HC Deb 01 July 1982 vol 26 cc1035-6
Q1. Mr. Ford

asked the Prime Minister what reply she has made to the letter addressed to her from Mr. Copley of the boilermakers union regarding the consequences of redundancy at GEC Large Machines Ltd., in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bradford, North.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

I replied on 30 June to Mr. Copley and I have sent the hon. Gentleman a copy of my reply.

Mr. Ford

May I acknowledge the Prime Minister's courtesy in sending me a copy of the letter. Does she agree that large industrial organisations owe a social obligation to the community in which they operate and that if they have any liquid assets they should be invested at home rather than abroad? Will the Prime Minister say what positive steps the Government are taking to deal with unemployment, rather than sitting back and negatively waiting for all good things to flow from the drop in inflation?

The Prime Minister

I know that people who have worked for a company in the hon. Gentleman's constituency for a long time have been made redundant. From the notices issued the hon. Gentleman will know that the costs of that company exceeded the revenue from sales and that it could have produced its turnover in only half the space being used at present. On commercial grounds, it could have closed down with the loss of all the jobs, but, because it realised the effect that that would have on the area, about 350 jobs were kept in Thornbury.

There are occasions when, unless one invests abroad, all possibility of export is lost. Therefore, it is better to consider investing abroad. It also has an effect upon our earnings. —[Interruption.] I am trying to give the hon. Gentleman a thorough reply to his courteous question. All the services of the Manpower Services Commission are, as I have told the hon. Gentleman, at the area's disposal for the purpose of relieving unemployment. In the end, we must try—[Interruption.]—Solid jobs depend on producing goods that customers want to buy at a price that they can afford to pay. I am afraid that there is no way round that truism.

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