have received shipbuilding orders from them will certainly believe that they have been good to us. If countries deal fairly with us we should not complain. We should concentrate our attention on countries which deal unfairly with us.

We cannot have a healthy North-West in an unhealthy Britain. I do not believe in the idea that more investment is bad because in the short run it will mean fewer jobs. I am not against investment, but the country needs more investment in the right places and it is for the Government, under an enlightened training programme, to take care of the casualties. That is the way that we will get on our feet. We have to complete internationally and we have to earn our bread.

I urge the Minister to offer some hope for my constituents in Skelmersdale because we desperately need that help. I have mentioned before the need for a new hospital and for a better deal under the Government's dispersal programme. If the North-West Region receives the jobs that are planned under that programme, it will get only 155 jobs per 100,000 population compared with 675 jobs per 100,000 in Wales. The imbalance is wrong. Help should be given according to need. The need in Skelmersdale is great, as it is in the North-West in general. I hope that the Government will offer us some succour tonight.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Barney Hayhoe.

Mr. Eddie Loyden (Liverpool, Garston)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Of all the major conurbations in the North-West, Liverpool has the highest unemployment figure. Not one Liverpool Member from this side of the House has been called.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member is aware that no point of order arises out of the selection of speakers.

9.35 p.m.

Mr. Barney Hayhoe (Brentford and Isleworth)

The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. McGuire), who has pleaded the case for Skelmersdale so often and so passionately in the House, said that we cannot have a healthy North-West in an unhealthy Britain. The hon. Member was right to make it clear that the problems of the North-West must be viewed in the context of the whole of our economy and of our economic problems.

We have had a timely debate. It has provided an opportunity for compelling and powerful contributions to be made from both sides of the House. I apologise for the absence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), who, because of the change in the business today, felt that he had to carry out a very long-standing engagement in the north of the country.

Anyone who has sat through all the contributions to the debate will realise that there is agreement between the two sides of the House that there is no easy solution to the problem of unemployment in the North-West, or, indeed, anywhere else. The Prime Minister is reported as having said last night to the Labour trade union group that he did not know the answer. Hon. Members will have seen the headline "Government impotent on jobless".

Certainly the long-term structural problems will take a considerable time to solve. We shall be voting tonight because we believe that the problems have been aggravated by Socialist policies, both what they have done and what they have failed to do. In saying that, of course I accept that the world recession has had its effect upon employment prospects in the United Kingdom. However, the Government cannot go on using world conditions as the alibi for their inability and their inaction in dealing with some of the factors within our economy which have made matters worse.

One of the questions to which I hope that this debate will provide an answer is why the North-West has become worse compared with the rest of the United Kingdom in the past six to seven years. Up to that time, unemployment in the North-West was at about the national average and had been so for many years. However, during the course of the past decade it has got worse.

I do not think that the debate has told us why that has happened. Is it because potential investors and business men who might go to the North-West perceive the industrial climate to be more hostile there? I am not saying that it is, but perhaps they perceive it to be so and, therefore, do not bring their investment to that area.

I hope that if there are unjustified views about the situation in the North-West the unanimity of view expressed in this debate about the potential of the North-West and the opportunities that it offers, which were referred to particularly by the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond), will reassure people.

I wonder whether the problems related to the rôle of Liverpool as a great port and its changing rôle will have affected the North-West. My hon. Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Hunt) referred to the practical problems on Merseyside, which has a rate of unemployment greatly above the national average. The problems that exist there call for the type of imaginative initiative to which my hon. Friend referred.

There are other problems. There is lack of profitability, for example. The fact that small businesses are short of cash has been mentioned. One reason for lack of profitability stems back into much of the mythology of Socialism, which is to attack profits and pour scorn on them. Much of the propaganda that we have had in the past must be forgotten before there can be a real understanding of the rôle of profitability if we are to get better investment.

Reference was made to the CBI survey, which indicated that profitable industry in the North-West provides matching employment because of the multiplier effect of the orders and resources that it generates. It is highly significant that the key to beating unemployment cannot be in public spending, as some have suggested, and it cannot be in expanding the non-productive public sector, whether national or local. It can only be by the expansion of industry which produces the goods and services for export or substitutes for the imports that are dragged in. There is no other way. Labour Members who continue to talk as though the problem can be solved by throwing public money about and creating jobs in that way are doing a great disservice.

We have had again tonight an oversimpliste approach to public expenditure. In some ways it is surprising that we have had the same old parrot cries about public expenditure cuts automatically creating unemployment, That is the charge that is thrown at us by Labour Members. Did they not listen to the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Have they not read the speech that the right hon. Gentleman delivered shortly before Christmas? Do they not realise that high levels of public expenditure lead to a combination of resultant high taxation and borrowing which has disastrous consequences?

High taxes destroy incentive and clobber the industry whose growth is so essential. High borrowing stacks up problems by pushing up interest rates. If it gets too large, it erodes the external value of the pound and, as a result, it is necessary for the Government to take action.

I remind the House of what the Chancellor said. He said: If we had failed to recover control of our currency and to offer the prospect of a continuing fall in our interest rates, the conse- quences would have been catastrophic both for jobs and prices. In other words, if public expenditure had been allowed to continue at existing levels, and certainly if public expenditure had been increased, the result, in the Chancellor's view, would have been catastrophic for both jobs and prices. Indeed, we have been telling him that for two and a half years or three years, ever since public money was thrown at every problem throughout the county. In 1974, perhaps with the idea of helping to win the General Election that came later in the year.

But at last at least the Treasury Bench understands. It also understands that once we have restored control over the currency or, at least, once we have stopped the runaway decline we were experiencing towards the end of last year and interest rates come down, the effect will be to generate confidence That in itself —again I use the Chancellor's words—can generate sufficient additional activity in the private sector to offset the direct effects of the cut in PSBR".—[Official Report, 21st December 1976; Vol. 923, c. 484–499.] Therefore, it is necessary that we understand the problems and do not try to treat them in the over-simplified fashion that some Labour Members have adopted today.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for South Fylde (Mr. Gardner) put his finger on the answer when he said that we need more profitable private industry. The Secretary of State spoke of the problem of increased investment going to capital-intensive industries with few job opportunities and of the £25 million ICI project and the 90 jobs that it will create. Surely it is the experience of other countries that increased investment, if it leads to increased productivity, stimulates increased activity. It is through increased productivity and lower unit costs that we shall get out of our difficulties. Work-sharing schemes, spreading the work more widely, raising unit costs and lowering productivity, merely compound our problems. They do not solve them.

There is no alternative to encouraging the increased provision of goods and services, and in services I include tourism. I agree with the hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith) about the need for increased training and the palliative measures which have some effect—job creation, the temporary employment subsidy and work experience. The hon. Gentleman's comments were right, but those measures provide no long-term solution. The only solution is to get the economic climate right for more profitable private productive industry, producing goods and services which can be sold abroad at the right price.

This is not a crisis of capitalism, as has been suggested. To whom do the Government turn when they get into their crisis? For their loan they look not to the Socialist States but to the capitalists. Even the Meriden Co-operative has gone not to another co-operative, or to some Socialist grouping but, if the reports are right, to Sir Arnold Weinstock of GEC to help it out of its difficulties. We see capitalism providing the solution to our problems rather than being the cause of them.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle) was absolutely right when he said that the Labour Party was the natural party of unemployment. It does not want to be. That is not its intention. If, however, we look at every period when a Labour Government have been in office we see that by the time they leave office more people are unemployed than when they came to power.

We shall vote tonight because of the humbug and hypocrisy of Ministers who continually say that unemployment is unacceptable while pursuing policies that make it worse. The Secretary of State, who spoke so proudly of the Employment Protection Act, lent his name to an advertisement about it which has appeared in the newspapers in the past few days. Although unemployment is now nearly 1½ million, the bottom of the advertisement has the words A better working life for everyone".

Mr. Dan Jones


Mr. Hayhoe

What cynical, tawdry propaganda that is! We vote against that as well.

9.49 p.m.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Harold Walker)

I begin by saying how sorry I am for all those hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House who have sat so long and patiently—

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

And ladies.

Mr. Walker

The regrettable shortness of our debate in no way diminishes the importance that I attach to it, nor the importance that I attach to the seriousness of the level of unemployment in the North-West. If the Front Bench speeches are compressed, it is because we have been anxious to give Back Benchers from the North-West the maximum opportunity to take part in the debate. But this means that I shall not be able to respond as fully as the House might expect or as I should have hoped.

Perhaps before I turn to some of the specific issues that emerged in the debate I should establish my credentials. I spent almost the whole of my life, until fairly recently, west of the Pennines, in my native Lancashire. Therefore, I may claim to have some first-hand knowledge of the problems described in the debate.

The speech of the hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth (Mr. Hayhoe) was reminiscent of the kind of speech we heard from him and his party in the period leading up to the General Election in 1970 and during the Conservatives' first two years in office. Two years later we had over 1 million unemployed. [Interruption.] If Conservative Members want the facts and figures they can have them. In 1972 the official figures showed that there were 1½ million unemployed.

The hon. Member for Brentford and Isleworth was somewhat contemptuous about the temporary measures—[Interruption.]—that we introduced. The Leader of the Opposition has only just come into the Chamber. Now she wants to carry on a sedentary conversation. She ought to be a little better-mannered.

Mr. Hayhoe


Mr. Walker

I shall not give way. Opposition Members must be prepared to listen. The hon. Member for Brent-ford and Isleworth seemed contemptuous of the temporary measures the Government have introduced, as did the hon. and learned Member for Runcorn (Mr. Carlisle). I shall not repeat the figures that my right hon. Friend gave except to say that since the introduction of these measures they have saved, or created, nationally over 500,000 employment and training opportunities. That is an important contribution to keeping down the unemployment figures. The numbers in training in the North-West in the last two years, total 24,000. These people have been able to take advantage of the training opportunities courses.

The hon. Member for Rochdale (Mr. Smith), who made a constructive speech, might be interested to know that of those undergoing TOPS training significantly more than 50 per cent. receive their training in colleges of further education. Since the question of apprenticeships was raised, I ought to tell the House that in 1975–76 there was the highest number of engineering apprentices in training over the five-year period from 1970. In the construction industry there has been a big jump in the number of apprenticeships since 1974–75.

One of the main topics in the debate has been the subject of small firms. I hope that no one will accuse the Government of being insensitive to the troubles of small businesses. [Intecruplion.] It is nonsense to imply that under a Government of a different complexion the problems would disappear overnight. Although some people seek to lay the blame for the difficulties of small firms on the Government, my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Noble) came a little nearer the mark when he drew attention to the cash flow problems of these firms.

Some of the critics might have expended their energies dissuading the bigger firms—the giants of industry—from shortening the credit terms that they extend to small firms and asking them not to delay payment of bills to small suppliers. That is one of the worries that small businesses have. The bigger firms could be helpful and sympathetic here. The small firms acknowledge their debt to the Small Firms Information Service. Many have taken advantage of my Department's schemes to encourage and maintain employment. Help is also available through the assistance given by the Industry Department in assisted areas and through a wide range of sectoral schemes.

Another issue that has been a persistent theme in the debate, inevitably so when discussing a region so heavily dominated by Lancashire, is the problem of the textile industry and the pending renegotiation of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement. The Government recognise that there are serious shortcomings in the arrangement. The main change that we wish to see is a recognition of the need for protection against the cumulative effects of low-cost imports and the lowering of quota growth rates in certain circumstances. These objectives are very much in the minds of those on both sides of industry who are being kept fully in contact with what is happening by the Government. In Geneva the EEC, speaking on behalf of member States, said that the present Multi-Fibre Arrangement has not achieved all its objectives and that a serious problem remains for the European textile industry. Improvements in the arrangement are required.

Particular issues that should be examined during the renegotiation are high import penetration, cumulative disruption, quota base levels, disruptive prices, and forestalling. Those concerned have also reserved the right to raise other issues later. They are now working on a detailed negotiating mandate on the main objectives stated in December.

The Multi-Fibre Arrangement does not expire until the end of the year, but we shall continue to use the safeguarding provisions where necessary. In addition, the EEC will be negotiating further bilateral restraint agreements in the year.

My hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale and the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Joplin), in an intervention, referred to the footwear industry—an industry which has a large concentration of activity in the Rossendale Valley. I appreciate the importance of the footwear industry to Rossendale and towns in that area. The Department of Industry has given formal recognition to the problems of the industry by helping to set up an industrial steering group. The footwear study is now nearing completion, and we hope shortly to have the benefit of a final report. All Departments will want to study that report carefully before deciding the best action to be taken in the interests of the industry.

Reference was made to dumping of footwear industry products. I remind the House that voluntary restraint agreements have been in operation during the period 1975–76 relating to the principal sources of cheap footwear, namely, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Romania. The Government have asked the EEC Commission to seek an extension of these voluntary arrangements into 1977 and to broaden coverage to include women's and children's sandals from Romania. Antidumping investigations into the importation of men's sandals from Poland and Czechoslovakia are under way.

Inevitably, the time factor denies me the opportunity to respond to many of the points raised in this debate, but I assure the House that that does not mean that this matter will be forgotten or overlooked—far from it. We shall study with care all the speeches made in the debate.

I must make one point on the unemployment figures, to which reference was made at the beginning of the debate. Making due allowance for changes in methods and other calculations, we believe that if the same methods were still in use today the figures for the North-West would be significantly lower than under a Conservative Government in 1972.

We understand the deep concern, reflected by many contributions in the debate, about the intolerable level of unemployment in the North-West, and we

have every intention of tackling it. I have no illusions about the size of the task, and I should be less than honest if I did not recognise that the deep-seated structural unemployment which is particularly acute and distressing in Merseyside will persist even when demand-related unemployment falls. We must, and will, use all the instruments available to speed the remedy.

I conclude by saying that perhaps in recent years there have been far too many knockers of industry and of the situation in this area. It has suffered an image that is inconsistent with reality—never better illustrated than by falsified pictures of Merseyside industrial relations. My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) was right to remind the House of the natural beauty of the region. I echo the appeal launched by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond), who urged hon. Members to avoid placing themselves in the ranks of the knockers in the region, because it contains as fine a group of people as are to be found anywhere in the country. They are people with a special brand of determination that has taken them through difficult times before, and no doubt they will come through again on this occasion. We must do all we can to help them to make a success of their efforts.

Question put, That this House do now adjourn:

The House divided: Ayes 254, Noes 289.

Division No. 56.] AYES [10.0 p.m.
Adley, Robert Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Crowder, F. P.
Aitken, Jonathan Bryan, Sir Paul Davies, Rt Hon J. (Knutsford)
Alison, Michael Buchanan-Smith, Alick Dean, Paul (N Somerset)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Buck, Antony Dodsworth, Geoffrey
Arnold, Tom Budgen, Nick Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Bulmer, Esmond Drayson, Burnaby
Awdry, Daniel Burden, F. A. du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Baker, Kenneth Butler, Adam (Bosworth) Durant, Tony
Banks, Robert Carlisle, Mark Eden, Rt Hn Sir John
Bell, Ronald Chalker, Mrs Lynda Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torbay) Channon, Paul Elliott, Sir William
Bennett, Dr Reginald (Fareham) Churchill, W. S. Emery, Peter
Benyon, W. Clark, Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Eyre, Reginald
Berry, Hon Anthony Clark, William (Croydon S) Fairbairn, Nicholas
Biffen, John Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Fairgrieve, Russell
Biggs-Davison, John Clegg, Walter Farr, John
Blaker, Peter Cockcroft, John Fell, Anthony
Body, Richard Cooke, Robert (Bristol W) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Boscawen, Hon Robert Cope, John Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bottomley, Peter Cordle, John H. Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bowden, A. (Brighton, Kemptown) Cormack, Patrick Fookes, Miss Janet
Boyson, Dr Rhodes (Brent) Corrie, John Forman, Nigel
Braine, Sir Bernard Costain, A. P. Fowler, Norman (Sutton C'f'd)
Brittan, Leon Critchley, Jullan Fox, Marcus
Brotherton, Michael Crouch, David Fry, Peter
Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Rhodes James, R.
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Lloyd, Ian Ridley, Hon Nicholas
Gardner, Edward (S Fylde) Loveridge, John Ridsdale, Julian
Gilmour, Rt Hon Ian (Chesham) Luce, Richard Rifkind, Malcolm
Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife) McAdden, Sir Stephen Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Glyn, Dr Alan McCrindle, Robert Roberts, Wyn (Conway)
Godber, Rt Hon Joseph Macfarlane, Neil Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Goodhew, Victor MacGregor, John Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Goodlad, Alastair Macmillan, Rt Hon M. (Farnham) Rost, Peter (SE Derbyshire)
Gorst, John McNair-Wilson, M. (Newbury) Sainsbury, Tim
Gow, Ian (Eastbourne) McNair-Wilson, P. (New Forest) St. John-Steves, Norman
Gower, Sir Raymond (Barry) Madel, David Scott, Nicholas
Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Gray, Hamish Marten, Neil Shelton, William (Streatham)
Grieve, Percy Mates, Michael Shepherd, Colin
Griffiths, Eldon Mather, Carol Shersby, Michael
Grist, Ian Maude, Angus Silvester, Fred
Grylls, Michael Maudllng, Rt Hon Reginald Sims, Roger
Hall, Sir John Mawby, Ray Sinclair, Sir George
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Skeet, T. H. H.
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mayhew, Patrick Smith, Dudley (Warwick)
Hampson, Dr Keith Meyer, Sir Anthony Speed, Keith
Hannam, John Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove) Spence, John
Harrison, Col Sir Harwood (Eye) Mills, Peter Spicer, Michael (S Worcester)
Harvie Anderson, Rt Hon Miss Miscampbell, Norman Sproat, Iain
Hastings, Stephen Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Havers, Sir Michael Moate, Roger Stanbrook, Ivor
Hawkins, Paul Monro, Hector Stanley, John
Hayhoe, Barney Montgomery, Fergus Steen, Anthony (Wavertree)
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Moore, John (Croydon C) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Hicks, Robert More, Jasper (Ludlow) Stokes, John
Higgins, Terence L. Morgan, Geraint Stradling Thomas, J.
Hodgson, Robin Morgan-Giles, Rear-Admiral Tapsell, Peter
Holland, Philip Morris, Michael (Northampton S) Taylor, R. (Croydon NW)
Hordern, Peter Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Taylor, Teddy (Cathcart)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Morrison, Hon Peter (Chester) Tebbit, Norman
Howell, David (Guildford) Mudd, David Temple-Morris, Peter
Hunt, David (Wirral) Neave, Airey Thatcher, Rt Hon Margaret
Hunt, John (Bromley) Nelson, Anthony Thomas, Rt Hon P. (Hendon S)
Hurd, Douglas Neubert, Michael Trotter, Neville
Hutchison, Michael Clark Newton, Tony van Straubenzee, W. R.
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Nott, John Vaughan, Dr Gerard
James, David Onslow, Cranley Viggers, Peter
Jenkin, Rt Hon P. (Wanst'd & W'df'd) Oppenheim, Mrs Sally Wakeham, John
Jessel, Toby Page, John (Harrow West) Walder, David (Clitheroe)
Johnson Smith, G. (E Grinstead) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Walker, Rt Hon P. (Worcester)
Jones, Arthur (Daventry) Page, Richard (Workington) Wall, Patrick
Jopling, Michael Parkinson, Cecil Walters, Dennis
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Pattie, Geoffrey Warren, Kenneth
Kaberry, Sir Donald Percival, Ian Weatherill, Bernard
Kershaw, Anthony Peyton, Rt Hon John Wells, John
King, Evelyn (South Dorset) Pink, R. Bonner Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
King, Tom (Bridgwater) Price, David (Eastleigh) Wiggin, Jerry
Knight, Mrs Jill Pym, Rt Hon Francis Winterton, Nicholas
Knox, David Raison, Timothy Wood, Rt Hon Richard
Lamont, Norman Rathbone, Tim Young, Sir G. (Ealing, Acton)
Langford-Holt, Sir John Rawlinson, Rt Hon Sir Peter Younger, Hon George
Latham, Michael (Melton) Rees, Peter (Dover & Deal)
Lawrence, Ivan Rees-Davies, W. R. TELLERS FOR THF AYES:
Lawson, Nigel Renton, Rt Hon Sir D. (Hunts) Mr. Spencer Le Marcbant and
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Renton, Tim (Mid-Sussex) Mr. Michael Roberts.
Allaun, Frank Boyden, James (Bish Auck) Coleman, Donald
Anderson, Donald Bradley, Tom Colquhoun, Ms Maureen
Archer, Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy Concannon, J. D.
Armstrong, Ernest Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Conian, Bernard
Ashley, Jack Brown, Robert C. (Newcastle W) Cook, Robin F. (Edin C)
Ashton, Joe Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Corbett, Robin
Atkins, Ronald (Preston N) Buchan, Norman Cowans, Harry
Atkinson, Norman Buchanan, Richard Cox, Thomas (Tooting)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Butler, Mrs Joyce (Wood Green) Craigen, Jim (Maryhill)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Crawshaw, Richard
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Cronin, John
Bates, Alf Campbell, Ian Crosland, Rt Hon Anthony
Bean, R. E. Canavan, Dennis Crowther, Stan (Rotherham)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Cant, R. B. Cunningham, G. (Islington S)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Carmichael, Neil Cunningham, Dr J. (Whiten)
Bidwell, Sydney Carter-Jones, Lewis Davidson, Arthur
Bishop, E. S. Cartwright, John Davies, Bryan (Enfield N)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Castle, Rt Hon Barbara Davies, Denzil (Llanelli)
Boardman, H. Clemitson, Ivor Davies, Ifor (Gower)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Cocks, Rt Hon Michael Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur Cohen, Stanley Deakins, Eric
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Lambie, David Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Dempsey, James Lamborn, Harry Robinson, Geoffrey
Doig, Peter Lamond, James Roderick, Caerwyn
Dormand, J. D. Latham, Arthur (Paddington) Rodgers, George (Chorley)
Douglas-Mann, Bruce Leadbitter, Ted Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Duffy. A. E. P. Lee, John Booker, J. W.
Dunnett, Jack Lestor, Miss Joan (Eton & Slough) Roper, John
Eadie, Alex Lever, Rt Hon Harold Rose, Paul B.
Edge, Geoff Lewis, Arthur (Newham N) Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Edwards, Robert (Wolv SE) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Ross, Rt Hon W. (Kilmarnock)
Ellis, John (Brigg & Scun) Lipton, Marcus Rowlands, Ted
English, Michael Litterick, Tom Ryman, John
Ennals, David Lomas, Kenneth Sandelson, Neville
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Loyden, Eddie Sedgemore, Brian
Evans, Gwynfor (Carmarthen) Luard, Evan Selby, Harry
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Lyon, Alexander (York) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford South)
Ewing, Harry (Stirling) Lyons, Edward (Bradford W) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Faulds, Andrew Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Fernyhough, Rt Hon E. McCartney, Hugh Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) McDonald, Dr Oonagh Silverman, Julius
Fitt, Gerard (Belfast W) McElhone, Frank Skinner, Dennis
Flannery, Martin MacFarquhar, Roderick Small, William
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McGuire, Michael (Ince) Smith, Cyril (Rochdale)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael MacKenzie, Gregor Smith, John (N Lanarkshire)
Ford, Ben Maclennan, Robert Snape, Peter
Forrester, John McMillan, Tom (Glasgow C) Spearing, Nigel
Fowler, Gerald (The Wrekin) McNamara, Kevin Spriggs, Leslie
Fraser, John (Lambeth, N'w'd) Madden, Max Stallard, A. W.
Freeson, Reginald Magee, Bryan Stewart, Rt Hon M. (Fulham)
Garrett, John (Norwich S) Mahon, Simon Stoddart, David
George, Bruce Mallalieu, J. P. W. Stott, Roger
Gilbert, Dr John Marks, Kenneth Strauss, Rt Hon G. R.
Ginsburg, David Marquand, David Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Golding, John Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Swain, Thomas
Gould, Bryan Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)
Gourlay, Harry Mason, Rt Hon Roy Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Graham, Ted Maynard, Miss Joan Thomas, Ron (Bristol NW)
Grant, George (Morpeth) Meacher, Michael Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Grant, John (Islington C) Mellish, Rt Hon Robert Tierney, Sydney
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Mendelson, John Tinn, James
Grocott, Bruce Mikardo, Ian Tomlinson, John
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Torney, Tom
Hardy, Peter Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Tuck, Raphael
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Miller, Mrs Millie (llford N) Urwin, T. W.
Hart, Rt Hon Judith Moonman, Eric Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne V)
Hayman, Mrs Helene Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Walden, Brian (B'ham, L'dyw'd)
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Heffer, Eric S. Moyle, Roland Walker, Terry (Kingswood)
Hooley, Frank Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Ward, Michael
Horam, John Murray, Rt Hon Ronald King Watkins, David
Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Newens, Stanley Watkinson, John
Hoyle, Doug (Nelson) Noble, Mike Weetch, Ken
Huckfield, Les Oakes, Gordon Weitzman, David
Hughes, Rt Hon C. (Anglesey) Ogden, Eric Wellbeloved, James
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) O'Halloran, Michael White, Frank R. (Bury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Orbach, Maurice White, James (Pollok)
Hunter, Adam Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Whitehead, Phillip
Irvine, Rt Hon Sir A. (Edge Hill) Ovenden, John Whitlock, William
Irving, Rt Hon S. (Darttord) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Jackson, Colin (Brlghouse) Padley, Walter Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Jackson, Miss Margaret (Lincoln) Palmer, Arthur Williams, Alan Lee (Hornch'ch)
Janner, Greville Park, George Williams, Rt Hon Shirley (Hertford)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Parker, John Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Jeger, Mrs Lena Parry, Robert Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Pavitt, Laurie Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
John, Brynmor Pendry, Tom Wilson, William (Coventry SE)
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Penhaligon, David Wise, Mrs Audrey
Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Perry, Ernest Woodall, Alec
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Phipps, Dr Colin Woof, Robert
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Wrigglesworth, Ian
Judd, Frank Price, C. (Lewisham W) Young, David (Bolton E)
Kaufman, Gerald Price, William (Rugby)
Kelley, Richard Radice, Giles TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Kerr, Russell Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds S)
Kilroy-Silk, Robert Richardson, Miss Jo Mrs. Ann Taylor and
Kinnock, Neil Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Mr. Joseph Harper.
Question accordingly negatived.
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