HC Deb 10 February 1977 vol 925 cc1636-7
4. Mr. Powell

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the net balance of jobs known to have been created and lost in Newry in 1976.

Mr. Concannon

The information available about jobs created and jobs lost in the Newry area in 1976 relates only to firms which have received selective assistance under industries development legislation. For these firms the known job losses and creations were 311 and 258 respectively, a net loss of 53 jobs.

Mr. Powell

Does the Minister agree that it is, as far as possible, desirable to present both sides of a balance sheet, and that attraction is too readily diverted from new enterprises towards the cases where enterprises fail? Will he further agree with me that the continued development of Warrenpoint port should tilt this balance in the opposite direction before long?

Mr. Concannon

I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that the infrastructure at Warrenpoint and the new roads and the development of new factories there show our concern about areas of high unemployment, such as we have at Newry. There are other sides to the matter as well. It is remarkable that I can give those figures and then say that unemployment has fallen in Newry from 22.5 per cent. to 21.2 per cent. in the same period. We have the same problem in Newry as we have in the rest of Northern Ireland. There are more people now available for work in Newry than there were. There are more people now at work in Newry than there were as recently as, say, 1972.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the Minister of State aware that the official Opposition think that the efforts being made by the Government, not only in County Down but throughout a Province with a splendid record of productivity and a great recent export achievement, give the lie to talk about economic withdrawal, which can only help the terrorists?

Mr. Concannon

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his remarks, which back up all the hard work that has been done by my colleagues in Northern Ireland and by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Manpower and other Departments.