§ Mr. Campbell-Savours
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the decision by the British Steel Corporation to announce 826 redundancies in the Workington constituency to take effect in the Distington foundry, the pig iron producing section of the Moss Bay complex and in the management, staff and service departments of BSC Cumbria's Workington operations.The matter is specific because of the impact that these redundancies will have not only on the inflated register of unemployed which already exists in my constituency and which demands urgent attention by the Government, but because the effect of these redundancies will be severely to undermine the local economy, local services, businesses and the rate income of the local authority.
34 The matter is important, because these redundancies must be seen in addition to a number of other closure announcements and redundancies which have already been made in West Cumbria over the last 16 months, which include 750 previous BSC redundancies, the closure of BIP Maryport, Fisher Controls, Bata Footwear, Courtaulds, K Shoes, Textured Fibres and redundancies at Sultra, West Cumberland Fashions and High Duty Alloys—all in my constituency.
The matter is urgent, because the local authority, the county authority, the trade unions, local industrialists, the political parties, the industrial development lobbies and, most important, the unemployed themselves demand that action be taken by the Government to create work for people who have only the prospect of the dole queue before them if this decision by BSC is allowed to go ahead.
I earnestly hope that the House will afford time to debate this highly important matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member gave me notice this morning before 12 o'clock that he would seek an emergency debate to discussthe decision by the British Steel Corporation to announce 826 redundancies in the Workington constituency to take effect in the Distington foundry, the pig iron producing section of the Moss Bay complex and in the management, staff and service departments of BSC Cumbria's Workington operations.The House will have listened with deep concern to what the hon. Member stated about his constituency, but it knows that I am requested not to give any reasons for my decision.
I listened with concern to the hon. Member, but I must rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.
§ Mr. Cryer
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Have you had any request from the Leader of the House, who is still in his place, to make a statement on the 6 per cent. pay limit for public service workers which was announced on Friday? I know that you have no power over the matter, Mr. Speaker, but clearly Parliament has some authority in the land and should have an explanation from the 35 relevant Minister. It is not good enough that Parliament should be trampled on in this way. Will you use your influence to try to make the Government more accountable, because for Parliament to be treated to written answers containing statements of major importance of that character is to treat elected representatives with contempt?
§ Mr. Winnick
On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker. What puzzles many of us is the fact that the question of a 6 per cent. pay policy is being widely debated outside Parliament. It is the subject of a great deal of discussion in the media and among ordinary people, but in the House of Commons we do not seem to have any opportunity of discussing it or of having a statement from the Government. On such an important matter of public policy, surely it should be the first requirement of the Government that they should state their policy so that the House of Commons knows what is going on. Why should we have to take our information from the press?
§ Mr. Foot
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) and for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), and particularly in the light of the facts underlined a few moments ago by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans), I think that the way in which the Government have made this announcement is one of the most extraordinary that I have ever heard of in the history of the House of Commons. Some of us thought that possibly there would be some 36 attempt by the Government to remedy the situation today.
Is it really the case that the Government have made no representations to you, Mr. Speaker, about making a statement to the House on this matter? I should have thought that the Government, hearing these questions, would recognise that they should come to the House tomorrow and make a statement on the subject in order to remedy the situation, which apparently they are prepared to condone today.
§ Mr. Atkinson
Do you recollect, Mr. Speaker, that in his statement to the House a few moments ago the Home Secretary contradicted what was said in written answers last Friday? Therefore, is it not now necessary for a Government spokesman to put a clear point of view? The Home Secretary said today that there was no 6 per cent. limit, and that the bargainers negotiating an agreement with the firemen could fix what figure they liked so long as it was within the global amount set by the cash limit. Therefore, the Government are now under an obligation to clarify their position, in that if the Home Secretary is saying—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I have got the hon. Gentleman's point. I have received no request concerning a statement—[HON. MEMBERS: "Shame"]—and the way in which the Government answer questions is a matter for them.