HC Deb 10 November 1983 vol 48 cc398-9
5. Mr. Parry

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he next expects to meet the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Mr. Adam Butler)

My right hon. Friend plans to meet the Northern Ireland committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in 28 November 1983.

Mr. Parry

When the Secretary of State meets members of that committee, will he tell them of the Government's plans for reducing the appalling level of unemployment in the Province, which is even worse than on Merseyside?

Mr. Butler

I am sure that that matter will arise because of the concern shared by all in Northern Ireland about the levels of unemployment. The Northern Ireland committee is well aware of what the Government are doing. It contributes through such bodies as the Industrial Development Board and the Northern Ireland Economic Council to bring about some improvement in the position. As the hon. Gentleman is aware, there were signs of encouragement in the significant reduction in the last figures.

Mr. Loyden

Is the Minister satisfied that the Northern Ireland Office and the Secretary of State are doing all that can be done to bring the trade union movement in Northern Ireland into the talks about the future of the Province, and especially about its future stability? Does he believe that trade unions have a real and positive role to play in dealing with the generality of Irish problems?

Mr. Butler

Where trade unions are involved in economic matters and in seeking to improve the economy, which will contribute to greater stability, I agree that they are playing a part.

Mr. Archer

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that co-operation between the North and the South in industrial relations or any other economic matter can only be beneficial to both communities? That does not necessarily entail restricting co-operation with Great Britain. Will he propose to the Government of the Republic the establishment of a North-South economic development council?

Mr. Butler

The Northern Ireland committee is part of41the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, so there is continual dialogue between trade union members north and south of the border.

As I have said previously to the hon. Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley), there is no intention of introducing a single industrial development agency.