§ Mr. Parry
Is not that an appalling figure? Is the Secretary of State aware that Merseyside in general—and my constituency in particular—is rapidly becoming an industrial desert? Is he also aware that the decision to close Tate and Lyle Ltd. in Liverpool can be prevented by political action if his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will agree to restrict sugar beet growth in the United Kingdom, and by accepting the proposals of the EEC? Will the Secretary of State have urgent discussions with his right hon. Friend, or is it his intention, and that of the Prime Minister, to stand by idly while Merseyside goes down the plug hole?
May I also remind the Minister—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman must not remind the Minister. I believe that he has asked the question that he wanted to ask.
§ Mr. Prior
We regret very much the closure of Tate and Lyle Ltd. in Liverpool, but, as the hon. Gentleman 758 knows, there is surplus refining capacity in Britain, and has been for a number of years. What is more, he will know that in the last year and a half we have allocated large sums to try to help Liverpool, whether through the special employment measures or through regional aid, and we shall continue to do so. In addition, Liverpool is one of the areas that is to have an enterprise zone. It is also to have an urban development corporation. We shall continue to do all that we can to help.
§ Mr. Heffer
How can the right hon. Gentleman talk about an enterprise zone when, in the middle of Liverpool, in the inner city area, Tate and Lyle Ltd. is about to close, with the loss of 1,600 or 1,700 jobs? Does he realise that the people on Merseyside—and in Liverpool in particular—are reaching a stage of utter and complete despair? Is he aware that they feel that the Government should be put out of office at the earliest possible time, so that a Labour Government can deal with the matter?
§ Mr. Spriggs
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that school leavers are having to bear an unfair proportion of the burden of mass unemployment? What is he prepared to do about providing special training programmes for school leavers on Merseyside, in the North-West, and in St. Helens in particular?
§ Mr. Prior
We have increased the help under the youth opportunities programme from 300,000 places this year to 440,000 places next year, and that is double the figure for last year. One-fifth of those places will go to Merseyside and the North-West. I believe that, much as school leavers may be suffering, those who are older are beginning to bear the full brunt of unemployment, rather than the school leavers, for whom we have been able to do a great deal.