HC Deb 11 May 1978 vol 949 cc1376-7
2. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next expects to meet representatives of trade unions in Northern Ireland.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. J. D. Concannon)

Northern Ireland Ministers are in constant touch with representatives of the trade unions in Northern Ireland in the course of our ministerial duties and departmental responsibilities. Meetings with trade unions representatives both at ministerial and official levels are arranged as and when the need arises.

Mr. Canavan

As considerable concern about unemployment is being expressed this week at the Northern Ireland conference of trade unions, will my right hon. Friend take this opportunity of reminding the trade unionists that their biggest enemies are the Ulster Unionists, who voted last night and earlier this week in favour of massive tax handouts to the rich, which will make it far more difficult for the Government to direct increased public expenditure to provide jobs in areas such as Northern Ireland?

Mr. Concannon

After my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I have been travelling the world looking for employment opportunities for Northern Ireland, and when the House and the Government have been financially very generous towards Northern Ireland, I find it hard at times to understand how some of these decisions are taken.

Mr. Hardy

Will my right hon. Friend also explain to the trade unionists that the public sector borrowing requirement cannot be allowed to reach unlimited proportions? That being so, the decisions to which my hon. Friends the Members for Bristol, North-West (Mr. Thomas) and West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) have referred are clearly very relevant. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that that delegation is acquainted with the way in which each Northern Ireland Member cast his vote?

Mr. Concannon

People in Northern Ireland are very well aware of political matters, and I am sure that they understand from what was said in the debate that the Northern Ireland Members were taking their decision not for fiscal reasons but purely on political grounds.