HC Deb 24 November 1980 vol 994 cc198-9
13. Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take steps to regenerate industry in the West Midlands and the Black Country part of the region.

Mr. Adam Butler

The regeneration of industry must ultimately depend on firms producing competitively goods that customers want to buy. The Government will therefore continue to pursue policies designed to help create the conditions in which competitive and enterprising firms can develop in all parts of the country, including the west Midlands, and managements and trades unions must work to remove restrictive practices, overmanning and all other obstacles to efficiency and lasting employment.

Mr. Winnick

That reply is useless. How can one get across to Ministers the disturbing position in the West Midlands and in the Black Country of the never-ending redundancies, the closures, and the people—including a large number of my own constituents — on short-time working? Is this region also to bleed to death as a direct result of the Government's economic policies?

Mr. Butler

Ministers are just as concerned as is the hon. Gentleman, and he might have some regard to what the Government have done to help the West Midlands, through their more selective regional policy, through the raising of the IDC limit, through naming Dudley as an enterprise zone—I think in the hon. Gentleman's own constituency—and through the operation of derelict land clearance areas. Those are specific items that have been made available to help the hon. Gentleman's constituents.

Mr. Grieve

Will my hon. Friend make it plain to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), and to the people of the West Midlands, that the regeneration of the industries of the West Midlands depends, in large measure, upon the revival of the motor industry? Will be also make it plain that the revival of the motor industry depends upon sustained and competitive production, and that such production is put in jeopardy by irresponsible wildcat strikes of the kind that we have seen over the provision of seats for the Mini-Metro? Will be also make it plain to the people of the West Midlands and workers in the motor industry that strikes of that kind jeopardise not only the revival of the industry, but the future of themselves and their children?

Mr. Butler

I do not think that I could improve on what my hon. and learned Friend has said. I believe that people in this country are prepared to support British Leyland provided that it does not indulge in the sort of activity that my hon. and learned Friend has just described.

Mr. Geoffrey Robinson

Is the Minister aware that he has before him a compelling case from Coventry to be counted as a designated area for inner city assistance, in view of the fact that unemployment in Coventry is shortly to go above 12 per cent. and will reach levels that we have not seen in Coventry since the depression of the 1930s? Will be give urgent consederation to that and to the wider implications for the West Midlands?

Mr. Butler

That is not a question for my Department, but I am sure that my right hon. Friend will have noted it.

Mr. Stokes

Is my hon. Friend aware that industry in the West Midlands, in spite of difficulties at present, supports the Government in their attempt to combat inflation, and that the very last thing that it wants are Socialist solutions?

Mr. Butler

Furthermore, it is well aware that if there were to be reflation of the economy now it would put us straight back into massive inflation, which in turn would cause a higher rate of unemployment in the future.

Mr. Les Huckfield

The Minister of State talks about enterprise zones. Will be refute the cruelly deceptive claims of those in charge of the Dudley enterprise zone, which he located in Dudley on a purely political basis? Has he not heard the ridiculous claim that that enterprise zone will create 40,000 new jobs? Will be admit that any new jobs created in that enterprise zone will be stolen from the surrounding areas, so that the net new job creation in that enterprise zone will be minimal?

Mr. Butler

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman does any service by misrepresenting the position in that way. He might well discuss with his hon. Friend whether he wants an enterprise zone for Dudley.

Mr. Winnick

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Minister's statement was not correct. The proposed enterprise zone is not in my constituency.