HC Deb 28 October 1980 vol 991 cc204-5
Mr. Porter

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 proposed closure of Bowaters paper mill at Ellesmere Port". I would not ask for such an Adjournment on the ground that the proposed closure will throw 1,500 men out of work immediately and will have an even greater effect on the local economy and employment prospects in the long run. I know that you Mr. Speaker, would not allow that.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Perhaps the hon. Member, out of fairness to himself, will wait a moment until hon. Members have left the Chamber.

Mr. Porter

I am obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, because this closure is infinitely more important than hon. Members having afternoon tea.

The matter is of national importance for a number of reasons, the main one being that Bowaters produce about 60 per cent. of British newsprint. The view of the paper industry is that the closure will make the rest of newspaper production in this country totally unviable and that in the near future Britain will be entirely dependent upon foreign newsprint. Those of us who believe that in a democracy the dissemination of information by the written word is important will view this prospect with some alarm.

A second effect is that the balance of payments will be adversely affected to the extent of at least £70 million a year.

The matter is urgent because Bowaters has indicated that, while the redundancy notices do not come into effect until 21 November, in practice any decision to withdraw or defer those notices must be made by the end of this month—that is, in the next few days.

The House should be made aware of this vitally important problem, and it should also be made aware of the generous offers that this Government have made to Bowaters. The House should seek some method of bringing the interested parties around the table in order to find a solution. On that basis, I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will view this application with some sympathy.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Bebington and Ellesmere Port (Mr. Porter) gave me notice before 12 noon that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter, namely, the proposed closure of Bowaters paper mills at Ellesmere Port. I listened with care to what the hon. Member said, because the House will realise that he has drawn our attention to an important and serious matter. The House has instructed me to take into account the various arguments set out in the application but to give no reasons for my decision. I have to rule that the hon Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and therefore I cannot submit his application to the House.

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