HC Deb 19 April 1983 vol 41 cc175-214 4.21 pm
Mr. Ken Weetch (Ipswich)

I beg to move, That this House condemns Her Majesty's Government for pursuing policies that have had a disastrous effect on the economic and social fabric of East Anglia, bringing about increased unemployment, weakened industry, deteriorating transport services and rural decline; notes that as a result of Government and EEC support farmers have hit the jackpot, but this has not been shared by agricultural workers; and calls upon the Government to abandon these policies that effect such damage upon the prosperity of the region.

Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister. I remind the House that we are very late in starting this abbreviated debate. I hope that all who are fortunate enough to be called will bear in mind the fact that others wish to speak.

Mr. Weetch

The last debate on East Anglia on the Floor of the House was a long time ago. It will not take me long to tell the House exactly how much political discussion we have had on the subject over the years. In February 1953 there was a debate on flooding on the east coast. In November 1964 and January 1969 there were two half-hour debates on the Adjournment. In January 1976, there was a valuable debate in East Anglian regional strategy in which I took part, but that debate took place in a regional Committee upstairs. According to my researches, this is the first set-piece debate on the economic and social problems of East Anglia to take place since the war. My researches go back no further than 1945. I say that to emphasise that this is a rare occasion.

I shall argue broadly that East Anglia has long been neglected. First, I make the preliminary and non-partisan point that there has also been parliamentary neglect. On this topic, the House is beset with other difficulties. First, it is misleading to suggest that any uniformity attaches to the term "East Anglia". The area is substantially varied in geography, economic resources and human psychology. In my experience, there are as many definitions of East Anglia as there are people, but so long as we have a wide-ranging debate I shall have no objection.

Secondly, when the Government came to office in 1979, the East Anglian planning council was liquidated. Since then, it has been increasingly difficult to give specialist assessment to East Anglia as a region. This makes it far more difficult to obtain a regional view so that formal action can be taken on identifiable problems.

The debate takes place at an appropriate time. Whatever the time scale involved, the electorate will shortly have the chance to pass judgment on the Government's performance. This debate is an appropriate occasion to place on record the fact that the Government's performance in East Anglia has been woefully inadequate. Their policies in East Anglia have been as incredible as in other parts of the country. In social and economic terms, they have a dismal record of worsening unemployment, industrial closures, business bankruptcies, short-time working and diminishing job opportunities. In social terms there has been continued rural decline in many parts of the region, with deteriorating transport and increasing rural isolation, the latter often accentuated by the closing of post offices, garages and local schools.

I shall take Mr. Speaker's advice and try to be short and sharp so that as many Members as possible can speak in the debate. I wish to examine the main components of the decline to which I have referred.

On unemployment, I am not of the school of thought that believes that statistics speak for themselves, but, faced with the dismal facts that are readily available in Government publications and even more readily available to the senses of constituency Members in the region, I can only say that in the East Anglian context the record is deplorable. The raw material is as follows. My statistics have their source in Department of Employment figures for the East Anglian planning area covering Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. In June 1979, the number of people wholly unemployed was 30,835 or 4.2 per cent. of the working population. By February 1983, the number had risen to 82,570 or almost 12 per cent. of the working population—an increase of some 168 per cent. In a sense, even that figure is too flattering, as the latest figure is lower due to the change in the method of computation introduced in November 1982. It should be remembered, too, that the figure for June 1979 showed a 17 per cent. decrease on the previous month's total and that the numbers had been declining for some months previously. In other words, in East Anglia the Government inherited a position of falling unemployment in the spring of 1979. Their policies have ensured, however, that the situation has deteriorated sharply since then.

The figures are too flattering for another reason. In East Anglia, 60 per cent. of the work force is employed in the service industries which are susceptible to less decline than manufacturing industry, so it is more by luck than judgment that the figures are as good as they are.

The other chief component of this dismal story has been industrial decline and accelerating manufacturing weakness. While in East Anglia in many rural areas there has been a continued slow employment haemorrhage, the industrial towns have taken hammer blows. They have been besieged by widespread job losses and redundancies and beset by industrial closures and company liquidations that have left a trail of damage. These events were described by the chairman of the eastern region of the Confederation of British Industry recently as traumatic in an area unused to the twists and turns of industrial misfortune.

I do not intend to use this speech to grind a constituency axe. I shall try to keep my remarks to East Anglia as a whole because that is my brief, but the examples I shall give, because they are the ones I know best, are from my constituency, which is a major industrial area in East Anglia. The textile industry in Ipswich, both at the cheap and the expensive ends, has been totally wiped out. Heavy and light engineering, including two jewels in the engineering crown, Ransomes and Rapier and Ransomes, Sims and Jefferies, as well as Cranes, have been hit by short time and redundancies. Other firms, such as Fisons and Harris FMC, have had the same experience. These firms provide the staple employment in the town.

Throughout the four years about which we are talking all of them have suffered from a four-pronged economic scourge: first, a chronic weakness in demand; secondly, high interest rates; thirdly, for a considerable period an uncompetitive exchange rate; and fourthly and not least, unrestricted foreign competition at home while they faced restrictions in foreign markets. In the limited time at my disposal I cannot analyse each, but while the level of economic activity has been affected by the worst business recession for many years the Government have merely wrung their hands in despair instead of promoting economic activity to counter the worst of the cyclical depression.

The Government amendment speaks of restoring "competitiveness to the economy". One firm, Rolle Celestion, a competitive firm in excellent shape, has been forced into redundancies and short time by a sterling exchange rate that was artificially overvalued. At one period, the worst in its fortunes, it saw its competitive position against the Japanese drift by 20 per cent. through no fault of its own.

Many sections of industry are very sore about how in foreign trade Britain plays the game while others, particularly the Japanese, do not. As a recent example, Cranes of Ipswich, which manufactures high quality valves and fittings and is one of the best firms in the business, showed its catalogue to a manager in Japan. He put it down and said, "We make them ourselves." The conclusion to be drawn from that is that even if we had been giving the goods away we could not have exported them because the Japanese made similar products. In that sort of situation, price and quality competition become a mockery. The Government should see that something is done. I am told by management all around East Anglia that in foreign trade Britian is a soft touch.

As for the needs of East Anglia, while there has been some Government activity in terms of help through a number of bodies—the Development Commission, the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas and other bits and pieces—East Anglia does not qualify for regional assistance. In turn, therefore, severe difficulties stand in the way of seeking European Community assistance. Yet we have unemployment black spots that are well above the national average. Paradoxically, too, the pattern of regional assistance in the United Kingdom means that East Anglia, which is the gateway to Europe and whose trade flows increasingly through its ports, qualifies for little Community aid, while ports on the west coast can benefit from European money.

Mr. Antony Buck (Colchester)

Does the hon. Gentleman not agree that we are the gateway to Europe? If policies advocated by his party were pursued, the picture, which is not entirely happy, would be much worse. I hope he will touch on some of the good trends in East Anglia, such as Willis Faber moving into his constituency and Trebor into mine. It is not a wholly black picture. He will give a distorted picture to the country if he does not emphasise the good side as well as the adverse features.

Mr. Weetch

I hope to touch on the positive aspects and to get the support of many right hon. and hon. Members on the Conserative Benches, because many of the points I am making have been made by them in the newspapers over the years. If they are trying to put a gloss on the problems, I am sorry to say that the whole thing will not wash.

Let me answer the point about the European Community, which I take seriously. As hon. Members know, in the referendum in 1975 I was one of the joint presidents, together with the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Body), of the East Anglian section of "Get Britain Out". If there were another referendum I would take the same view. Hon. Members will notice that I was in good company on that occasion in political terms. Trade with Europe would have expanded anyway, irrespective of membership of the European Community. I have never believed that the European Community, in terms of its economic effect on Britain, has had much fundamental influence on us.

Mr. Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Walden)


Mr. Weetch

I will not give way. This is such a short debate that I must get on as quickly as I can. I hope that the points to come will be less controversial.

While the Secretary of State for the Environment is still relatively fresh at his new brief, I hope he will find the time to end the injustices of the effect of the block grant system on East Anglia. Others with a better head for the labyrinthine mysteries will make the point better than I can. I put it simply. East Anglian local authorities have a history of low spending—I am advised that currently it is 28 per cent. below the national average—yet under the new framework of grant arrangements Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are liable to penalties far harsher in their implications than for the areas which over the years have been much higher spenders.

I underline again that this is an area without regional assistance, where local authority spending has to bear practically the whole brunt of the fight against the economic recession. This is at a time when, because of a rising population in many parts of the region, it has public expenditure needs in education and the social services related to increasing rather than decreasing numbers.

In the last minute of my speech—I have tried to be as brief as I can—I welcome the announcement, which I read in the East Anglian Daily Times before I came into the debate, of the decided route for the western section of the Ipswich bypass. The hon. and learned Member for Colchester (Mr. Buck) asked me to emphasise some positive aspects. That is one which I welcome very much because, together with many other hon. Members, I have been agitating for it for a long time.

East Anglia is of strategic importance to trade with Europe and needs a sound infrastructure of roads. The East Anglian countryside will take the pounding from heavy vehicles from the ports when any trade expansion takes place. In the north of the East Anglian region, roads such as the A47, All and A17 should be brought up to higher standards by increased public expenditure and investment. My latest advice—here I stand to be corrected—is that the A1-M1 link is still designated as single carriageway for most of its length. I hope that will be altered if it is so. The A1-M1 is critically important to East Anglia to make the connection between the industrial areas of the midlands and The Haven and east coast ports.

One of the coldest winds in Great Britain is that which blows across the Fens. East Anglia has been left to fight the teeth of the economic wind almost entirely alone. That injustice needs to be remedied.

The people of East Anglia are industrious and responsible and not given to belligerent demonstrations or shows of indignation in public places. Industrial relations are among the best in Great Britain. It is an area of industry and responsibility. Unfortunately, the people are beginning to learn the oldest lesson of all, which is that the meek do not inherit the earth; they inherit the rough end of the stick.

4.41 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. John MacGregor)

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: recognises that the prosperity of East Anglia depends on continued success in the Government's policies to keep down inflation and restore competitiveness to the economy, on the growth and development of small businesses upon whom many Government measures are concentrated, and on the further development of its highly productive agriculture within the Common Agricultural Policy; and notes that in every respect the Labour Party's present policies would have a disastrous effect upon the region's considerable potential. As I listened to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) I became more and more astonished at the Opposition's sheer effrontery and the terms of their motion when, as I shall demonstrate, every one of Labour's key policies would work substantially to the detriment of East Anglia. The emptiness of his speech was paralleled only by the emptiness of the Opposition Benches. I was wondering why they chose this subject. I am tempted to say that I discovered why the other day when I read a headline in the Eastern Daily Press which stated: Norwich, North—Tories would have won. The newspaper gives the results of a survey that demonstrates that under the new boundaries the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) would have lost in 1979 and would need a 7.1 per cent. swing to Labour at the coming election to win the seat. He is desperate and his desperation shows through in the motion.

I noticed that the hon. Member for Ipswich did not refer to his party's official policies in "The New Hope for Britain". I am not surprised, because I have just been reading it from cover to cover. I have never read anything so full of poor analysis, wrong-headed thinking and an accumulation of policy ideas which would, in their totality, amount to a lunatic course of action for Great Britain and would affect East Anglia desperately. I recommend others to read the document at a single reading to obtain the full flavour and to realise what a fool's paradise it is. It is no wonder that it has been dubbed from more than one quarter not "The New Hope for Britain" but "No hope for Britain". Fortunately, the Labour party will not have the chance to implement it.

I want to give the background as East Anglia went to the polls last time. What were the people thinking and what were their main worries? Great Britain had been top of the inflation league year after year under the Labour Government. They were clobbering business competitiveness and seriously affecting all the retired people who had come to East Anglia. People were worried about the dominance of militant union leaders and shop stewards. The topic discussed most during the winter before the election and during the election was the winter of industrial discontent.

I remember well what so many sensible, and — I agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich—realistic, fair-minded people of East Anglia were saying about the road haulage dispute and the way in which imported militants not wanted in the region were coming in to affect their small businesses. People were worrying about the burden of public borrowing, the huge overseas debt that the Government had built up, the inefficiency of too many parts of British industry and the massive subsidies to outdated industries and plants — I agree with the hon. Gentleman that that was occurring in other parts of the country—instead of putting more into the new industries and technologies. The people worried about the excessive levels of assistance poured into other regions. The hon. Gentleman has an incredible cheek to attack the Government for not introducing regional assistance for East Anglia when it never existed under his Government and when we have cut the numbers of assisted parts of the country from 44 per cent. to 27 per cent., which directly reduces unfair competition from elsewhere. They were worrying about the failure to concentrate on law and order, to improve police numbers, pay and morale and to strengthen penalties. They were worrying about the updating of Great Britain's nuclear defences. These were issues that people were talking to me about at the last election and the results were obvious in the polls. We need only look at the number of Labour Back Benchers from East Anglia to see what East Anglia's verdict was.

We are acting or have acted on these issues while—the hon. Gentleman had the fairness to refer to this—there is a deep worldwide recession. We are making considerable progress on all these fronts, and I am in no doubt what the East Anglian people will say when the verdict comes next time.

I shall deal with the issues in the Opposition motion. I start with agriculture. It is the most astonishing terminology. It contrasts farmers hitting the jackpot—I believe that I can tell where that phrase came from—with rural decline. Do not the Opposition see the connection between agricultural success and the increase in resources that agriculture brings to East Anglia and the benefits that brings to our rural areas by preventing the rural decline about which he talked? Do they not see that it is that which brings higher living standards to so many of our rural areas?

I wish to underline the importance of agriculture to East Anglia. The hon. Gentleman did not refer to it. East Anglia produces 48 per cent. of the United Kingdom wheat, 31 per cent. of our barley, 40 per cent. of our potatoes, 72 per cent. of our sugar beet, 60 per cent. of our field vegetables and 32 per cent. of our pig production. It is not just that, however; it is the impact of successful agriculture on our rural areas, the agricultural merchants, the small builders—who are currently telling me that they have never been busier because of the improvement in our community as a result of successful agriculture during the past year—car dealers and retailers. All those firms and the people that they employ benefit from growth and success in agriculture. That is how one deals with the problem of rural areas. With the exception of pig production, which is a problem that I do not have time to deal with and which is not my ministerial responsibility, so perhaps I had better not, people are feeling that they are busier, on the go and doing well.

Successful agriculture has a major impact on the agricultural machinery industry which, as we all know, is a difficult industry at present world wide. I have Howard Rotavators in a small town in my constituency. The combination of the improvement in agriculture and the increased investment that that will bring domestically, plus the company's overseas efforts and the way in which it has gone for new products and technology—which is vital to its Paraplow—will ensure that employment will remain in Harleston because of the firm's success. It all depends on what the Opposition call "farmers hitting the jackpot". It is unbelievable that they do not understand the effect of all that on rural areas.

Farming incomes fell sharply in real terms for most of the 1970s. They have substantially revived this year only, with all the benefits that I have described. That is what the Opposition call "farmers hitting the jackpot". Farm workers' earnings have moved steadily upwards in real terms since 1977. They will not continue to do that unless we have successful agriculture. The matter goes further than that. From the national point of view, our success in agriculture — I am going to rub the noses of the Opposition in their remark "farmers hitting the jackpot" —is a major national success and I only wish that all other industries had done the same. Agriculture has an excellent record of improved efficiency, technical innovation, high investment and good industrial relations.

Since 1970, Great Britain's self-sufficiency in indigenous foods has increased from 60 per cent. to 76 per cent. We are now 62 per cent. self-sufficient overall. When the hon. Gentleman talks about the balance of payments, he should approve of that.

The increase in self-sufficiency since 1978 is worth about £1¼ billion a year to the balance of payments. It is greatly to its credit that British agriculture has continued to break records in production and productivity. Increases in food prices have been consistently below the increases in prices in general as a result. Good labour relations have promoted the development of new skills, and the advent of new technology is welcomed, not resisted. It is for those reasons, as well as because of its importance to East Anglia, that it is in our interests to encourage and not to destroy British agriculture. British agriculture is a great national asset, and we should be proud that we have so much of it in East Anglia. We must avoid policies that would damage the substantial contribution that it makes to our national economy.

So what would the Labour party do? Let us look at the plan that the hon. Gentleman assidously refrained from mentioning. Labour would suck agriculture dry through higher rates and taxes. That would mean higher food prices for the very people—those on low earnings and social security—whom it professes to help. Labour intends to end derating of agricultural land. It will introduce a wealth tax, reverse most of the concessions on capital transfer tax to help businesses and agriculture, and withdraw from the European Community. A recent farmers' survey shows —although we all knew it—that the vast majority of farmers feel that withdrawal from the EC would be very much against Britain's agricultural interests.

About the only matter on which I agree with the Social Democratic party is the reference in its amendment to the complete failure of the official Opposition to understand the impact of what they would do to agriculture and therefore to East Anglia. However, the sole contribution of the SDP is that it is likely to run the risk of the Labour party coming to power. The Labour party's policy on agriculture would severely blight rural areas by substantially reducing the income that is self-generated by our main own local industry.

I recently had the pleasure of handing over the keys of the 650th council house that was sold in south Norfolk. This is one way to increase the individual family's assets, independence, security, and stake in the community in rural areas. What does the Labour party do? It says that it will repeal the legislation, and in Norwich it has done everything possible to blight the policy. In fact, in East Anglia, between April 1979 and 31 December 1982, 14,613 council house sales took place, and that is good news for the people there. I am delighted that as a result of the action taken by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment in Norwich, there are now 1,148 families in Norwich who are enjoying the benefit of their own homes, which they otherwise would not have done.

The next subject is transport. Ever since I have been a Member of Parliament for East Anglia, the decline in bus services has been a feature of rural areas. It is nonsense for the Opposition to suggest that it has happened only since 1979. It is not hard to see why it has happened. The combination of the increase in car ownership—we all know that we have one of the highest proportions of car ownership in the country—and the ever-increasing cost to the public purse of subsidising the big national, monolithic bus services, with their spiralling costs over the 1970s to meet the reduced demand as a result, has severely hit rural bus services. There must be a limit to the extent to which the taxpayer and ratepayer can go on footing the bill. In Norfolk last year, it was £500,000, and this year it will approach £700,000. I believe that the answer will increasingly lie — the hon. Member for Ipswich will probably agree — in more flexible and lower cost services of small private operators, community bus services, and car sharing. I hope that our county councils will adopt that more imaginative approach of dealing with the admittedly serious problems of those who do not have cars.

I should have thought that the motion would welcome the good news for East Anglia. First, there is the electrification of the Colchester to Norwich line, coining in 1987. Secondly, there are the substantial improvements now taking place in the main trunk road programme. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that East Anglia was left behind in earlier years. I know that when he was parliamentary private secretary in the Department of Transport he did much to help East Anglia. However, things are now moving, and under this Government there is a real drive forward to catch up.

I do not have time to list the many road improvements that are taking place. I just mention briefly the M11 between London and Cambridge, which is now complete, and the M25/A11 link which is to be opened on Friday. The A12 is now dual carriageway as far as Ipswich, except for Chelmsford, where work will start on a bypass next year. I find that I get home to Norfolk much more quickly these days as a result of the improvements that are coming through. Many other improvements are now taking place, or are planned and in the pipeline, for the A47, the A 11 and the A17. All this is of great importance to East Anglia. It is now all happening, and great progress is being made.

I have time to mention only one of the social services, and that is the Health Service. It is worth pointing out that East Anglia received the highest rate of revenue growth of any region in the country in 1982–83 and 1983–84, providing for growth in our health services of 2.6 per cent. and 2.;9 per cent. respectively. When the devastating effect of Labour's economic policy comes through—if it ever happens—growth of that nature will not continue.

I turn now to the crux of this debate—employment, industry and commerce. We can all throw around figures, and we all know that unemployment has been rising not only in this country but throughout the world as a result of the deep recession. However, it is interesting to consider the number of people in employment in East Anglia. In March 1979, the figure was 685,000. The latest figures of people in employment for September of last year —they are higher now—was 666,000. That means that there has been a decline in the actual number of people in employment of less than 3 per cent., in the fiercest recession worldwide that has taken place for several decades. That shows how well East Anglia has weathered the storm.

Certainly, we have done better than any other region. Why? The answer lies first with small businesses. The East Anglian economy depends crucially on small businesses and the self-employed. I guess that, apart from agriculture — which, in any case, comprises small businesses and the self-employed—banks, large stores and a few large companies, the vast bulk of employment in the region is provided by small businesses and the self-employed. This Government, as the amendment points out, have concentrated on a battery of changes to help the self-employed, to introduce new schemes, give tax incentives, remove the burden of legislation, and so on. We have introduced more than 100 measures, to assist small firms, and we are already seeing examples of the success of that programme. Small businesses are starting to employ more people and are achieving a success in export markets that often astounds me. Firms are establishing substantial growth because they have got their products and services right and because they have good industrial relations. They work day and night to meet their customers' requirements. After all, the customers provide jobs, not the Government. Firms are taking advantage of our measures.

The hon. Gentleman mentioned firms in his constituency. Perhaps he will forgive me if I mention a few firms in mine. Zenotron of Diss, in high technology, is doubling its work force from 40 to 80. It is doing extremely well in a highly competitive market. There is also PJM Engineering, a company in a small village, which is now employing over 20, compared with only a handful a year or two ago. That company has taken advantage of two of the schemes that the Government have introduced, and as a result it has now obtained major orders at Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Yet it is only a small engineering firm in Garboldisham. That shows what can be done by small businesses, with encouragement from the Government.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)


Mr. MacGregor

No, I shall not give way.

I know, too, that small industrial units are springing up all over the place in East Anglia. I have had the pleasure of visiting many of them, and I shall open two more in the next few weeks. They are the result of encouragement from COSIRA, and because private developers are coming into the business as a result of the tax incentives that we have given.

Because of the critical importance of small businesses and the self-employed to East Anglia, I looked for a mention of them in Labour's new plan. There is not a word. There is an endless succession of ideas for spending small businesses' money, with new Whitehall controls, new bodies for state investment, new interferences in their operations, and new burdens to heap upon them, but there is not a word about incentives or any of the steps that we have taken. Why? Because Labour does not understand them or sympathise with their aspirations. That is how Labour would help small businesses in East Anglia.

I come now to technology. I have just come from the Numerical Engineering Society's exhibition at Wembley. The message that I was given, which has often been stated in the House, was that in terms of high technology—the advanced technology which was demonstrated there —Britain was slow to adopt and adapt even two years ago, when the previous exhibition was held. That is because under the Labour Government companies throughout the country were suffering from a lack of concentration on the need to get their products and processes up to date and to introduce new technology into their businesses because of their preoccupation with restrictive work practices. The fudging or delaying decisions which were so often taken by the Labour Government prevented management from doing the type of managing it would have wished and sustained the resistance to change that was implicitly encouraged by the Labour Government. As a result, Britain lost years. It is now making big strides forward in developing new technologies and applying them in this country. This Government, unlike their predecessors, have given heavy support to the introduction of new technologies and to increasing awareness of them.

East Anglia is benefiting. Cambridge has one of the biggest concentrations of emerging electronics companies in western Europe and a high take-up of support for innovation schemes. I discovered today that management in those companies has its tails up and its employees are responding enthusiastically. I do not believe that that would have happened under Labour. The third reason why East Anglia does relatively well—here I agree with the hon. Member for Ipswich—is to do with the quality of its people. They know that their success depends on their responding to what customers want and not what Governments direct them to do. I ask the hon. Member for Ipswich to ask those people, especially the small businesses in East Anglia, what they think of the plans of the Labour party. I can tell him.

Looking through the document "The New Hope for Britain" I see a veritable encyclopedia of new spending plans, all of which are a burden on industry. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury has costed them at about £30 billion to £40 billion. That would have a colossal effect on inflation and interest rates, and would impose heavy new burdens on businesses throughout East Anglia. The Labour document proposes a catalogue of new Government bodies, directing this, that and the other, as though a few politicians or civil servants —I am not denigrating either—can run small businesses throughout the country. They cannot. It is as though a few politicians or civil servants know best as to how to win a customer. All this imposes costs that would have to be met and would have a heavy impact on employment. It is significant and interesting to note that to finance such schemes successive Labour Governments have always put taxes on jobs, and it has been for their Conservative successors to reduce and remove them. The report shows the prospective repeal of our industrial relations legislation, which would lead the country straight back to the winters of discontent that caused so much agony in East Anglia. The document says: we will steer new industry and jobs to the regions and the inner cities. East Anglia, under the Labour Government, did not benefit from regional assistance. Since East Anglia's level of unemployment is below the national average, it is right that regional policy should be heavily concentrated on the areas of greatest need and especially concentrated in the way in which the Conservative Government has done it. Does the hon. Member for Ipswich believe any of this steering of new industry and jobs would bring them to East Anglia? They would be steered—I have used the word "steered"—elsewhere. This Government have removed the machinery for "steering". Steering is precisely what East Anglia does not want.

I come to the policy of withdrawal from the Common Market. Everyone in East Anglia recognises that one of the other great merits of East Anglia is that it is ideally placed to benefit from membership of the Common Market, and is so doing. Do the Opposition believe that Sanyo would have come to Lowestoft to provide new jobs and new technology in the constituency of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) if Britain were withdrawing from the Common Market? Do they believe that all this investment would be going on in East Anglia if Britain were removing itself from that main market? Do they believe that the ports of Felixstowe, Lowestoft and Yarmouth would have a big future if Britain were no longer in the Community and suffered from the tariffs and trade barriers that would arise as a result? Do they not recognise that, although it would be very serious in its implications for the country, it would severely hit the growth prospects of East Anglia?

Figures show that recovery is under way and Britain is well in front in leading that recovery. The important point is that the recovery is not based on heavy Government borrowing, artificial reflation and putting off dealing with Britain's real problems. The recovery is based on solid progress in achieving competitiveness, in getting the climate right for enterprise and in concentrating the Government's role where it should be concentrated.

When talking to industrial business men, large or small,in East Anglia or elsewhere, the most significant factor they see as important for their businesses is the return of a Conservative Government. The recent surveys of the Confederation of British Industry, the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and the small business surveys, such as that of the Association of Independent Businesses, all point to real improvements in the position. The latest survey from the Norwich and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, which is well based, said: Businessmen in Norfolk start 1983 with considerably more confidence than they were showing last October. This is one of the encouraging facts to emerge from the latest Economic Survey. Nearly half the firms replying expect output to increase during the coming quarter, while only eight per cent. expect a decline. I am told that the latest survey shows that that confidence is continuing.

East Anglia's strength lies in the qualities, skills and attitudes of its people. They are responding enthusiastically to the lead that the Prime Minister and the Government are giving to changing Britain's attitudes. That strength rests in the variety and multitude of small businesses and the self-employed who value their independence and the policy of non-interference from Government planners. It lies in its agriculture and its closeness to Europe.

I care deeply about my region. I do not want to see its future prosperity, progress and success destroyed by the type of policies put forward in Labour's plan. I therefore ask the House to reject the motion and support the Government amendment.

5.7 pm

Mr. Clement Freud (Isle of Ely)

I welcome this debate. I am grateful to the official Opposition for initiating it, even though I am bemused by their referring to East Anglia as "the gateway to Europe", when they are trying to get out of Europe. It is like bemoaning the breakdown of a lift when one is knocking down the upper floors of a building. Much will be said by East Anglia constituency Members about their regions. I wish to talk specifically about Cambridge and the Isle of Ely.

Regional studies have shown that the area is one of population growth; of constant growth. Such an area has more children, pensioners and people with cars. The Government do not seem to realise that. We need more schools. We do not wish our schools to be closed down. We need more hospitals. We do not wish our hospitals to be closed and replaced by huge and impersonal hospitals at some future date somewhere. Above all we need more jobs. Growth in East Anglia, specifically in Cambridge, is not recognised. The Government allocate targets on past performance and not on actual numbers. That is the nub. The Minister and the hon Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) spoke of the A 1-M1 link, plans for which at the moment appear to be single carriageway. The reason they come to the conclusion that: the road should be a single carriageway is that they have taken the historic national average, and have not examined the current figures or future requirements. I appreciate that the Government have worked hard on the A1 -M1 link, as have all hon. Members.

The hon. Member for Huntingdom (Mr. Major) has consistently campaigned for it, but I am sure that he would be unhappy about what is likely to happen to this link when it is built. Will the Government be more farsighted in this matter? I know the Government's policy is to encourage that which they consider dynamic. There is not a lot of what the Prime Minister would call "dynamism" in East Anglia. I am talking about rural East Anglia. I agree that there are cities that are doing well. There is no "dynamism" in the Isle of Ely. My constituency needs support for agriculture and industry and it needs support just as much because there is no centre of academic or industrial excellence there. There are many hard-working people who need support and a fair deal from the Government.

When Peterborough was designated a new town the county was promised that no undue burden would be imposed on the rest of the county. Cambridgeshire is owed about £6 million in burden payments. I ask the Minister whether the county might have that £6 million soon.

Peterborough is a thriving new town. The Government do not seem to realise the financial implications for the surrounding community of keeping a thriving new town running. My county is trying to cope with the provision of a wide range of services on insufficient money, for it comes out of the rate support grant equation very badly.

One senses a general lack of confidence in the future of Fen farming, with its heavy reliance on the potato crop and its high cost structure. A sharp eye must be kept on the relative well-being of the component sectors in agriculture, and their standing with the EC. At present, the pig industry and the poultry industry are in great trouble. The glasshouse industry is in such trouble that there could be a 25 per cent. cutback in the foreseeable future. The reason is the Government's insufficient monitoring of the unfair practices carried out by our EC partners. Unlike us, they subsidised, or—to be entirely fair— appeared to subsidise fuel costs, advertising, packaging and marketing.

The Government should give a public commitment to be sensitive to that and to ensuring that our agriculture and other industries are not disadvantaged in relation to the EC. Industry can be wrecked very quickly, and it takes an awfully long time to build it up again. We must be more watchful over our agriculture and horticulture. Such watchfulness would not have allowed the import of flowers with white rust, such as happened recently. Railways are vital to industry, and East Anglia and the country as a whole need an integrated transport policy. We do not want piecemeal hatchet jobs, such as the withdrawal of the East Anglian motor rail service for a niggardly saving of less than the cost of one automatic level crossing. Indeed, we need more of those crossings too.

As the railway line between March and Stamford has been closed and diverted, more trains are being sent across level crossings that are not automatic. As a result, the industrial estate outside Wittlesey finds that road traffic is being held up to its substantial cost and that of local industry. We need a flexible regional policy to help problem areas and to enable the region to benefit from EC grants. Above all, we need fair treatment in order to reduce unemployment and to eliminate pockets of depression, such as Wisbech with its 16 per cent. — plus unemployment.

A farsighted transport policy is vital for the creation of jobs and for prosperity. The Prime Minister has often said that hers is the party of the family. The Minister should bear in mind that it cannot be difficult to be the party of the family, when that party prevents people from going anywhere by public transport. I hope that the Government will consider that and will give East Anglia the deal that it deserves.

5.13 pm
Mr. Keith Stainton (Sudbury and Woodbridge)

East Anglia is variously defined. I happen to come from Suffolk, so most of my remarks will concern the county of Suffolk, but they also apply to Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Minister on what he said about the agricultural base, its prosperity and importance to East Anglia. However, it is important to impress upon him, or through him the Secretary of State, that the pig industry is suffering a severe setback. My hon. Friend pointed out that 32 per cent. of the national pig herd is concentrated in East Anglia. I am sure that many of his pig raisers, like mine, are now on the verge of bankruptcy. My comments also apply to those constituents who are heavily involved in the glasshouse industry. Despite the general prosperity in agriculture, those two areas require urgent and special attention.

All those who have so far contributed to the debate have referred to transport. Curiously, though, the Minister got it wrong when he took such pride in proclaiming the high ratio of private car ownership in East Anglia. That ratio does not reflect prosperity—far from it. Indeed, average earnings in East Anglia are probably 10 per cent. below those in the nation as a whole. The high level of private car ownership is a stark index of the inadequacy of rural transport. I say that in a non-partisan way. I have represented Sudbury and Woodbridge for 20 years and I have no hesitation in making that statement and, in the same breath, underlining the urgent need for county transport officers to show much more imagination in the provision of rural bus services and the promotion of car sharing.

The Minister referred to the forthcoming electrification of the main railway line between London and Norwich. That is excellent. East Anglia is awaiting it most anxiously. However, we have a genuine ground for complaint in the quality of rolling stock that seems to be palmed off on East Anglia. Having seen better days elsewhere, it is reupholstered and refurbished for us to make use of. In addition, one can legitimately point a finger at British Rail and ask it what on earth has become of its experiments, for example, with the light railcar on the East Suffolk line? Indeed, how is British Rail getting on with the automatic level crossings? What energy is British Rail putting into resolving these problems, which could lead to enormous savings could produce funds that could be transferred to the branch lines and interlinking bus services that are so urgently needed?

The hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) made a curious, hotchpotch sort of speech. I am sure that he will live to regret going on record about a lack of dynamism in the Isle of Ely. In contrast, Suffolk is bursting at the seams in all senses. The population is increasing and there is real thrust and enterprise. Nevertheless, it is overall a rural community. In addition to transport, the survival of the village is important. I should be grateful if the Minister would transmit to his colleagues the genuine and proper concern felt about the village school and the Government's future policy on it. A much clearer definition of the role of the village school, its existence and survival is urgently needed.

Much mention has been made of the EC. I am surprised, however, that the Minister did not point to the advantages that have accrued to East Anglia in recent times through the receipt of convergence moneys. Very substantial receipts were achieved by the Prime Minister personally; and they have contributed, for example, more than £20 million to the Ipswich southern bypass and the Orwell bridge. Perhaps the Minister will put right that omission in winding up the debate.

East Anglia is truly the gateway to Europe. I should like to think that Felixstowe has not merely shown the way to other ports in this country but set extremely high standards, comparable to any to be found in western Europe. In this context, however, I urge on the Minister the early publication of the criteria for the much-talked-of free port status for which Felixstowe is anxious to submit its application. There is great frustration at the moment. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor took time off in his Budget speech to refer to this innovation but since then very little, if anything, has occurred.

Could I briefly back up the valid point about the rate support grant made by the hon. Member for Isle of Ely? Without exception, the counties of East Anglia, however it is defined, have a real grudge in this respect. If rate support grant is expressed per capita between the different counties throughout the country, East Anglia is bumping along at the bottom under virtually every heading of expenditure. What we most fear are the holdback and the penalty arrangements announced in the last rate support grant White Paper. They could imply the ending of the GRE exemption with the possibility of GRE going out of the window. That would be greatly deplored. My colleagues on the Conservative benches would fight any such idea were it to become a concrete proposition from the Government.

The Minister appropriately laid great emphasis on the role and the achievements of small businesses. May I somewhat invert that point? I detect in some of our larger towns some over-dependence on a few big firms. I give as an example the dependence in Sudbury on Lucas Industries' CAV plant. That could be a precarious situation and when the Minister comes to reply I hope that we shall hear something about the strategic siting of business and factories. East Anglia would suffer a bad setback if only a handful of large firms experienced severe reversals.

I am sure that the Government are entirely right to resist the Opposition's motion and the amendment tabled to it by the SDP. We stand by our guns. East Anglia has achieved a great deal under this Government and, given attention to the kind of points that I have been privileged to make this afternoon, I am sure that the future bodes well.

5.23 pm
Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South)

The East Anglian region is easily overlooked by Governments, particularly when the House focuses, as often as it does, on the industrial wastelands of the north, Scotland, Wales and the west midlands. It is an area of rapidly growing population and economic importance with, until 1979, a growing industrial base. Since 1979 our industrial base has been severely damaged, but the population has continued to grow. This has given rise to a substantial loss in the quality of East Anglian life.

In one area of economic activity — farming — the Government and the EC have poured money into the region. Large farmers in East Anglia have done exceptionally well. Indeed, it is fair to say, as we do in our motion, that they have hit a jackpot. It is good to see that someone is doing well, but it is a pity that agricultural workers could not share in that jackpot to the same extent. Their benefit had been minimal, with a 6 per cent. wage increase in the past year. They are still the lowest paid workers in a job which increasingly requires technical knowledge and training. They have been treated shamefully. All too much of the money poured into agriculture in East Anglia has been used to destroy the landscape and the very environment which makes East Anglia so attractive a place to live.

Year after year, our wetlands have been drained with the help of huge Government subsidies. More hedges are being grubbed up and more woodlands torn out. East Anglia is fast becoming a grain prairie, paid for mostly by the Government and the EC and used simply to add to the EC grain mountain. The damage to the East Anglian environment is an international scandal. More and more East Anglians are coming to recognise and complain about it. The Department of the Environment even pays to stop the destruction of the landscape while at the same time the Ministry of Agriculture pays for it to be carried on. If 10 per cent. of the money spent to subsidise agriculture in East Anglia had been spent on industrial development and transport, there would be nothing like the present level of unemployment.

The economic characteristics of East Anglia are, first, low wages, generally with not much change over the years —for the past 15 years wages have been about 15 per cent. below the national average — and secondly, relatively small scale industry and remarkably poor transport facilities. In an area of low wages, the social wage provided by public services and benefits makes an exceptionally important contribution to living standards. Yet in Norfolk we have not only low wages but a niggardly and backward county council that takes a pride in cutting public services — particularly education and social services—and reducing the quality of life of the county as a conscious matter of policy.

Luckily, in Norwich, we have a dynamic community which, I am pleased to say, has been under Labour control for 50 years and will no doubt be under Labour control until the end of time. It does its best to redress the effects of the worst efforts of the county. Norwich city council had, until the Government cuts, the best housing record of any city of its size in the country, and now, within the limits of the Government's policy, has embarked on a programme of industrial development that is already having an effect on local industry. It is difficult to have an effect on industry at local level when so much of it is being destroyed by Government policies.

One result in East Anglia of the Government's recession can be judged from the size of individual redundancy announcements over the past three years. They have all taken place in small towns, where the impact has been catastrophic. The Department of Industry has supplied me with two pages of details covering the major redundancy announcements. Norfolk county council has supplied me with a list of substantial redundancies that runs to eight pages. The examples are as follows: Perkins Engines, Peterborough, has lost 4,000 jobs; Birds Eye at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft has lost 1,500 jobs; Pye of Lowestoft has lost 1,500 jobs; Boulton and Paul of Norwich has lost 1,000 jobs. Norvic was once the largest firm in the shoe-making industry, with 4,000 employees. When it was finally snuffed out as a result of Government policies — my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) and I had a great deal to do with that company and know that foreign imports and lack of home demand killed it off—it had 800 employees. Laurence Scott, an important and long-established electrical engineering company in Norwich, has lost more than 500 jobs; Elliott of Peterborough has lost 250 jobs; Smedley of Thetford has lost 200 jobs; Jeyes of Thetford has lost 300 jobs. The Minister boasted about the creation of another 40 jobs in Garboldisham or Diss but did not mention those two major redundancy announcements in his constituency. Plastak of Norwich has lost 200 jobs; Courtaulds of Norwich has lost 300 jobs — the final death knell of Norwich's textile industry, which dates back 500 years. Richard Garrett of Leiston has lost 640 jobs —one can imagine the impact of the announcement on a community of that size. Sunblest of Norwich has lost 240 jobs; Fakenham press of Fakenham has lost 230 jobs; Norplan of Norwich has lost 150 jobs.

The list goes on and on. I have before me eight pages of officially announced redundancies. All the companies to which I have referred have, in one way or another, been the victims of Government policy. In the county of Norfolk alone, the building industry has probably lost 5,000 jobs. Until the Government were elected in 1979, Norfolk was gaining jobs at the rate of 3,000 a year; now it is losing them at a rate of 10,000 to 12,000 a year.

A key local industry in Norwich, footwear, is a good example of the indifference of the Government to some of our major industries. The footwear industry has suffered one closure or redundancy after another, yet all help for it has been refused by the Government. They ended the last Labour Government's scheme of assistance for the industry before half the money was spent—about £4.5 million out of the £11 million which was earmarked. They have not revived the retail commitment which operated under the Labour Government. Under that, British footwear multiple retailers were encouraged to purchase British-made shoes; there is no sanction because the Price Commission has gone and the Government cannot influence who buys as a result of the purchasing policies of the large, near-monopolistic companies.

The Government have ended the short-time working compensation scheme which was of enormous benefit to the footwear industry. They have refused to introduce the footwear design scheme which was proposed on an all-party basis by the footwear Neddy. They have done nothing about unfairly priced footwear imports. For the Government, the Norwich footwear industry can disappear entirely, yet over 3,000 people in the city still depend on it. The Government have offered it absolutely nothing. A real attempt was made to stop the rot in the footwear industry by the last Labour Government, and that had great consequences for Norwich. But the whole system of help for the industry has since been dismantled.

Thanks to the initiative of Norwich city council in industrial promotion, new jobs are being created. But last year the collapse of one small constructional engineering company, Stevenson, wiped out all the gains that had been made by the city council and the chamber of commerce working together to create jobs. Since May 1979, unemployment in Norwich has risen by 170 per cent. In other parts of the region it is even worse. In Haverhill, Thetford and Lowestoft it has risen to over 200 per cent. since the Government came to office.

As other hon. Members have said, a major impediment to the economic development of the region is its poor public transport system and inadequate roads. The region has virtually no motorway mileage and has a clapped-out railway system using obsolete stock. Our economic future depends on a decent road network, and high priority must be given to upgrading the All to Norwich and providing the A47 Norwich southern bypass. Our rural bus system adds to the deprivation of the towns and villages in Norfolk. We must give improvement schemes a high priority and not put them off year after year.

The social infrastructure — we refer to social conditions in the motion — is totally inadequate. In Norfolk, we are no fewer than, 1,000 places short, by national standards, in residential places for the elderly. We have less than half the recommended national provision of home helps. In the last 10 years, home help provision in terms of hours of service per household has been halved. We have one sixth of the required day nursery places. We have an exceptionally fast-growing population of the elderly in East Anglia, yet the region is one of the most financially deprived in the country.

It all adds up to a county with a low provision of facilities for the elderly, handicapped and children. The continual cutting of public expenditure by the Government and an inadequate allowance under the new block grant arrangements penalise a region of high growth and low spending, and that means that standards of public provision in the region are constantly under pressure and are now in absolute decline.

The Government cuts in housing are particularly hard felt. Norwich used to start 500 or more houses a year. This year the starts are 100. The waiting list has risen from 3,400 in 1979 to 4,100 today. In 1979, when the Conservative party came to office, there were 1,000 houses under construction or for which contracts had been let. Today there are 158. At my Saturday morning surgeries I have to explain to my constituents that they cannot have houses because of Government policy.

The community is being damaged in other ways, and I shall raise one local issue. On the edge of Norwich is a new development called Bowthorpe, which has received international acclaim because of the standard of the environment and its community services. It will eventually house 13,500 people. It is intended to create three self-contained villages there, the first of which is nearing completion. It has always been understood that the villages should have educational provision and Norwich, when it was the education authority, made it clear that the necessary schools would be provided so as to make it a self-contained community with all the community facilities. Now, to cope with the growth of development, Bowthorpe needs a new first school and an expansion of its middle school. These have been refused by the county council and instead it is proposed that children should go outside the development to school, with all the dangers which that must entail.

This is an issue not wholly of education but of community building. One cannot set up a new community without schools and facilities such as pubs, shops and so on. Therefore, for this community to thrive as a place in which to live, it should have adequate educational provision, but the county has refused it. It is essential for young children in the community to go to school in the community. To deprive it of schools is to bring into question the whole idea of a balanced community, but that is what Norfolk county council proposes.

Ministers have elaborately washed their hands of the case. When the Minister came to Norwich he seemed to spend virtually all his time in hiding, running out of back doors of buildings to avoid being approached on the subject.

The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. John Selwyn Gummer)

Not true.

Mr. Garrett

Yes he did, though I can understand how shy he must be of meeting ordinary people with ordinary problems. Ministers have elaborately washed their hands of this case because they refuse to recognise that their Tory colleagues in the county council are behaving unreasonably. It is a perfect case of a typical backward Tory county council simply not caring, always believing that any publc expenditure is a cost and not an investment.

The fight on this issue will go on. The lessons have certainly been learnt by my constituents in Bowthorpe, because it is a good example of what a spineless Tory county council, backed by a ruthless Tory Government, can do to a community in East Anglia, and there are many other such communities. East Anglians know that the blame for their declining services and their lost jobs must be placed fairly and squarely on the Government.

5.37 pm
Sir Paul Hawkins (Norfolk, South-West)

The debate was held up by the SDP moving various objections to orders. Indeed, I thought that they did not want the debate to take place at all. I do not wonder at that, because they will probably not have a seat in East Anglia after the next election.

The hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) spoke about dynamism. I should have thought that Chatteris, in his constituency, was one of the most dynamic villages for producing carrot enterprises. Indeed, men from there have started carrot industries throughout East Anglia.

Mr. Freud

To put the record right, I referred to what the Government called "dynamic industry" — [HON. MEMBERS: "No".] Yes I did.

Sir P. Hawkins

I have ears and I heard what the hon. Gentleman said. A dynamic constituent of mine, one Gordon Parker, was a small corn merchant who started the Felixstowe docks and made a great success of them.

Everyone seems to have a different idea of what areas are comprised in the term "East Anglia". Doubtless there will be speakers from suburban Essex and Hertfordshire claiming to be in East Anglia. I believe that the term should apply only to Norfolk and Suffolk. At a pinch—when I am feeling generous — I would allow the inclusion of the Isle of Ely and possibly Holland and Lincolnshire, but I shall confine my remarks to Norfolk and in particular my constituency of Norfolk, South-West.

Though "foreigners" consider Norfolk to be flat, it has its highlands— as anyone who knows Norfolk will have heard — to distinguish the area from the fens or marshland to the west. Despite the name, I am afraid that my constituents never succeed in getting hill cow or sheep subsidies.

In fact Norfolk has an immense variety of scenery. There are the Fens, reclaimed from the valley of the river Ouse and marshland reclaimed from the sea; the sandy Breckland, which was formerly the home of great flocks of bustards; Sandringham pines and heather; the Broads; and the golden sands of the north coast.

Living near the Great Ouse as I have always done, I am fascinated by the immense drainage schemes and engineering work of the Dutchman, Vermuyden, particularly Denver Sluice, close to my home. In the 1950s further enormous drainage schemes were completed which ensure freedom from flooding for a large acreage of my constituency and provide fresh water through a pipeline back into Essex.

Not far to the east is the northern part of the Thetford forest, which provides marvellous walking. From Constable to Crome and Cotman to Edward Seago the skies of East Anglia have been beloved of painters. The farmlands of East Anglia have, as my hon. Friend the Minister said, become the grain store and sugar bowl of Britain. It must be remembered how much employment, agriculture and the sugar beet industry brings to East Anglia. The haulage contractors, the sugar beet workers in the factories and many people up and down the country depend upon the money coming from farming in East Anglia.

The exaggerated stories of prairie farming are untrue. It comes ill from the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) to talk about farming and his knowledge of it. I have been connected with farming, but not a farmer — in the middle between farmers, merchants and landlords—and I know that much—

Mr. John Garrett


Sir Paul Hawkins

I shall give way if the hon. Gentleman will allow me to finish my sentence first.

I have known Norfolk all my life. It must be remembered that a large part of East Anglia, particularly the Breckland, had no hedges and few trees until the 1850s. It was then enclosed. Hedges were put down and now some of the fields are too small for present farming implements. It is there that people are mistakenly talking about prairie farming.

Mr. Garrett

Does the hon. Gentleman mean to say that he does not recognise the right of a representative of Norwich to have views about the environment of our county and the damage that is being done it by the farming that we are now seeing? Does he deny me that right?

Sir Paul Hawkins

I do not deny the hon. Gentleman any right at all. I could not. I only say that when the hon. Gentleman speaks of farming he should know a little more about it and not make inaccurate criticisms. The hon. Gentleman has a colleague in the other place —Lord Melchett — who is always putting about the most extraordinary and exaggerated stories about farming in East Anglia and elsewhere.

Mr. Garrett

He is a farmer.

Sir Paul Hawkins

Yes, he came to Norfolk and bought a farm and that apparently allows him to talk at great length about his bitter shame and anger at the uncontrollable and irreversible destruction of our countryside He talks of the "bare barley plains" but if they have barley on them they are certainly not bare. He made both those comments in a recent speech.

I could take anyone on a 50-mile drive from my home and we should always be in sight of hedgerows and trees. We have some lovely countryside and I have watched landlords and farmers planting hedgerows, trees and small plantations, making the countryside in which they live a more beautiful place.

As I have said, Breckland never had hedges or trees. It was a sheepwalk until it was enclosed in the last century. During the last 20 years or so many hedgerows and trees have been planted by farmers, landowners and the much-despised Norfolk county council. Some years ago when I was a member of that council I and 'others pressed for planting to be carried out on our roadsides and enormous numbers of trees have been planted over the past 15 to 20 years.

Yet I must admit that even this lovely county has its problems. Many firms which were closely involved with the motor industry are now naturally going through bad times. There is high unemployment for many small engineering firms, despite the brave endeavours of many councils, particularly the Breckland and west Norfolk district councils, which have put a lot of money into building factories to let.

Travel to work is expensive. Many council houses were built at a time when there were the three or four men per 100 acres. They were built in isolated villages when, as I have said, many more people worked on farms than do today. The main centres of employment are near the perimeter— King' s Lynn, Thetford and Norwich—and daily journeys of 30 to 40 miles are commonplace. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) will agree that the large number of cars per head of population are a necessity rather than a sign of great wealth. It is worrying and unfair that workers who have to travel 20, 30 or 40 miles to work cannot set off their travelling expenses against tax, whereas many private businesses can set off most of their car expenses against tax. We must do something for employees in the rural areas who have to travel to work. Many people are put off working at all because of high motoring expenses. In addition, pensioners complain of infrequent and costly buses. I agree with my hon. Friend the Minister that we must set to work to try to improve rural travel in our area.

Errors were made by planners in the past. They have reduced many pleasant villages to suburbs of bungalows. Worse still, when they saw the estates being built, they jumped to the conclusion that they would be filled with young married couples who would soon be producing children. In fact, they were completely wrong, because most of the houses were sold to retired people coming from London, Essex, Northampton, Leicester and Nottingham. The education planners then built large schools and they now find that they cannot fill them, so rural schools are being closed.

The large number of retired people coming to Norfolk has meant a great increase in the demand for social services, hospitals, doctors and welfare workers. No Government have recognised the large costs of that and of the upkeep of a huge network of roads when they allocate the rate support grant. Like Norfolk people, our county council has an excellent record for thrift. Yet because of thrift in the past—[Interruption.] Yes, thrift in keeping rates down, which increases the chance of industry coming to Norfolk. Yet because of thrift in the past it appears that our county is penalised and the rate support grant is cut. That causes considerable resentment.

Norfolk used to be on the way to nowhere, pleasantly cut off from the rest of England. That is no longer true. The main route from the industrial midlands to our successful east coast ports lies through our county. We deserve more money for bypasses and road improvements, although, to give credit where credit is due, I have been fortunate in my constituency in getting bypasses under two Governments for each of my three small market towns. I want some more, though.

Sir Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

Does my hon. Friend agree that, apart from the bypasses that are required for towns and villages, the route from the east midlands through East Anglia to Norwich and other towns is deficient in potential for a main road?

Sir Paul Hawkins

Of course.

Norfolk, the most important part of East Anglia, has many things going for it—good land, a lovely coastline, forests, skies and above all, fine men and women. We ask the Government for greater understanding of our problems, particularly the cost of servicing such a widely scattered community. I ask most strongly for a fresh look at the way in which the rate support grant is calculated, in the hope that Norfolk will get a fairer share next time.

5.51 pm
Dr. Oonagh McDonald (Thurrock)

I shall not follow the suggestion of the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) and attempt to place my constituency of Thurrock in East Anglia. In three important respects the problems of Essex, particularly of my constituency, are shared by East Anglia. I shall mention them and outline the problems that have been intensified by Government policy over the past four years.

First, we are in the same Britsh Rail region. Secondly we also share the same problems over the rate support grant. I was glad to note that during the hon. Gentleman's remarks the Minister was nodding in agreement with his comments about the inadequacy of the criteria that the Government apply to the various counties in respect of the block grant. The Minister might want to jump up and withdraw his nod, but we all saw it.

Thirdly, we share the rise in unemployment. The Manpower Services Commission review published in January 1983 covers the whole of the south-east region. In the six months up to January 1983 Cambridgeshire, Essex and Norfolk, to mention three counties out of that region, suffered the fate of a more rapidly rising rate of unemployment than the country as a whole. In those six months the increase in unemployment was 5.5 per cent. in general. In Cambridgeshire it was 8.6 per cent., in Essex it was 6.6 per cent. and in Norfolk it was 7.4 per cent. In other words, the recession, as the Government choose to call it, or the impact of Government policies, as we in the Opposition prefer to call it, has begun to hit parts of the south-east particularly hard. It has affected my county as well.

I share the objections about British Rail's rolling stock and the starvation of capital investment in that region of British Rail. The rolling stock seems to be old. In my neck of the woods it is often dirty and vandalised. It has been said that it is reupholstered before being sent off to the eastern region. I only wish that that were true of the stock that is sent to the Fenchurch street line, which often does not seem to have been reupholstered.

The service has deteriorated over the past four years. At the same time the cost of travelling on the Fenchurch street line has risen remarkably. The cost of an annual season ticket from Grays, which is one of the main towns in my constituency, was £401 in May 1979 and it is now £659. That increase over the past four years would make a large hole in anyone's wages. For that cost of nearly £660 a year, the traveller travels on an inadequate, ancient railway that is desperately in need of revitalisation.

I am surprised that the Minister, in what he read out from Labour's programme, did not say that we intend to increase investment in British Rail and provide a better, more up-to-date and more comfortable public transport system at a more reasonable price than has been available to commuters since 1979. It is high time that work was commenced on that because it would provide jobs as well.

I have already referred to the inadequacy of the block grant. Essex is another part of the country where the population is rapidly expanding, particularly with young couples with children who demand most from the Health Service, and the social and education services. In Essex the latter have suffered tremendous cuts over the past four years. Important extra-curricular activities such as swimming lessons have been cut out in Thurrock and in Essex generally, school meals services have been cut back and the standards particularly of primary education have deteriorated because of the cuts both in the numbers of staff—there is already a low staffing ratio—and in the provision of books and other equipment for the schools. I see the Minister nod, and I entirely agree with him. It is high time that in looking at the distribution of the block grant the Government took proper account of changes in population in the shire counties and tried to provide sufficient money to meet the needs—

Mr. MacGregor


Dr. McDonald

I shall not let the Minister escape from his extremely helpful nod, which has been supported on both sides of the House.

Unemployment in Essex has risen sharply. It is well above the national average. That rise has taken place at a greater rate over the six months to January 1983. I shall compare the numbers of unemployed in Thurrock in 1979 with the current numbers. At 10 May 1979 there were 2,767 unemployed in Thurrock. The latest unemployment figure on the new basis of counting is 8,181. That understates the amount of unemployment in my constituency. As we know, the purpose of the new basis of counting was deliberately to try to lower the unemployment figures. They no longer represent the number of people who require a job but merely those who are entitled to benefits and who therefore register.

Unemployment in Thurrock is now 15.7 per cent., which is higher than in Essex as a whole and higher than the national average. It is higher in this part of Essex because it is an industrial part of the county, and it is industry that Government policies have utterly undermined over the past four years. In 1979, when Labour left office, a number of establishments in my constituency employed over 1,000 people. Now there are none, apart from the docks. Not one establishment — not Shell, Mobil, Procter and Gamble, Van den Berghs, Thames Board or Thames Case — employs more than 1,000 people. Every industry has been hit by Government policies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) referred to the shoe industry in his constituency. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) will describe vicissitudes of the shoe industry in the past four years. A shoe factory just about remains in my constituency. In 1979, it employed 1,572 people, but this year that number will be reduced to 864. Government policy has virtually halved the work force because they have refused to continue Labour's scheme for assisting the industry and blocking cheap imports. The factory in my constituency suffers badly from imports from South Korea. It also suffers from the withdrawal of the temporary short-time working scheme and has suffered from a reduction in Ministry of Defence orders as it makes shoes for the Armed Forces.

I could list every industry that has been hit by Government policies but it would not be fair to do so. I shall just give a few more examples. The paper and board industry in my constituency has been hit by the Government's attitude towards energy pricing policy. The Government have been told repeatedly by representatives of that industry that its competitors' energy costs are subsidised. It is a high energy-consuming industry which has made every effort to satisfy its energy needs in the most efficient and cheapest way. A boiler that burns marsh gas has recently been installed and will soon come into operation, but the factory has had no assistance from the Government. The Government have closed their eyes to the fact that Canada, America, Sweden and West Germany subsidise the energy costs of their paper and board industries. The result is that, if we are not careful, although we may manufacture goods in Britain we shall reach the point when we cannot supply the packaging for those goods. It is absurd for any Government to preside over that.

Ford at Dagenham makes every effort to increase productivity and to be competitive. Nevertheless. in 1981 it produced 470,000 fewer cars than in any of the previous four years. It is yet another major industry which has been hit by the Government's policies. In Ford's case, the problem is primarily the result of the Government's refusal to recognise the need for import controls, but Ford has also been affected by policies that have lowered domestic demand for both commercial and private vehicles to one of the lowest levels ever.

It is no wonder, therefore, that unemployment in my constituency is well above the national average. Every policy that the Government have insisted on introducing in the past four years has been to the detriment of local industry. It is also no wonder that the problems that I have mentioned are common to Essex and East Anglia, as they are similar. Those counties are reeling from the effects of Government policy on industry, agriculture and the environment.

6.3 pm

Mr. Robert Rhodes James (Cambridge)

I condole with the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) on having to move this ludicrous motion. His references to the brief time that was available to him struck me as having a rather wider connotation, given the state of his majority, than the time that is available for this debate. He then had to refer to East Anglia as the gateway to Europe when he is a dedicated believer in clanging that door shut. I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on keeping a straight face when he moved the motion and advanced his arguments.

The people of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire will read this motion with utter incredulity, especially that section of it that relates to agriculture and envisages the Labour party as the party of the countryside. They will read the Opposition's reference to "weakened industry" and disaster and remember the speech of the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock), who rarely appears in the House as he is constantly on the television screens, that informed us that Oxford and Cambridge are cancers in our society. If my city, which has more Nobel prize winners than any country is a cancer, I suggest that, unlike other cancers, it should be encouraged and developed rather than derided and denigrated.

The Opposition are perfectly entitled to choose their own weapons for debate. It is not our fault if they choose boomerangs. Four years ago, I described Cambridge as a city which had the potential to become a boom town. It has. When one considers circumstances in Cambridge and East Anglia, the vital link between higher education, technology and prosperity, the development of the science park, which was the creation of Dr. John Bradfield, the Bursar of Trinity, and others and which is being emulated in other university and non-university cities, and the advantages, jobs and prosperity that emanate from science and technology, my task of impressing people that these are the industries of the future is made much easier. The fiction of capital-intensive being wrong and labour-intensive being right is one of the major myths of our time.

As my hon. Friend the Minister emphasised, the future lies with small prosperous firms which create jobs and the wealth which creates yet more jobs. I do not know why the hon. Member for Ipswich was so disparaging about service industries. What is wrong with them? Historically, and not only in East Anglia, prosperity is created by relatively small industries which germinate and spread outwards to create the wealth of an entire area. The lessons of Cambridge show the importance of small businesses, diversification, and high technology, illustrate the perils of one-company cities and demonstrate the importance —the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) will not like this — of high technology industries that are involved—

Dr. McDonald

That is rubbish.

Mr. Rhodes James

—with the armaments industry.

I admit that we have problems, even unemployment is less that 6 per cent. Even if one believes Beveridge, who said that 4 per cent. unemployment was nil unemployment, that figure of 6 per cent. is 6 per cent. too much. Although we have, I am sorry to say, a Labour-Social Democratic council which has made Cambridge a nuclear-free zone, we have it in mind to make Cambridge a Socialist-free zone on 5 May. Nevertheless, our key problem lies in rates and rating, especially industrial rates. Pye in Cambridge now has to pay £50,000 a year more than it did three years ago. If we quantify that in terms of jobs and job opportunities, we are dealing with a considerable number. It is crucial that the Conservative party and the Government address themselves again to that, as it is one of the key problems which we face.

The rating system is inequitable and can be corrected only by electing Conservative councils. The burden which is now being placed on home owners and industry is the one factor which is holding back an even greater expansion of East Anglia and especially the city of Cambridge. We look forward to our future with considerable optimism. We have the record, the achievement, the name and a tremendous future, but only under a Conservative Government.

6.9 pm

Mr. Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler (Norfolk, North-West)

Although the SDP supports the first part of the official Opposition's motion, it does not agree with the wording of the second part. Therefore, we tabled an amendment, first, to show our support for the continuation of British membership of the EC, which brings great benefits not only to agriculture in East Anglia but to East Anglian business and industry in general, and, secondly, to show our knowledge that the success of East Anglian farmers, which we welcome, is a crucial element in the economy of East Anglia and contributes greatly to the standard of living, poor though it is, in rural areas. Without a viable agriculture, unemployment would be even worse than it is in rural areas and the standard of living would be even lower.

The Minister asserted that all our unemployment was a result of that wicked world slump over which we have no control. Ministers must understand that in 1979 unemployment in Britain was the same as the average for the EC or the European OECD countries, and about 0.4 per cent. higher than the figure for the OECD as a whole. By December 1982 our unemployment was more than one third higher than the average for Europe and 50 per cent. higher than the average for the OECD countries as a whole. The increases of 53 per cent. and 59 per cent. for the EC and the OECD countries compare with the increase in Britain of 144 per cent. during this Government's term of office.

If that were not bad enough, East Anglia has suffered even more. In Norfolk, the county part of which I am proud to represent, unemployment has increased by about 150 per cent. I shall give three examples from my constituency on both the old and the new figures. In Fakenham, between March 1979 and October 1982 unemployment has increased from 8.6 per cent. to 16.5 per cent., and on the new figures the current estimate is about 18 per cent. in real terms. In Hunstanton it has increased from 11.7 per cent. to 21.4 per cent. The current level is just over 30 per cent. and is probably as high as 33 per cent. In King's Lynn it has increased from 6.3 per cent. to 13 per cent. and is currently estimated to be 15 per cent. Those increases are intolerable, and more than half of them are a direct result of the Government's policies and have nothing to do with the world slump.

A report commissioned recently by the borough council of King's Lynn and west Norfolk, and financed by the Manpower Services Commission, shows that unemployment, expressed as a percentage of the working population, is higher than the average in East Anglia and in Great Britain. It is increasingly structural unemployment, and most of the jobs that have been lost will not reappear. When Conservative Members talk about the new small firms that are starting, which we also welcome, they do not tell the House how many small firms have gone out of business because of Government policy.

We wish to see a coherent programme to deal with general unemployment, by which we mean investment in capital projects such as roads, railways, drainage, sea defences and house improvements, that would generate the employment that we desperately need. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) also needs jobs for his constituency, so it ill becomes him to laugh. We need those jobs quickly because I am disturbed, as are many of my constituents, by the poor prospects, especially for the young unemployed, in the most remote rural areas. Not only have they had no training, but inadequate transport means that they cannot reach training centres. Even if there is transport, the financial disincentive puts them off. In some rural areas Government policies are creating pockets of extremely high unemployment in percentage terms, although relatively small in numbers, that will endure for a long time if those youngsters get into the habit of not being trained or not going to work as a regular part of their daily lives.

I wish that I could persuade the Under-Secretary of State for Employment, who will reply to the debate, to consult the Under-Secretary of State for Industry and decide whether unemployment in my constituency is structural or cyclical. The Department of Employment believes it to be structural. Something must be done about it. The Government should think about introducing a scheme to deal with small numbers of unemployed where the high percentage of unemployment is socially unacceptable. They should consider enterprise zones in rural areas. Our county structure plan proposes the development of some larger villages over a period, and the Government should develop plans along with the county council to tackle those small pockets of high unemployment.

Unemployment is the major result of Government policies to date, but three other aspects of their policy cause great concern in my area. Several hon. Members have already mentioned transport. There is an urgent need for major capital investment in the east-west road routes. Two routes that pass through my constituency, the A 17 and the A47, are main roads from the north and the midlands to the east coast ports. As long ago as early 1970 a Conservative Government promised that they would be upgraded to dual carriageways— indeed, the A17 was scheduled to be a strategy route—by the early 1980s. Successive Governments have cut that investment programme, leaving us with appalling, old-fashioned, single carriageway A roads of the worst standard in the United Kingdom. It is incumbent upon the Government to put a major effort into bringing forward those schemes to give us dual carriageways of a standard that is taken for granted in the north of England. The present roads make it difficult for new industries and firms to be attracted to the area.

I am surprised that other hon. Members have not referred to the threat that hangs over transport in East Anglia because of the Serpell report. Of the six options contained in that report, no fewer than three envisaged cutting the King's Lynn to London railway line. The right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) will probably tell the House when he speaks that at least one, if not two, envisaged cutting off Norwich as well, so denuding the whole of East Anglia of a railway system. I join those who urge the Government to consider sensibly a coherent and integrated transport plan for the region. It is impossible that East Anglia will climb out of this recession unless there is some Government activity, both to improve roads and rail and preferably in co-ordinated approach.

There is also the effect of the Government's policy on the rural motorist. As other hon. Members have pointed out, no fewer than 80 per cent. of people in rural areas travel to work in their own private transport. I recall, as Conservative Members will, that in late May 1977, the then Conservative Opposition voted against substantial increases in both vehicle excise duty and hydrocarbon oil duty on the grounds that taxes on petrol and on cars were a tax on the rural poor. It is disgraceful that, although the Conservatives voted against proposals for a 5p increase in tax on that occasion, since the Government came to office there have been five increases in petrol tax amounting to nearly l0p a litre, which has added substantially to the costs for those living in rural areas and depending on the motor car to get to and from work. The Government have raised the vehicle excise duty on four occasions since they came to office, from £50 to £60 to £70 to £80 to £85. That is a substantial increase in the taxes paid by the rural poor.

I and many of my constituents are concerned that the high level of unemployment and the appallingly low level of economic activity in East Anglia have led to rising crime. Crime in the county of Norfolk has risen by over 40 per cent. since the Government came into office, and the rate of detection has fallen so that more than two out of every three serious crimes committed in our county go undetected. I urge the Government to take this matter up, because our chief constable is on the record as saying that he is 200 men short of the complement necessary to provide security in our county. For the Conservative party, which claims erroneously to be the party of law and older, to have presided over this deterioration in standards in our county is disgraceful.

6.23 pm
Mr. Christopher Murphy (Welwyn and Hatfield)

I add my voice in support of the Government's amendment concerning inflation, small businesses and agriculture. Hertfordshire is a fringe county of East Anglia and has a lower level of unemployment than most counties in the United Kingdom, despite continuing population growth, and a higher level of technological development, despite the difficulties of world recession. The two are clearly interrelated. The people of the area are the beneficiaries, whether we are talking about aerospace, pharmaceuticals, service industries or whatever other developing sector. Welwyn and Hatfield have excellent examples that illustrate the positive approach of the Hertfordshire business men and work force. They are backed by the Hertfordshire chamber of commerce, which contributes greatly to local industry both large and small.

Labour party policies, which include renationalising the aerospace industry, nationalising pharmaceuticals and display a lack of commitment to service industries and the other locally developing sectors, would be disastrous to East Anglia, and to Hertfordshire in particular. The need is for the Government to remain firm in their resolve. That is the only way to continue benefiting those people whom we are trying to represent.

There are moves at present, spearheaded by the Hertfordshire county council, to promote the county as an admirable place to develop industry and encourage investment. This is undoubtedly a realistic approach given the advantages of communications, skills and pleasant living conditions as well as its record. The county has an enviable position upon which it is right to capitalise. Hertfordshire is both a home county and East Anglian. It can gain the advantages of both, but the more so with the continuation of a Conservative Government.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)


6.25 pm
Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

I warmly welcome the debate and regret that as a result—

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My point of order concerns mainly the etiquette of the procedures of the House and I should be grateful for your guidance. This, as you have said, is a remarkably short debate, but all the more welcome for that. It will be within your knowledge, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the two opening Front Bench speeches took a total of 43 minutes. It has been arranged by the usual channels that the winding-up speeches shall take 35 minutes. That is a total of 78 minutes from a debate that is scheduled to last not longer than 150 minutes, so that the four speakers from the Front Benches will have occupied well over half—55 per cent. — of the debate. I believe that to be bad manners on the part of Front Bench spokesmen towards their colleagues in the House, particularly those from East Anglia. I should be obliged if, because it lies in your discretion, you would allow the debate to continue for a short while after the arranged conclusion at 7 o'clock so that others may be able to make their contributions.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

I understand the hon. Gentleman's point, and I know that he has been here during the debate. This is a short debate, and it is difficult for the Chair to call every hon. Member who wishes to speak. It has been arranged for the convenience of the House that the debate will end at about 7 o'clock. Many hon. Members wish to speak in the next debate. I suggest to the hon. Gentleman, who has experience in these matters, that he may be able to intervene during the speeches from the Front Benches.

Mr. Griffiths

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope that this is another point of order, because we are short of time.

Mr. Griffiths

That is so, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I recognise the difficulties in which you are placed and those difficulties are the last thing to which I should wish to add. With respect, I should not take up your suggestion because that would have the effect of prolonging both the Front Bench speeches. I should simply like to ask you to take note in future occasions of the extraordinary selfishness and bad manners of Front Benches when they truncate a debate, and take well over half the time available for such a short debate.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has made his point.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I know your problem and difficulty, because we all know that Mr. Speaker has much say in these matters, and that the occupant of the Chair carries out Mr. Speaker's desire. However, I suggest that you have a word with Mr. Speaker and ask him whether he could arrange a way of calling the speakers for the short debates so as to ensure that those who are called to speak at least stay to hear one other speech. I have not wanted to speak in this debate but I have been here. I have seen what happens. The same old regulars get called, make their speech, and then walk out. Could Mr. Speaker consider looking at this problem and saying that he will not in future call those who make a speech and then walk out? This would help to stop some of those who do so now.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point, and I shall certainly discuss it with Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Ennals

I regret the further delays. For the record, I point out that my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) spoke for five minutes less than the Minister. Equally, the Under-Secretary of State for Employment asked for 30 minutes. I said that that was intolerable and we agreed upon 20 minutes.

I welcome a debate on East Anglia. It is often supposed by those who live outside East Anglia that our region has somehow been spared the destructive results of Government policies since 1979. This is untrue. Indeed, it is the opposite of the truth. They have done untold damage to the security of the people and to the fabric of our society, including the environment.

The Minister, in opening the debate, referred to "The New Hope for Britain". It is time that Britain had some new hope. That is why we published the document. That is why it will be the basis of our manifesto. He asked what the electorate were thinking when they voted in 1979. They were misled by the Conservatives with promises that they would reduce unemployment. Look at what has happened. There were promises that they would cut taxes. Now a person has to earn over £29,000 a year before he gets any benefit from tax cuts.

The Minister referred to agriculture. He rightly says that the farmers have done pretty well. That is true—they are the most heavily subsidised group in the nation. But the people who have not benefited comparably have been the farm workers, who have had to put up with extremely modest pay settlements. Probably the only thing on which I agreed with the Minister was his reference to the hard-working and energetic people of East Anglia. I believe that they get less in cash and services than their good qualities deserve.

As for the new constituency of Norwich, North, let not the hon. Gentleman worry. Norwich has two Labour Members now and it will have two Labour Members after the next election.

I am sorry that the hon. Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) is not in his place at the moment because I thought that he made a very fair and balanced speech. I believe that he is held in great respect in the House and that we shall all miss him.

I am also sorry that the hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) is not here because I wanted to congratulate him on having been re-selected to stand for his constituency. I was a little surprised that he used the term "the much-despised Norfolk county council". It came a little surprisingly from him. As far as I am concerned, when someone talks of thrift in the Norfolk county council, what they really mean is cuts, but I agree with him —I want to come to this in a few minutes—that we must have a fresh look at the rate support grant.

The Minister asked at one stage whether East Anglia ought to be considered worthy of special assistance from the Government. Had the current statistics of economic decline and hardship existed in Labour's day it would have put the East Anglian region into the category of a depressed area. Of course it was not so treated when Labour was in power because, as I shall prove, and as has been proved by other speakers, the situation is totally different now from what it was when the Tory Government came to power. There has been a massive decline in employment opportunities, not only in East Anglia but in other parts of the country. It is no good the Minister saying, as all Ministers keep saying, that it is all the fault of the world recession. They know that is not true. Since the Government came to power more jobs have been lost each year than in any other major industrialised country.

Taking the unemployment figures first—because it is those that worry my constituents most — the total for those out of work in the whole of East Anglia has increased by 250 per cent. since the Tory Government came in. Norfolk has suffered more than either of the other two counties—Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Let me give one or two examples: Hunstanton, 28 per cent. unemployed; Cromer, 19.6 per cent.; Great Yarmouth, 17.5 per cent.; Wisbech, 17.3 per cent.; Dereham, 16.4 per cent.; Lowestoft, 15.8 per cent.; Peterborough, 15.5 per cent.

In Norwich, the number of jobless has risen from 4,610 in 1979 to 12,594. That is a massive increase and of course it is the result, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, south (Mr. Garrett) said, of the massive redundancies and closures of firms such as Norvic and the effect upon other industries throughout the region, particularly in Norwich.

Unemployment for the under-18s has risen in Norwich from 294 in 1979 to a massive 1,776 — a sixfold increase in young people unemployed. No wonder, as the hon. Member for Norfolk, North-West (Mr. BrocklebankFowler) said, that there has been a massive increase in crime. If there is a massive increase in unemployed young people, inevitably, as night follows day, there will be an increase in crime, and there has been an appalling increase in crime in Norfolk.

The Minister referred to the Norfolk and Norwich chamber of commerce. I am delighted that the city of Norwich is a member of that chamber of commerce and has a good basis of co-operation with it. In its last report the Norfolk and Norwich chamber of commerce reported more firms with a declining work force than with an increasing work force, and 67 per cent. of the firms reported that they were operating below capacity.

The managing director of one of the largest employers in Norwich, which has just announced 40 redundancies and has seen its work force cut by one third in the past three years, told me last Friday that although there was much talk of an economic upturn he had seen no tangible signs of it affecting his firm. We now have unemployment in Norfolk at about the national average of 13.1 per cent., with massive youth unemployment and the almost inevitable dramatic increase in crime.

Unemployment is compounded by other factors in terms of the decline in the standard and quality of life in East Anglia—and, again, particularly in Norfolk. We have seen cuts in the educational programme and we have seen a serious worsening of the housing situation. Perhaps I could follow what my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South said and give one or two statistics. I pick on Norwich because it is probably one of the best housing authorities in the country.

The current figure for housing units under construction is about 150—only one sixth of the 1,000 that were under construction in 1979. Secondly, housing starts this year are only a quarter of those in 1979. As a natural consequence, the housing waiting lists in Norwich are up by 1,300 and waiting time is up by an average of 12 months. Finally, although the city council has managed to achieve a rent freeze for the next 12 months, rents are now 250 per cent. up on the figures for 1979, while inflation has risen by something over 70 per cent. All this is a direct result of Government housing policy.

Other services have been touched upon by hon. Members on both sides of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South mentioned the problem of schooling. Schools are being closed and playing fields are being sold by the Norfolk county council simply to raise funds. The interests of the children have been forgotten in the interest of saving money.

Hon. Members on both sides of the House have referred to transport. The hon. Member for Norfolk, South-West referred to the problems of roads and buses. They have all suffered as a result of Government policies, partly owing to cuts in Government and local authority expenditure but also owing to the grossly unfair way in which Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire—again a point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South and by other hon. Members on both sides of the House—have been treated by the Secretary of State for the Environment in the rate support grant. Let me develop that point a bit.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths


Mr. Ennals

This is a point of crucial importance. The hon. Gentleman, from a sedentary position, says it is hogwash.

Mr. Griffiths


Mr. Ennals

I will not give way. The Minister did not give way and I am not going to give way.

The hon. Gentleman has attended, as I have, meetings with representatives of the three authorities and he knows how strongly they feel. He told them that he did not agree. They are very clear that East Anglia is Britain's fastest growing region in terms of population, with the population of some districts increasing by as much as 4 per cent in the past two years. The region's grant-related expenditure assumes a smaller number of the total population, especially schoolchildren and the elderly, than is actually the case.

There is far more to it than that. In England as a whole, the proportion of local government expenditure met by central Government has been reduced from 56.1 per cent. in 1982–83 to 52.8 per cent. in 1983–84. For East Anglia, the grant loss is £25.8 million—the second successive large cut imposed on the three counties. If the grant had remained at the 1981–82 level, let alone the far higher level under the Labour Government, East Anglia local authorities would be £50 million better off. The cut has meant a switch to rates of 19.3p in the pound.

We now have the absurd situation, for which the Government are entirely responsible, in which those three low-spending counties are being penalised as high spenders. So great are the penalties imposed by the Secretary of State for the Environment that if the three counties were to spend in line with the national average they would receive no Government grant at all. That is sheer lunacy. I hope that the Minister will offer some explanation, as this is a matter of worry to hon. Members on both sides. It is grossly unfair not just to my constituents but to people throughout the three counties who have to face both rate increases and worsening services due to Government policy on rate support grant. It is ludicrous that low-spending East Anglia should be at the top of the Government hit list, especially when pay levels are well below the national average and the number of pensioners is well above the national average and rising steadily. Despite a massive increase in the number of people dependent on supplementary benefits, charges have been increased for home helps, day centres and meals on wheels and some counties actually charge people on supplementary benefit for the very services that enable them to live in their homes.

Many areas, such as Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Cromer and King's Lynn, are threatened not only with worsening bus services but with a total cut in the rail service under the Serpell recommendations, which have still not been repudiated by the Government. Perhaps the Minister will take this opportunity to assure the House that the lines threatened—

Sir Anthony Fell (Yarmouth)

Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Ennals

No, it is for the Minister to reply.

Sir Anthony Fell

The right hon. Gentleman's argument is mischievous.

Mr. Ennals

It is no such thing. In the debate on the Serpell report, in which I took part, the Minister excluded only one—the most extreme—of the six options. He did not exclude any of the remaining five, which would cut off Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Cromer and King's Lynn—[Interruption.] If the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Sir A. Fell) wishes to intervene I shall be happy to give way—provided that the Minister wishes it, as it will be at his expense.

I accuse the Government of scurvy treatment of East Anglia and I call upon Ministers to take a new look at policies that are doing so much damage to our part of the country. I believe that the Conservatives will pay heavily for those policies, both in the May local government elections and in the general election, whenever it comes. I just wish that the Prime Minister would stop dithering and name the day so that we can go into battle.

6.44 pm
The Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Selwyn Gummer)

We have heard a most curious contribution from the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals). Only by raising fears that he knew to be untrue could he find anything to support the motion. That has happened throughout the debate. The hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) was clearly unhappy at the role thrust upon him. At no stage did he mention any of the policies that his party put forward in its document "The New Hope For Britain". I look forward to reading his election address. I make just one prognostication. I predict that no part of that document, or any reference to it—certainly to any of the major Socialist policies in it —will appear in the hon. Gentleman's election address. At least three candidates in Ipswich will oppose that document. It may be difficult for the voters to choose between them, but I know who will win in the end. Representation in Ipswich will then return to where it should be.

The hon. Member for Ipswich referred to East Anglia as the gateway to Europe. The gate would certainly be slammed shut if Labour ever came to power. The hon. Gentleman said that he had opposed entry into the Common Market and had campaigned for a "no" vote in the referendum. I challenge him to tell us now that if by some accident, or through the activities of the SDP, Labour returned to government, he would campaign within the Labour party and throughout the country for another referendum before the Labour Government took Britain out of Europe. The Labour party document suggests that there would be no such referendum, so the hon. Gentleman would not have the chance to campaign for a "no" vote. There would be no chance for him or for the people of East Anglia.

I can tell the House why the hon. Gentleman would not campaign on that aspect of Labour party policy, because he and I debated the matter on Anglia television and five juries in the East Anglian towns voted on whether Britain should come out of the Common Market. It is interesting to note that of those who declared themselves undecided at the outset and willing to decide on the basis of our debate—20 people in each of the five towns—82 voted to stay in the Common Market and only 18 voted for the hon. Gentleman's proposal.

Mr. Ennals

What about unemployment?

Mr. Gummer

The right hon. Gentleman seeks to intervene from a seated position after his very long speech — [Interruption.] It was almost exactly 20 minutes. I am coming to unemployment. Let us consider the extra unemployment that would be caused in East Anglia and throughout the country by taking Britain out of the European Community. The hon. Member for Ipswich well knows what the result would be, because on television he could not answer when asked where jobs would be found for the thousands of people in Norwich whose jobs now depend on exports to the EC.

Before the hon. Gentleman comes to the House with his day return knowledge of East Anglia—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) need not interrupt. He talked about farming from a railway carriage view. That is as much as he knows about the subject. We who live in and care about East Anglia do not care for propositions so devoid of truth as those put forward by the Opposition today.

Mr. John Garrett

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Gummer

I do not have time to give way. The hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald) has already taken 12 minutes of an East Anglian debate and I must cover the points advanced by the Opposition.

The hon. Member for Norwich, South told us of the problems in Leiston in my constituency. The fact that he could not even pronounce the name showed how much he knew about it. He told us all about the impact of the Richard Garrett closure and about the job losses involved. He got the figures wrong, of course. [Interruption.] Moreover, he did not notice that some of the job losses were not in Leiston at all but in a factory 50 miles away. Nor did he mention what has happened since then. He did not mention the coming of S. and S. Engineering, which started off quite small, with about 90 jobs, and is now advertising for workers, which will result in a total of 140 jobs. He did not mention R. G. Cooper, a tiny firm, which has just landed a £500,000 order. I had something to do with its coming, which was because of the closure of Garretts. It came to Saxmundham which I should say, in case the geography of East Anglia defeats the hon. Gentleman, is only five miles from Leiston. With this large order and another which is in the pipeline, it hopes to get a new factory.

A whole series of other engineering businesses have opened in the Leiston area. We are not quite up to the number of jobs lost, but we are more than half way there. [Laughter.] The hon. Member for Norwich, South laughs, but during his speech he did not laugh at all because he brought to the House the news of misery that he always brings and not a word of success. The hon. Gentleman does badly by East Anglia by constantly talking about the sad things and never about the major things. Where were the words about Stramit in my constituency? For the first time it has sold over £1 million worth of goods to China, the biggest order in an expanding industry, which will enable us to help the developing countries.

It is interesting to consider the developing countries. Did we hear all the comments about the shoe industry? I wonder whether the hon. Member for Norwich, South was in the House for the debate on the Brandt report. What he was proposing was that the countries which are poorer even than our own should not be able to export to us.

Mr. John Garrett


Mr. Gummer

I cannot give way. The hon. Gentleman made a long speech. I am replying to the points that he made, and I shall continue to reply.

The hon. Gentleman went on to attack the roads programme. He said that the A11 should be upgraded and improved. That is precisely what is happening. Perhaps he has not recently travelled along the A11, which goes to Norwich. It is being upgraded at this moment. The bypass for Attleborough is under way. The line round Wymondham has been improved. This is what the Government are doing. When the Labour party talks about the problems of roads, is it not amazing that it should do so on the day on which the final part of the Ipswich by-pass has been announced? Did Opposition Members mention that about half the cost of the Orwell bridge has come from the European Community — the organisation of which they do not want us to be a member? No—because the motion has nothing to do with facts; it has to do with the desperation of Labour Members to attack the Government in every way they can, whether there is any reason for it or not. It reminds me of the gentleman at the beginning of "Wuthering Heights" who used to go through the Bible to pull all the promises to himself and fling all the curses at everyone else.

As for the contribution of the alliance, the hon. Member for Isle of Ely (Mr. Freud) will long rue the day that he suggested that the people of his constituency were not dynamic. That is a point which will be mentioned to him again and again when Hansard is read.

Mr. Freud

On a point of order. I have already corrected the fact that I said "dynamic" in the terms of this Prime Minister.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Gummer

The hon. Member's constituents will be able to read what Hansard says.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge (Mr. Stainton) pointed out something which the Opposition had not mentioned — the major electrification plan of British Rail. How dare the right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) talk about Serpell in that frightening manner, when the electrification plans are going ahead and when in my constituency the most modern rural railway in England will be opened on the east Suffolk line? This is the line to Lowestoft, the very line he said was threatened. Perhaps he does not know that bit of geography because the line does not happen to go to Norwich.

My hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge also rightly mentioned the survival of the village school. In my constituency and that of my right hon. Friend the Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior), the Secretary of State for Education has decided to ask the local council to maintain two village schools because of our policy of ensuring that where possible the village school shall continue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) rightly drew attention to the importance of technology and the science base of the East Anglian area. Was it not remarkable that Cambridgeshire had hardly a word from the hon. Member for Ipswich? There was no reference to the Cambridge science park and all the developments there, where the jobs of the future will be. Those are the jobs which we desperately need. What is the policy of the Labour party towards them? It is to tax all those new industries so heavily that they go out of business so as to steer industry—"steer" is the word in its plan—from East Anglia into the depressed regions. [Interruption.] If it does not say that, where else in the country are they going to steer them from but the dynamic, growing areas such as East Anglia?

Opposition Members said that it was most unfair that East Anglia was not doing as well as other regions. I hope that that has been discussed with Labour Members who represent the northern and the north-eastern regions and other development areas.

The real hypocrisy of the proposition in the motion is that both the right hon. Member for Norwich, North and the hon. Member for Ipswich sat quietly by during the years when the Labour Government took from the area and gave to the very areas they are complaining about. Year after year, the Labour Government redirected aid and the rate support grant from East Anglia to the areas containing Labour marginal seats. East Anglia becomes a part of their solicitude only when they are in opposition, never when they are in government. They do their cause no good by this transparent electioneering and trying to present what is untrue as the truth.

Although I do not wish to go too far in answering the hon. Member for Thurrock, I must point out, when she says that things have been bad in the past in East Anglia, on whose fringe her constituency sits, that the past is not just a Tory past but also a Labour past. If she thinks that East Anglia has not had what it might have had under a Conservative Government she should look at the record under Labour. It had the worst record of any area. That is why people did not vote them in. That is why there have been too few of them on the Opposition benches to contribute to the debate. The hon. Lady thought that she had better talk because there was no one else to talk.

Dr. McDonald


Mr. Gummer

The fact remains that there is a particular problem in East Anglia. It is an area which was historically, as my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South-West (Sir P. Hawkins) mentioned, on the way to nowhere, but now that has changed. In a real sense we are the most important centre in Britain for exports and imports. We are that part of Britain which is helping to join the historic enemies in Europe. We are seeing the kind of growth and internationalism about which one once heard from the Labour party. Now it is left to us.

In reply to the question by my hon. Friend the Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge, we hope before the end of the month to be able to announce the criteria upon which free ports may be established. No doubt Felixstowe will put forward a good case. Those who have sat through the debate—they were fairly few on the Opposition Benches —will have clearly seen the distinction.

Those who drafted this preposterous motion have relied only on generalities, vague statements and partial knowledge of an area that has consistently refused to elect them. They relied not on the facts but on the principle that any mud can be thrown at us as long as there is a chance of some particle sticking. It would be much more sensible if the House took note of the debate and realised the facts of life and that East Anglia is a dynamic, growing area; that we have confidence in our future; that we are determined to see that there is a future and, therefore, we are determined to say to the Opposition, "Long may you reign in opposition," and to the Conservative party, "Long may you govern."

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:

The House divided: Ayes 207, Noes 270.

Division No. 118] [7 pm
Abse, Leo Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n)
Allaun, Frank Dalyell, Tam
Alton, David Davidson, Arthur
Anderson, Donald Davis, Clinton (Hackney C)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Deakins, Eric
Ashton, Joe Dean, Joseph (Leeds West)
Atkinson, N.(H'gey,) Dewar, Donald
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Dixon, Donald
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Dobson, Frank
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Dormand, Jack
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Dubs, Alfred
Bidwell, Sydney Duffy, A. E. P.
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G.
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Eadie, Alex
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Eastham, Ken
Bradley, Tom Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Bray, Dr Jeremy Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) English, Michael
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Ennals, Rt Hon David
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Buchan, Norman Evans, John (Newton)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Field, Frank
Campbell, Ian Flannery, Martin
Campbell-Savours, Dale Ford, Ben
Canavan, Dennis Forrester, John
Cant, R. B. Foster, Derek
Carmichael, Neil Foulkes, George
Cartwright, John Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Freud, Clement
Clarke.Thomas(C'b'dge, A'rie) Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Coleman, Donald Ginsburg, David
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Golding, John
Cook, Robin F. Graham, Ted
Cowans, Harry Grant, John (Islington C)
Cox, T. (W'dsw'th, Toot'g) Grimond, Rt Hon J.
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Crowther, Stan Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hardy, Peter
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Harman, Harriet (Peckham)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Park, George
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Parker, John
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Parry, Robert
Heffer, Eric S. Pavitt, Laurie
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Pendry, Tom
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Pitt, William Henry
Homewood, William Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Hooley, Frank Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Howell, Rt Hon D. Race, Reg
Hoyle, Douglas Radice, Giles
Hughes, Mark (Durham) Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Richardson, Jo
Hughes, Roy (Newport) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
John, Brynmor Robertson, George
Johnson, James (Hull West) Roper, John
Johnson, Walter (Derby S) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Jones, Barry (East Flint) Sandelson, Neville
Lambie, David Sever, John
Lamond, James Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Leadbitter, Ted Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Leighton, Ronald Short, Mrs Renée
Lewis, Arthur (N'ham NW) Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silverman, Julius
Litherland, Robert Skinner, Dennis
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Lyon, Alexander (York) Snape, Peter
Lyons, Edward (Bradf'd W) Soley, Clive
Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson Spearing, Nigel
McCartney, Hugh Spriggs, Leslie
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Stallard, A. W.
McElhone, Mrs Helen Steel, Rt Hon David
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Stoddart, David
McKelvey, William Strang, Gavin
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Straw, Jack
Maclennan, Robert Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McNally, Thomas Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
McNamara, Kevin Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McTaggart, Robert Tilley, John
McWilliam, John Tinn, James
Marks, Kenneth Wainwright, E.(Dearne V)
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton) Walker, Rt Hon H.(D'caster)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Watkins, David
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Weetch, Ken
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Welsh, Michael
Mason, Rt Hon Roy White, Frank R.
Maxton, John White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Mikardo, Ian Whitlock, William
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Wigley, Dafydd
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Williams, Rt Hon A.(S'sea W)
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Wilson, William (C'try SE)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Winnick, David
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Woodall, Alec
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Woolmer, Kenneth
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Wrigglesworth, Ian
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Wright, Sheila
O'Brien, Oswald (Darlington) Young, David (Bolton E)
Ogden, Eric
O'Halloran, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
O'Neill, Martin Mr. George Morton and
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Mr. Frank Haynes.
Palmer, Arthur
Adley, Robert Berry, Hon Anthony
Aitken, Jonathan Best, Keith
Alexander, Richard Bevan, David Gilroy
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Biffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Tom Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Aspinwall, Jack Blackburn, John
Atkins, Rt Hon H.(S'thorne) Blaker, Peter
Atkinson, David (B'm'th.E) Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Bowden, Andrew
Banks, Robert Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Braine, Sir Bernard
Bendall, Vivian Bright, Graham
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Brinton, Tim
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon
Brooke, Hon Peter Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brotherton, Michael Grist, Ian
Brown, Michael(Brigg & Sc'n) Grylls, Michael
Browne, John (Winchester) Gummer, John Selwyn
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hamilton, Hon A.
Bryan, Sir Paul Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Buck, Antony Hannam, John
Budgen, Nick Haselhurst, Alan
Bulmer, Esmond Hastings, Stephen
Burden, Sir Frederick Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Butcher, John Hawkins, Sir Paul
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hayhoe, Barney
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Heddle, John
Chapman, Sydney Henderson, Barry
Churchill, W. S. Hicks, Robert
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Clegg, Sir Walter Hordern, Peter
Cockeram, Eric Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Colvin, Michael Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Cope, John Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Cormack, Patrick Hunt, David (Wirral)
Corrie, John Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Costain, Sir Albert Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Cranborne, Viscount Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman
Critchley, Julian Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Dickens, Geoffrey Jessel, Toby
Dorrell, Stephen Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Dover, Denshore Kaberry, Sir Donald
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Kershaw, Sir Anthony
Durant, Tony Kimball, Sir Marcus
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John King, Rt Hon Tom
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Knight, Mrs Jill
Eggar, Tim Knox, David
Eyre, Reginald Lamont, Norman
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lang, Ian
Faith, Mrs Sheila Latham, Michael
Farr, John Lawrence, Ivan
Fell, Sir Anthony Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lee, John
Finsberg, Geoffrey Le Merchant, Spencer
Fisher, Sir Nigel Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)
Fookes, Miss Janet Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Forman, Nigel Loveridge, John
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lyell, Nicholas
Fox, Marcus Macfarlane, Neil
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh MacGregor, John
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) MacKay, John (Argyll)
Fry, Peter McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Gardiner, George (Reigate) McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Gardner, Sir Edward Madel, David
Garel-Jones, Tristan Major, John
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Marland, Paul
Glyn, Dr Alan Marlow, Antony
Goodhart, Sir Philip Marten, Rt Hon Neil
Goodhew, Sir Victor Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Gorst, John Mawby, Ray
Gow, Ian Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gower, Sir Raymond Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Grant, Sir Anthony Mayhew, Patrick
Gray, Rt Hon Hamish Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Greenway, Harry Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Grieve, Percy Moate, Roger
Griffiths, E.(B'y St. Edm'ds) Monro, Sir Hector
Montgomery, Fergus Skeet, T. H. H.
Moore, John Smith, Sir Dudley
Morris, M. (N'hampton S) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Speed, Keith
Mudd, David Speller, Tony
Murphy, Christopher Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Neale, Gerrard Sproat, Iain
Needham, Richard Squire, Robin
Nelson, Anthony Stainton, Keith
Neubert, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Newton, Tony Stanley, John
Normanton, Tom Steen, Anthony
Nott, Rt Hon Sir John Stewart, A.(E Renfrewshire)
Onslow, Cranley Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Stokes, John
Osborn, John Stradling Thomas, J.
Page, John (Harrow, West) Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Temple-Morris, Peter
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Parris, Matthew Thompson, Donald
Pawsey, James Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Percival, Sir Ian Thornton, Malcolm
Pink, R. Bonner Townend, John (Bridlington)
Pollock, Alexander Townsend, Cyril D, (B'heath)
Porter, Barry Trippier, David
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Viggers, Peter
Proctor, K. Harvey Waddington, David
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Wakeham, John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Waldegrave, Hon William
Rathbone, Tim Walker, B. (Perth)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Renton, Tim Waller, Gary
Rhodes James, Robert Walters, Dennis
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Ward, John
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Warren, Kenneth
Rifkind, Malcolm Watson, John
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Wells, John (Maidstone)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Wheeler, John
Rossi, Hugh Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Rost, Peter Whitney, Raymond
Royle, Sir Anthony Wickenden, Keith
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R. Wiggin, Jerry
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wilkinson, John
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Winterton, Nicholas
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Wolfson, Mark
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Young, Sir George (Acton)
Shelton, William (Streatham) Younger, Rt Hon George
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Shepherd, Richard Tellers for the Noes:
Shersby, Michael Mr. Carol Mather and
Sims, Roger Mr. Robert Boscawen.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 32 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House recognizes that the prosperity of East Anglia depends on continued success in the Government's policies to keep down inflation and restore competitiveness to the economy, on the growth and development of small business upon whom many Government measure are concentrated, and on the further development of its highly productive agriculture within the Common Agricultural policy; and notes that in every respect the Labour Party's present policies would have a disastrous effect upon the region's considerable potential.