HC Deb 09 February 1983 vol 36 cc1013-51 4.14 pm
Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

I beg to move, That this House condemns Her Majesty's Government for pursuing disastrous economic and industrial policies that have increased unemployment in the East Midlands by 187 per cent. since May 1979, brought about the collapse of many companies, weakened traditional industries and resulted in 31 people chasing every notified vacancy; and calls upon the Government to abandon these polices which are so damaging to the region's propects. You will probably remember, Mr. Speaker, that about two years ago the House debated unemployment in the midlands. Since that time the situation has become much worse. More people are out of work and there are redundancies right, left and centre. It appears that the Government have not done much to deal with the problem. They say that they cannot find money to do this, that and the other in the interests of working class people to whom a job is important. The worker in the family needs a job to look after his family and to live up to his responsibilities. At present about four million people with families to keep are on the dole, living on state benefits which are being financed by oil from the North sea when we should be using the proceeds of that oil to stimulate industry and jobs.

I have before me a list of redundancies in the east midlands. I shall refer to it, although I shall not deal in detail with all areas of the east midlands because my right hon. and hon. Friends will have the opportunity to do so during the debate. It is noticeable that engineering has been hit particularly hard. For example, Perkins Engines Group in Peterborough lost 150 jobs and BPC at Northampton lost 100 jobs in December 1981. British Aerospace in Lincolnshire lost 1,200 jobs in March 1982. Lesney Toys of Peterborough lost 1,100 jobs in April 1982. The British Steel Corporation in Corby lost 100 jobs and D. Scott (Stores) in Northampton lost 320 jobs in May 1982. In September 1982 General Motors lost 560 jobs and Raleigh Industries Ltd. in Nottingham lost 400 jobs. The list goes on.

It is amazing that in October 1982 Buxted Poultry in Gainsborough lost 500 jobs. It seems that the British people do not eat as many chickens as they used to, yet we are constantly being told how cheap they are nowadays. In October 1982 Perkins Engines lost a further 1,300 jobs. In November 1982 BSC in Corby lost a further 600 jobs. Those are the up-to-date figures provided by the Manpower Services Commission in Nottingham in January this year.

In Derbyshire, 11.8 per cent. of the working population is on the dole. In Lincolnshire 13.8 per cent. are on the dole, in Northamptonshire 12.4, in Leicestershire 10.9 and in Nottinghamshire 12.4. The current overall east midlands figure is 12.5.

This is a shocking record, considering the promises the Government made before the election. I hate to raise the poster argument again, but there was a poster saying that the Conservatives would get the people back to work. What have we had instead? The motion points out that the Government have increased unemployment in the east midlands by 187 per cent. since May 1979. I do not know what sort of answer we shall get for that from the Government Benches.

I have a firm in my constituency called Beaufort Engineering of Kirkby in Ashfield. A couple of weeks ago the work force were told, at five minutes' notice, to pick up their tools and go. That is the sort of situation we have in industry at the moment, the sort of situation being supported by this Conservative Government. This firm is non-unionised. I have become the branch secretary. I have to meet all 82 workers laid off to explain exactly what they are entitled to and why this has happened. The receiver had been called in, although nobody had been told about it, and this meant that he had put his hands on everything and everything stopped. It is shocking that in a non-trade union firm the work force have no opportunity to find out what is going on and what they are entitled to. That was an added burden for me, although I did not mind taking it on because I represent them in the House.

The right hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) talks about the restrictive practices of trade unions. He is contemplating legislation to deal with these "wicked" trade unionists. Let us look at the other side. I suggest that the Government are using similar restrictive practices to put people out of work and that it is high time they redirected their efforts towards getting people back to work in the interest not only of people's families but also of the country's economy.

A record number of small businesses failed last year, many of them—11,131—in the east midlands. The Government must be aware that their supporters, such as the CBI and the chambers of commerce, are saying that they should change direction with a view to getting industry and its workers back on their feet. I do not know how these things will be put right by the Government. Liquidations increased by 35 per cent. in 1982–200 firms a week, with all the accompanying jobs. We need answers to this kind of thing. The east midlands has had its share of job losses.

The editorial on page 12 of The Guardian of Monday 7 February makes quite interesting reading, saying that our unemployment has grown at exactly twice the pace of unemployment in the OECD area as a whole and is now the highest of any major western country when traditionally it was merely average. The completion of new houses was at a lower ebb than in any year since 1947. That hits the construction industry which is well represented in the east midlands. It continues: Our manufacturing industry, once the basis of this country's strength, has been hardest hit of all by the Government's record interest rates and over-valuation of sterling. Manufacturing production is back at its 1965 level. Our manufacturers are now producing fully 19.7 per cent. less than they did in the monthly peak of 1979. Indicator after indicator describes the depths of our slump since 1979 and make merely mockery of the ministerial pronouncements which seek to take pride in such an alarming and destructive record. The prospect which faces us in 1983, unless there is a substantial shift in policy, is a period of continued stagnation while the rest of the world resumes growth. The message is that the Government must change direction. Their monetary policy has failed. It has strangled industry and the work force with it, at the expense of the people's pockets, not the pockets of the Minister's friends and party supporters.

Yesterday I received a letter from the National Association of Youth and Community Education Officers concerning the Thompson report of the review group on youth service in England, Cmnd. 8686, in which Peter Pay says: I must however, express disappointment that the Government has not announced plans to introduce the legislation which the report urges to bring about fundamental changes in the services offered to young people. Not long ago I introduced a ten-minute Bill on adult education which did not receive parliamentary time. What I said then remains true. The fact that we have 2 million adults who can neither read nor write is a shocking state of affairs. Even if they manage to obtain an interview, they are not given the job because they cannot read or write. The Government have a responsibility to do something about this. We keep having technology rammed down our throats when the greater need is to educate people properly to prepare them for what is to come.

On recent developments in the water industry, here again we have that—I do not know what to call him, other than the right hon. Member for Chingford.

Mr. Eric G. Varley (Chesterfield)


Mr. Haynes

Count Dracula. It would appear that he is concentrating on the 27,000 workers in the water industry. He would be a lot better off, and so would this country, if he concentrated his efforts on the four million people who are looking for work instead of interfering in something he should keep his nose out of.

If he and the Secretary of State for the Environment had kept their noses out, we would not be in this position. Something would have been settled. Before the general election, the Government said that they would favour free collective bargaining, but the trade union representatives were not allowed to negotiate a decent pay increase for the workers in their industry. The Secretary of State for Employment should concentrate on finding work for those four million people who are out of work.

Private industry is obviously preparing for a new downturn. In October, manufacturing production fell to a 15-year record low, and was more than 19.7 per cent. below the level in May 1979, thus continuing two years of stagnation. Investment intentions have been revised downwards. Six months ago manufacturers planned to increase investment by five per cent. in 1983. They now plan to cut it back by five per cent. Revised figures for capital spending show that the three-year fall in investment continued in the third quarter of 1982. Increases in stocks held by manufacturers and distributors are normally a good indicator of an impending upturn, but the latest figures show that both manufacturers and distributors were running down their stocks rapidly in the third quarter of 1982.

I am a Member sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers and am very proud of it. It was a great pleasure to spend the last two days with the Nottinghamshire miners at a two-day conference, along with my right hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon). There were several debates, but one of the most important matters under discussion was the Vale of Belvoir coalfield. It is essential that the Government should get the message that the development of the Belvoir coalfield is desperately needed right now. In my constituency, there are pits that will soon be exhausted. We must be able to place those workers somewhere else. I have already had two closures fairly recently. The labour from the two pits that closed has been soaked up by other pits, but that cannot go on for ever. Other pits can only soak up out-of-work miners for so long. Therefore, the Belvoir coalfield must be developed, and it is time that the Government pulled their finger out and got something done.

There was also an emergency resolution at the conference. There was a first class debate that was relevant to a question that was put to the Prime Minister yesterday. The debate was on Mr. Ian MacGregor's possible appointment as chairman of the National Coal Board. The way in which the Government leak everything that is going on is shocking. They leak like a colander. If they want to convince people or condition their thinking, there is a leak. I maintain that Mr. MacGregor's possible appointment is a leak. It looks as if the Prime Minister has sent for him with a view to appointing him to the NCB. Like my hon. Friends in Yorkshire, I want to pass on a message from the Nottinghamshire miners. Without a shadow of a doubt, they will not accept Mr. Ian MacGregor as chairman of the NCB. They want someone who knows what the industry is all about and who has worked in it. They are not prepared to accept anyone else.

If that fellow gets hold of the reins, there may be pit closures. He was the butcher of the steel industry and closed steel plants on the Government's orders. There was no question of a free hand. The Government's monetary policy was put into effect and he had instructions to close those plants, just as he will have instructions to close pits. We are not having it, and we will not accept it.

I hope that the Minister tells the Secretary of State that there will be one—I nearly said it, but I do not want to fall out with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker—deuce of a row. When I talk about confrontation, I mean confrontation. The Nottinghamshire miners are not prepared to accept Ian MacGregor as chairman of the NCB and they made that clear yesterday. I am passing on that message to the House so that the Minister knows.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

We do not want Mac the Knife.

Mr. Haynes

To give my colleagues an opportunity to contribute, I shall conclude my remarks. Full employment in a free society was the central objective of the 1945 Labour Government after the wasted years of depression from war. The next Labour Government will face a challenge of similar dimensions. The TUC and the Labour party are offering the country a radical programme of economic and social reconstruction to reverse the catastrophic decline in output and to put our people back to work after the wasted years of monetarism.

4.36 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Michael Alison)

I understand that it is the wish, at least of the Opposition Chief Whip, that ministerial speeches should be relatively brief. Therefore, I shall not spend quite as much time as the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) did in addressing the House, although that is no reflection on the amount of time that he took. That is his choice. However, I hope to pick up some of his points. If I do not cover them all, my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will try to cover them at the end of the debate.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the OECD and quoted an article about the international economic environment that appeared, I believe, in the leader columns of The Guardian. It is clearly relevant, and I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman bothered to pick it out. We are in an extremely difficult world economic environment. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman may moan about it, but he deliberately introduced that element and I am merely taking up his remarks about Britain's relatively poor international performance in admittedly difficult world economic circumstances. He said that we had the worst record. The base date that the hon. Gentleman took was May 1979, which is the base date in the motion. Let us take another major industrial country, West Germany, which has always been held up to us as the model. It has had a Social. Democratic Government for many years and it is held up as the model of industrial efficiency, productivity and so on.

If economic ingredients such as solid sound finance, sensible trade unions and good industrial relations could solve a country's problems, they would have solved Germany's. Instead, unemployment in West Germany has increased more than in Britain in the period covered by the motion. Since May 1979, unemployment in West Germany has increased by 144 per cent. compared with 138 per cent. in Britain's. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Ashfield introduced the international dimension and I am merely picking up that point. No one wants to crow over what is happening in Germany, but the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends groan when we refer to the international dimension.

Let us consider what happened when the international position was much more favourable. I refer to the pre-1979 oil shock period. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that the world economic environment is irrelevant, he should bear in mind that all the factors that the Labour party considers relevant to boom and expansion, and all the factors produced in the latest TUC document and in the special economic plan introduced by the right hon. Member for Stepney and Poplar (Mr. Shore), were present before 1979, the base date in the motion. For example, world trade was buoyant during the pre-1979, pre-oil shock period. Sterling was steadily depreciating. I have been in the House since the early 1960s, which saw the first major post-war Labour Government since Attlee. Not only was sterling depreciating, there was one major devaluation. The hon. Gentleman is pushing for buoyant trade and a depreciating rate of sterling, including a devaluation, but that happened in the period from the mid-1960s to 1979.

The hon. Gentleman said that the Government should spend more money to help unemployment. During the period up to 1979, a growing proportion of the gross national product was used in public expenditure. Between the mid-1960s and the time when the Labour Government left office, the proportion of GNP used in public expenditure increased from about 35 per cent. to about 45 per cent. The hon. Gentleman asked for a greater proportion of national income to be spent publicly, but that happened during that period. There was even the forerunner of the so-called national economic assessment. There was the national plan and the social contract. There were several phases of prices and incomes policy. There was even the whole gamut of beer and sandwiches at No. 10.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

What was the level of unemployment?

Mr. Alison

All the things that the hon. Member for Ashfield believes in, and which I have listed, were present during the period up to 1979.

Mr. Prescott

What happened to unemployment?

Mr. Alison

I will tell the House what happened to unemployment. From 1966 to 1970 unemployment in the east midlands doubled.

Mr. Prescott

It doubled from what?

Mr. Alison

It doubled from 1 per cent. to 2.2 per cent.—[Interruption.] Opposition Members laugh because unemployment doubles. If it doubled from one coal miner or one engineering employee to two such people, would not the hon. Member for Ashfield complain? Of course he would—[Interruption.] From 1966 to 1970, unemployment doubled in the east midlands. Think of that in human terms. It remained static during the period of the Heath Government—indeed, it dropped slightly from 2.2 per cent. 2 per cent. Another Labour Government took office in 1974, and by 1979 it doubled again to 4.5 per cent. Therefore, it doubled twice under exactly the same prescription that the Opposition are now putting forward. It obviously did not work then, and will not now. It is a complete pretence by the Opposition that their past record is faultless and that the remedy they repeatedly tried will produce some miraculous cure. That is entirely phoney and bogus.

The hon. Member for Ashfield asked the Government to spend more money. The Opposition spent a peat deal of money, but it had little effect. The Government are doing what they can. Indeed, they are spending a great deal of money in the east midlands region. It has been given nearly £20 million in regional development grants, and received offers of assistance of £18.6 million under section 7 and a further £19 million under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972. The Government have also recognised that parts of the region suffer from urban deprivation. No doubt hon. Members will raise that point later. Nearly £10 million has been allocated for 1982–83 to Leicester and Nottingham under the urban programme. Indeed, those two cities are, respectively, the second and third largest of all the 15 programme authorities. About a third of the allocation will go to schemes designed to assist the cities' economic base, with particular emphasis being placed on providing sites for urban industrial expansion. In addition, the programmes in the two cities will also be funding schemes of direct assistance to small businesses, and operating in conjunction with the MSC's youth training scheme and community programme for the longer-term unemployed. The urban programme can also be of particular benefit to ethnic minorities. More than £2½ million of the programme's funding in Leicester and Nottingham next year has been allocated to some 80 schemes specifically for ethnic minorities.

The hon. Gentleman asked what hope there would be for the future. He gave a long list of expected redundancies. Despite the difficult circumstances—which I believe to be due entirely to Britain's lack of competitiveness and the economic environment to which the hon. Gentleman referred—during the past 12 months more than 87,000 people were placed in employment by the MSC's employment service, and many more will have found jobs by other means. So the news is not all bad, even though the hon. Gentleman tried to make it sound that way. It is no longer all about redundancies and firms closing down.

There are good-news stories, too. Expansions are taking place, new projects are being set up and new jobs are being created to replace those that halve been lost—although obviously not as fast as we would wish. There is the promise of long-term job creation in the Corby area. The way that it has come to grips with being a one-industry town is a success story. A project to build a Wonder World park will provide eisure—[Interruption.] Opposition Members are laughing at a project that will create employment. They should keep quiet. Any project—even if it has a silly label—that will produce jobs in the locality is important. It will provide leisure and educational facilities for a wide area. It is scheduled to start in 1983 and could eventually employ 3,000 workers—[Interruption.] Opposition Members are laughing because the project has a funny title. They are not remotely interested in anything other than the slogans of politics.

In November last year, the Duke of Edinburgh opened—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Alison

I am not giving way. Opposition Members will have an opportunity later to explain their cynical laughter at a project that will create 3,000 jobs.

The Duke of Edinburgh opened the new headquarters and warehouse of RS Components Limited, which has transferred from London to Corby. It expects to create up to 1,000 jobs in the town during the next few years. In addition, more than 300 jobs are likely to be available when the new Central television studios open in Nottingham this year.

We still have a long way to go before such assistance will begin to bear fruit in terms of a healthier east midlands. In the meantime, we are protecting those hardest hit by the recession—especially the youngsters—with our special employment and training measures. Some 16,000 people in the midlands are currently benefiting from the temporary short-time working compensation scheme, the job release scheme, the community programme, the community industry and the young workers scheme.

In addition, 42,000 young people started courses under the youth opportunities programme in the east midlands in 1981–82, and 29,000 started courses between 1 April and 31 December last year. The MSC plans to provide 51,000 YOP places in 1982–83 in the east midlands, of which 7,700 will be the new one-year training places under the youth training scheme.

I advise my hon. Friends who have listened to the presentation of the hon. Member for Ashfield that the record of the Labour Government was successively to double unemployment in the east midlands in the 1966–70 period, and to double it again in the 1974–79 period. However, the Labour party is prepared to shelter under the fact that 1 per cent. to 2 per cent. sounds small in statistical terms, whereas it can cover tens of thousands of individuals. That is the truth of the attitude that Labour Members have taken. They are interested not in the realities of unemployment but in crude sloganising and in bogus statistics. I hope that my hon. Friends will be able to expose the fallacy of the Opposition's motion.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Bernard Weatherill)

Order. Before I call the next speaker, may I tell the House that I understand that it is desired that the debate should end at about 7 o'clock to make way for another important debate, on the northern region. Many hon. Members wish to speak in this debate, so I make a special appeal for short contributions.

4.51 pm
Mr. Tom Bradley (Leicester, East)

I speak in support of the motion, which quite rightly condemns the policies that have produced the social and economic consequences, outlined by the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes), that have flowed relentlessly since the members of the Government were shanghaied by a group of monetarist advisers shortly after taking office.

The motion refers specifically to an increase of 187 per cent. in unemployment throughout the east midlands since May 1979. This overall figure hides some interesting variations. Since the Government lost control of the economy, unemployment has increased in Derbyshire by 213.5 per cent., in Leicestershire by 188 per cent., in Lincolnshire by 108 per cent., in Northamptonshire by 259 per cent.—much of which is attributable to Corby—and, finally, by 146 per cent. in Nottinghamshire.

Throughout the region, one in eight persons is unemployed. If we accept the understood figure of the cost of someone on the dole being £5,000 per annum, this means that the joblessness in the east midlands is now costing about £940 million a year. We all know that that does not tell the full story because the compilation of unemployment figures is on a phoney basis. In compiling figures, the Government continually ignore four categories of unemployed. First, there are the jobless people, who are registered as unemployed but who are not drawing social security benefits. Secondly, there are the hidden unemployed who are actively seeking work but who are not on the official register. Thirdly, there are people on temporary, make-work programmes without a real full-time job. Finally, there is that distressing group of people who have become so discouraged by the slump that they have given up all hope of getting a job. Thus, the circumstances are far worse in the east midlands, as they are in the rest of the country, than the figures would portray.

Taking account of the categories that I have described, in the east midlands the real, not doctored, unemployment figures should properly be in excess of 320,000. In the east midlands, I represent part of the city of Leicester. I have no wish to become too parochial because I have always eschewed that stance during my time as an hon. Member. However, Leicester was traditionally a prosperous area, but it now presents a bleak picture with 27,155 unemployed, which is 11.4 per cent. of the working population. The county has nearly 40,000 unemployed, which is 10.9 per cent. The important feature is that unemployment throughout Leicestershire is increasing at a faster rate than that throughout the rest of the region. There is no sign of any short-term improvement.

In January 1983 unemployment rose by 855 people, as against 600 in January of last year. Unemployment and job losses thoughout Leicestershire have increased alarmingly since 1979, notably in textiles and engineering—industries that have proved vulnerable to high exchange rates, high interest rates and low cost imports. It has often been said that Leicester is robust because of its diversity of small business. However, such businesses have been extremely vulnerable to cash flow problems. The failure rate among new small firms set up in Leicester is very high. No fewer than 80 per cent. fail in their first two or three years of existence. More than one third of the unemployed have been jobless for more than a year and 14 per cent. for more than two years. That figure includes the age group of the 55-year-olds and over, for whom the prospects are very poor.

The motion refers to the weakening of traditional industries. Certainly and sadly that is true of the footwear industry, which used to predominate in Leicester, as it did in many towns in Northamptonshire, where I live. Curiously, the footwear industry combines all the virtues extolled by the Government. It has relatively low wages, high productivity and a peaceful labour force, yet it is almost flat on the floor. Why is that? Perhaps the Minister will deal with that point later.

In the two years to June 1982 there was a drop of 20 per cent.—one fifth—in employment in the footwear industry. This decline in activity has resulted in many closures throughout the industry. Over 50 footwear premises have closed in the east midlands alone in the past year, both large and small businesses, including some well-known names. The decline of the industry has also led to a rise in the cheap, low-cost import penetration that continues unabated despite the representations made to the Ministers. Further contraction of the footwear industry will destabilise suppliers of components and leather materials and there are fears, certainly in trade union circles, that the whole industry is in danger of collapsing in on itself.

I use this opportunity to urge the Minister to heed the current trade union representations that are being made to him on the temporary short-time working compensation scheme, which will help avoid the fear of further contraction. There is an urgent need for training programmes to cope with both the young and the redundant workers in need of retraining. However, at a recent meeting with county officials and county councillors, it was revealed to the Leicestershire Members of Parliament that the skillcentre allocation forecast for Leicester showed that many courses have been suspended in a wide range of skills, from bricklaying to sewing machine repairs. I concede at once that it could be that there is little or no scope for work in these trades or professions but, surely alternatives could be examined and put forward before reducing so drastically the training opportunities available for unemployed people in the area.

Above all, I appeal to the Government to stop the cosmetic tinkering that is going on to try to deal with a serious position. There are literally hundreds of schemes and projects that can be embraced under a real job creation programme. There could be schemes for house repairs and renovations, particularly in city areas, and a heat insulation programme could be introduced designed to conserve energy in public buildings, private homes and industry. There should be a great deal more housing investment and a large scale programme for the general sewerage system. Last but by no means least, a powerful case can be established for a major road repair programme. The list could be far-reaching and endless. All we need is a Government with the intent and will to carry it out. I hope that the forthcoming general election will provide us with one.

5.1 pm

Mr. William Whitlock (Nottingham, North)

I recall that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his first Budget in 1979 my right hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) said that the policy which the Government intended to pursue was a gamble equivalent to a man robbing the gas meter in order to put his money on a horse that he is not even sure will run and that he has seen fail in its previous outings".—[Official Report, 12 June 1979; Vol. 968, c. 266.] The gamble has failed dismally and yet members of the Government continue to assert, as the Minister did today, that the economy works best when ever larger parts of it do not work at all.

We are supposed to be leaner and fitter. We are leaner to the point of emaciation in some areas. We are most certainly not fitter when ever more productivity capacity is closed down and areas of the country are turned into an industrial wasteland.

Luddism has come to mean the senseless destruction of industrial potential. The original Luddites were described in 1812 by Lord Byron, who knew them well, as poor wretches, forced into absolute want, meagre with famine, sullen with despair, careless of life and famished into guilt. The Government have gone in for Luddism on an unprecedented scale, not for compelling personal reasons, as the Luddites did, but solely out of their desire to adhere to dogma which has been proved over and over again to be wholly invalid.

I wish to comment on only one of the traditional east midlands industries, and on only some of its problems. The hosiery and knitwear industry has been centred in the east midlands for over 400 years. One person in eight of those employed in productive industry in the region is employed in the hosiery and knitwear industry. The region has more textile workers than any region in the country, more even than areas such as Lancashire and Yorkshire, which are considered traditionally to be textile producing areas. The industry has been crucified by Government policy and in addition by the yawning gaps in the import restriction arrangements, by fiddles, quota-dodging and every device designed to ensure that imports of foreign textiles compete unfairly against British textiles in the British market, which is the most open in the world. All that the Government can say to that industry, in effect, is "Compete or go under."

I wanted to deal with the industry's record and with its problems, hopes and fears under multi-fibre arrangement 3 but I feel that it would take too long when I look around the Chamber and see how many other hon. Members wish to speak. I shall deal with what some of the EC countries are doing to help their textile industries in ways that are, apparently, in defiance of the Common Market to net that we must not distort trade. Italy sends to the United Kingdom greater quantities of textiles than any other EC country.

The price of those Italian textiles is often lower than those coming from our traditional suppliers in low-cost countries. They create ever more serious problems for our industry, which is not subsidised as the Italian industry is. For the greater part of the past 10 years the Italian man-made fibre producing sector has been heavily subsidised. Montefibre, the state-owned fibre producer, has in some years during that period sustained losses equal to 50 per cent. of its turnover. During that time it has received £1,500 million in state aid. There are now rumours of a major new scheme to support the Italian garment producing industry.

The French have introduced a scheme of rebates on social charges for the textile and clothing industry only, the cost of which is estimated to be £220 million. There are also large subventions to individual companies to encourage capital investment and reorganisation.

The Belgians have recently introduced a scheme which makes £90 million available to the textile industry in the first year. It is a massive subsidy which, if extrapolated on the British scene, would produce a figure of £550 million in subsidy. It would appear that the Dutch are preparing to subsidise their textile industry.

There is a growing trend in EC countries to introduce sectoral aid specifically for textiles. No such Government help is available in this country. It is small wonder, therefore, that the textile industry, particularly the hosiery and knitwear industry, tends to look ahead with considerable fear.

Throughout the period of the operation of MFA 2 Turkey, an EC associate member, refused to co-operate in restraining its textile exports to the Community. It behaved in a wholly maverick way. In the absence of the Turkish Government's co-operation, the EC Commission informed the Turkish authorities of the level of its exports within group one of the MFA below which the EC would not take action. However, in 1982, although the notified access to the United Kingdom of category four products—tee shirts, vests and so on—was 1.2 million pieces, 4.5 million pieces are estimated to have entered the United Kingdom from Turkey. So, one country which has refused to cooperate is seen to succeed in gaining greater access, to the detriment of those countries which have observed the regulations. The Government must take notice and do something about it.

China is another threat. It is already probably the largest producer of textiles and garments in the world and has the potential to wipe out the whole of the European trade if the problem is not carefully watched. I hope that, in the renegotiations of the EC-China textile agreement, which expires at the end of this year, Ministers will have that threat from China very much in mind.

It is imperative that they defend the British industry as determinedly as Ministers in other European countries defend their industries when they are under threat. Unless the United Kingdom textile industry can enjoy aid schemes matching those available to its EC competitors, it will increasingly decline with even more disastrous consequences for the east midlands, where, since the Government came into office, the hosiery and knitwear industry has lost 12,000 jobs.

All that the industry asks for is fair play. We look to Ministers who have not so far shown a consciousness of the problem to begin to ensure that the industry which is so important to the east midlands gets fair play.

5.11 pm
Mr. Kenneth Carlisle (Lincoln)

It is natural that unemployment should dominate the debate because our region suffers grievously from it. All parties would unite in efforts to cure this blight, but first we must recognise a few fundamental and general realities.

The east midlands depends not only on textile exports as the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) mentioned, but on engineering exports. In Lincoln, we export 50 per cent. or more of everything we make in engineering. If one adds components that go to other exports elsewhere in the country, the proportion is even larger. The fundamental reality for the east midlands is that we have to beat our overseas competitors. We have to be competitive with those who are trying to beat us.

Tremendous strides in competitiveness have undoubtedly been made over the past few years. Productivity in Lincoln and elsewhere in the east midlands has greatly improved. Many restrictive practices have gone. That has been helped not only by the determination of management to face up to the very real problems, but by the moderation and good sense of the work force. Improving our performance is a tough and long-lasting process, but we can have great hope in the progress that has been made.

We must then sell ever more effectively the goods that we make. The great cloud looming over the horizon is the growing trend for protectionism. The hon. Member for Nottingham, North mentioned the wish for import controls against textiles, but he must be reminded that the textile industry is perhaps the most protected in Britain. If we start to put up trade barriers and introduce import controls for engineering products we will not have markets open to us to sell those goods on which so much of the east midlands depends.

Not only is there a growing trend towards protectionism, but one senses, too, a growing trend against Europe. Here again, if we want markets we must stand by our membership of the Common Market, not only because it is our biggest market and our fastest growing market, but because the east midlands depends so much on foreign investment. If Britain ceases to be a member of the Common Market, those foreign firms will not come to invest in our industry.

I shall give one example. Everyone in the east midlands wants a new car plant in south Humberside. We want Nissan to come there. We have the engineering skills and the moderation to make that factory work well, but if we are not a member of the Common Market Nissan will not come. Therefore, the fundamental reality is that we must be competitive, we must have open but fair trade, we must stand against protectionism and we must, if we want to protect jobs, retain our membership of the Common Market.

It is fair to look from the general to the particular. I am not shy about being parochial in a regional debate. There may be floods outside one's house, but any family is first concerned with the water in its own kitchen. I wish to consider some aspects that will help to alleviate unemployment in the east midlands.

First, with regard to communications, while I welcome the fact that a bypass for Lincoln is going ahead and that work will commence early next year, the whole region needs better links between the A1 and the M1. We need that link by Huntingdon through Corby to go ahead. We want a link further north between those two roads. We need improvements between Lincoln, Newark, Nottingham and Leicester. I welcome the efforts of my Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander) to get agreement to the bypass around his constituency, which will help those links.

We also need to maintain an effective and efficient railway system. We all know that the extreme proposals put forward by Serpell will not be put into effect—

Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)

Why did the hon. Gentleman not vote against them?

Mr. Carlisle

—but it is right to examine the railways, to make them efficient so that they serve our region with greater effectiveness.

We also need training so that when we emerge from the recession we have the skills. I am glad that the Government have done so much for information technology centres, but I ask them to consider one proposal. It is important to help those in middle age who, after some years in engineering, are made redundant. Is it possible to tack on to the information technology centres training in the new technologies for people in middle age, for example, in electronics?

In the same way, we are doing much to help small businesses. I am glad that the Under-Secretary of State for Industry my hon. Friend the Member for Norfolk, South (Mr. MacGregor) is present. If engineering workers are made redundant and are starting a small business they need help in the first year. I urge my hon. Friend to extend the enterprise allowance as rapidly as possible.

Tourism is an important consideration. The east midlands tourist board does a good job and tourism will provide a continuing number of jobs in the region. Hon. Members are wrong to scoff at Wonder World at which, when it is built and employing 3,000 people, they will have great fun. The east midlands tourist board advertises the region and, more importantly, it generates a great deal of cash from its own activities. It is necessary to sustain it at a time of recession. I ask my hon. Friend to talk to my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Trade to ensure that the budget for the east midlands tourist board is not cut.

We must alleviate the hardship of unemployment. I am glad that the youth training scheme is taking off. The prospects for it in the region are good. But I am as much concerned with the longer-term unemployed. The community programme is getting off to a good start in Lincoln and Lincolnshire, with 100 people on it now and an expansion to 400 people quite soon. It must be watched closely because it is making use of those people for the benefit of the community and for their own benefit.

It is fair in a debate of this nature to end more specifically with one's own constituency. Lincoln is a fine historic city with a considerable investment in engineering skills. It mirrors some of the problems and opportunities that face Britain. It has old established engineering companies that are wrestling desperately with the world recession. I am glad that many are adapting to and modernising for the tough trading conditions that exist now. We also have industrial estates with newer businesses that must be encouraged, although their future looks better. Luckily, we also have a foothold in new and high technology and in electronics. That area is clearly growing and employment in those skills is increasing, which must be welcomed. As in other places, the east midlands has a growing service and tourism sector.

My constituency is a well-balanced community with a skilled and moderate people. It is a good place for people and businesses. The standard of living is high and we welcome anyone who wishes to come to Lincoln. They will be happy there. I say that not only because it is my constituency, but because it is true of much of the east midlands. The people and places have much the same quality as Lincoln and, for those reasons, the east midlands has a hopeful future. That will become increasingly self-evident as we emerge from the recession.

5.21 pm
Mr. Raymond Ellis (Derbyshire, North-East)

One thing that we can say about the speech of the Minister of State is that it was consistent with the track record of the Government on such matters. We expected a repetition of the same old tired, barren and negative replies that do not help to solve the problem and do not even help the Government's case. The problems seem to be blamed on Governments of long ago. It is true that no Opposition Member was happy with the unemployment level under the Labour Government, but, compared with the dimensions of today's disaster, the period from 1974 to May 1979 was one of halcyon days or comparative Utopia. At least the total of one million unemployed then was a real figure and not a massaged figure. Had the previous Government applied the same cosmetic measures of job schemes and so-called work experience, and had they used the same vanishing cream that this Government used to remove the long-standing unemployed from the statistics, in May 1979 the official total of unemployed would have been zero.

Mr. Bill Homewood (Kettering)

It would have been negative.

Mr. Ellis

Yes, or only 1 per cent.

The stock excuse that we hear today is that the problems must be blamed on protectionist measures taken by other Governments. It is said that if President Reagan would bring down American interest rates, all would be well. The truth is that this Government started all that before President Reagan came to office. They were in the business of high interest rates from the word go. Then they have the gall to complain when other countries retaliate. The latest excuse, which we heard from the Prime Minister when she was confronted with the new unemployment figures and which we heard from the Minister today, is that the rate of increase is worse in Germany. That is true. Are they telling us—I hope so—that the German worker is no longer as productive, efficient and hard-working as the British worker? As we all know, what matters is the total of unemployed and not just the temporary increase in rates. With the massive unemployment that we have in Britain, it is almost impossible to keep up the same rate of increase month by month, although the Government try their best.

The latest official figures for the area that includes my constituency were released on 3 February and show that the number of unemployed increased in one month from 11,100 to 11,578—from 12.5 per cent. to 13.4 per cent.—while at the same time official vacancies went down from 401 to 266. The position is bound to become worse. We shall soon be unable to discover employment in my constituency with the aid of a microscope, never mind a bicycle.

On top of the latest figures, there has been a rapid deterioration in the past week. Not only has the British Steel Corporation announced that it will decimate the work force at the Renisham plant in my constituency in April, but the National Coal Board—the largest employer in the area—announced a few days ago that it will close five out of the remaining 11 coal mines in north Derbyshire. The hit list contains mines such as Arkwright and Westthorp in my constituency, and Ireland, Whitwell and Pleasley in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). Is it only a matter of weeks since the chairman of the NCB told a Committee of this House that the board did not have a hit list? Perhaps it is not a hit list, but a shorter list of pits that the board intends to keep open. Was it only a few weeks ago that the president of the National Union of Mineworkers was accused of scaremongering? The facts cannot be denied. Five out of 11 pits are to be closed, and my constituents work in all of them. They will not go overnight, but the first moves are already being made at Arkwright colliery and it is intended that all five will go within a few years. They will be closed, MacGregor or no MacGregor.

The knock-on effect on the other industries in the area that are ancillary to and dependent upon the coal mines means that they will also fold. There are no plans to replace the capacity in north-east and north Derbyshire and there is no guarantee that the miners will be transferred to other jobs. There will be no hope for the lads who have spent all their lives in the industry, unless, for a change, the Government fully recognise the crisis and there is an immediate reversal of the policies that have created that crisis. The prime evil that confronts our nation is not inflation, the balance of payments, the level of the pound or public expenditure. The catastrophe that faces us today is the deliberate destruction of the nation's wealth-producing industries that has been brought about by the Government's mad monetarist policies. Monetarism cannot break the capitalist trade cycle, and it is becoming clear as the years go by that capitalism cannot control capitalism. If the Government cannot reverse their policies and go for growth immediately in the interests of the nation, they should get out of the way and give Socialism a chance.

5.28 pm
Mr. Michael Latham (Melton)

The hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Ellis) stuck up strongly for his constituency and he will not be surprised if I do the same. Any debate on the east midlands must involve its most serious problem—indeed any region's most serious problem—which is the level of unemployment. There is no point in mincing words about this. The current level is wholly unacceptable and is still rising. Under the new system of counting, unemployment in Melton Mowbray in January was 11 per cent., and in the western part of my constituency it was about 7.7 per cent. Both figures are below the average for the east midlands, let alone for the rest of the nation. The Melton figure is almost the same as for Leicestershire. Although many areas including parts of Leicestershire are worse off than Melton, the figures remain dreadful and there is no room for complacency or inaction.

The British people understand well that there is a world recession and that many other western countries face grave problems. They do not favour wild, inflationary spending sprees that would throw away the hard-won improvements in competitiveness and productivity. Nevertheless, they believe that Governments must be completely involved in the struggle to reduce unemployment. I share their view.

The forthcoming Budget will be a crucial test for my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor. No doubt he will favour a cautious approach—he would be right to do so. He will want to increase the spending power of the less well off by raising tax thresholds. I hope that he will ease the burden on industry by reducing the national insurance surcharge further. There is also scope for more investment in construction infrastructure, such as roads and sewers and in energy conservation, with insulation measures coming top of the list of priorities. Construction is an especially labour-intensive industry that could make a significant contribution to job creation without creating inflation and without sucking in imports.

On the local scene in Leicestershire, there are construction projects that need an early go-ahead. The A6 bypass round Mountsorrel and Quorn should be a high priority. I am glad that Ministers are prepared to revoke the old pre-war routes that are now the subject of a public inquiry. The people of Mountsorrel and Quorn suffer intolerable environmental conditions, and the sooner the new road is built, the better. There is no room for a leisurely timetable. I welcome the vigour of Conservative transport Ministers in designating the new bypass. It is only five years since the previous Labour Minister told me that there were no plans for such a bypass.

We need speedy action to build the A52 bypass around Bottesford. The preferred route is now generally established. I should like my hon. Friends to get the public inquiry under way as soon as possible. Both roads have a considerable contribution to make to local commercial and industrial efficiency. They are environmentally essential and their construction could provide work for local contractors.

The main industrial proposal in my constituency is the new coal mine at Asfordby to which the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) referred. The decision in March by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, then the Secretary of State for the Environment, was fair and balanced. The National Coal Board has submitted a fresh application for Asfordby. I told it from the beginning that I would support it, provided that the local issues of spoil disposal, traffic and subsidence under Melton Mowbray were properly sorted out.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Melton borough council, the alliance of objectors and others have formally objected and requested the Minister to call the application in for his decision. That would mean another public inquiry. I have often said publicly that I hope that another inquiry can be avoided, but I appreciate that there are strong demands for one. All I ask is that my right hon. Friend makes a decision soon. If he wants the project to proceed, he should say so now and we shall resolve the outstanding difficulties. If he believes that a new inquiry is necessary, we should fix the date as soon as possible. Local people and coal miners in Leicestershire are entitled to know what their future is to be, and they want to know now.

Two industries which are of principal importance to my constituents are agriculture and footwear manufacturing. I shall not refer to knitwear as that has already been dealt with excellently by the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock). Agriculture, and its ancillary industries such as creameries and agricultural machinery production, plays a major part locally. In general, the industry has made good progress under the present Government. My right hon. Friend has been a most effective Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

At the moment, a serious crisis faces pig producers. Some highly efficient and productive farmers face disaster because of a fall in demand for their products at a time of sharply rising feed costs. Stabilisation schemes such as that which the National Farmers Union has suggested are difficult to envisage for a commodity such as pigs, which has such a short cycle. They could lead to serious overproduction and waste. But there is a real need for measures. The only speedy answer may lie in a temporary cash subsidy per pig such as the previous Government introduced twice, plus a co-ordinated consumer marketing campaign.

For the shoe manufacturing industry, 1982 was disastrous. Imports, especially those from Common Market countries such as Italy, France and West Germany, soared. Between January and November 1982 imports from West Germany rose by 35 per cent., from France by 30 per cent. and from Italy by 14 per cent. The 42 million pairs of Italian shoes had a value of £192 million. They dwarfed all the rest. Our own shoe exports to Italy fell by 23 per cent.—we sold only 405,000 pairs.

The main reason for that was the strength of sterling, but also the structure of the British retailing industry which is dominated by the British Shoe Corporation. Britain is the easiest country in the world to which to export shoes. If the pound had not fallen sharply, it would have been necessary to erect some quotas or non-tariff barriers forthwith to prevent the collapse of our manufacturing capacity. I still favour taking a leaf out of the French book to make things harder for our competitors. Although I say it tongue in cheek, perhaps we should insist that all imported shoes are landed at the port of Melton Mowbray—it is only 60 miles from the sea—and all imported hosiery is landed at the port of Loughborough. We could insist that all labels of origin be printed both in modern English and Beowulf's Anglo-Saxon. If the French persist with their Poitiers nonsense and their other subtle non-tariff barriers, we shall have to consider playing the game as roughly as they do.

A sturdy defence of our home industries is essential. I hope to see a more hawkish attitude from Ministers in the next few months. We need more and more urgent and imaginative schemes to reduce the dreadful scourge of unemployment. No reasonable lines of progress should be discarded, even if they have been in the past. We should make much more use of job release schemes, and at earlier ages, flexible ages of retirement, temporary short-time working compensation schemes and similar methods of adapting to a world of recession and falling job opportunities The Government should regard unemployment as the most pressing priority for political action. We cannot and must not be seen to lack determination or imagination to reduce unemployment. The new youth training scheme and the community programme are excellent and wide-ranging initiatives. The enterprise allowance scheme should be extended substantially and moved on from its present experimental stage.

We must always think of unemployment with the same urgency as the great Thomas Jefferson thought of the coming crisis about slavery. It is a momentous question, like a fire bell in the night. No one can ignore a fire bell, nor should they be thought to be ignoring the growing tide of the unemployed.

5.37 pm
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I shall deal with a few issues that affect firms in my constituency and one firm in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Ilkeston (Mr. Fletcher) who is not here as he has been unwell. Hon. Members will know that I have been dealing with several issues that affect that area recently.

I do not know whether the Minister spoke on behalf of the Government. He did not do a good job. I do not know whether the Prime Minister will be happy about what he said. He is supposed to be in the business of electioneering. I do not know whether that has got round to him yet. He talked of 1.1 per cent. to 2 per cent. unemployment during the 1960s in an attempt to justify what is happening today. He lost me somewhere. I know that his job has been shifted about from one person to another, but the Minister let the side down.

I do not believe that the Minister understands that we are talking about a region that, in the 1930s, was where people used to cycle to from Wales and other areas because that was where the jobs were. They went to the west midlands as well. They will be sensitive areas in the next general election. The Minister did not appreciate that either.

Those are the areas where Mr. Tebbit senior, or, to be more accurate, the people who look like him, who really wanted jobs, went. They went to places such as Leicester, Nottingham, Kettering and the new town of Corby from Scotland and Wales, where there was high unemployment. The celtic fringes have traditionally had more than their fair share of unemployment.

The east midlands, once a prized jewel in terms of employment opportunities, has been wrecked and almost ruined by the Government. A world recession cannot be blamed. The Government took deliberate steps to throw people out of work in Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Chesterfield and, yes, they even tried in Bolsover. There has already been reference to threatened pit closures in north Derbyshire. Yet the Government have the cheek to say that Arthur Scargill tried to scare the miners.

My hon. Friends are aware of the difficulties of trying to get out the voters in many areas. The attitude of some electors has always been to say that it does not matter which party they vote for, and that they can afford not to become too excited. They have argued, "We do not need to be radical. We do not need to get concerned about unemployment. It has never really hit us". My hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North, (Mr. Whitehead) knows the difficulties of trying to get a few extra votes in a general election. I suspect that he will have less difficulty on the next occasion. This will be repeated in many constituencies throughout the east and west midlands. People want to get out of the mess that has resulted from the Government deliberately, coolly, and calculatedly throwing them on to the scrap heap.

The Government have wanted to instil fear and disillusionment and to lower the morale of those still in work. They have wanted to frighten them against seeking higher wages and to make them accept what the Government are prepared to dish out. All the fiddling of the figures by the Secretary of State for Employment will not make any difference when it comes to the march to the ballot box once the Prime Minister decides the date. In that election, the east midlands and west midlands will have a new importance. It is no longer simply a quetion of north versus south in geographical terms. That has been a characteristic of general elections since the war. To some extent in the last election, but more so next time, a change is taking place. The pattern of voting in the north will be seen further south. The swing suffered by many of us in the last election will go the other way—with more besides.

I do not know whether the hon. Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Bradley) was speaking for the Social Democratic party. The hon. Gentleman stuck to constituency matters. That was wise. However, it will not make any difference. The electors will be searching for ways to recover their jobs. Who do the Tories think they are kidding when they talk of world recession? There have been all these Tory Budgets. It is true that there have not been 13. But the Government have tried to catch up the previous Labour Government. Without exception, the Budgets have taken demand out of the economy. No one in West Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, or anywhere in the world, gave instructions to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer that on Budget day and on mini-budget day they must cut demand in the British economy. It was a deliberate act by the British Tory Government to throw people out of work.

The recently published public expenditure White Paper shows that, notwithstanding all this rubbish about a world recession, another 280,000 people in Tory Britain will be thrown out of work. The Government cannot deny it. Did they get instructions from Comecon? Or from the Common Market? They might have done. They might conceivably have received such instructions but I reject the notion that a world recession is responsible for the 4 million people, maybe more, who now find themselves on the pile of human misery created by the Tory Government.

Taxes have gone up by £4 billion since the Government came to power. That was money taken out of the economy, not from those earning over £20,000 a year but from those with the propensity to spend, like the widows with less than £37 take-home pay, who, for the first time, are taxed on the paltry, little pension that they receive from the National Coal Board and other employers. That is why people are out of work in the east midlands and elsewhere. Those people will not forget.

Has the cut in services by the Government resulted from a world recession? Prescription charges have been increased by 650 per cent. or 600 per cent. I do not over-egg the pudding. It is around that figure. The Government have pushed up welfare costs and cut services left, right and centre. All the time they have been taking demand out of the economy and throwing people on the scrap heap in places like Melton Mowbray, Belper and other constituencies represented by Tory Members. By their votes, when they have marched through the Lobby to support the Government on Budget day and in cost-cutting programmes, every one of those Tory Members has taken part in an exercise to throw their constituents on to the scrap heap.

A friend of mine, a redundant toolmaker from Creswell—one of Thatcher's casualties—wrote to me today describing how he had tried to set up in business. He had listened to one of the tinpot commercials that the Government run explaining how the banks will give loans to set up businesses. My friend was told by the bank manager, "Gerroff. How much money have you got?" The man explained that he had none but that he was simply following the Government's advice. He was sent out of the bank with a flea in his ear. I have been in touch with Derbyshire county council today. This meant that I could not appear on a BBC programme. However, it was more important that I should help my friend in Creswell to try and overcome the problem that he faces by putting him in touch with the Derbyshire county council committee, which deals with such projects.

There have been 30,000 casualties, small medium and large businesses, pushed aside by the Government. It is the highest number on record. Even in the 1930s, there were not the 30,000 company liquidations and failures that have occurred over the last three-and-a-half years. I am absolutely certain that the Government have received no instructions from east, west, north and south or from across the globe saying that these people should be chucked on the scrap heap. It has happened following the increase in value added tax and other measures pushed through the House by the Government.

When public expenditure is cut, 75 per cent. of the reduction which had been previously spent in the public sector—an example is local government—finds its way eventually into the private sector. The Government have taken away a lifeline. Some companies are leaner and fitter. They have sacked workers and still managed to keep their heads above water. The Hallam Group tells the Prime Minister that it is leaner and fitter and that it intends to submit a contract to build houses in the Falkland Islands. it feels that it is bound to succeed because the management at least—I am not sure about the workers, especially the 80 who got the sack—supported her through the war. The tender from the leaner and fitter Hallam Group, of Ilkeston, amounted to £3.8 million.

Another firm called James Brewster Associates—I think it knows someone in Government—comes along. It has never built anything previously. It has organised exhibitions and has no doubt bumped into some of these posh people in London—civil servants, Government officials, Government members. Who knows? It has not sent in accounts since 31 December 1979. It was breaking the law. To these people at the Hallam Group in Ilkeston, Mrs. Thatcher and her Tory Government say "Never mind about my 'Buy British' policy. That is not on the agenda today. We are going to give this contract to James Brewster" The components are to be brought from Sweden and the tender is higher. It has done all the things that the Prime Minister has always described from the Dispatch Box as wrong.

James Brewster Associates was breaking the law, but the Prime Minister and the Government told the people at Hallam's in Ilkeston to forget about the "Buy British" policy because that was not on the agenda and they intended to give the contract to James Brewster Associates although it imported the components from Sweden and had put in a higher tender. James Brewster Associates was doing all the things that the Prime Minister is always telling us are wrong and it was breaking the law. According to the Prime Minister, prosecuting letters have been sent to James Brewster Associates. Why have the Government not cancelled the contract and given it to the people at Ilkeston? That is what the Prime Minister should do, instead of talking about law and order and the rest of it. We could talk about all kinds of things in this debate, but there is just one trail—disaster. The Government have caused more industrial havoc than the entire Nazi high command in the second world war—that is my indictment of them—and it was all deliberate and coolly calculated.

If people want to know where the money will come from to alter all this, I can tell them. We shall start with the £15,000 million being paid out in social security benefits of one kind or another, loss of taxation and all the other consequences of keeping 4 million people out of work. That is no way to run an economy. It is nonsense. We would use that money as we gradually brought people back to work.

I remember the comments in all the Tory newspapers—The Sun, the Daily Express, the Daily Mail and the rest. I shall not mention them all. They all come from the same stable. Those same newspapers, the BBC and the ITV say that Labour cannot get 4 million people back to work. I remember the stories that those same newspapers ran 15 years ago when, according to the Minister's faux pas, unemployment was 1 per cent. or 2 per cent. They said that Britain was moving towards the leisure era. They said that everyone would be working 20 hours per week when microchip technology came bursting in. The same newspapers, and in many cases the same editors, were telling us all about the new wonder age that was coming. They now say that such things cannot be.

I remember meeting the Sports Council, putting blue dots for golf curses and red dots for swimming pools all over the map of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire. Leisure was the "in" thing on the map for the future, but now we are told that that cannot be. Of course it can. If 4 million people can be thrown on to the scrap heap in such a short time, it is possible to get them back, but it cannot be done through market forces or through being leaner and fitter. It must be deliberately planned, with a 35-hour working week, education grants, proper trade union rates of pay for people on YOPs, shorter hours and longer holidays. We would use that £15,000 million and scrap Trident and a few other unnecessary impediments at the same time. There are plenty of other ways, too. There must be plenty of money in this country. The Government have never allowed Lord Vestey to pay any tax. We see examples every day.

This debate is important, and so is the east midlands. It will be part of the swing in the next general election that will ensure the defeat of the Conservatives and give Britain the chance, with a Labour Government committed to Socialist policies, to plan its way out of the morass of unemployment into which the Government have dragged it.

5.53 pm
Mrs. Sheila Faith (Belper)

It is perhaps appropriate that I should speak after my neighbour to the north of my constituency, the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), but I am sure that the House will understand when I say that I agree with very little of what he said.

There are no grounds for complacency and we are all extremely worried about the situation in the east midlands. The hon. Members for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) and Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Ellis) talked about the mining industry. I remind them that there were once 19 pits in my constituency. Now there is only one, but I am proud to say that it was the ex-miners of my constituency who set up the small and medium-sized industries that now provide employment there.

The Government must stick to their prudent policies and keep inflation down. Most important, they must keep interest rates down. That will do more for industry and for the creation of jobs than all the huffing and puffing that we have heard today. We hope that the Budget will give more help to industry and reduce taxation, preferably by raising thresholds. If that is possible, there should be a good case for further wage moderation next year. That is the best way to increase competitiveness and thus to create jobs.

My constituency has a very good record of moderate industrial relations. When I visit factories, I find no "us and them" feeling. Management and unions understand the problems and want to work together for the good of their firm. Legislation can work to restore the balance between employers and trade unions—the Government have already introduced such legislation—and it can also make the trade unions more democratic. No legislation, however, can change attitudes. I know that the attitude in my constituency is worth more to it than any Government help, development grant or regional aid. My constituency qualifies for no regional aid. I have nothing against such aid but I am proud that my constituency manages without it. Yet firms always seek to invest there, and once they are there and know how fertile the soil is they rarely move their factories.

No legislation can make people buy British goods. The trade unions' economic review has argued for extended import controls. I know that many connected with the textile factories are tempted in that direction, but it is not possible. We are great exporters and there would certainly be retaliation. That would set off creeping protectionism, which would damage the incipient recovery of the world economy.

Towards the end of last year the retail trade became much more buoyant. The change was caused by the lifting of hire purchase controls, the reduction in mortgage rates and the fact that wage increases were still greater than inflation. Unfortunaely, much of this money was spent on imported goods, which created jobs abroad. When people have more money to spend, they concentrate not on basic necessities such as housing, heating and food, but are able to spend more on clothing, shoes, radios, videos and electrical goods. There is high import penetration in all those markets. I hope that we shall have more tax, cuts in the Budget, but we must be cautious that when people have more money in their pockets they do not buy more imported goods.

I am delighted that a committee has been formed, with financial backing from 10 supporting organisations, to promote a "Think British" campaign. The committee will also advise manufacturers about the best goods to produce, investigate allegations that goods claimed to be British in effect have a high foreign content, and investigate dumping.

The average household in this country spends £96 a week, and 25 per cent. of that is spent on imported goods. The Economist Intelligence Unit has stated that if every family reduced its spending on imported goods by £3 a week, the balance of payments figures would improve by £900 million and 360,000 more jobs would be created in two years. If every family cut its spending on imports by £6 a week, nearly 750,000 jobs would be created.

The first firm to use the "Think British" label will be British Leyland. I understand that it is starting to use that label immediately. I was delighted to hear that the second firm will be Tube Investments, which will use the label on its cookers. I am particularly delighted because my constituency contains two successful Tube Investments factories—Parkray and Glowworm. Tube Investments has other factories throughout the east midlands. Debenhams, which is one of three supporting retail organisations—the others are Marks and Spencer and the House of Fraser—has taken advice from the committee. Because of this it has stated that it will cut its imports of Italian tights. I am grateful for that. In my constituency there is a factory which produces 50 per cent. of the ladies tights manufactured in this country. Other tights are produced throughout the east midlands.

The factory has increased its competitiveness, made economies and improved its products. All the factories have done so. I am glad that Debenhams has recognised that. It will not in future be importing so many tights from Italy, which is valuable since the penetration over the past few years has been growing serious and I hope other firms will take note. It is to their advantage to cut down on imported goods. If Debenhams had continued in its policy of importing Italian tights, it may well have succeeded in closing a factory in the east midlands. That would have affected its own business as the people who work in the factory are its potential customers.

The committee that is promoting the "Think British" campaign is to be commended. It is composed of 36 people, 26 of whom are women. They are responding to the new patriotic spirit that has been much in evidence since the Falklands campaign. I have no doubt that they will succeed in promoting the idea that people must in future concentrate on buying more British goods and to think British. With that spirit and with the moderation and flexibility of the east midlands, the east midlands will soon lead the country out of the recession just as this country will lead the world out of the recession.

6.2 pm

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

The speech of the hon. Member for Belper (Mrs. Faith) sums up the complacency on the Government Benches about unemployment, particularly in the east midlands and more generally throughout the United Kingdom. The hon. Lady said that she represents a constituency with a very moderate work force that does not go in for divisive strikes and is moderate in pay claims. If the work force is as good as she says it is—I accept that it is—why is unemployment in Belper and in other parts of the east midlands continuing to rise?

Mrs. Faith

I am sorry if I did not make clear that, while unemployment in my constituency is much higher than I would like, it is very much lower than it is in the rest of Derbyshire, lower than in most parts of the east midlands and in the rest of the country.

Mr. Marshall

I am grateful for that amplification. That does not answer the point that unemployment is increasing and will continue to increase.

The hon. Lady mentioned the "Think British" campaign. I am sure that most people in this country think British throughout their working hours. That does not mean that when they go shopping they will buy British goods. There is no point in having a slogan "Think British" unless people buy British goods. The only way to do that in the present economic climate is to put restraints on imports so that conditions are created whereby British firms can increase their output to meet the increased demand.

The Minister of State made one of the worst opening speeches I have heard from the Dispatch Box since May 1979. To dismiss an increase of over two million in the number of people unemployed since 1979 in the way he did highlights his benighted attitude to the misery that many tens of thousands of families are suffering. The Government cannot much longer hide from the fact that they are using unemployment as an economic weapon. They are seeking to undermine the morale of the work force and to diminish the importance of the trade unions as institutions. The Government want a compliant work force that is less forceful in wage negotiations and wage bargaining, and to undermine the working class institutions that have developed in this country in the past 100 years.

Having got those few points off my chest, I come to the more parochial matter of my constituency in the city of Leicester. Some hon. and right hon. Members may have seen a television programme on Monday this week which highlighted Leicester. It referred to Leicester in the 1930s as being one of the most prosperous cities, if not the most prosperous city, in Europe. That is no longer the case. Figures from the Department of Employment show that unemployment in the Leicester travel-to-work area is 11.4 per cent. That is slightly below the national average. What that figure conceals is the actual unemployment within the city of Leicester. Included in the Leicester travel-to-work area are parts of the constituencies of Harborough, Melton, Blaby, and Loughborough.

Many middle class surburban areas that surround the city of Leicester come within the Leicester travel-to-work area. Making an adjustment for that, the actual unemployment rate within the city of Leicester is 15 or 16 per cent. That is above the national average. That crude figure hides unemployment rates in various parts of the city. A survey has shown that in the inner city area and on outer estates unemployment has risen to 40 or 50 per cent.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Is my hon. Friend aware that in parts of my constituency, especially in the estates in Braunstone, it is estimated that unemployment is well over 50 per cent? Part of the tragedy is that much of this unemployment is long term and youth unemployment. The situation is getting worse day by day. The morale of management and the work force in the Leicester area is deteriorating and there is no feeling that the Government are prepared to do anything to pull them out of this tragic situation.

Mr. Marshall

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend. He is correct when he says that many people in their late middle age in the city of Leicester see no prospect of further work until they retire. Many young people, particularly school leavers, have a feeling of hopelessness and believe that no one really cares. I find most frightening the fact that growing up in this country is a generation of people who feel that society does not care for them at all. We are building up social problems for the future. We know of apprentices reaching the end of their time and being told that there is no job for them—for instance, at Jones and Shipman. My daughter's boy friend works for GEC. He has been told that when he completes his apprenticeship in March he will not have a job. He will be shown the gate. That is symptomatic of what is happening to many apprentices.

A by-product of the change in employment protection legislation is that many young people are dismissed just before the 12-month period is up when they come under the umbrella of that legislation. That undermines morale, especially of young people.

Not a week goes by in Leicester without a steady drip of lost jobs. Mention has been made of the situation in the hosiery, knitwear, footwear and light engineering industries. Week by week, the local press in Leicester reports more and more lost jobs. That is not due to trade union militancy. In that respect, Leicester is like Belper. Nor is it due to exorbitant pay claims. On the contrary, the trade union movement in Leicester is the epitome of moderation, but jobs are still being lost. It is not the fault of the people of Leicester, who are industrious and inventive. It is the fault of the Government and their economic policies. High interest rates have ruined many businesses, both large and small, and high exchange rates have encouraged imports and discouraged exports. That means that Leicester jobs have been exported overseas.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Scunthorpe)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Marshall

No. It is indicative of the hon. Gentleman's attitude that he should come into the debate late instead of being here to discuss the difficulties now faced by the steel workers in Scunthorpe.

It is the fault of the Government, whose economic policies are creating a wasteland in Leicester. That is spreading throughout the east midlands and the United Kingdom as a whole.

6.12 pm
Mr. John Farr (Harborough)

I recognise the importance of the debate, but the House should not be misled by the motion. The level of unemployment is bad, and is something that we all deplore, but the number of people who have kept jobs since 1979 is not nearly as bad as the motion suggests.

In 1979, 1,532,000 people were at work in the east midlands. In June 1982, the latest figures that I could obtain, the number was 1,409,000—a decrease of 8 per cent. over a three-year period. To retain 92 people out of 100 at work in the east midlands during the middle of a world recession has been a formidable achievement which would have been beyond a Labour Government.

Gross domestic product shows that by no means is all lost in the east midlands—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) appears to find these figures amusing, but I am quoting from the official "Economic Trends" for November 1982. No doubt the hon. Gentleman studied these figures and is familiar with them. Those figures show that GDP in the east midlands increased from about £10,700,000 to £13,700,000. In the same two-year period, GDP increased nationally by 20 per cent., from £169 million to £212 million. In real terms, taking the value of a stable pound and inflation into account, there has been hardly any decline in GDP, either in Britain or the east midlands.

The small decline that has taken place over those two years—about 2 per cent. a year—is more than matched by the decline in the permanent work force. That shows that there has been a substantial and noticeable increase in productivity, not only throughout the United Kingdom but in particular in the east midlands region.

The economic trends document also shows gross domestic product by industry groups, and in the east midlands there are about 10 types of productive work, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction. In no fewer than eight out of 10, the east midlands has increased its percentage of GDP. For example, in 1979, the east midlands area accounted for 7.6 per cent. of GDP in manufactured goods. In 1981, that had increased to 8.1 per cent. Even more marked increases are apparent. In gas, electricity and water, the proportion of GDP enjoyed by the east midlands went up from 6.9 per cent. in 1979 to 7.1 per cent in 1981. Those figures show that in many respects the east midlands has increased its proportion of GDP.

Mr. Greville Janner

Does not the hon. Gentleman accept that those figures are no consolation whatever to the thousands of unemployed people in the city of Leicester who see no prospect of any Government action?

Mr. Farr

I am sorry that I gave way, because that was not a constructive intervention. Domestic matters in Leicester and Leicestershire concern us all, as do the problems of the east midlands. However, the problem that we are now discussing is not merely an east midlands or a national problem. It is a world problem, and, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of State emphasised, the growth of unemployment in West Germany has been greater than that of Great Britain. That is no consolation for us, and as east midland Members we must do what we can to put the matter right.

I despair of Labour Members who allege that this or that industry has been crucified by Government policy. Much of the decline in east midlands competitiveness has happened over a period when different Governments have been in office. An example in the footwear industry ought to worry all hon. Members. In the Leicester and Mansfield areas of the footwear industry, between 1976 and 1982, the number of factories declined by about one third. The work force declined by about half. What is sad is that total output declined by half as well. In other words, the whole footwear industry in our part of the world—Leicester, Mansfield, mainly the east midlands—is half as important as it was in 1976. No one can crucify any Government for that. We should be adult enough in this House to look at the problem together, and we should say it is not the fault of the Conservative Government, it was not the fault of the Labour Government, it might have been management or workers or both, or it might be foreign imports. But to say that one industry or another has been crucified by any Government is to exaggerate the facts.

I do not see the situation as all black in the east midlands. My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) mentioned the prospect of new mines. In the agriculture industry in 1982 output in the east midlands exceeded all records. We still have a strong base in manufactured goods such as tobacco and engineering, both heavy and light, and that is now much fitter and will be better able to compete in the future.

I want to mention two issues in conclusion. The first is enterprise zones. I hope that the Minister will make sure that his right hon. Friend gets the message. In the east midlands we have one enterprise zone, at Corby.

Mr. Latham

There is another one.

Mr. Farr

My hon. Friend is right. We have two. However, it is not altogether satisfactory for towns with existing industries, to which the new enterprise zone often acts as a magnet, attracting existing long-established businesses from those towns to the enterprise zone. Of course, an enterprise zone should be successful, and the Government want to promote such zones, but it was not the intention of the Act of Parliament that established them that new business should go there from old-established sites in the surrounding towns where people have worked for generations.

Rates are probably one of the biggest millstones around the neck of industry at present. There are firms in my constituency that pay nearly £100,000 per annum in rates. They say to me "We do not mind spending that money, but can't we have some say in how it is spent?" I hope that the Minister will tell my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, when he returns, that when the Secretary of State for the Environment gets round to deciding on the recommendations in the Green Paper he will take steps to relieve the two parts of society that have been hard hit by rates—the single or elderly householder living alone, and industry, which has no voice in how rates are spent, but which in many parts of the country is being brought to its knees by high local government demands.

I believe that the opportunities are there for exporters in the east midlands. The pound is as low as it ever has been, and there are markets to be won abroad.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I should like to thank the House and those hon. Members who have taken part in the debate for the brevity of their speeches and for heeding my pleas. I understand that the Front Bench spokesman wishes to rise just before 6.45 pm. If those hon. Members who remain in the Chamber will speak for five minutes each, I shall be able to call them all.

6.24 pm
Mr. Bill Homewood (Kettering)

It is a coincidence that I follow the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), because he happens to be my Member of Parliament. I live in Market Harborough. He gave statistics. However, I was more impressed by the statistics that came from the Government Front Bench than by any of the others that I heard. I did not have the opportunity to go to grammar school, and I had not realised until today that doubling one per cent. makes two, and that it does not mean that unemployment has increased very much under this Government. In fact, although unemployment doubled under the Labour Government—it went from one per cent. to two per cent.—under this Government in my constituency it has gone up by 250 per cent. in Corby and 200 per cent. in Kettering. Although I live in Market Harborough, I have not checked the hon. Gentleman's statistics, but I imagine that the increase there will be of about the same size.

I remember three years ago when we heard about the closure of the iron and steelworks. I stood here in almost the same position, talking to the then Secretary of State for Industry, and criticising the sharp increase in unemployment. The Secretary of State said to me, in an intervention, "The hon. Gentleman talks as though those people will never go to work again". I shall not comment on that, but when the present Secretary of State for Industry goes to Corby on Friday I hope that he will see the hundreds of millions of pounds that have had to be spent on Corby to save what was then a loss of £10 million per year in the steel industry. He will find industries are coming to Corby and then leaving it almost overnight. He will find that the assisted area status and the enterprise zone, of which the hon. Member for Harborough spoke, are being used in many cases as a liquidator's paradise, and that unemployment in Corby remains the same as it was at the time of the closures—21.9 per cent. general unemployment and 24.9 per cent. males out of work. That means that in the immediate Corby area at least 30 per cent. of males must be out of work.

When the Secretary of State for Industry looks round the town on Friday, he will see that millions of pounds have been spent trying to replace what the Government did when they closed the iron and steelworks. They did so on the excuse that energy costs were rising so rapidly that it would be uneconomic to keep them going. Now energy prices are going in the other direction, but all the Government are doing is to pay out social security to about 25 per cent. of the population. The Government closed the iron and steelworks, and there is nothing to replace it, except the assisted area status and the enterprise zone, which are costing them a hell of a lot of money. That may sound a retrogressive argument in the context of what is needed, but there is a feeling of hopelessness among the people of Corby. They cannot drag themselves out of that hopelessness, no matter what the Government do. Despite the immense expenditure, the people in Corby are running like the devil to stay on the same spot. All the money that is being spent on the Corby promotion is being wasted by the general economic policies of this Government. Firms open and then close because of the recession.

I want to clear up one point about the theme park that the Minister mentioned. The hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) seemed to think that I was scoffing at the idea of the theme park coming to Corby. Nothing of the kind. Nothing is closer to my heart than the theme park in Corby. I was surprised that the Minister mentioned it because we have been waiting for weeks now for planning permission to be accepted by the Secretary of State for the Environment. The people who are promoting it need that to get it off the ground. The plan is for work on the theme park to start in May, yet here we are in the middle of February with planning permission stuck in the Department of the Environment and the Minister has the cheek to say that it could be Corby's salvation.

I have much to do with the boot and shoe industry in Kettering. I wrote to the director general of the boot and shoe industry's employers' association almost immediately after the summer recess asking him to meet me to discuss the industry's problems. His reply pretty much said "I am sorry, Bill, but the only thing that I can talk to you about is the high level of the pound."—as if the salvation of the boot and shoe industry depended on that. It amuses me that then when Labour Members say that value of the pound should be reduced there is immediately an upsurge among Conservative Members, who say that we are being unpatriotric, yet here is an employers' representative saying exactly the same. Indeed, the CBI would be saying exactly the same except that it is far more concerned to keep the Government in power than it is to keep its members in business.

My constituency in the east midlands needs a complete change in Government policy on industry, the devaluation of the pound and import controls.

6.31 pm
Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

We have heard in this debate and elsewhere that the problems of the east midlands are entirely the responsibility of the Government and, in particular, of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. That is grossly unfair. It is not even a half truth. We must look at the reasons for unemployment and not just say that because the Government are in power they must take entire responsibility for it. Unemployment has soared to record levels in almost all other western countries. I need not dwell further on that.

When my hon. Friend the Minister replies, he will rightly point out the contributions that small businesses can and do make to the region's recovery and to the considerable package of aids that he has introduced over the past year or so—96 at the last count. He will rightly point out, too, I hope, that more businesses start every year than fail. Yet behind the statistics there is some unease. Perhaps we have done enough for the time being by way of schemes to start new businesses and should now concentrate a little more on trying to keep businesses, often of long standing, alive.

The Department's expertise has found 96 schemes for new businesses. Can it now turn its attention to helping those existing businesses which are struggling to remain alive? They are often at the mercy of forces that they cannot control. I am obliged to say that we have taken a feeble line over the continuing existence of wages councils. They are throttling small businesses today which are having to pay wages considerably higher than the employer is taking out of the business. It is cruel, crazy and shortsighted to continue in that way. Staff are given holidays much longer than employers are able to take and employers are having to pay young people wages which are higher than is justified—almost the rates for skilled and long-serving employees.

The abolition of wages councils would do more good for businesses and continuing youth employment than all the 96 schemes put together. I do not denigrate those schemes, but there is nothing intrinsically magic or right about wages councils. We have them in some industries and not in others.

Many businesses today look with great doubt upon the rates that they will have to pay at the current rates round. They wonder whether they will be able to survive the likely rate demand. I see the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) in his place. On Monday the Nottinghamshire county council will announce the levy of a rate precept of 139p—an increase of 13.5p, which is, for non-domestic ratepayers, an increase of 9.7 per cent. I sometimes wonder whether Socialist-controlled councils which profess social concern really care in the slightest about the effect that swingeing rate increases have on businesses and unemployment.

The Nottinghamshire chamber of commerce has told the Nottinghamshire county council time and again that the swingeing increases in rates since the Socialists came to power have squeezed their margins of profitability to such an extent that they can no longer consider further expansion or, what is more important, taking on more labour, but the county council does not seem to care. Apart from taking on more and more employees, it seems to enable it to criticise the Government and pass pious resolutions about the rate of unemployment in the county.

My plea is twofold. In order to get Governments off the backs of those who are doing the job, we must remove all Socialist control from county councils in particular and the Government should have a more robust attitude towards the support of existing businesses. That way lies fuller employment and prosperity for the east midlands.

6.37 pm
Mr. Phillip Whitehead (Derby, North)

I want to stress what has happened in Derby and Derbyshire in the course of the recession and tell the Secretary of State for Employment and his hon. Friend the Minister of State that the "Alice in Wonderworld" approach is not goof enough in terms of the human misery and suffering that we are now seeing.

Unemployment in Derby now stands at 11 per cent.; it is 11.8 per cent. in Derbyshire, 12.5 per cent. in the east midlands and 13.7 per cent. nationally. Why should I raise the problems of Derby in particular? The answer is that, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said, Derby has traditionally been a honeypot for people coming into the region. In the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s they came with every pattern of accent and varieties of skill from the nation as a whole. We were at the absolute cutting edge of British technology with the industries of Derby. Those industries have been decimated by the policies of this Government and that is the special tragedy of what has occurred in the region.

The job losses include 5,000 lost at Rolls-Royce, 15 per cent. of the work force at Aitons, the Courtaulds work force down by nearly half since 1979, British Rail Engineering trying to find more redundancies, over and above the 1,000 who have left the work force in three years, and firms such as Fletcher and Stewart and Dupar Pelapone going bankrupt. Ley's Malleable Castings in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Johnson) announced last week that 380 jobs were going. That is what is happening in Derby at the moment.

The verdict on this position—and it is one I would quote to Ministers in the debate—coming from those who would naturally support the Government is that their regional industrial policy is a failure. This comes from the Association of District Councils, Conservative-controlled. The CBI report on the east midlands economy describes it as stagnant with weak demand, liquidity problems and short-time working. The Derby and Derbyshire chamber of commerce, again hardly supporters of my party, has said that industrial investment in Derbyshire is continuing to fall, and prospects look as grim as ever, according to the latest survey this month. The Government should realise that it is their monetarist policies that have depressed demand, destroyed business confidence and devastated the whole of our region.

We believe there are alternative policies and we have a right to put them forward in this debate. We have a right, for example, to say what we think about British Rail, now groaning under the impact of the ludicrous Serpell report, which the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle) said was now a dead letter. I did not see him voting against it the other day. We have British Rail Engineering looking at the problems of investment. We see how British Rail has been consistently starved of investment by this Government over the past few years; we see the petulance of the Prime Minister sabotaging the channel tunnel project; we hear Sir Peter Parker, the chairman of British Rail, saying only yesterday that it will have to buy America diesel locomotives if electrification is further delayed. Locomotives should be being built in this country, with the skills of the craftesmen who live in my constituency and in the city of Derby, but they are not building them because of the policies of the Government.

We believe in the injection of public investment to benefit both public and private sectors. We think new hospitals benefit both the community and the jobbing builder. New school books benefit both the child and the private printer. Rail electrification could benefit the traveller, the railwayman and the private contractor alike. We want to link those policies with a competitive exchange rate and with controls on the cynical export of capital, which people in my constituency and elsewhere in the east midlands know perfectly well is at the root of their present discontent.

The cynical view is that people can be sold this particular pup. They can be told that it is all the fault of the world recession. They can be told that we are really no worse off—although we are—than all the other OECD countries, that our GDP has not fallen more than that of the others. The hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) is wrong to say that it has not: in real terms it has fallen by over 5 per cent. under this Government.

I do not believe that people can be persuaded of those untruths. I do not believe people can be bought off with tabloid trash and told to take their redundancy money down to the pub or to bingo, or to switch on the video and turn away from the realities of the world today. I believe the Falklands victory will count for less than the industrial defeat when we meet the electorate at the time of the next election. I do not believe we can live with mass unemployment, however often leader writers on The Times, who do not seem to cope with it very much themselves, tell us that we have to do so.

I am prepared to meet my electors in Derbyshire—as the hon. Member for Belper (Mrs. Faith) and others are not, since they are leaving to look for greener pastures in the south—and tell them that there is an alternative. I detect in the suburbs and closes of my constituency, in the affluent part of Derby just as much as in the terraced houses of Bolsover, a deep and burning anger at what is now going on.

I end with lines from a poem about men of a different kind of new religion, not monetarism, some time ago. It is a lesson we should put to this Government today.

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget. For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet. The people of England will speak, and very shortly.

6.45 pm
Sir Kenneth Lewis (Rutland and Stamford)

I have waited to speak until the end of the debate because, at the beginning, I was meeting representatives of one of my county councils, the Lincolnshire county council. I thought it important to meet them. One of the reasons why unemployment is marginally lower in that part than in the other part of the east midlands that I represent is that the county council has kept the rates down for two years running. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander) that Socialist councils, in pushing up rates, are destroying jobs in industry, and the sooner they recognise that fact, the better.

The east midlands has hitherto always escaped the kind of recession that we have at the moment. It is even now being affected slightly less than other parts of the country. The TUC's own document accepts that unemployment is less in this region. That is good for the east midlands because it means that the people there are resilient. There are many small industries and self-employed people. If we could get that kind of activity going in other parts of the country, it would have a significant effect on unemployment.

Listening to Labour Members, one would imagine that they did not think there was a world recession. Everything is blamed on the Government, on the Prime Minister or on the Department of Employment. People do not believe it, and I have never heard such nonsense in my life. The Labour party knows very well that two thirds or more of unemployment has been caused by the kind of world recession which is affecting the whole of Europe and part of the Communist world as well. The rest has been caused because over the years we have failed to put our industrial house in order. At least the present Government are trying to remedy that.

6.48 pm
Mr. J. D. Concannon (Mansfield)

I shall try to sum up this debate as quickly as possible because it is to be followed by a similar one on the northern region and I want to show my good friends from that region that I recognise that they are in a worse plight than, on average, are people in the east midlands.

I was not present to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes) open the debate—he knows full well that I was employed elsewhere on behalf of the east midlands and its industry—but from the comments I have heard I am aware that he has made a good start at the Dispatch Box and I look forward to working in tandem with him at the Dispatch Box on many future occasions.

The main indictment against the Government is that we are having to use an Opposition day to discuss unemployment in the east midlands. I never thought I would see such a day. The east midlands has been called "the golden triangle". When I first came to this House we counted unemployment in my area in tens, and certainly not more than a couple of hundred. Industrialists were always looking for more labour. People were coming on their bicycles into my constituency as late as 1979; whole villages from the surrounding countryside were coming into my constituency.

What do I find after a few short years? Unemployment in the east midlands, as anywhere else, is no longer counted in hundreds. In Mansfield the Government have done the impossible: they have shoved the unemployment rate above the national average. It would have taken an absolutely idiotic Government or one of great genius to do it in an area like Mansfield. It cannot be blamed on the world recession when an area as vital to this nation as the east midlands is blighted and we have to devote Opposition time to discussing the subject.

I would like to take up some points raised during the debate, although I cannot deal with all of them. My hon. Friends have already spoken about the textile, boot and shoe, steel and coal mining industries. Furthermore, we need a decision on the Vale of Belvoir very quickly. There is a smell of a political decision, and I know what political decisions mean. I know full well that the decision on the Vale of Belvoir will be taken in the week after the general election, whichever party wins it. I also know that no one will upset the people in the area before the election, especially the Government. Therefore, I do not expect a decision on Belvoir. The miners in Leicestershire and south Nottinghamshire know full well that that coalfield is vital for their jobs and for the country.

The Government have a lot to answer for in the east midlands. Some of the speeches made today by Conservative Members have been full of crocodile tears. I only hope that those hon. Members have the guts to show their constituents that for once they will vote as they have spoken. I shall certainly go, with some glee, into the Lobby against the Government and what they have done in butchering the east midlands.

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

At the Opposition's request, and to allow a number of hon. Members to speak in the debate. I promised to keep my speech short. Therefore, like the right hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), I shall not be able to respond to all the points that have been made.

Unemployment is a terrible and tragic waste of human and economic resources, and that is common ground on both sides of the House. However, we shall not find solutions unless we accurately diagnose its cause. It is worth repeating one figure, although it is not an east midlands but a national figure. The increase in unit costs in Britain between 1975 and 1980 was 89 per cent. compared with 37 per cent. in the United States of America, 17 per cent. in West Germany and 0 per cent. in Japan. The number of jobs and firms lost can be attributed far more to that than to anything else, including the world recession. There cannot be any doubt about that—[Interruption.] If Labour Members keep interrupting me, I shall be unable to finish my speech in time for the next debate. That lost competitiveness between 1975 and 1980 and the current world recession are linked. As a result of our loss of competitiveness, we were less able to face the blitz of the world recession than the more successful nations.

Another background factor concerns technology and the second industrial revolution. In the past, this country has been very slow to get on to the race track, let alone into the race. This morning, the British Robot Association produced figures showing that in 1978 there were only 125 robots in Britain. Happily, there were last year 1,152. That shows an improvement in the way in which we are trying to keep up to date with modern technology, but we still have a long way to go if we are to catch up with our more successful competitors. The Government have encouraged that improvement in our second industrial revolution.

Those are among the most important causes of the current unemployment. It is interesting to note that Opposition Members did not mention them once, with the exception of brief comments on the world recession. In this debate, and in our many other similar debates, I have listened carefully to the Opposition. I do not say that they shed crocodile tears, because I accept that they are deeply concerned about the levels of unemployment and the situation facing many of their constituents. However, I was struck by how little they said about what could be done to deal with the problem.

Today, we have had two answers. Several hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Haynes)—whom I congratulate on his appearance on the Front Bench—suggested, yet again, more reflation and more and more public spending.

Mr. Whitehead

Any increase in public spending.

Mr. MacGregor

The hon. Gentleman, should recollect that there has been a substantial increase in real terms in capital investment in the nationalised industries this year. However, it was a Labour Prime Minister who said that we could not spend our way out of a recession, except by creating much higher inflation once again. It is worth repeating that, in the Labour party's recent programme for recovery, it accepted, in the second simulation, that there would be no incomes restraint—the more realistic among them know that it will not be possible for them to achieve that by their policies—and the result would be that by 1986 inflation would stand at 18 per cent. That would be the biggest possible recipe for more job losses and there would be a balance of payments deficit of £25 billion. That is said in the Labour party's programme.

That is no way to create permanent jobs and it is certainly not what the CBI or industry wants—[Interruption.] I talk to many of those in industry, and I think that my hon. Friends have got it right. The CBI and industry want industrial costs to be tackled and they want to continue their increased competitiveness. The CBI budget representations are headlined "Costs are crucial." There is a call not for a massive programme of high Government expenditure, but for a continuation of the policies that we have been pursuing in keeping down interest rates and tackling the national insurance surcharge and so on.

The second prescription came from the hon. Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall), who said that we could make people buy British only by imposing all-round import restrictions. What a defeatist attitude! It would be disastrous for the United Kingdom's economy. The hon. Gentleman should recall that we still depend for our standard of living on exporting one third of all that we produce. He should recognise that if we impose such an artificial form of control and constraint there will be a further loss of competitiveness among our home industries.

The most interesting point is that that diagnosis does not get to the root of the problem, which is that it is what customers buy that is important. The hon. Gentleman wished to force customers to buy British by preventing them from buying their goods elsewhere. Firms are increasingly getting back into the competitive race, because they are producing with modern technology the goods at a price that customers both at home and abroad want.

I was struck by the fact that the contributions made by my hon. Friends were quite different and that many of them made constructive suggestions, which I wish I had time to deal with. Several hon. Members pointed out that, in general, unemployment in the east midlands is below the national average. Those hon. Members who intend to speak in the next debate will agree that assisted area policy should be concentrated on the areas of greatest need.

The areas of highest unemployment in the east midlands have nevertheless been singled out for assisted area treatment. Corby is the only development area, but three areas have intermediate status. Equally, many parts have been designated as derelict land clearance areas and so receive the grants and benefits available. The area is certainly not suffering as much as some other parts of the country are from the problems engendered by the declining heavy industries. However, more than £90 million of Government aid has been spent in the east midlands since May 1979 either through Department of Industry programmes or through the urban programme.

My hon. Friend the Minister referred to the employment measures. The hon. Member for Ashfield mentioned small firms. The latest year for which figures are available is 1981. At that time there were 900 more births than deaths in the east midlands. That should be borne in mind at a time when everyone is concentrating on the failures. In addition, it is important for my hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Mr. Alexander) to recognise that, of the 98 measures, only a handful are concentrated on the new businesses. The vast majority are directed at existing businesses. I hope that my hon. Friend will help me to get that message across, because it is important that existing firms should realise that. I wish that I had more time to spend on small firms, because many exciting and constructive things are going on in the east midlands. Indeed, I have seen some of them.

I hope that those hon. Members who raised questions about the footwear and textile industries will forgive me if I refer to them only briefly; they have been debated frequently in the House. Two points should be stressed. First, both industries benefit—through the MFA in the case of textiles—from the greatest range of protections available to any industry in Britain. Secondly, I believe that it was the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Whitlock) who mentioned EC grant aids. The Government have devoted a good deal of effort to impressing on the European Commission our serious concern about the growth of state aid for the textile and clothing industries within the Community. Our persistence has undoubtedly caused the Commission to toughen its appraisal of new schemes and to subject any approvals to rigorous conditions. I wish that I had more time to deal specifically with the problems of the east midlands.

I must now deal with the more general scene because that, at the end of the day, is what matters most to the east midlands, as it does to other areas in Britain. What they need is success, and that will take time. We always said that it would. It is inevitable in a world recession. We need the Government's continuing economic policies. We have tackled the underlying and long-standing problems and have succeeded in reducing inflation and industrial costs—including interest rates. We have succeeded in our realistic capital expenditure programmes within our resources.

One hon. Member mentioned British Rail. The most important point about British Rail is that if only what is happening on the St. Pancras to Bedford line, for example, did not occur, it would be easier to see where constructive investment should take place. The success of the Government's policies is the way ahead.

I say quite frankly that we shall continue to face a difficult and challenging climate in the present world conditions. The electorate recognises the hollowness of the Opposition's attacks and the emptiness of their policies. That was shown both in this debate and in their standing in the opinion polls. The electorate recognises that we would face total economic disaster if the Opposition's economic policies were applied. That is why we have no hesitation in rejecting the Opposition's motion tonight.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 249, Noes 303.

Division No. 62] [7.1 pm
Abse, Leo Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E)
Adams, Allen Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're)
Allaun, Frank Ellis, Tom (Wrexham)
Alton, David English, Michael
Anderson, Donald Ennals, Rt Hon David
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Evans, Ioan (Aberdare)
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Evans, John (Newton)
Ashton, Joe Faulds, Andrew
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Field, Frank
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Fitch, Alan
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Fitt, Gerard
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Flannery, Martin
Beith, A. J. Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N) Ford, Ben
Bidwell, Sydney Forrester, John
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Foster, Derek
Boothroyd, Miss Betty Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd)
Bottomley, Rt Hon A. (M'b'ro) Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald
Bradley, Tom Freud, Clement
Bray, Dr Jeremy Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Brocklebank-Fowler, C. Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) George, Bruce
Brown, R. C. (N'castle W) Golding, John
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Gourlay, Harry
Buchan, Norman Graham, Ted
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Grant, John (Islington C)
Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Campbell, Ian Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hardy, Peter
Cant, R. B. Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Carmichael, Neil Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith
Carter-Jones, Lewis Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy
Cartwright, John Haynes, Frank
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Healey, Rt Hon Denis
Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie) Heffer, Eric S.
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire)
Cohen, Stanley Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll)
Coleman, Donald Home Robertson, John
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Homewood, William
Conlan, Bernard Horam, John
Cook, Robin F. Howell, Rt Hon D.
Cowans, Harry Howells, Geraint
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill) Hoyle, Douglas
Crowther, Stan Huckfield, Les
Cryer, Bob Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Cunningham, G. (Islington S) Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Janner, Hon Greville
Dalyell, Tam Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Davidson, Arthur John, Brynmor
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd) Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Deakins, Eric Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Dewar, Donald Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Dixon, Donald Lambie, David
Dobson, Frank Lamond, James
Dormand, Jack Leadbitter, Ted
Douglas, Dick Leighton, Ronald
Dubs, Alfred Lestor, Miss Joan
Duffy, A. E. P. Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dunnett, Jack Litherland, Robert
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Eadie, Alex Mabon, Rt Hon Dr J. Dickson
Eastham, Ken McDonald, Dr Oonagh
McElhone, Mrs Helen Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
McGuire, Michael (Ince) Rowlands, Ted
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Ryman, John
McKelvey, William Sandelson, Neville
MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor Sever, John
McMahon, Andrew Sheerman, Barry
McNally, Thomas Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
McNamara, Kevin Shore, Rt Hon Peter
McTaggart, Robert Short, Mrs Renée
McWilliam, John Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford)
Marks, Kenneth Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich)
Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton) Silverman, Julius
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Skinner, Dennis
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark)
Martin, M (G'gow S'burn) Snape, Peter
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Soley, Clive
Maxton, John Spellar, John Francis (B'ham)
Maynard, Miss Joan Spriggs, Leslie
Meacher, Michael Stallard, A. W.
Mikardo, Ian Steel, Rt Hon David
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Stoddart, David
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Stott, Roger
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Strang, Gavin
Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen) Straw, Jack
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw) Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W)
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E)
Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen)
Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Newens, Stanley Tilley, John
Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon Tinn, James
Ogden, Eric Torney, Tom
O'Halloran, Michael Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
O'Neill, Martin Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Wainwright, R. (Colne V)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Palmer, Arthur Wardell, Gareth
Park, George Watkins, David
Parker, John Weetch, Ken
Parry, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Pavitt, Laurie Welsh, Michael
Pendry, Tom White, Frank R.
Pitt, William Henry White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Whitehead, Phillip
Prescott, John Whitlock, William
Price, C. (Lewisham W) Wigley, Dafydd
Race, Reg Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Radice, Giles Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S) Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Richardson, Jo Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Winnick, David
Roberts, Allan (Bootle) Woodall, Alec
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N) Woolmer, Kenneth
Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock) Wright, Sheila
Robertson, George Young, David (Bolton E)
Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Rodgers, Rt Hon William Tellers for the Ayes:
Rooker, J. W. Mr. George Morton and
Roper, John Mr. Hugh McCartney.
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Adley, Robert Bevan, David Gilroy
Aitken, Jonathan Biffen, Rt Hon John
Alexander, Richard Biggs-Davison, Sir John
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Blackburn, John
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Body, Richard
Ancram, Michael Bonsor, Sir Nicholas
Arnold, Tom Boscawen, Hon Robert
Aspinwall, Jack Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Bowden, Andrew
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Boyson, Dr Rhodes
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Braine, Sir Bernard
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Bright, Graham
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Brinton, Tim
Bendall, Vivian Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon
Bennett, Sir Frederic (T'bay) Brooke, Hon Peter
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Brotherton, Michael
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n)
Best, Keith Browne, John (Winchester)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Hastings, Stephen
Bryan, Sir Paul Hawkins, Sir Paul
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Hawksley, Warren
Buck, Antony Hayhoe, Barney
Budgen, Nick Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bulmer, Esmond Heddle, John
Burden, Sir Frederick Henderson, Barry
Butcher, John Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Butler, Hon Adam Hicks, Robert
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Hill, James
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hooson, Tom
Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul Hordern, Peter
Chapman, Sydney Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd)
Churchill, W. S. Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk)
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Clegg, Sir Walter Irvine, Rt Hon Bryant Godman
Colvin, Michael Irving, Charles (Cheltenham)
Cope, John Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Corrie, John Jessel, Toby
Costain, Sir Albert Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Cranborne, Viscount Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Critchley, Julian Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Crouch, David Kaberry, Sir Donald
Dickens, Geoffrey Kimball, Sir Marcus
Dorrell, Stephen King, Rt Hon Tom
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Kitson, Sir Timothy
Dover, Denshore Knight, Mrs Jill
du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Knox, David
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Lamont, Norman
Durant, Tony Lang, Ian
Dykes, Hugh Langford-Holt, Sir John
Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Latham, Michael
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Lawrence, Ivan
Eggar, Tim Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Elliott, Sir William Lee, John
Emery, Sir Peter Le Marchant, Spencer
Eyre, Reginald Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Fairbairn, Nicholas Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)
Fairgrieve, Sir Russell Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Faith, Mrs Sheila Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Farr, John Loveridge, John
Fell, Sir Anthony Luce, Richard
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lyell, Nicholas
Finsberg, Geoffrey McCrindle, Robert
Fisher, Sir Nigel Macfarlane, Neil
Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N) MacGregor, John
Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles MacKay, John (Argyll)
Fookes, Miss Janet Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Forman, Nigel McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Fowler, Rt Hon Norman McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Fox, Marcus McQuarrie, Albert
Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh Major, John
Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Marland, Paul
Fry, Peter Marlow, Antony
Gardiner, George (Reigate) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Gardner, Sir Edward Marten, Rt Hon Neil
Garel-Jones, Tristan Mates, Michael
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Goodhart, Sir Philip Mawby, Ray
Goodlad, Alastair Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Gorst, John Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Gow, Ian Mayhew, Patrick
Gower, Sir Raymond Mellor, David
Grant, Sir Anthony Meyer, Sir Anthony
Gray, Rt Hon Hamish Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Greenway, Harry Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Grieve, Percy Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Miscampbell, Norman
Grist, Ian Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Grylls, Michael Moate, Roger
Gummer, John Selwyn Monro, Sir Hector
Hamilton, Hon A. Montgomery, Fergus
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Moore, John
Hampson, Dr Keith Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Hannam, John Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Haselhurst, Alan Mudd, David
Murphy, Christopher Spence, John
Myles, David Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Neale, Gerrard Sproat, Iain
Needham, Richard Squire, Robin
Nelson, Anthony Stainton, Keith
Neubert, Michael Stanbrook, Ivor
Normanton, Tom Stanley, John
Nott, Rt Hon Sir John Steen, Anthony
Onslow, Cranley Stevens, Martin
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S. Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Page, John (Harrow, West) Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Stokes, John
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Stradling Thomas, J.
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Tapsell, Peter
Patten, John (Oxford) Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Pattie, Geoffrey Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Pawsey, James Temple-Morris, Peter
Percival, Sir Ian Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Peyton, Rt Hon John Thompson, Donald
Pink, R. Bonner Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Pollock, Alexander Thornton, Malcolm
Porter, Barry Townend, John (Bridlington)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Trippier, David
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Trotter, Neville
Prior, Rt Hon James van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Proctor, K. Harvey Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Viggers, Peter
Rathbone, Tim Waddington, David
Rees-Davies, W. R. Wakeham, John
Renton, Tim Waldegrave, Hon William
Rhodes James, Robert Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Walker, B. (Perth)
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Wall, Sir Patrick
Rifkind, Malcolm Waller, Gary
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Walters, Dennis
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Ward, John
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Warren, Kenneth
Rossi, Hugh Watson, John
Rost, Peter Wells, Bowen
Royle, Sir Anthony Wells, John (Maidstone)
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R. Wheeler, John
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Whitney, Raymond
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wickenden, Keith
Shelton, William (Streatham) Wilkinson, John
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Williams, D.(Montgomery)
Shepherd, Richard Winterton, Nicholas
Shersby, Michael Wolfson, Mark
Silvester, Fred Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sims, Roger Younger, Rt Hon George
Skeet, T. H. H.
Smith, Dudley Tellers for the Noes:
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Mr. Anthony Berry and
Speed, Keith Mr. Carol Mather.
Speller, Tony

Question accordingly negatived.