HC Deb 09 February 1983 vol 36 cc1052-92 7.15 pm
Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, West)

I beg to move, That this House deplores the appalling unemployment in the Northern Region largely created by the iniquity of Conservative Government policies, which have created within the region the highest unemployment rate in mainland Britain and the virtual disappearance of vacancies; recognises that the Northern Region is in imminent danger of becoming an industrial desert by the continued destruction of shipbuilding, heavy engineering, manufacturing and service industries; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to take urgent and immediate action to regenerate the Northern Region. The economy of the northern region has been dependent on manufacturing industry for all too long. The decline in manufacturing industry has been severe in the past few years. Jobs have gone on a massive scale in industries which, sadly, will never return. Coal mines, steelworks and shipyards once closed will never reopen. In addition, the public expenditure so badly needed has been severely cut back. The Government have been guilty of moving towards industry specific rather than region specific, resulting in a marked fall of 40 per cent. in regional assistance such as regional development grants.

Alongside the slashing of direct regional aid there has been an increase in aid to the motor industry and to the science and technological industries, which has not helped the northern region. The Government's stress on small firms has, because we have all too few small firms, been of much greater benefit to other regions than it has been to ours. The south-east, for instance, has received 40.3 per cent. of the loan guarantees for small firms, compared with only 2.7 per cent. for the northern region. Fair shares for all would have given us 7.1 per cent., not 2.7 per cent.

Regrettably, the northern region has the highest unemployment in the mainland of Britain—at 18.1 per cent. overall—and a male rate of over 21 per cent. That is higher than Scotland, with 16.2 per cent., higher than Wales with 17.5 per cent. and unfortunately rapidly approaching Northern Ireland's disastrous 20.8 per cent. Every one in five of our menfolk is unemployed, and as my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Radice) so rightly told the House only last week—this is a fact taken from the North of England county councils association document on the state of the regions—if the present rate of increase persists, we shall have 100 per cent. male unemployment by the year 2000. That sounds like fantasy, but it is fact. It is costing the taxpayer £1,000 million a year to keep our 236,000 unemployed. That is criminal nonsense.

The sin of the century perpetrated by this appalling Government is the obscenity of youth unemployment. No fewer than 75,000 of our young people have never known what it is to have a permanent job. The job gap in the north is now a staggering 250,000. One quarter of a million of our people are crying out for work. That leads me to refer to this morning's edition of The Journal and of the Northern Echo. The Northern Echo headline says: 'You can't win' message enrages MPs The Journal headline says MPs debate despair of the North. Both go on to talk about the astonishing response from the Minister of State, Department of Employment. He said in effect "There is nothing we can do about unemployment." The Opposition do not accept that.

Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)


Mr. Brown

I am not giving way because there are many right hon. and hon. Members who wish to speak and it is not fair to have lengthy interventions, such as the hon. Gentleman's would be.

I shall deal with the region's infrastructure. The problems we face cannot be overcome without a massive injection of effort to lift and extend the infrastructure. What is happening under this Government? There has been less spent on roads since 1979 than in other areas. The massive expenditure on roads has been in the soft underbelly of the south-east. The latest Department of Transport proposals delay schemes in the region, such as the Newcastle A69 western bypass, improvements to the A66 in Cumbria and Durham and the bypasses to Haltwhistle and Haydon Bridge on the A69. Derelict land grants have fallen by 22 per cent. in real terms since the Government took office.

Social problems in the region automatically follow economic problems. In 1979–80 one in five households had an income of under £40, which is a worse figure than any other region and twice that of the south-east. Welfare benefits cost the country more in the north than in any other region. They are 47 per cent. higher than the United Kingdom average and 35 per cent. worse than the next worst region, which is the north-west. God knows, no one would have believed in 1979 that a prosperous industrial area such as the north-west could have been driven into despair in three and a half short years by a Government, but this lot have managed it.

Ill health and high death rates are endemic to the north, yet we are short of doctors and dentists. The region depends upon public housing and yet housing investment programmes have been well below the bids submitted by our Labour councils. In 1982–83 the region's allocation was less than half what it was when the Government took office. Fewer houses have been built. There are still 230,000 houses—one in five—unfit or in need of modernisation. At the present rate of progress, it will take a quarter of a century to put those houses into a decent state of repair and fit for people to live in. It is a crying scandal when one bears in mind the present number of unemployed construction workers. Social security benefits take one third of the region's public expenditure. It is a sad reflection on and condemnation of Government policy.

I come now to the positive side of my speech, which is the action needed. We badly need the Government to reverse their policy and accept that they must have a positive regional dimension in their economic and investment policies. I recall with astonishment what happened when, in his previous office, the Secretary of State for Education and Science accepted an invitation to a meeting of the northern group of Labour Members. I recall saying to him "Secretary of State, why will you not be honest and admit that you have no stomach at all for regional development, or for carrying out regional policy? Why do you not admit that, if you could decently do so, you would abolish regional policy completely the day after tomorrow?" He is not a man who is guilty of being full of mirth. He rocked in his seat and said "Oh Bob, you know well enough that if I could, in fact, abolish regional policy the day before tomorrow I would, but I cannot." That was his attitude. I do not see his successor as being any more committed to a firm regional policy than he was.

I do not apologise for saying that we need positive disrimination in favour of the north because of the deep-seated and long-standing problems that we face. If anyone believes that positive discrimination is a revolutionary proposal, let me refer him to the demands for positive discrimination to which we have acceded. There is positive discrimination for youth, women and ethnic minorities. Why not for the northern region? Policies must be tailored to the needs of the region if there is to be any justice or equity for our people.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott) has intervened on many occasions in these debates. I paraphrase what he has said as a loyal Government supporter over and over again: "Once we get an upturn in the national economy we shall get an upturn in the economy of the northern region." I wish to challenge that before he says it tonight. An upturn in the national economy will not solve the region's problems. It never has done before and it will not do so in the future. The nature of the jobs that we have lost on a massive scale is such that they will never return.

The Government should go ahead with the creation of a northern development agency to put us on a par with Scotland and Wales. Jobs created by new technology must be brought in and if private enterprise will not do so then the Government must. Why not let us have preferential tax rates for industry and preferential interest rates for new small industries? The Government are fond of new small industries and we should like dearly to have many more in the northern region.

We need desperately a comprehensive and whole-hearted attack on the misery of unemployment Earlier retirement, work-sharing, reduced overtime and shorter working hours must all be considered. Local firms must be expanded, even if they are in difficulty. In many cases they are all we have. Major companies on which we depend must be assisted. It takes decades to replace a major firm. If anyone doubts that, he should look at Consett where only two years ago there were thriving and profitable steelworks. There is now a greenfield site with a few small industries coming in. However, if one takes a factory such as Tress in my constituency, which closed with the loss of 450 jobs, and the Vickers factory at Scotswood, which closed with the loss of 750 jobs, it takes a devil of a lot of nursery factories employing 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 to make up that leeway.

Threatened closures should be considered on a regional basis. Why should the north suffer every time—shipbuilding on the Tyne, the Tees and the Wear, steel in Durham, Cleveland and Cumbria, and coal mining in Northumberland and Durham? Research and development facilities must be moved from the overcrowded south-east to the much more pleasant environment of the north.

Student grants should be introduced to encourage youngsters to stay at school, which will help to give them better job opportunities when they leave.

All my suggestions would cost less than 1 per cent. of public investment and are a better way forward than spending £1 billion a year on unemployment benefits in the region.

Changes, of necessity, are long-term but changes must be made in the region's economy, infrastructure, environment and social background by Government policy to stimulate employment through construction and public investment projects. We need an immediate speed-up in the roads programme, increased house building and support for local authorities in economic investment. Things would have been a lot worse had it not been for the efforts of our local councils. I wish to pay tribute to the Labour councils in the area for the efforts they have made for their own people. We need more doctors and dentists in the region and more investment in health care, particularly in areas of severe disadvantage which were so effectively set out in the Black report.

Behind the facts I have put to the House lies much human suffering among individuals and families in the north. I fervently wish that I could hope for an immediate Government response to the action needed. Alas, I have no such hope. The only way forward for our people is the return of a Labour Government committed to an alternative economic policy. In conclusion, I say to the Prime Minister, who has laid waste to the north with a savagery only equalled by the Conquerer 900 years ago, "May God forgive you—the people of the northern region never will."

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

This is the second of two Opposition motions on the Order Paper on unemployment in the different regions. I am bound to say that, of the two, the motion on the northern region is particularly fatuous. That is the only word that I can apply to it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh".] Anybody who is old enough to read the words on the Order Paper will scratch his head at the notion that unemployment in the north of England was virtually unknown until May 1979, when the "wicked" Tories invented it. The idea that it has been largely created by the iniquity of the Conservative Government, who took office less than four years ago, is so ludicrous and patently false that any impartial observer would think that a party which can debate in those terms is not worth listening to or following.

I observe, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that you come from the north and that you will have great difficulty in remaining impartial—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]—but I know that you will be. You understand, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that that was intended to be a compliment to you and not in any way a reflection.

Just for the record, let me remind the House and right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches that from the time I entered Parliament in the mid 1960s until the election in May 1979—a period in which there was a 2:1 ratio of Labour to Conservative Administrations—unemployment in the northern region rose nearly three times, from 2.5 per cent. to nearly 8 per cent. Under the previous two Labour Governments unemployment increased nearly three times. I shall give the figures because in the debate on the east midlands hon. Members pooh-poohed mere percentage increases as being unimpressive or insignificant.

When the Tories left office after 13 wasted years, as they were called, there were for the inheritance of the incoming Labour Government 28,000 unemployed in the northern region. When Labour left office in 1979, the figure had risen to 110,000—more than three times as great. More than 100,000 people were unemployed as a result of the tide that started flowing while the Labour Government were in office. With a tide which raised the level of unemployment from 28,000 to more than 110,000 in 1979, it is not surprising that with a world recession it rose to 235,000. You will notice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it was a less significant increase in percentage and human terms than that which applied under the previous Labour Government.

Mr. Ted Graham (Edmonton)

The right hon. Gentleman believes it.

Mr. Alison

The hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) says that I believe it. Those are the facts and they are well established. One must believe the facts that hurt and hit human beings.

In the period of the Labour Government from 1975 to 1979, unemployment rose from 4.2 per cent.—about 55,000—to almost 8 per cent. —110,000—in spite of the enormous expenditure on help for the region. To do justice to that Government—the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West (Mr. Brown) was in office at the time—more than £600 million was spent on regional development grants, £31 million on section 8 assistance and £76.3 million on section 7 assistance. I give them credit for that. They threw some money at the problem—nothing like as much as the scale of increase in unemployment, but they certainly put some money into dealing with the problem.

Taking a slightly longer perspective, I remind the House that out of a total national allocation of regional grants of about £3.3 billion between 1972 and 1982—this deals with the point of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West about the absence of positive discrimination, as he calls it—the northern region received more than £1 billion. That was under two Governments—the Labour Government and the present Government. That represents 30 per cent. of the total grants awarded to the whole of Britain, whereas the northern region's working population, at about 1.3 million, represents less than 6 per cent. of the British total. If that is not positive discrimination, I do not know what it is.

Yet still the unemployment grew—

Mr. Mike Thomas (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)


Mr. Alison

I must make my speech brief because I wish to allow as many right hon. and hon. Members as possible to contribute.

Yet still the unemployment grew. All the ingredients—the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West turned to his positive proposals at the end of his speech—that the TUC and the Labour party are now proposing were present in the 1960s and 1970s when unemployment doubled and doubled again. There was a social contract, an attempt at a prices and incomes policy, devaluation, the value of sterling fell progressively, huge increases in public expenditure and yet, in spite of all these ingredients, unemployment doubled under the Labour Government and doubled again.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)


Mr. Alison

If throwing money at the problem could have solved persistent and growing northern region unemployment, it would long since have disappeared. But, like a shower in the desert, the money has largely washed away without creating any jobs. I remind the House that during the 1970s national income increased by 300 per cent.—a rate of more than 30 per cent. a year—while real output increased by only 25 per cent., or 2½ per cent. a year. In other words, virtually all the expenditure went up the chimney in prices. Is it any wonder that the British public is now ready to come to grips with the problem of inflation?

Mr. John Horam (Gateshead, West)


Mr. Alison

To allow as many hon. Members as possible to speak, I wish to make a short speech to defend the Government against the hon. Gentleman's swingeing attack.

It is the Government's conviction that, given an upturn in world trade, which the hon. Gentleman mocks so readily, the falling inflation rate and the fact that interest rates are falling, the money being spent in the region will provide a real springboard for the future.

I remind the House of what has been done in the way of expenditure for the northern region since the Government took office. The region has been given £469 million in regional development grants. The hon. Gentleman accused us of cutting back on what his Government did, but we have not done that. Pro rata, regional development grant expenditure is well up on what he and his party spent. The region has received selective assistance of about £80 million. The Government recognise that parts of the region suffer from serious urban deprivation, so £107 million has been allocated since 1978–79 to Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool under the urban programme. With the rest of Britain, the region benefits from many other support schemes for industry generally.

For example, under the Department of Industry's loan guarantee scheme, since June 1981, 318 guarantees have been issued in the region covering loans totalling £10.1 million. There are now enterprise zones at Newcastle, Gateshead, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough. The Government recognise the vital role that small firms can play in the economy, and during the past three years we have introduced no fewer than 98 separately identifiable schemes or measures to help small business men. However, profitable businesses, not Governments, in the end create worthwhile permanent jobs. The Government can pursue policies that help to create the right environment in which firms can prosper. Lower interest rates, reduced national insurance surcharge and, above all, the reduction in inflation help us to do that.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West was especially anxious about industrial development and the economic infrastructure. No less than £630 million has been spent by central and local government and the European Community in the past eight years to encourage the establishment of new manufacturing concerns in the region. Additionally, during the past three years alone, £1,000 million of public money has been invested in the region to upgrade the fuel, power, telecommunications, transport, water and sewerage services, all of which the hon. Gentleman said that we should help. We have done that, and it has enormously enhanced the attractiveness and the vitality of the local economic environment.

Since 1975, nearly 50 per cent. of the European regional development fund quota section grants for England have gone to the northern region. That is, again, a distinct shift of emphasis to that region. More than 300 large infrastructure projects, costing more than £100,000 each, including the Kielder reservoir, about which my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott) will know, and the Tyneside metro, have been assisted. Tyne and Wear and Cleveland are major beneficiaries under the non-quota section of the European regional development fund that assists small firms development and the re-use of redundant industrial premises. Much of county Durham can share in those benefits in 1984, which is a promising prospect. The north has also been one of the principal English beneficiaries from the European Coal and Steel Community, the European social fund and the European investment bank.

Despite the difficult circumstances, people in the region are finding jobs. During the past 12 months, more than 67,000 people were placed in employment by the Manpower Services Commission's employment service, and many more will have found jobs by other means. Of course, we still have a long way to go. In the meantime, we are protecting those hardest hit with our special employment and training measures, and about 22,000 people in the region are benefiting. In addition, 56,000 young people started courses under the youth opportunities programme in 1981–82. The hon. Gentleman made special reference to the needs and vulnerability of youths. That is an enormous increase in the numbers entering the scheme, and 42,000 have started courses since 1 April 1982.

Therefore, the news is not all gloomy and bad. It s no longer all about redundancies and firms closing. There are good news stories. Expansions are taking place, new projects are being set up and new jobs are being created to replace those that have been lost. However, it is not happening as fast as we would have wished.

Mr. Mike Thomas

Give an example.

Mr. Alison

I was about to finish my speech at that point, but I shall go on to answer the hon. Gentleman. One example is that Fisher Price of Peterlee is expected to create about 400 jobs by 1984 as a result of a multi-million pound investment that has already taken place. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East laughs, but I have given him the example for which he called. The Peterlee plant will be Fisher Price's largest plant outside the United States of America. Findus Frozen Foods Ltd in the Newcastle area is expected to create 700 new jobs by 1984. An electronics company, Isocom, has recently established itself in Hartlepool. It will create 70 new jobs during the next two years and could build up to a 450-strong work force by 1988. Swan Hunter on the Tyne has received some extremely lucrative orders in recent months. Opposition Members should not forget that, of the £700 million that has been given to support British Shipbuilders since nationalisation, £600 million has been given by this Government. Without the special help to assist Swan Hunter in winning the order for the replacement of the Atlantic Conveyor, there would be nothing like as much work for the company.

Opposition Members asked for examples of increases in real money going into the region. I have tried to show in this short speech that the real cause of the decline in jobs and the largest increase in real terms of the unemployed in percentage terms was the doubling and redoubling that occurred under the Labour Government. They started the tide flowing. It flowed into the period of office of this Government and has doubled yet again. But thanks to our policies on public spending and the control of inflation, there are better prospects—and we are already seeing the effects in the examples that I gave—than there has ever been of a regeneration in the north. This motion deserves to be repudiated.

7.48 pm
Mr. Frederick Wiley (Sunderland, North)

Of the Minister's speech I shall say only that it was infantile and, when he talked about a springboard, it was deceitful. I am speaking in this debate because it may be my last opportunity to speak in a debate on the north. Apart from the few years during the war, my political life has been spent in confrontation with the problem of unemployment. Even when the economy was going well I complained that in Sunderland we had more than twice the national average of unemployed. I also complained—I say this in view of the Minister's speech—that we did not and do not have an adequate and effective regional policy.

Before the war, in 1937, Hugh Dalton and his committee of inquiry came to the north-east to consider the distressed areas. I know, despite what my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West (Mr. Brown) said about our needs, that social provisions are radically better than they were in the 1930s and that the north-east is no longer a distressed area. But it may be surprising to the Minister that unemployment in Sunderland is as bad as it was in 1937. It is exceptionally bad and continually and rapidly getting worse. What is new is that one has only to go to the town now to realise that there are far too many unemployed people littered about. One has only to go to the town to realise that it now is being disfigured by industrial dereliction.

I emphasise my point about policy. I know that our bookshelves are full of reports about what should have been done in the 1960s, the 1970s and now in the 1980s and even the 1990s. They have not added much to dealing with the basic problems of the region. The same is true of Sunderland. Years ago, Sunderland town council did not tell woeful tales of its difficulties. It formulated and presented reports, it made practical suggestions, it met Ministers and officials, it held campaigns and did everything else that it could but the result was pitifully little.

As a result, we have become more parochial. We set up an industrial committee to provide an effective liaison between the council and people in the town who were affected by unemployment. More recently, we set up a "war for work" board. It includes representatives of the council and all those concerned with unemployment in the town. It includes officials, including some from the Manpower Services Commission. It does its best for the town within its resources. We have set up computer files on commerce and industry. We have helped with training. Indeed, we anticipated the report of the CBI and the TUC. We have assisted with information technology, we have held surgeries for those people who might venture into small businesses, we have held conferences and we have been in touch with the EC bureaucracy in Brussels but we have not succeeded in getting the feasibility study that we wanted. It looks as though we shall get one for Tyne and Wear and we shall try to provide a focus on the difficulties in Sunderland.

I believe that the decision to carry out feasibility studies for the whole of Tyne and Wear was wrong. If we are examining the regions, we must try to establish manageable units and see what we can do there. Over the years, I have made a score of proposals about what might be done about Sunderland. I still believe that it would be useful to have a commissioner for Sunderland. We must try to develop an effective executive to deal with the problems. The "war for work" board has contributed to that, but it is limited because it depends on its own resources. It has had the great advantage of the enthusiastic co-operation of the town council and the valuable co-operation of the Sunderland Echo. We have done all that we can and will continue to do so. I suggest that the Government might assist us.

That would be a beginning. The Government are always telling us to help ourselves. Here is a community that has probably done more than any other in an attempt to help itself. We need Government assistance. That would help, although the help is likely to be minimal compared with our massive unemployment and the massive loss of jobs that we have suffered. I do not want to create difficulties, but the loss to Korea of the order that the Sunderland shipyard might have had may have been the last knock that one of our important yards will get. Shipyards are now in peril. It is a national disaster. We have only four and a half merchant shipyards in the country. If one of them is lost—it makes little difference whether it is mothballed—it will be a serious loss to Sunderland and a grave aggravation to our problems. Will the Minister examine the problem to see what he can do to help those people who have tried to help themselves? The scale of unemployment is becoming unmanageable. That is also a political threat. I hope that one thing that we get out of this debate is a promise from the Government that they will at least do a little to help Sunderland with its difficulties.

7.55 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

It was informative and moving for the House to hear the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) speak. He has long experience of unemployment in one of the north's worst unemployment blackspots. What he said underlined the fact that the problem of unemployment has been with us for a long time. No one can complain that it has all been created by the present Government. I disagree with the wording of the Opposition motion in that respect.

However, the Minister of State seemed to show no appreciation of the scale of the tragedy that exists in the north. He had no understanding of what it means to have the highest rate of unemployment in Britain. It is now on a scale that puts vast numbers of people who are of prime working age out of work. For many years, we have had the problem of older men who lose their jobs not being able to find fresh work. Now, however, people in the age range during which people are normally employed are out of work. We also have a serious problem of youth unemployment. It is a tragedy of massive proportions.

The tone of the Minister's speech suggested that he has not begun to grasp what is involved, still less address himself to the problem. I invite any hon. Member who doubts that assessment to get a member of the public to read the Minister's speech.

There are several ways in which the Government should address themselves to the problem. Some concern their general economic policy and others their regional policy.

With regard to the latter, I shall concentrate on the rural and coal mining areas of Northumberland which are my principal concern.

However, I shall deal with general economic policy first. It has a bearing on the whole of the north-east. Unless the Government are able to embark on an economic policy that involves significant public investment, the north-east will continue to suffer. The Government are held back from undertaking that type of investment because they believe that inflation can be controlled only by monetary measures. Because the Government are unwilling to embark on an incomes policy, they are unwilling to embark on the other side of the equation—serious public investment. The result is that they pay to keep people out of work rather than paying to keep them in work.

My party and my colleagues in the Social Democratic party have argued for a programme of investment that is associated with a different general economic policy which would enable us to start investing in what the community needs for the future. That would bring immediate benefits to some of our key industries in the north-east. If we started building again, not only would our construction industry benefit, but brickyards and quarries would start to operate rather than remaining in their depressed state. If work on renewing out-dated sewerage systems got under way, our concrete pipe manufacturers would be in work again rather than having to stockpile and lay off staff. If we electrified our railway system, we should improve communications to the north and create jobs in the process. There is a range of activities in which investment would provide what the region needs for the future and provide jobs at the same time. We should improve the environment by tackling the problem of derelict land. As was said earlier, we now have more derelict land than when the derelict land reclamation programmme started. Unless the Government's economic policy changes, the north is condemned to remain in an appalling condition.

There are many areas of specific regional policy about which I am deeply worried. Not long ago the Government removed development area status from the whole of my constituency and reduced the Alnwick and Amble travel-to-work area to intermediate status. Just before Christmas the Government devised a new method of calculating the unemployment figures in the hope that this would show unemployment at a lower level. All that happened in my constituency was that the new system demonstated unemployment to be higher than the Government had realised. The level of unemployment in the Alnwick and Amble area increased from 15 to 18 per cent. Faced with this appalling figure, how can the Government possibly defend the taking away of development area status in what has, for a long time, been an unemployment problem area?

Alnwick now finds itself with a significantly higher rate of unemployment than many places in development areas or special development areas. I do not understand how the local authorities and others can be expected to tackle the problems of the area if they are outbid all the time by special development areas, some in relatively prosperous parts of the country and some even in relatively prosperous parts of the region, that have far higher levels of assistance available to them. The Minister will by now have received representations from Northumberland county council on this matter.

At the same time as the figures show the high level of unemployment in the Alnwick and Amble area, the Government have decided to restrict the opening of the Amble jobcentre to two days a week. As there are no jobs for the jobcentre to display in the window, the Government have decided that the jobcentre itself is not necessary. Its very existence will be threatened as the next stage of scrutiny proceeds. It is depressing for those trying to help themselves in such an area constantly to find Government decisions working against them.

The Minister has referred to the number of grants received by the north from the European Community. Yet the local authorities find that whenever they receive European Community support for a project, there is no net benefit. The recognition by the European Community that the region has problems is negated by Government decisions to claw back funds by assuming that the money can replace expenditure that the Government themselves might have spent. The net effect is to lower the effective degree of priority according to the region. Instead of Europe contributing something extra in recognition of the north's problems, the value of the contribution is reduced.

The most rural parts of the north face particular problems. We are grateful at least that the development commission remains at work carrying out a valuable job in producing advance factories, small workshops and imaginative projects of various kinds. I hope that it will retain its flexibility for the kind of work that it performs.

However, a number of other Government bodies seem to be under pressure to pursue policies that are severely detrimental. For instance, the Government have told the Forestry Commission to take action that will cause further unemployment in rural areas. An instruction has been given for the commission to change its management structure so that there are no longer local offices in individual forest areas. This removes valuable jobs.

Even more dramatic in its effect is the Government's insistence that the commission must sell large plots of forest throughout the region. Pressure seems to be mounting to sell more in the northern region because of the degree of opposition to forest sales encountered in other parts of the country. Forestry work, instead of being carried out by people living in forestry villages, which were built to provide employment in rural areas, will be done by contractors from towns and cities many miles away. Rural unemployment will be generated by the determination to sell off more forestry land. The countryside was persuaded to accept forestry and to lose much good sheep farming land where shepherds were employed on the basis that this would provide employment in the rural areas. That employment is now being taken by contractors from the urban areas.

The north does not have the voice in Government that it should have. There is no Secretary of State who can threaten to resign if a major loss of jobs is threatened in the north of England. There is no Select Committee on the affairs of the northern region. There is no northern development agency. There is no body that has the weight in Government that is possessed by some other parts of the United Kingdom.

No such body was provided under the previous Labour Government. In all the discussions on devolution, we never achieved the northern development agency to which we felt entitled. It is therefore even more incumbent on the Minister of State to ensure that the north gets a fairer deal. Any examination of the state of unemployment in the north demonstrates that the north is not getting that fair deal. Little hope has been generated by what Ministers have had to say today.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Ernest Armstrong)

Sir William Elliott.

Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I note that there are two Conservative Members trying to catch your eye whose constituencies are not situated in the northern region. I seek your guidance, Sir. When there are so many Opposition Members wishing to speak, is it proper that the two hon. Members to whom I have referred should be trying to intervene in a debate on an area in which their constituencies are not located?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

This is a debate in the House. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Chair takes note of the many reasons that hon. Members have for feeling that they should be called.

8.5 pm

Sir William Elliott (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)

I find that point of order a little unfair but it is not for me to say so. It occupied a certain amount of what is already a short period allowed for the debate.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has, as always, put a good case for his constituency interest. He is right to do so. I know the Amble and Alnwick areas. I do not, however, agree with what the hon. Gentleman had to say about the north not having full Government consideration. I do not believe that to be true now or in the past, under both Conservative and Labour Governments. If anything, the north has had an excess of Government consideration. The hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) laughs, but I believe this to be so. During the period of the Labour Government so many Labour Ministers came to Newcastle that I made the calculation that they were arriving at the rate of two and a half a week.

Mr. Dormand

That shows commitment.

Sir William Elliott

I agree that the commitment has always existed. That is the point I was making to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed. That commitment remains. The letters that I receive from Government Ministers informing me, out of courtesy, that they will be visiting Newcastle are frequent. I do not believe that the northern region has ever been neglected by Governments of either party.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West (Mr. Brown) was kind enough to say that I have intervened in these debates on a number of occasions. I have tried to work out how many—I am always doing measurements with my excellent, long-serving and long-suffering secretary—debates of this nature I have taken part in. The most accurate calculation we could make is two a year, which means that I have spoken in about 50. The debates are a little unbalanced in one respect. There are always more Labour Members than Conservative Members present. I have always maintained that this is a temporary embarrassment.

In any case, it is good to be debating once again with my fellow Members of Parliament representing the northern region. I have been attending these occasions for a long time, although the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) has served even longer. It was interesting to hear the right hon. Gentleman suggest that he may have taken part in his last northern debate. I suppose that the same may apply in my case. We never know. I have always listened to the right hon. Gentleman with great respect. The right hon. Gentleman feels deeply about the town of Sunderland, which he has represented with distinction for many years.

The problem of unemployment has always featured in debates on the northern region. That is what we have to appreciate, whichever side of the House we are on. I have spoken in these debates from both the Opposition and the Government Benches. Whether my party has been in Government or Opposition, the problem of unemployment has been with us. I entered the House 25 years ago. Believe it or not, the north at that time had reasonably full employment, according to the late Hugh Gaitskell's measurement of full employment. The storm clouds were gathering, however, and it was then that the lord mayor of Newcastle called the first conference to consider the problems posed for the area by the contraction of major industries.

Since then, under both Labour and Conservative Governments, the problem of unemployment has been progressive. The problem is unavoidable in an area with a contracting major industry. Secondly, the problem is unavoidable anywhere in this country or in any other modern western country, because of the advance of automation. Whatever answers are suggested, the problem will remain with us. Perhaps we have not yet found the right answers, but we keep trying. Both Labour and Conservative Governments have tried, and to some extent they have succeeded. The motion suggests that the Government are creating "an industrial desert". That is an unfortunate suggestion. I thought that we had left that phrase behind years ago, and I suggest that we should do so right now. The north needs to attract new business and new enterprise. Will people from outside be encouraged to create jobs there if it is suggested that the region is an industrial desert? That suggestion is nonsense.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

The hon. Gentleman ought to quote from the motion. We say that the north is in imminent danger of becoming an industrial desert".

Sir William Elliott

I take the hon. Gentleman's point, but I still dislike the phrase. In the early debates on the region in which I took part, the House tried to get away from that phrase because it gave the wrong impression of a splendid area in which any business might well develop successfully.

Mr. Mike Thomas

I go a long way with the argument of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott). I do not particularly like the words in the Labour motion. However, it is hard to convince the people of Newcastle—the city that both the hon. Gentleman and I represent—that things are going well and that the Government are behaving properly when one of the two shipyards in my constituency is now on a care and maintenance basis and there are already 1,800 redundancies coming down the track and more have been announced. If ships had not, unfortunately, been sunk in the Falklands, those yards would be in even more desperate trouble. The power plant industry may well be under threat as well. Those are the practicalities. How does the hon. Gentleman explain them to the people of Newcastle?

Sir William Elliott

I have been explaining things to the people of Newcastle for a long time, and I shall continue to do so. As many hon. Members want to speak in this debate, I hope that I shall not be interrupted at length. I have certain things to say and, like the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North, I may not have another opportunity to say them.

We know about the problems of the shipyards. We are trying to overcome them. If I may keep to the unfortunate suggestion in the motion about an industrial desert, there are many bright spots. So much good is happening in the northern region. The excellent firm of NEI Parsons of Heaton has recently won an enormous contract which could be worth £50 million. I believe that the suggestion that the region is an industrial desert does more harm than anything else.

To suggest that there has not been Government spending on the infrastructure of the region is also a fallacy. As has been pointed out, the Tyneside metro system is the most modern railway system in the world.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

That was under a Labour Government.

Sir William Elliott

With respect, it was a Conservative Government, but there was general agreement on both sides of the House.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

The Conservatives tried to kill it.

Sir William Elliott

There was agreement on both sides that it should come into being. There was a certain hesitation because of the cost, but I am happy to say that I believe that the then Conservative Minister of Transport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton), was finally persuaded by Dame Irene Ward and myself. I believe that we tipped the balance during the course of a long and heated afternoon, but whether or not that was the case the system exists and it is nonsense to suggest that there has not been Government spending on the region. Again, in relation to that well-worn word "infrastructure", I believe that the north-east has the finest road system anywhere in the country. I defy any other to match it. Of course, all this was not only the work of Conservative Governments. Both Labour and Conservative Governments have done their best to improve the area and to get the infrastructure right, and they have largely succeeded.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West suggested that the region needed a "positive regional dimension". What on earth does that mean?

Mr. Robert C. Brown

A regional policy.

Sir William Elliott

He seemed to want yet another body—perhaps a Minister for the North or another regional planning council, if one dares mention that term—but the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North and I, and indeed other hon. Members, have been through all that before. We went through all that in the 1960s. Having won the 1964 election, the Labour Government said loudly and clearly that they intended to correct regional imbalance and to put the north of England and other development areas into balance with the rest of the country. Lord George-Brown, very impressive as the then Minister responsible, set up the economic planning councils, including one for the northern region. Is that what the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West means by a "positive regional dimension"? I name no names, but when that council had been in existence for some time, its officers invited all Members of Parliament for the northern region to Wellbar House in Newcastle to hear what the council was doing. The chairman made a long speech, at the end of which Lord Shinwell, then a Member of this House, asked him what the council had actually achieved so far. The answer, after a good deal of hesitation, was that it had brought together 13 planning authorities. That was as much as the chairman could say.

Where is the economic planning council now? It has gone. Whatever happened to the National Plan, introduced by the Labour Government at that time? It has gone. It is on the bookshelves, as the right hon. Member for Sunderland, North mentioned. It is no good suggesting that there is an easy answer. If anyone says there is one, I denounce him wholeheartedly on the basis of my experience as a Member of Parliament. Both parties detest unemployment. Members of both parties from the northeast of England have striven in their time in this House to do something about it. We strive to some effect. It is no good imagining that by a change of Government the problem of unemployment can be cured in the northern region or elsewhere. Does anyone seriously believe that?

Is anyone from the Opposition Benches seriously suggesting to the north-east of England and to the nation that the election of a Labour Government will end unemployment? I do not believe it for one moment. The gloom that is engendered does no good at all. There is so much happening that is good.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Come on, it is our debate.

Sir William Elliott

If the hon. Gentleman says "It is our debate"—[Interruption.]

Mr. Mike Thomas

They think they own the Louse of Commons.

Sir William Elliott

That is right. They possibly do think they own the House of Commons. That kind of remark will encourage me to go on much longer. I have had a lot of practice on over 50 occasions. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West and I attended the opening of Vickers in the hon. Gentleman's constituency, in the centre of Newcastle. That magnificent building is bang in the middle of an enterprise zone established by this Government. The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that that magnificent building, which is very important for Newcastle, for his constituents and for mine, would not be standing today but for the enterprise zone legislation of this Government.

I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite try to keep in touch with English Industrial Estates, as do I. Day by day and week by week that organisation tells a very encouraging story. English Industrial Estates reports to me—these are hard facts—that lettings of factories on its estates are in general 88.5 per cent. above the same period last year. In the Team valley and Hartlepool enterprise zones the lettings are most encouraging. Ten new factories have been established in the Hartlepool enterprise zone in the past year. That must be very good news for the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) who is, as always on these occasions, in his place. Twenty new factories have been established in the enterprise zone at Team valley. The Government were very wise when they extended the enterprise zone system in the north of England. We now have another two enterprise zones. There is nevertheless still a great deal to trouble us all about the northern region.

I shall oblige the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West when I say that we are now experiencing a slow but distinct economic revival.

Mr. John Ryman (Blyth)

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves the point of the enterprise zones, may I ask whether he would agree that there has been a net loss of regional aid as the special development areas were abolished by the Government as early as August 1979?

Sir William Elliott

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to employment in the country as a whole, as far as English Industrial Estates is concerned, there is a break-even position, but in the northern region there is a deficit. The deficit is being overtaken. I believe that the work of English Industrial Estates is to be highly commended by us all. A great deal is happening that is good. We have some splendid industry in the north-east of England. How splendid are the efforts of the NEI, which is so important to the constituency of the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East and to the whole of the northern region. Our industry in general, be it large or small, is doing well at this time. We are experiencing problems with closures, but there are openings. The closing of the Consett steelworks was serious in terms of employment. When one thinks of the 3,500 job losses at Consett, the problem is enormous. Nevertheless, Findus Foods has introduced 900 new jobs by establishing a factory at Longbenton. At Consett No. 1, as we call the estate, half of that estate is now developed and there are new factories there. There are strong hopes of many more new factories.

I believe that the north-east of England has a great deal to contribute to the common good. The north-east of England is a proud area. We are a proud people. When I go home from London every weekend to Newcastle I cross over the river Tyne, the queen of rivers. I look at the array of royal bridges as I go into the proud city of Newcastle upon Tyne, part of which it has been my privilege to represent in this House for the past 25 years. The north-east of England wishes, above all, to play its full part in the strong economic future of this country as it certainly played its part in our strong economic past.

It has been a great privilege to serve in the House for one of the great cities of our country.

8.28 pm
Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)

During my time in this House I have attended every debate on regional affairs, as has the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott). On all of those occasions I have never heard a more arrogant or superficial speech from a Minister than I heard tonight. I tell the Minister of State, Department of Employment, and I speak for my hon. and right hon. Friends, how much we resent his reference to the Chair tonight. We take grave exception to that. He tried to turn the reference into a compliment. He is usually recognised as an honourable man. That remark ought never to have been made. We hope that at some point in the debate he will withdraw it.

Mr. Alison

I am proud to count the Deputy Speaker as a close and personal friend. I would be deeply upset if I thought that anything I had said could have been interpreted as in any way disrespectful to him. I was merely trying to point out that as a north-eastern Member he must sit silent during the debate and that, even though he may have his own views, he would not express them or in any way take part in the debate. I therefore apologise through the hon. Gentleman to our mutual hon. Friend.

Mr. Dormand

I am grateful.

The Minister referred to part of my constituency and talked about the 400 jobs that had been created at the Fisher Price toy factory in Peterlee. Perhaps the Minister will tell us how many jobs have been lost in Peterlee since the Government came to power. I suspect that they amount to many hundreds more than those that have been created. It was, therefore, quite irresponsible to make such a remark.

I shall be brief because I know that many of my hon. Friends wish to contribute to the debate. I too wish to refer to the then Secretary of State for Industry, the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph). In the first debate on regional policy in this Parliament, the right hon. Gentleman said: There has to be self-help in the assisted areas. There has to be enterprise, competitiveness, high productivity and a reputation for co-operation between management and the work force … if they are to reach the level of employment that we all want them to reach".—[Official Report, 24 July 1979; Vol. 971, c. 373.] The right hon. Gentleman said that as if it were Tory party philosophy, but he could have been describing the northern region as it is today. I challenge the Minister to say which of those aspects of self-help are not present in abundance in the north. I start on that note because we in the region are sometimes accused of being too quick to thrust out the begging bowl. Nothing could be further from the truth. We believe in self-help.

The Government often say that regions such as the north can benefit only if the national economy is thriving, but that is not true either. At times when the country was prosperous or reasonably prosperous, the region still had more than its share of unemployment, lack of investment and fewer resources of all kinds than the rest of the country. It is, therefore, even more important in times like the present for the Government to have a regional dimension to all their policies.

However, what do we see in the public expenditure White Paper published last week? The Government are reducing regional aid and cutting back on moneys to the nationalised industries on which the north depends so heavily. Regional and general industrial support is being cut by 21 per cent., to £642 million in the next financial year, 1983–84, and the projections for the following two years imply a further cutback. That is a measure of the Government's interest in and concern for regional policy.

It reminds one of their doctrinaire decision to remove development controls which has benefited the more prosperous areas of the country. It reminds one of their recent decision to transfer their regional offices to other parts of the country. It reminds one of their decision to stop the transfer of Civil Service jobs to the region. That was a disgraceful act. Among other things, it would have meant 1,000 jobs in Middlesbrough, but there were other implications. Small wonder that the northern region, with its 235,435 unemployed, has the highest percentage of jobless—18.1 per cent.—in the United Kingdom outside of Northern Ireland.

The Government's misjudgments and incompetence are nowhere demonstrated more clearly than in their decision to wind up the development corporations of the region's three new towns at the end of 1985. The three new towns are the most successful job finding agencies in the northern region, and the need for them will continue long after 1985. The announcement of the termination is already causing experienced and dedicated staffs to leave the corporations. I beg the Government to think again before it is too late. I know that the two Ministers present do not have direct responsibility for this matter, but I hope that they will convey my remarks in the strongest terms possible to the Minister responsible in the Department of the Environment.

The motion deals with unemployment in the northern region, but it is not possible, nor is it right, to deal with unemployment in isolation. The problem of the north is multi-deprivation in health, housing, education, low incomes, training, the environment and, despite what the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North said, communications and infrastructure. The Government could make deliberate decisions in those areas so that there could be positive discrimination in favour of our region. If there were time, I could give more statistics to show how far we are below the provision in other parts of the country.

We hear the parrot cry from the Government—we have already heard it tonight—that they are pumping this sum and that sum into the north for this project and that project, but surely at some stage the Ministers concerned must say "Whatever we are doing, it is not succeeding". I and my hon. Friends have said that the number of unemployed continues to rise and remains the highest in the country. Our people say that the Government either do not care or are incompetent. I do not say that. I say that they are both incompetent and they do not care. The record proves it.

Why do not the Government try some of the obvious remedies, such as transferring civil servants' jobs, refusing to allow the closure of pits except for geological reasons, and locating the next Inmos factory in the northern region? It is entirely within the power of the Government to do that. I could give further examples.

Let me refer instead to an interesting speech that was made three months ago by the Minister of State at the Department of Industry, the hon. Member for Kingston upon Thames (Mr. Lamont). He said that the Government were determined to do what they could to disperse to the regions the head offices and research and development activities of all types of industries. I do not say that that proposal would solve the region's unemployment overnight, but I welcome the thinking behind it. I should like to know what has been done about it since, and whether we could have the same response from the Ministers on the Front Bench tonight.

If there were time, I could give many more constructive suggestions on which the Government could act immediately without waiting for the famous upturn—about which we have heard again tonight—that has been forecast by half a dozen Ministers on half a dozen occasions, but which, unfortunately, is as elusive as ever. It is to the eternal discredit of a Member from the northern region that he contributed to those false hopes. I refer, of course, to the right hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan), the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who, with such perceptive vision, saw signs of success all about him when the rest of us were metaphorically blind to such a spectacle.

The problems of the north are exacerbated by the Government's misconceived economic policies, not least their slavish adherence to monetarism. We in the Labour party say that there are many things that the Government can do now to alleviate our difficulties. I hope that they will not close their mind to the practical and immediate proposals put forward in this debate. All the research reports—of which there have been many, and to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) referred—that have been published in recent months show that there is an ever-widening gap, both social and economic, between the unemployed and the employed. However, there is an additional dimension, and that is the ever-growing gap between the north of the country and the south of the country. That is something that the Government should bear in mind at all times. It cannot be good for the social fabric of the country.

In conclusion, we in the north do not ask for the moon. We simply ask the Government to provide the framework which will release the energy, initiative and dedication of our people to make better lives for their families and to make their contribution to the success of our country, as they have done so faithfully in the past.

8.38 pm
Mr. John Horam (Gateshead, West)

Despite the laundry list of so-called achievements which was read out by the Minister in his best head-down, brief-reading style, the Government must shoulder some responsibility for the present position of industry and unemployment in the northern region.

This a banker's Government, a Government who at times seem to run their economic policies solely and exclusively for the benefit of the City of London; and the consequences for industry have been hard indeed. Manufacturing output is now back to the level of 1965. That is a disaster not only for the country but for the northern region which is heavily reliant on manufacturing industry, as many hon. Members have said today. The cruel position of the steel and shipbuilding industries in particular shows how dependent we are on manufacturing industries, despite the progress that we have made in electronics, engineering, textiles and other areas.

The Government's concern with financial rectitude at the expense of industrial common sense has not been offset by any real understanding of regional policy. Indeed, the Government appear to pay as little regard to any coherent idea of regional policy as they do to the northern region itself.

Also, we have been beset by a shift in Government policy towards greater centralisation which has reduced even the power of the region to help itself. That is something which I and perhaps many other hon. Members did not expect. The structure of the rate support grant for local government has been steadily twisted away from its original idea towards ever greater centralisation. The Transport Bill, opposed by all Opposition parties, has given the Government additional power to intervene and control in an extremely detailed way.

Much less publicised has been the reorganisation of Government in the name of efficiency which has worked in the same way. The Rayner report on the reorganisation of the Department of Health and Social Security has meant that the northern region has lost social security offices which are now centralised from Leeds. As a result there has been a stop on the promotion of people in that service and a whole grade of jobs has been removed from the region, incalculably affecting promotion and the career structure of people in the region.

We now have the Gracey report on the reorganisation of the Inland Revenue which will have similar and discouraging effects.

We have got used to the idea in the northern region that the unfettered play of market forces always tended to make us a branch economy of the United Kingdom. It now seems that the Conservatives are intent on making the civil servants of the region the branch workers of the Government, fit only to do routine and menial tasks while the decisions and prospects of real promotion lie elsewhere.

It is not enough to blame the Government, however. Nor, I am sorry to say, does the answer lie in the indiscriminate spending on a huge scale which has been recommended by the report of the North of England County Councils Association, which is now, as we know, Labour controlled. That report, appropriately covered in black, was widely recognised as a disaster which did the region real damage, not simply because of what was said but because it revealed that the Labour leaders of the county councils were completely bereft of ideas. It is not enough, as the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) said, to bemoan what is wrong and fail to come forward with positive ideas about how to put it right. It is not enough just to hang out the begging bowl and expect the Government to do something about it—especially this Government. That is to fail the people of the northern region. We should demonstrate clearly that we too have a strategy and that that strategy is directly relevant to the problems of the northern region as the people are experiencing them from day to day. That strategy should at the moment concentrate on the following points.

First, we need a capital expenditure package, for general reasons as well as regional reasons, which is concentrated not only on large projects, in terms of hospitals, bypasses and other nationalised industry projects, but on a range of small projects such as home heating, insulation and renovation. This, cumulatively, would give the region the immediate prospect of an improvement in employment.

The Government should also recognise their responsibility to buy British wherever possible. That does not always entail greater expense as the Government allege. The money spent on the replacement of the Atlantic Conveyor by way of subsidy will be recouped in two or three years by taxes, national insurance contributions, and so on, paid by those who were put back into work. Similar thinking should have gone into the recent decision on the cable-laying ship. I have read the exchanges between the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon), the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) and others early on Tuesday morning and it seems to me that the Government evaded all the questions implicit in this very complicated decision by hiding behind the fact that the CEGB was neither purchasing nor owning the ship in question. Much more detailed thought on the part of the Government should have gone into this decision.

As well as a capital expenditure package there must be particular help for small businesses. The National Federation of Self Employed and Small Businesses pointed out the other day that 80 per cent. of small companies have a turnover of less than £100,000. That is an area in which the northern region is quite well represented. Those small companies are the seed corn for future growth in the region. If we help them, we help the region in a fundamental way. I was glad that the federation pointed out that very few of the Government's measures have gone to help those very small companies.

The Government should put a ceiling on capital grants and, with the money saved, bring in a fresh grant structure to build up our human capital, enabling companies, local authorities, the Health Service and so on to pay more to skilled people whom they wish to employ in the northern region. That is the right way not only to retain the talent we have but to encourage more from outside. From what I read in the papers, the Government appear to be considering a review of capital grants. What I fear is that they will simply cut them without making a corresponding increase in our ability to build up the potential in human terms of the northern region. It is, above all, on the people who live in the northern region that our success will depend.

The Government should establish some central mechanism to look at the regional consequences of public expenditure. The Minister of State, who has now left the Chamber, passing on the dreadful task to his colleague, referred to the wasteful nature of much public expenditure. The fact is that this Government, despite their much vaunted, virtuous control of public expenditure, are spending annually £530 million of taxpayers' money on persuading companies to move but £800 million on persuading them to stay where they are. That is absolutely ridiculous. What a convoluted policy we have, where companies are persuaded, on the one hand, to go to new towns and, on the other, to stay in old inner city areas such as Gateshead and central Newcastle. That cannot make sense in any Government's terms.

The north is relatively badly represented in the growth areas of the new technologies. When a range of companies in the United Kingdom were recently asked whether they had produced a new product in the past five years, 83 per cent. of them in the country as a whole said "yes" but only 42 per cent. in the northern region. That is the sort of problem we have to tackle at base. I am glad to see the Minister nodding his head. The Government need to respond to that problem by stepping up the funds for higher education centres in the north of England instead of cutting them back.

They have just lopped half a million pounds off the budget of the Newcastle polytechnic. At the same time, they should link that to the establishment of a new technology centre, or centres, in the north, which would enable companies in the north progressively to upgrade their products and improve the quality of the goods that they sell to the world. That is the right approach. Only if we obtain that structured approach to regional policy, and only if it is combined with imagination, verve and some Government commitment, will the despair which is evident to all those of us who represent the north be replaced by hope.

8.50 pm
Mr. Neville Trotter (Tynemouth)

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott) has reminded us that the problem of unemployment has existed in the region for a long time. He has served the House and the region with distinction for 25 years and I hope that he may yet take part in another debate on the north-east before his well-earned retirement. I have served in the public life of the area for about 20 years and throughout that time the hunt for jobs has been at the forefront of the minds of those in the north-east. For as long as I can remember we have had to run to stand still even in the good times. As my hon. Friend has said, the reason for that is that we have relied too much on the traditional industries, which are no longer the industries of the future in terms of employment. I refer to such industries as steel, shipbuilding, heavy engineering and coal. It comes as no surprise that at a time of the worst depression that the world has seen for half a century, the situation should be particularly serious for those industries and consequently for our region.

Mr. Mike Thomas

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. On a subject of this gravity, is it in order for those who have raised the debate on behalf of the official Opposition not even to be represented on the Front Bench?

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and the House know that that is a matter for argument and not something over which I have any control.

Mr. Trotter

In due course, no doubt someone will return to the Opposition Front Bench.

It is little comfort to a boilermaker at Swan Hunters or on the Wear who has lost or is in danger of losing his job to be told that the problem is worldwide. That comes as little comfort to someone who faces unemployment in the immediate future. It does not help to be told that the same thing is happening in Germany, Holland, and the other countries of the Western world. Our people are seeking some hope at the end of the tunnel and want to see some end to the gloom and despair. I agree with those who have said that too many of the statistics bandied around portray an attitude of despair. The statistical picture is not reflected in the life that I see around me in the north-east. Statistics can be made to mean anything, but the north-east is not a desert. That is not the north-east to which my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North and I return over the Tyne bridge every Friday.

However, it is fair for those in the north-east to ask when the present worries will come to an end. The true answer is that no one really knows. However, there have been successes. Mention has been made of the new Vickers tank factory, and some of us attended its opening only recently. We have also heard about large orders that Northern Engineering Industries has won against ferocious worldwide competition. Last week I spoke on a shipping matter to Cunard at Trafalgar House and was delighted to hear that it has recently invested £40 million in its Cleveland Bridge company. I was even more delighted to hear that this company had won an order for £20 million of steel to be provided for a power station in Berlin, although I understand that that was not well received by the German steel industry. However, it shows what is being done, and can be done, and that successes are being achieved by firms in the north-east.

Some fundamental changes have taken place that give us ground for hope in the not too distant future. It would be wrong to say a few weeks or months, but there is ground for genuine optimism in the foreseeable future. Our industry is much more efficient, productive and competitive than it was. The pound is down by one-third. That must help our exporters immeasurably. The combination of greater productivity and the fall in the pound will lead to an upsurge in export orders.

I spoke this week to representatives of the CBI in the north-east. I did not put words into their mouths. Before I raised the subject, they told me that they saw the first sign of things getting better—not only in Britain, but in the United States. One of our problems is that we cannot restore the health of our economy until the world economy improves. That will depend for its timing largely on the health of the American economy. The CBI in the north-east is beginning to see signs of an upturn. There is light at the end of the tunnel, although it would not be right to say for how long the tunnel stretches ahead of us.

There is no easy solution. The fundamental problem of reliance on the wrong industries for the present generation and the future will be with us for the next 25 years, as much as it has been with us for the past 25 years. That problem will be debated in the House for a long time to come. A major period of transition lies ahead. There will be great upheaval for all industries in Western countries. The traditional relationship between Western countries and the developing countries is drastically altered, and cannot be reversed.

The Shipbuilding Bill has been debated in Committee at some length during recent weeks. We heard a great deal about the problems of that industry—especially the effect of the dramatic development in competition from the Far East. We heard how the Korean shipyards work twice the hours per week of the Western shipyards and that the pay is perhaps one-half or one-third of Western wages. There were suggestions that those shipyards were subsidised. As I said in Committee, if they pay one-half of the wages and work twice the hours, they do not need subsidy to be a formidable competitor.

The Japanese are reducing the prices of their ships by 30 per cent. to compete with the Korean yards. They are not too successful. Furthermore, there are no social overheads in countries such as Korea. There are few, if any, regulations about safety at work. There are no state pensions. There is only a primitive infrastructure in education, health and all the other facilities that the West takes for granted. Partly as a result of that minimum spending on overheads, they have invested an incredible percentage of their national income in new plant for their factories. Thus they have not only the benefit of extremely low wages and long hours, but the most modern of plants. That formidable competition now faces the traditional industries in the West. It will not go away, and there is no way in which we can legislate it out of existence.

When I returned from one visit to the Far East, friends in the shipbuilding industry on the Tyne asked why we could not legislate to deal with that competition. How can we do that? We can debate day and night in the House, but the competition will still exist, and we must face that. A fundamental rethink is needed. The north—and, indeed, the country—must unite to meet the challenge.

The depression will end and things will get better in the short term, but the long-term problems will remain. One problem is the shortage of small businesses in the north-east. I do not write off the large, heavy industries—I cannot accept that there will be no future at all for steelmaking, shipbuilding, or the other traditional industries. There must be some base line below which we cannot go, although we can argue about where that should be. We must remain a major, industrial nation if we are to have any future at all.

Many future jobs will undoubtedly have to be provided by service industry, small firms, and a completely different type of business from that upon which we have relied in the past. There is no doubt that here the north is at a disadvantage. It is lacking in two respects. First, it does not have the headquarters of the larger firms and is, therefore, lacking in top management. It is lacking in the marketing activity, and the financial activity that go with the headquarters of large undertakings. To some extent, it is lacking research and development, and the new products that also go with the headquarters of large undertakings. We have a big disadvantage here compared with Scotland, for example, because the nationalist feeling in Scotland has led to the headquartering of organisations and industries that we have not seen in the north-east.

The second shortage is of sufficient entrepreneurs. The Government are, quite rightly, doing all that they can to encourage small businesses. In the United States, the figures are very interesting. Firms with fewer than 20 employees create over half the jobs in the United States, and firms with fewer than 100 employees create nearly three quarters of the jobs. That will be the pattern for us in the future, and that will be the scale of the additional jobs we shall need.

One of our problems in the north-east is that we have about 40 per cent. below the national average in the number of small firms. I am sorry to hear that only about 300 of the Government loan guarantee schemes have been taken up in the north-east out of about 7,500 in the whole country. I am sorry that there are not more coming forward to take advantage of these schemes. Money is not lacking—I speak with a toe still in the practice of accountancy. What is lacking is takers for the money. We have to give a great deal of thought to this.

We should look at our education system in this regard. Are we doing enough to encourage people to set up on their own and take the initiative and the chance to become entrepreneurs? I suspect that we are not. We should be giving more of our time to this problem.

This is a minor but important point. I should like to see the enterprise allowances applied to the north-east, preferably to some of my constituents. However, I should think regionally, so I hope that the scheme could be applied somewhere in the north-east. The idea is that those who are not in a job can get an advance of money from the Government with which they can set up in a small way. That is a scheme worth encouraging. At present, it operates in five parts of the country, and the cost is not very great, so I should like to see it extended to the north-east. It would be of psychological advantage to the north-east if it was included in that experimental scheme. Some of those without a job could then be given a chance to use their enthusiasm and energy to start on their own.

I do not know to what extent it is possible for us to encourage more research and development in the north-east. We shall have to look to this carefully in the future because it is out of research and development that the new ideas, the new technology and the new products will come, upon which jobs will depend in the future. Many of our firms are already prominent in this effort, but more needs to be done.

In the long run, it is our own efforts in the north-east that will lead to a successful solution of our problems. These problems cannot be underestimated and are due to a fundamental change in the industrial background of the Western world upon which we particularly depend by history and tradition. A great effort will be needed, and it will have to come from us.

There is much effort going on in the north, and there is much enthusiasm and activity to help business both small and large, although mostly small. The banks are helpful, and not only in the lending of money. Barclays is funding small workshops. Recently, I talked to the British Steel Corporation (Industry) at Consett. A manager from Barclays bank has been seconded there to help administer and organise its scheme.

The Durham business school and the Newcastle polytechnic are enthusiastically exerting a great deal of effort to encourage and assist the available entrepreneurs. It is a pity that more use is not being made of these schemes, due to lack of entrepreneurs in the area.

I am delighted to read that the North-East Development Council has been praised by one of the incoming firms, because one of our weaknesses in the north has been a lack of co-ordination. There are many agencies and bodies desperately trying to be helpful, advance money and give assistance and advice. I am not sure that there is always adequate co-ordination of all that effort and activity. When Palmer Products Incorporated of Pennsylvania opened recently in the north-east, its boss went out of his way to praise the co-ordination that there had been between the various agencies in the area. He said: At all times the various agencies in the north-east of England worked as a team. There was an aggressive sales approach from everybody—you meant to get our project to the north-east. And we succeeded. That is the type of co-ordinated effort that we need for the future.

The problems created by the fundamental change in industry will be with us for another 25 years. In the shorter term, however, the end of the depression, which will come in the foreseeable future, will lead to an improvement in job prospects which, at the moment, are blighting the north-east as they are the rest of the country and the Western world.

9.6 pm

Mr. Harry Cowans (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

The hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) referred to his being in the accountancy business. If he deals with bankruptcy, he will be in a growth industry. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott) joins in these debates regularly, and I pay tribute to that. Although he poured scorn on many of the things tried by the Labour Government, I am afraid that he did not suggest anything constructive in their place. It is one thing to pour scorn—

Sir William Elliott


Mr. Cowans

I should love to give way, but many of my colleagues wish to speak, and the hon. Gentleman spoke for 20 minutes.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas) spoke about the Opposition Front Bench. The terrible tragedy is that the Minister made probably the worst speech ever heard in the House. There was no compassion in what he said. He prayed in aid some measures proposed by the Labour Government. I shall give him a few figures for the record. It is not a solution but it will keep the record right. The key is that under the Labour Government, from 1975 to 1979, the work force in full employment fell by 14,000, or 3,500 per year. Under the Tories, between 1979 and 1981, the work force in full employment fell by 122,000, or 60,000 a year. That is their growth industry. The Government increased unemployment 20 times faster than anyone else. I suppose that, if the Minister is talking about records, the Government have that record. Let us have all the facts and not just those that suit the Government's case.

We have a problem now, and there are no proposals coming from the Government. When I walked into the Chamber, I thought that I had walked into the wrong debate. I live in the area, but I thought that I must live somewhere else because the Minister said that everything in the garden was lovely and that the Government have done this and that. I challenge him to go to Newcastle—and I shall go with him because he will need protection—and visit some of the unemployment offices and tell them that everything is all right. He should go to some of the jobcentres where there are no vacancies and tell them that it is all right. Frankly, we have had unadulterated rubbish from the Government Front Bench.

Ministers should be ashamed of what is happening. How can they remain complacent while 250,000 people in the north-east walk the streets? I wonder whether any of them has been unemployed. I do not recommend that they try it because they will never do it again. To sit complacent, as the Minister has done tonight, is a disgrace. Although it is true that the Government have put in some money, Government policies have increased the size of the problem. Facts and figures substantiate that.

I do not want to discuss statistics, but I have two more comments to make. Ministers have said flippantly on numerous occasions that the north has come again with the begging bowl. They advocate self-help, but we have already tried self-help. We have converted miners into production workers, and engineers have gone into service industries. We have applied self-help right across the board. Nowhere have the Government been constructive. The Under-Secretary of State for Industry may sigh—perhaps we shall get the compassion from him that we did not get from his right hon. Friend the Minister of State. He suggested nothing, yet he had the audacity to say yesterday: We cannot win under modern conditions. Is that a message for the young? Is that a message for the 250,000 people in the north wanting to work?

Mr. Geoffrey Dickens (Huddersfield, West)

World depression.

Mr. Cowans

The hon. Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Dickens) is the world depression.

The Minister also said that we have an extraordinary situation".—[Official Report, 8 February 1983; Vol. 36, c. 871.] If the right hon. Gentleman accepts that we have "an extraordinary situation" in the northern region, it will take extraordinary measures to solve it. What will he do about it? I have some suggestions to make. First, he should establish a northern development agency. Secondly, he should cease closing Government offices over which the Government have full control which takes jobs out of the area and sends them somewhere else. That is hardly a declaration of faith in the region. It certainly does nothing to help the north to attract industry.

We are not begging. During the industrial revolution, money that was earned and made in the north flowed south. Many of us now believe that it is time for the return journey to create the jobs that the Minister is doing nothing about.

9.12 pm
Mr. Ted Leadbitter (Hartlepool)

What has a man to say when he comes to the House of Commons while 33 per cent. of his male workers are unemployed? What approach does he make to the House of Commons? I can assure the House that all my workers are heartily stick and tired of economic analysis. They are heartily sick and tired of historical accounts. They are concerned with the present.

They want to know from the House of Commons that there is the will—that is the important word—to deal with a problem that is causing heartache, misery and suffering in thousands of homes. More than that, the unemployed are proud. They are part of the British heritage and they have a stake in wanting their country to be prosperous, competitive and to be able to have their skills and abilities translated into the changing forms of materials so that our manufactures can be spread abroad once again with the proud label "Made in Britain". But what do we have? For the first time we are importing more manufactured goods than we are exporting. British shipbuilding has been stripped naked. The steel industry is being raped.

Mr. Dickens

Yes, in Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Mr. Leadbitter

The hon. Gentleman should shut up. He is a walking disaster. The infrastructure of this economy is bleeding the social lives of our people to death. I coined the phrase recently that the regions are suffering not from industrial vandalism but from industrial rape.

Before we joined the Common Market, the British Steel Corporation was the largest steel undertaking in Europe. What did we do? The Tory Government, compounded by the Labour Government, put chains round the steel industry's wrists, and the regulations of the European Coal and Steel Community said that it was time to cut us down to size. There are no economic arguments here. That was a determined decision. As to British shipbuilding, how can one fight an unnecessary war in the south Atlantic and then ensure that the ship replacements should be built in foreign shipyards? Labour Members forced the Government to give some of the work to Tyne and Wear, but the Minister was audacious enough to take credit for it today.

I have not dwelt upon the economic and statistic arguments because the unemployed have had a surfeit of them. There are mountains of statistics—in constant repetition—that give employment to many people to look after the unemployed. However, we need something different. We must call on a moral purpose to inspire the zest and determination to carry out the task needed to establish proper conditions of work and a good quality of life for our people. Economic arguments may have their place, but I know of no progress in this matter that has not been inspired by a moral purpose.

We are here to represent our people, to understand them, to be in complete accord with their hopes and aspirations and, when they are troubled, suffering or losing out in any way, to give them a dignified place in our society. Our cause is to shine a light on their plight, to champion without reservation their cause and never to desert them, but to uphold the principles that sustain their rights. We must never drift away in thought, feeling or faith, because our people must have hope. That hope must be found in an expression of will by the Government and in a commitment, especially by the Labour party, that to create work we need only do a little sum. If it costs £5,000 a year to administer and keep a man out of work, why cannot we translate that money into employment? In God's name, why is there an imposition on our nationalised industries of limits on expenditure and finance? In God's name, why are there public expenditure cuts? Why has there been a reduction in grant aids? We are cutting and cutting until we bleed to death.

We must therefore remind ourselves that we have the resources, the materials in the earth and the ability to translate them into such things as roads, houses and hospitals. The private sector would benefit considerably from the large contracts that would come from local authorities and nationalised industries.

Can we not conceive that in a mixed economy the private sector and public utilities are complementary and that there is no reason why one man should be out of work? Nay, there is no reason why any young man or girl should be out of work. Think on that.

9.20 pm
Mr. John Watson (Skipton)

I was one of the two Conservative Members who featured in the point of order that was raised by the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand). I shall respond to that. The northern region is receiving a great deal of money and is asking for, or rather demanding, a great deal more. The debate would be artificial if the rest of the country were not represented, as it is the rest of the country that must sign the cheque. I suspect that it may come as a surprise to the hon. Member for Easington to discover that my constituency covers a larger area of the northern region than his own. That is my principal reason for taking part in the debate.

Although what I have said about my constituency covering more of the northern region than that of the hon. Member for Easington is true in terms of area, I concede that its population covers only a limited portion of the northern region and, therefore, I shall take up only a limited portion of the debate.

The part of my constituency that is in the northern region around Sedbergh, Dent, Garsdale and Grisedale has a level of unemployment that is below the national average and certainly below the regional average. If anyone tells me that we should be granted some type of assisted area status, I should reply that the advance factories have come in handy, but that that is all we need. We do not need any more Government cash around Sedbergh because we do not deserve it, because the money could be spent better somewhere else, and because if Government cash came to Sedbergh it would carry with it the identity of a disadvantaged or underprivileged area. That could be counter-productive with regard to attracting industrial investment.

My constituency does not merely fall within the northern region. It also falls in Yorkshire and Humberside and the north-west region. I think that it is unique for an hon. Member to represent three regions, but it enables me to put the regional argument into context. Opposition Members may be interested to know that household income in the northern region is decidedly higher than it is in Yorkshire and Humberside, that investment in the northern region in electronics and high technology is decidedly higher than it is in the north-west region and that more capital and investment grants find their way from the Government to the northern region than to the north-west region and Yorkshire and Humberside put together.

That leads me to the effectiveness or otherwise of the report on the state of the region that was produced and published by the North of England County Councils Association. An assessment of its success depends upon what its purpose was. If its purpose was to produce statistics that might otherwise have been hidden from public gaze, it has been a limited success. If its purpose was to provide some political ammunition for Opposition Members, it has been a partial success. As it was funded by ratepayers' cash its purpose should have been to make a sincere and objective attempt to draw attention to the problems of the north and north-east. If that was its purpose, it can only pass into history as a miserable failure. It comes up with no original idea other than the concept that money will solve every problem under the sun. The hon. Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Horam) said in 10 minutes considerably more that was original and valuable to the northern region than the report presents in the best part of 40 pages. Virtually all the 45 paragraphs that make up its conclusions and recommendations request cash and the injection of money. There are hardly any other original ideas. Most of the paragraphs take some gratuitous political sideswipe at the Government for a purpose that I have not been able to establish.

Nowhere in the report is there even an acknowledgement that the region has 5 per cent. of the population but receives 30 per cent. of Government assistance in the form of regional aid. Nowhere is there any mention of the need to achieve local authority efficiency. Nowhere is there any mention of the fact that employers in the northern region, when asked about their biggest problem, stated frequently that it was the burden of local authority rates that troubled them as much as anything. Nowhere is there any reference to the fact that the industrial relations of the northern area, at least by reputation, fall considerably short of that enjoyed by other regions.

My reaction, if I were a Minister, after reading the document would incline me towards saying "Good Lord. They are 5 per cent. of the population. They are getting 30 per cent. of the cash. All they can do is carp, criticise and demand more in ever more strident terms. Until they can come up with something more positive and constructive, they do not deserve it." I would say amen to that.

9.26 pm
Mr. David Watkins (Consett)

During the last election campaign my right hon. and hon. Friends and I said that if a Tory Government, committed to the extreme Right wing policies being put before the country, were elected, the northern region would become an industrial wasteland. Without quibbling about semantics and whether the word in the motion should be "desert" or "wasteland", the plain fact is that we have been proved right. What was a pioneer region of industrial Britain is now overwhelmed by de-industrialisation and unemployment. I would remind hon. Members that this debate is specifically concerned with unemployment.

Every sector of industry, manufacturing or service, in the northern region has suffered job losses. There is no end to the process. Every week, practically every day, brings news of closures and redundancies in the region. Every informed forecast shows the situation getting progressively worse. A number of hon. Members have referred to my constituency. The local economy has been totally devastated, not only by the closure of the Consett steelworks but by closures and massive redundancies in every other form of employment there.

In the first two years of this Government, my constituency, heavily dependent on manufacturing industry, lost two thirds of its manufacturing jobs. In some parts of my constituency, the unemployment rate is no less than 60 per cent. The youth unemployment rate throughout the constituency and beyond its borders is 80 per cent. There are young men and women in my constituency who left school three years ago and who have never worked. They have no hope of getting work under the present regime.

The long-term prospects are frightening. There is a generation growing up that has no experience of working and no expectation of doing so. The effects are incalculable. I remind the House—the reminder needs to be given—that it was precisely against such a background, with all the hopelessness, the fear and the frustration that it creates, that Adolf Hitler was elected to power in Germany 50 years ago. All too much evidence exists to show that there is no shortage of a willingness in some quarters in this country to exploit the bigotry and nationalism by which he achieved power. It seems to be considered in some circles to be politically more expedient to do that than to declare against unemployment and social injustice.

In the northern region, it is not a case of old industries giving way to new ones. There is a constant loss of jobs in the new science-based industries. In my constituency in recent weeks over 300 jobs have been lost in the Ever-Ready dry battery factory at Tanfield Lea, one of the most modern battery plants in the world. It was opened in the late 1960s and was designed to employ 1,500 people. The number is now down to 650.

Such a blow undoes months of prodigious local effort to create new jobs. I have paid tribute in this House to those local efforts. However, we have heard a great deal today about small firms. But such small firms as have been brought to my constituency are, almost without exception, struggling to survive, let alone expand. New employment opportunities have been created, but only because the primary concern of firms coming to the area has been the receipt of public subsidies. That is the major attraction. The so-called free market, by its very nature, cannot meet the challenge with which the north is confronted. The experience of the region—the experience of my own constituency—makes a clear case for public intervention and public accountability in the public interest. That, and no less than that, is what the Opposition motion means by urgent and immediate action to regenerate the Northern Region

9.31 pm
Dr. Keith Hampson (Ripon)

First, I apologise for missing the first part of this debate as I had to attend a dinner given by Lord Taylor of Blackburn for Terry Casey of the National Association of Schoolmasters.

I was born, went to school and spent many years in County Durham, and I am in the Tyne-Tees television area, so I studied the North-East County Councils Association report. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Skipton (Mr. Watson) that it is a very weak document. Paragraph 139, however, contains an interesting recommendation. It begins: Although Regional expenditure on basic standards of educational provision does not differ significantly from national averages and in some sectors is markedly better". That is certainly true. Nursery provision is 60 per cent. compared with the national average of 30 per cent. and pupil—teacher ratios are infinitely better in the primary sector than anywhere in the United Kingdom apart from Scotland. However, the paragraph continues that the higher expenditure on education is not reflected in the output in terms of school-leavers—their propensity to leave early, their qualifications and their ability to secure places on undergraduate courses. The report suggests that the Department of Education and Science should commission some research into why that is so.

That is a central point. It defeats the notion that we have heard time and again from Labour Members that money is the answer to everything. Whether it is the Kielder dam, the metro or the roads, one can go and see what money has done in the north-east. It has transformed it in my lifetime. But, as in education, money has not produced results. Something other than money is required. For some reason, standards in education are declining. More money is put in, yet fewer pupils stay on at school and we are at the bottom of the A-level league table for the entire country.

In his opening speech, the Minister said that there was a remarkably low uptake of loan guarantees for small businesses. That is deplorable, but we should not blame the Government. We should blame the people of the north-east for not applying for loan guarantees. There is a connection between the education record and the fact that we are not generating the ideas, the creativity, the entrepeneurship or the initiatives that other regions are generating.

I do not want to spend time countering the arguments of the Opposition, but it is unbelievable that we can debate this topic yet again and hear right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches simply accusing the Government of complacency and of neglecting the north-east. The record speaks for itself. Over a long period, both Conservative and Labour Governments have poured more money into the north-east than into any other English region or even, in some instances, into Scotland. The figures for regional development grant are 32 per cent. for the north-east and 26 per cent. for Scotland, the next English region being the north-west with 16.3 per cent.

Hon. Members cannot go on telling the grotesque untruth that the north-east has been badly done by and has not had its fair share. Other factors are involved. I hope that the Minister will today nail the myth that for some reason or other the Government are not giving enough to the north-east and reiterate the Government's commitment to regional policy and to helping the north-east. The blight on the industrial landscape of our country at Hartlepool, Teeside, and so on is deplorable, but there are longstanding problems related to the whole industrial history of the region. I hope that the Minister will renew the Government's commitment to do something about them.

9.35 pm
Mr. James Tinn (Redcar)

In the closing minutes of the debate, I shall be brief as I hope that another Labour Member will yet be called.

The problems of the north are special in two ways. First, unemployment is higher than anywhere else in mainland Britain and has been for some time. Secondly, it is almost a permanent feature of our way of life and not just a regional example of a national and international economic malady. When times eventually improve elsewhere—presumably after the Conservative Government have departed—they will remain bad in the area between the border and the Cleveland hills. We caught the disease first and we shall come out of hospital last unless there is positive discrimination in our favour. Far from exercising positive discrimination, however, the Government have pulled the other way, sometimes even reversing gains made under Labour Governments such as the dispersal of Government offices.

Another sector in which the Government have greatly damaged the region is that of the publicly owned industries, especially steel. In the lifetime of the Government we have lost 15,000 jobs on Teesside in steel alone, more than 13,000 of them in my constituency. That is more even than were lost at Consett. Male unemployment in the Eston area is already 26 per cent. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, the right hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan)-I informed him that I might refer to this, but I understand that he cannot be present—should certainly know the extent of the unemployment problem in our area. Indeed, it is even worse in some of the ironstone mining settlements of East Cleveland in his constituency. It is no wonder that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is rumoured to be looking for a safer seat. I do not blame him for recognising that discretion may be the better part of valour in that respect, but I condemn him for his failure to speak up in defence of the people whom he represents rather than in defence of the Prime Minister whom he serves.

9.38 pm
Mr. Bernard Conlon (Gateshead, East)

We have been debating this matter for as long as I can remember. The difference is that in the past Members representing the northern region urged that industrial development should be transferred to our area from the better-off parts of the country such as the midlands and the south-east. Now, as a result of the policies pursued by the Government, those regions face problems similar to our own.

The effect of those policies is that unemployment in the north has reached alarming proportions. The regional average is nearly 20 per cent., but in parts of the region it is 30 per cent. and even 40 per cent. The northern region has special problems, but the Government seem not to understand that. Unemployment has always been higher than in any other part of mainland Britain. Those special problems require special measures to resolve them. Manufacturing industry is the heart of our region's economy. It has been referred to as the engine of growth. More and more manufacturing jobs must be provided. The area certainly needs a development agency, as the Welsh and the Scots have, so that new jobs can be generated.

We have supreme confidence in the ability and skills of the people of our region. It is incumbent upon the Government and industry to show the same confidence in the region as we have. It is necessary to display to the world the untouched, creative talent that resides in that region. The Government must stop their ridiculous nonsense of systematically closing, for short term advantage, the various regional offices of Government Departments and transferring the work elsewhere. That reduces our status and gives a wrong impression of the region.

Manufacturing industry is the lifeblood of the region. I am convinced that the Government have lamentably failed to do all they could to secure jobs in this vital area.

The Government have several vital roles to play. The most important is to direct work over which they have control. An example is defence. They must also influence the policy decisions of the agencies over which they have less control—the nationalised industries. The Government have a part to play, too, in obliging private firms to place contracts in our region by the discerning allocation of financial support.

The determination to have the replacement for the Atlantic Conveyor built on Tyneside was warmly welcomed. That decision is providing many jobs. It is ironic that the deck equipment for that ship shall, in all probability, be built overseas. It is not too late to retrieve this contract. Every effort must be made to persuade Cunard or British Shipbuilders to place the contract for this equipment with a British firm, preferably NEI in Gateshead.

A more alarming case relates to another firm within my constituency. Last year the Home Office required a radio antenna which, in spite of my protestations, was ordered from an American company. The work could equally well have been done by my constituent firm Marconi, but it went overseas. The reason advanced to me by the Home Secretary at the time was that it was cheaper to do it that way. I said then, and I do so again, that that is a spurious argument because it takes no account of the cost of keeping skilled engineers on the dole.

Another case concerns the same firm, but this time the culprit was the Ministry of Defence. The contract to which I am now referring is worth three times that required by the Home Office. The Prime Minister became involved in the matter and sympathetic noises were made by the Minister of State for Defence Procurement. I was confident that common sense would prevail and that the work would be carried out by those highly skilled engineers in Gateshead. Alas, it was not to be. Again, the work is to be done by an American firm. We in this country must really be a soft touch. Can one imagine the French or the Germans treating their indigenous industries in such a daft way?

The tragedy of this particular episode is that, unlike the incident with the Home Office, the MOD could not argue on the basis of price differentials for I am reliably assured that the two were very much alike. The well worn and unquantifiable scenario of "technical performance" has been trotted out as the reason for preferring the American product. How does the Ministry of Defence know that this foreign equipment is technically superior unless it gives an order to the British firm to test its ability to comply with these rigid specifications? I do not know what Marconi—a company of worldwide repute—must do to prove its capacity to produce this type of antenna.

We are not just troubled about the loss of these orders. The Gateshead factory is one of the few high technology plants in the north-east, and if it goes under through lack of governmental support the whole region will be that much the poorer.

Another aspect of this saga, probably the most important, is that if the Government do not have the confidence to place their work here, what confidence can potential overseas customers be expected to have? These two disastrous decisions may well have determined the future prospects of this high technology industry.

If the cable-laying ship for the CEGB could have been built in the north-east rather than in South Korea, and if the antennae for the Home Office and Ministry of Defence could have been produced by Marconi, a substantial reduction in the level of unemployment on Tyneside could have been achieved.

If I accuse the Government of deliberately creating unemployment, I might be charged with going a bit too far. However, there are undoubtedly Ministers both inside and outside the Cabinet proclaiming the virtues of high unemployment as a tool to castrate a virile trade union movement. Whichever way it is, my indictment of the Government is that they are useless, incompetent and incapable of taking even the most elementary steps to reduce the scourge that is causing such havoc to millions who are unemployed.

9.47 pm
Mr. Gordon A. T. Bagier (Sunderland, South)

It is difficult in the few minutes available to me to make a balanced speech. The Minister of State was not present when my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Cowans) spoke. I shall therefore repeat my hon. Friend's words for his benefit. I heard the Minister's first speech in the debate on the east midlands, and his speech in this debate was an exact replica. The only trend in both was his complete lack of remorse, concern and thought for the people who have been made unemployed as a result of the Government's policies.

It is not good enough for the Minister to bandy around figures of what this or that Government did. Instead, he should be concerned about the one in four people in my constituency who are unemployed, because they are losing all hope of obtaining a job ever again. Those are the people whom the Minister should consider, and he should have made some remarks about them.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the region should look after itself. It had new industry in the post-war period. When I went to Sunderland, there were two large Thorn factories and a large Plessey factory, all of them involved in modern technology. They have long since gone, because the big business of private enterprise decided not to relocate their head offices and closed down their advance factories in the northern region.

The north-east used to be the centre for tailoring. Jackson was taken over by Burtons, but today not one Jackson factory remains open in the northern region. That is our indictment of the private sector for what it has done to the area.

It is all very well for the Minister to complain about the nationalised industries and how they operate, but by and large the nationalised industries have done a first class job in the northern region. If British Shipbuilders were given half a chance, it could do better. It is a disgrace that the order for the cable-laying ship is going to Korea. The Japanese do not have their ships built overseas. All their ships are built in Japan. No Japanese-owned ship is built anywhere except in Japan. It is time that this country and this Government started to take in their own washing. That is long overdue.

I want to make three quick points. They involve a price, because I do not want the hon. Gentleman to say that I am not prepared to pay the price. If a straw poll were taken throughout the country about what people would rather do—pay a little more in taxation or have jobs—I know what the answer would be. Some of that taxation could be used, for example, to stop the cable-laying ship being built overseas in Korea. It could be built here. The Government could also electrify the east coast main line, and show some confidence in the region. That has been asked for by Sir Peter Parker as recently as two days ago. Those are positive steps that could be taken, and the private sector would thank the Minister for them, bearing in mind the jobs that would be provided in the electrical industry.

When one talks about pouring in money, it is no good saying "We did X, Y", and so on. My constituents want to know where the money is being spent. Instead of the Minister who is responsible for local government filching money from the local government coffers, it would be far better if developing industry money were given to the local authorities to create jobs. Local government would do a much better job than Whitehall, because Whitehall does not know best in this respect.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Paul Dean)

Mr. MacGregor.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a Supply day for the Opposition, and I see no reason why Members who wish to raise constituency matters should give way to the Minister if we are to hear the same insults that the Minister of State handed out to the people of the northern region and to the Members of Parliament who represent that region It is an absolute disgrace the way the Minister—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I realise that the hon. Gentleman is disappointed that he has not been able to speak in this debate, and that applies to a number of hon. Members on both sides. [Interruption.] Order. However, the hon. Gentleman knows that he must not criticise the decision of the Chair.

Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. According to the motion on the Order Paper, we have been discussing the northern region. A visitor in the Strangers Gallery—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—any visitor in the Strangers Gallery who has listened to the debate would think that we had been discussing the north-east. The whole of Cumbria is in the northern region, yet not one Member from Cumbria has been called. I take that as a slight not only on the Members concerned but on Cumbrians.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think that the House should now listen to the Minister's reply. Mr. MacGregor.

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

May I say at the outset that Government Members took considerably less time in the debate than Opposition Members because this, is an Opposition day, and it is hardly our fault that only three hours have been allocated to this debate. The House is entitled to a reply. I am afraid that it will have to he brief, and I shall be unable to take up all the issues that have been raised by hon. Members because of the shortness of time.

I shall make only four points. First the underlying reasons for the northern region's difficulties have been well rehearsed in this debate and many times before. I do not intend to go over them. I want to make it clear to Opposition Members that I and my right hon. Friend deeply share the concern of all hon. Members about the situation in the northern region. We do not underestimate the problem. It is particularly deep seated, and has been deep seated for a long time. My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) put it particularly well when he said that reliance on the wrong industries—by that I mean the wrong industries for the future—will mean that it will take a long time to pull the economy round. There is no lack of compassion or action. Where I differ from the Opposition is in the perception of the scale of what is being done and the way in which they approach the problem.

Secondly, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West (Mr. Brown) asked for positive discrimination in favour of the north. There is positive discrimination in favour of the north in two ways—regional policy and assisted area status. The hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand), who is always very fair on such matters, said that in real terms there has been some reduction in regional expenditure. He must understand that, in the changes in regional areas, the northern region benefits enormously because so much more of regional policy is concentrated on the northern region. It benefits both in real terms and in comparison with other parts of the country. The hon. Gentleman referred to the suspension of industrial development certificates, but he must know that they were not operated under his Government, so there is no real change. Indeed, 97 per cent. of the north-east's working population remains in assisted areas when there has been a substantial reduction elsewhere, and 78 per cent. is in the special development areas. Most of the region is eligible for aid from the European regional development fund.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will the Minister turn his attention to the problems of the northern region and not those of the north-east?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is not a point of order.

Mr. MacGregor

I am attempting to reply to all the points made by those hon. Members who have spoken in the debate.

Furthermore, there are three enterprise zones in the region. Another area of positive discrimination is in the scale of expenditure because the region is easily one of the biggest beneficiaries of the regional programme.

Since 1979 more than £1,000 million of public money has been invested in the region on infrastructure. I agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Sir W. Elliott) said about the improvement in communications there compared with many other parts of the country.

Under the Government the north-east has benefited, under general schemes of assistance, from—and it is a minimum—£1,730 million of direct and indirect expenditure, including money from the EC. That is equivalent to at least £1,440 per head of the working population. The figure is even higher if account is taken of assistance given to British Shipbuilders and BSC. It excludes all the MSC expenditure and a huge range of other Government expenditure which comes to the northern region through local government and in other ways. That is not only significant but it is per capita much higher than that for most other regions.

That demonstrates that there is positive discrimination, but it also shows that, under this and the Labour Government, throwing taxpayers' money at the problem is not by any means the answer. [Interruption.] There is much more money being directed to the northern region. We are undoubtedly doing it but it is not by any means the whole answer. My hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Dr. Hampson) made a good point in that respect on expenditure on education.

That leads me to my third point which was raised by the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, West and by my hon. Friends the Members for Tynemouth and Ripon, and that is the lack of indigenous entrepreneurs and go-ahead managers in the region. It is a significant and interesting point which needs much more attention than we have been able to give it today. I link with that the problem of small businesses which I have studied with great care, visiting the northern region a lot, including the Durham university business school and the small firms to do so.

I agree that there is an immense amount of activity in the northern region to help existing small businesses and to generate new ones. In many respects the problem is that there has not been a long tradition of such entrepreneurship, and one of the reasons why there has been a small take-up of the loan guarantee scheme which we would like to see much greater than it is. That depends on the entrepreneurs. The same is also true of several other schemes where I would like to see a much greater take-up.

I agree with the hon. Member for Gateshead, West (Mr. Horam) that there is a significant number of thrusting and successful concerns active in important areas of high technology in the north-east. However, it is disappointing that there are not enough and we would like to see a much greater take-up in areas of high technology—the technological products and processes scheme—where there is a significant amount of money available for the demand. I wish that I could say much more about that subject because it is an important part of the solution to this deep-seated problem.

The Opposition's reaction to the NECCA report has been revealing. I agree with what the hon. Member for Gateshead, West said about that. It showed a shortage of constructive solutions and that the county councils were selling the regions short in exactly the same way as many Labour Members have done by calling it an industrial desert. That is not the way to solve the problem, and that is why we reject their solution.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 241, Noes 298.

Division No. 63] [10 pm
Abse, Leo Bennett, Andrew (St'kp't N)
Adams, Allen Bidwell, Sydney
Allaun, Frank Booth, Rt Hon Albert
Alton, David Boothroyd, Miss Betty
Anderson, Donald Bradley, Tom
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bray, Dr Jeremy
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Brocklebank-Fowler, C.
Ashton, Joe Brown, Hugh D. (Provan)
Atkinson, N. (H'gey,) Brown, R. C. (N'castle W)
Bagier, Gordon A.T. Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith)
Barnett, Guy (Greenwich) Buchan, Norman
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (H'wd) Callaghan, Rt Hon J.
Beith, A. J. Callaghan, Jim (Midd't'n & P)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Campbell, Ian
Campbell-Savours, Dale Hughes, Mark (Durham)
Cant, R. B. Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Roy (Newport)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Janner, Hon Greville
Cartwright, John Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd)
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) John, Brynmor
Clarke, Thomas (C'b'dge, A'rie) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (B'stol S) Johnson, Walter (Derby S)
Cohen, Stanley Jones, Rt Hon Alec (Rh'dda)
Coleman, Donald Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Concannon, Rt Hon J. D. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Conlan, Bernard Kinnock, Neil
Cook, Robin F. Lambie, David
Craigen, J. M. (G'gow, M'hill) Lamond, James
Crowther, Stan Leadbitter, Ted
Cryer, Bob Leighton, Ronald
Cunliffe, Lawrence Lestor, Miss Joan
Cunningham, Dr J. (W'h'n) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Dalyell, Tam Litherland, Robert
Davidson, Arthur Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (L'lli) McCartney, Hugh
Davis, Clinton (Hackney C) McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Davis, Terry (B'ham, Stechf'd) McElhone, Mrs Helen
Deakins, Eric McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) McKelvey, William
Dewar, Donald MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Dixon, Donald McMahon, Andrew
Dobson, Frank McNally, Thomas
Dormand, Jack McNamara, Kevin
Dubs, Alfred McTaggart, Robert
Duffy, A. E. P. McWilliam, John
Dunnett, Jack Marks, Kenneth
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs G. Marshall, D (G'gow S'ton)
Eadie, Alex Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Eastham, Ken Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Edwards, R. (W'hampt'n S E) Martin, M (G'gow S'burn)
Ellis, R. (NE D'bysh're) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Maxton, John
English, Michael Maynard, Miss Joan
Ennals, Rt Hon David Meacher, Michael
Evans, loan (Aberdare) Mikardo, Ian
Evans, John (Newton) Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Faulds, Andrew Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride)
Field, Frank Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Fitch, Alan Mitchell, R. C. (Soton Itchen)
Flannery, Martin Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fletcher, L. R. (Ilkeston) Morris, Rt Hon C. (O'shaw)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Ford, Ben Morton, George
Forrester, John Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Foster, Derek Mulley, Rt Hon Frederick
Fraser, J. (Lamb'th, N'w'd) Newens, Stanley
Freeson, Rt Hon Reginald Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Freud, Clement Ogden, Eric
Garrett, John (Norwich S) O'Halloran, Michael
Garrett, W. E. (Wallsend) O'Neill, Martin
George, Bruce Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Golding, John Palmer, Arthur
Gourlay, Harry Park, George
Graham, Ted Parker, John
Grant, John (Islington C) Parry, Robert
Grimond, Rt Hon J. Pavitt, Laurie
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Pendry, Tom
Hamilton, W. W. (C'tral Fife) Pitt, William Henry
Hardy, Peter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Prescott, John
Hart, Rt Hon Dame Judith Price, C. (Lewisham W)
Hattersley, Rt Hon Roy Race, Reg
Haynes, Frank Radice, Giles
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Rees, Rt Hon M (Leeds S)
Heffer, Eric S. Richardson, Jo
Hogg, N. (E Dunb't'nshire) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Holland, S. (L'b'th, Vauxh'll) Roberts, Allan (Bootle)
Home Robertson, John Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Homewood, William Roberts, Gwilym (Cannock)
Horam, John Robertson, George
Howell, Rt Hon D, Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Howells, Geraint Rodgers, Rt Hon William
Hoyle, Douglas Rooker, J. W.
Huckfield, Les Roper, John
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Tilley, John
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Tinn, James
Rowlands, Ted Torney, Tom
Ryman, John Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Sever, John Wainwright, E. (Dearne V)
Sheerman, Barry Walker, Rt Hon H. (D'caster)
Sheldon, Rt Hon R. Wardell, Gareth
Shore, Rt Hon Peter Watkins, David
Short, Mrs Renée Weetch, Ken
Silkin, Rt Hon J. (Deptford) Wellbeloved, James
Silkin, Rt Hon S. C. (Dulwich) Welsh, Michael
Silverman, Julius White, Frank R.
Skinner, Dennis White, J. (G'gow Pollok)
Smith, Rt Hon J. (N Lanark) Whitehead, Phillip
Snape, Peter Whitlock, William
Soley, Clive Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Spellar, John Francis (B'ham) Williams, Rt Hon A. (S'sea W)
Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Rt Hon Mrs (Crosby)
Stallard, A. W. Wilson, Rt Hon Sir H. (H'ton)
Steel, Rt Hon David Winnick, David
Stoddart, David Woodall, Alec
Stott, Roger Woolmer, Kenneth
Strang, Gavin Wright, Sheila
Straw, Jack Young, David (Bolton E)
Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Bolton W) Tellers for the Ayes:
Thomas, Mike (Newcastle E) Mr. Allen McKay and
Thomas, Dr R. (Carmarthen) Mr. Harry Cowans.
Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Adley, Robert Channon, Rt. Hon. Paul
Aitken, Jonathan Chapman, Sydney
Alexander, Richard Churchill, W. S.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th, S'n)
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)
Ancram, Michael Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Arnold, Tom Clegg, Sir Walter
Aspinwall, Jack Cockeram, Eric
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (S'thorne) Colvin, Michael
Atkins, Robert (Preston N) Cope, John
Atkinson, David (B'm'th,E) Corrie, John
Baker, Kenneth (St.M'bone) Costain, Sir Albert
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Cranborne, Viscount
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Critchley, Julian
Bendall, Vivian Crouch, David
Benyon, Thomas (A'don) Dickens, Geoffrey
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Dorrell, Stephen
Best, Keith Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.
Bevan, David Gilroy Dover, Denshore
Biffen, Rt Hon John du Cann, Rt Hon Edward
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Dunn, Robert (Dartford)
Blackburn, John Durant, Tony
Body, Richard Dykes, Hugh
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Eden, Rt Hon Sir John
Boscawen, Hon Robert Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Bottomley, Peter (W'wich W) Eggar, Tim
Bowden, Andrew Elliott, Sir William
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Emery, Sir Peter
Braine, Sir Bernard Eyre, Reginald
Bright, Graham Fairbairn, Nicholas
Brinton, Tim Fairgrieve, Sir Russell
Brittan, Rt. Hon. Leon Faith, Mrs Sheila
Brooke, Hon Peter Farr, John
Brotherton, Michael Fell, Sir Anthony
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'n) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Browne, John (Winchester) Finsberg, Geoffrey
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fisher, Sir Nigel
Bryan, Sir Paul Fletcher, A. (Ed'nb'gh N)
Buchanan-Smith, Rt. Hon. A. Fletcher-Cooke, Sir Charles
Buck, Antony Fookes, Miss Janet
Budgen, Nick Forman, Nigel
Bulmer, Esmond Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Burden, Sir Frederick Fox, Marcus
Butcher, John Fraser, Rt Hon Sir Hugh
Butler, Hon Adam Fraser, Peter (South Angus)
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Fry, Peter
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (R'c'n) Gardner, Sir Edward
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Garel-Jones, Tristan
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Goodhart, Sir Philip Lee, John
Goodlad, Alastair Le Marchant, Spencer
Gorst, John Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Gow, Ian Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Rutland)
Gower, Sir Raymond Lloyd, Ian (Havant & W'loo)
Grant, Sir Anthony Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Greenway, Harry Loveridge, John
Grieve, Percy Luce, Richard
Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N) Lyell, Nicholas
Grist, Ian McCrindle, Robert
Grylls, Michael Macfarlane, Neil
Hamilton, Hon A. MacGregor, John
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) MacKay, John (Argyll)
Hampson, Dr Keith Macmillan, Rt Hon M.
Hannam, John McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)
Haselhurst, Alan McNair-Wilson, P. (New F'st)
Hastings, Stephen Madel, David
Hawkins, Sir Paul Major, John
Hawksley, Warren Marland, Paul
Hayhoe, Barney Marlow, Antony
Heath, Rt Hon Edward Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Heddle, John Marten, Rt Hon Neil
Henderson, Barry Mates, Michael
Hicks, Robert Maude, Rt Hon Sir Angus
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L. Mawby, Ray
Hill, James Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Holland, Philip (Carlton) Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Hooson, Tom Mayhew, Patrick
Hordern, Peter Mellor, David
Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldf'd) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Miller, Hal (B'grove)
Hunt, David (Wirral) Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Hunt, John (Ravensbourne) Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)
Hurd, Rt Hon Douglas Miscampbell, Norman
Irvine, RtHon Bryant Godman Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Irving, Charles (Cheltenham) Moate, Roger
Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick Monro, Sir Hector
Jessel, Toby Montgomery, Fergus
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Moore, John
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Morris, M. (N'hampton S)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes)
Kaberry, Sir Donald Mudd, David
Kimball, Sir Marcus Murphy, Christopher
King, Rt Hon Tom Myles, David
Kitson, Sir Timothy Neale, Gerrard
Knight, Mrs Jill Needham, Richard
Knox, David Nelson, Anthony
Lamont, Norman Neubert, Michael
Lang, Ian Normanton, Tom
Langford-Holt, Sir John Onslow, Cranley
Latham, Michael Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs S.
Lawrence, Ivan Page, John (Harrow, West)
Page, Richard (SW Herts) Stanbrook, Ivor
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Stanley, John
Patten, John (Oxford) Steen, Anthony
Pattie, Geoffrey Stevens, Martin
Pawsey, James Stewart, A. (E Renfrewshire)
Percival, Sir Ian Stewart, Ian (Hitchin)
Peyton, Rt Hon John Stokes, John
Pink, R. Bonner Stradling Thomas, J.
Pollock, Alexander Tapsell, Peter
Porter, Barry Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Prentice, Rt Hon Reg Temple-Morris, Peter
Price, Sir David (Eastleigh) Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Prior, Rt Hon James Thompson, Donald
Proctor, K. Harvey Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thornton, Malcolm
Rathbone, Tim Townend, John (Bridlington)
Rees-Davies, W. R. Trippier, David
Renton, Tim Trotter, Neville
Rhodes James, Robert van Straubenzee, Sir W.
Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Ridley, Hon Nicholas Viggers, Peter
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Waddington, David
Rifkind, Malcolm Wakeham, John
Rippon, Rt Hon Geoffrey Waldegrave, Hon William
Roberts, M. (Cardiff NW) Walker, Rt Hon P. (W'cester)
Roberts, Wyn (Conway) Walker, B. (Perth)
Rossi, Hugh Walker-Smith, Rt Hon Sir D.
Rost, Peter Wall, Sir Patrick
Royle, Sir Anthony Waller, Gary
Rumbold, Mrs A. C. R. Walters, Dennis
St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon N. Ward, John
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Warren, Kenneth
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Watson, John
Shelton, William (Streatham) Wells, Bowen
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Shepherd, Richard Wheeler, John
Shersby, Michael Whitelaw, Rt Hon William
Silvester, Fred Whitney, Raymond
Sims, Roger Wickenden, Keith
Skeet, T. H. H. Wilkinson, John
Smith, Dudley Williams, D. (Montgomery)
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Winterton, Nicholas
Speed, Keith Wolfson, Mark
Speller, Tony Young, Sir George (Acton)
Spence, John Younger, Rt Hon George
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Sproat, Iain Tellers for the Noes:
Squire, Robin Mr. Anthony Berry and
Stainton, Keith Mr. Carol Mather.

Question accordingly negatived.