HC Deb 03 December 1985 vol 88 cc166-209
Mr. Speaker

I have selected the amendment in the name of the Prime Minister.

4.6 pm

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Perth and Kinross)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on this matter. At Question Time there was much discussion about the document on the inner cities of Britain, which was really about the inner cities of England. This motion is about policies in the northern region, which has the highest rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom. My understanding of the United Kingdom is that Caithness and Sutherland are the northern region. If the motion refers to England, the debate is about England. If it is not, will Scottish Members be called?

Mr. Speaker

The Chair is not responsible for the motion on the Order paper. It is an Opposition day.

4.7 pm

Mr. Jack Dormand (Easington)

I beg to move, That this House condemns Government policies which have brought to the Northern region the highest rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom outside Northern Ireland, shown callous disregard for the region's traditional industries, failed to provide adequate measures for the attraction and creation of new jobs and brought about a lowering of the quality of life; and demands a fundamental change of policy to end this savage decline. It is significant that we are using part of our first Opposition day of the Session for a debate on the northern region. It is significant not only because we recognise the region's many problems, but because the Opposition realise the value of the north's contribution to the country, to the industrial development of Britain in the past and its potential for the future.

Most of the region's difficulties arise from its high unemployment which remains the highest in the United Kingdom outside Northern Ireland. It has held that unenviable position in the unemployment league since the Government came to office in 1979, and the position has worsened since that date. In October 1979 there were 99,900 people unemployed in the region—7.3 per cent. There has been no reduction in any year since that time. In October of this year there were 227,500 unemployed—a disgraceful rate of 18.1 per cent. The north has lost 219,000 jobs since 1979, 125,000 of them in manufacturing. It has lost 30,000 jobs in the service sector, while 369,000 service sector jobs have been created in the United Kingdom. The Government make great play these days about the service sector, but apparently that does not apply to the north.

However, that is not the whole story. In the north, 440,000 people earn low wages. They are paid below what the Council of Europe calls the decency threshold. That figure represents 42 per cent. of the work force in the north. When I asked the Prime Minister on 21 March about unemployment in the north, she replied: The wages in that region are also comparatively high."—[Official Report, 21 March 1985; Vol. 75, c. 986.] She said that that might be related to the high unemployment. All I can do is repeat what the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) said of the Government recently—that they must live in a different world from the rest of us.

Those statistics are especially relevant to what was said by the present chairman of the Conservative party, then the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, in a debate on the north on 15 July 1981: I share and understand the concern at the levels of unemployment in the region, and that concern is recognised in our regional policy, which gives such a high priority to the North of England."—[Official Report, 15 April 1981; Vol. 3, c. 354.] In view of the figures that I have just quoted, heaven help those who do not get such high priority.

George Bernard Shaw once said: You can get used to anything, so you have to be very careful what you get used to. Those are wise words. I confess that I have become extremely worried that the people of the north will get used to the low standard of living brought to the region by the Government.

I chose a quotation from the former Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry in 1981 for a specific reason. At that time, the Government's new regional policies were beginning to take effect. Some might have thought, "Let us give them time to work." Those regional policies were introduced with such a fanfare in 1979 by the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, now the Secretary of State for Education and Science. They were so good and effective that they had to be changed again last year, although the changes last year were instituted as part of a cost-cutting operation. The words "flexibility" and "cost-effectiveness", which were bandied about so much at the time in relation to regional aid, were euphemisms for the biggest cuts ever made in regional provision. On the Department of Trade and Industry's own admission, total aid to the north during the past six years has been cut by no less than 57 per cent. If the Minister has received any praise for the new system from employers, local authorities, trade unions or anyone else, the Opposition would like to hear it.

That brings me to the nub of the problem, and to what the Opposition believe to be the essence of the debate. How much longer must we wait for the Government's policies to work? That is a perfectly legitimate question to ask. If six and a half years of Tory government is insufficient time, any impartial judge would say, "Enough is enough. Confess your failure and start anew."

Of course, we know what the answer will be. When the Minister replies, he will give a catalogue of events dressed up as progress. However, he had better remember the words of the Under-Secretary of State for Employment—I am glad to see him in his place—in an Adjournment debate initiated by my hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) as recently as 22 October 1985. In his typically straightforward and whimsical fashion, referring to the Prime Minister's recent description of success stories in the northern region, the Under-Secretary of State said, "Alas, they are few." We admire his truthfulness and perception, but he had better be careful. He might drown in the sea of crocodile tears which the Prime Minister continually sheds for the north.

I shall be so bold as to anticipate two points with which the Minister will regale us. He will tell us that organisations in the north have responded positively to the youth training scheme and that the Manpower Services Commission plans to provide more than 25,000 places for young people in the north this year. He is perfectly entitled to report such progress, if progress it be—[Interruption.] The Minister laughs. What worries me and my hon. Friends is that the Government appear to believe that those places are an adequate substitute for what we call real jobs. I do not say that some of the experience gained by some youngsters is not valuable. However, I advise the Minister to listen to the colourful language used by some youths in my constituency when describing their experiences. I beg the Government to begin thinking about permanent, productive employment for our youngsters.

The tragedy of the position was starkly illustrated a fortnight ago by the devastating reply from the chairman of the Conservative party to a northern newspaper reporter, who asked whether he agreed with the view being expressed in the north that there would be a lost generation—a generation of youngsters who would never obtain permanent jobs. The right hon. Gentleman said that he thought that could possibly be the case. When I hear such an admission, I wonder how some members of the Government can sleep soundly in their beds at night.

The Minister will also tell us about the Government's generous treatment of the coal industry, which plays an important role in the economy of the north. We shall be told not to worry because NCB Enterprise Ltd. will take care of all the problems caused by pit closures. However, we have some questions to ask about that. Why, if it is such an important and necessary organisation, was it not established until late 1984? Pits were closing long before then, and the Government and the NCB were determined long before the miners' strike to accelerate the closure programme. The scheme is barely in operation now. If it is the best way of coping with job losses in the coal industry, why was it not established in 1982 or 1983? After all, the Government have had the exact parallel experience of the steel industry.

Secondly, why was the pitiful sum of £5 million allocated to NCB Enterprise Ltd? The Government partly answered that question by shortly afterwards increasing the sum to £10 million, more recently increasing it to £20 million, and saying that more money will be made available should it be necessary. It is difficult to imagine a more pusillanimous, hesitant or muddled attitude to any Government policy. Perhaps the real reason is that their heart is not in it.

In the context of a completely misguided policy for the coal industry, I hope that the scheme will make some contribution to the well-being of mining areas in the north, but my recent experience shows its limitations. A fortnight ago I had the pleasure of opening a new factory in my constituency. I was delighted that such a well-known company as Bowaters Containers should come to the area. That factory employs 16 workers now and hopes to increase the number to 40 within a few months. Exactly one mile from that factory is Horden colliery, which the NCB proposes to close with the loss of 900 jobs. The pit will go through the new review procedure, but if, like so many pits in the north, it must close, NCB Enterprise Ltd. will have to perform little short of miracles in the area. The Government have been completely ham-fisted in this matter. Any rational and caring Government would have provided a bridging period for an area with such difficulties.

The Government can refer to one success in the region—

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Before my hon. Friend leaves the point about the problems of jobs for coal miners, may I ask whether he agrees that another travesty of justice by this Government is the decision to close the development corporation which has the task of creating industry? My hon. Friend has raised this matter many times. Does he agree that the corporation could have created jobs for the miners?

Mr. Dormand

I was just about to make that point.

The Government can refer to one success story—the record of the three new towns in the area—but I do not believe that the new towns will get a mention as the Government have reached new heights of lunacy by deciding to abolish the development corporations in 1988.

Washington, Aycliffe and Peterlee cover a very large sub-region of the north. They have attracted thousands of new jobs and will continue to do so. They also have ready access to excellent road, rail and sea communications but—I hope that the Minister will acknowledge this—their great appeal is to offer what is called a "one stop" deal for companies. The proposals now being made simply do not meet that criterion. With an accelerated pit closure programme, can the Government believe that there will be no further use after 1988 for the expertise and dedication of the staffs of the new town corporations? The Government's decision in this matter epitomises their misjudgments and misconceptions about the northern region. I ask them to reconsider a decision that was based purely on a doctrinaire attitude.

The motion refers to the quality of life in the northern region—and having a job makes the biggest single contribution to that. The Government have failed abysmally in that respect. There are, however, other factors to which I am sure my hon. Friends will wish to refer.

The state of the environment is an important factor in the quality of life. As vice-president of the Northumbria tourist board, I would be the first to praise the attractions of that part of the region. The beauty of most of Cumbria is self-evident, but there is a considerable legacy of the industrial revolution, and present-day heavy industry also leaves scars on the region. I could give horrific descriptions from my own constituency, but I prefer to mention two recent reports. The Commission on Energy and the Environment published its report "Coal and the Environment" in 1981, an the 10th report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution was issued as recently as 1984. I regret to say that both reports give special mention to the northern region. They make very depressing reading, but the Government's response to the recommendations in both reports has been negligible. When will the Government take action on those recommendations?

It would be more than a gesture for the Government to make arrangements with the Arts Council to increase the grant to Northern Arts. Northern Arts, which does an excellent job for the region in difficult circumstances, receives most of its income from Tyne and Wear county council which, as the Minister will know, is soon to be abolished. An act of positive discrimination is needed, but perhaps that is too much to hope for from such a philistine Government.

If the Government are serious about helping the northern region, they should change and strengthen their regional industrial policies by establishing a northern development agency, structured and financed on the lines of the Scottish and Welsh Development Agencies. The Government could also transfer Civil Service jobs to the region. The Labour party has not forgotten that one of the first acts of the 1979 Tory Government was to cancel the arrangement to transfer 1,000 Civil Service jobs to Cleveland. Since then, not one Civil Service job—as I know, having asked many parliamentary questions on the matter—has come to the north. The Government could also establish research and development agencies in the region now that there is considerable evidence that firms tend to stay in the area where the new products are developed.

The Government could improve their regional policies by accepting the advice of their friends in the CB1. The CBI adopted Labour party policy at its annual conference two weeks ago when it said that the Government should spend directly on reducing unemployment rather than on cutting income tax. The north needs £300 million-worth of road improvements and repairs. That is the CBI figure, not mine. The northern CBI last month said that the picture in the region was very mixed. Some companies are finding a worsening of the position. The heavy capital sector is still depressed and more orders are needed for shipbuilding and ship repair companies. The situation in six months is likely to be even less hopeful. If the Government will not listen to the Opposition, perhaps they will heed their own supporters in industry and business.

The last thing that the Opposition want to do is give the impression that the north is a dull, dreary, desolate place, lacking excitement, beauty, enjoyment and culture. In fact, the opposite is the case, despite our history, which has involved hard and dangerous work in heavy industry, the destruction of large parts of the landscape and an almost total lack of interest by Conservative Governments.

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

The hon. Gentleman has mentioned the Government's lack of interest and touched on the idea of an economic development agency for the north. Why did the Labour Government, of which he was a member, resist the pleas by Labour Members and others to take the opportunity offered by a devolution programme for Scotland and set up a regional development agency for the north?

Mr. Dormand

The hon. Gentleman has got his facts wrong. He has been a Member of this House long enough to realise that it is not possible for any Government to implement a full programme. He has obviously forgotten that the Labour party's manifesto at the last election specifically mentioned a development agency for the north.

The region's greatest resource is its people. They are responsible, proud and hard working. Any employer who has come to the north will agree with that statement. The people would like the opportunity to demonstrate those qualities in full measure. The Prince of Wales, in his recent statement on the so-called northern employee attitude, could not have been more wrong. It ill becomes one in his comfortable position to present such an inaccurate picture of northern workers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that references to the royal family in aid of debate are not in order.

Mr. Dormand

In a modern society it is not unreasonable to expect to have a job, to live in a decent house in a pleasant environment, to benefit fully from the education system and to rely on the Health Service. The Opposition believes that the northern region is being denied those basic rights. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that Tory Governments have such meagre support in the north. If the Government refuse to recognise the reality of the situation, refuse to change direction and ignore the Opposition's pleas, we shall not be surprised if they receive even less support in future.

4.29 pm
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Mr. Peter Morrison)

I beg to move, To leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: 'recognises the particular problems the Northern region has faced in the transition from old to new industries and fully endorses all the Government policies which have taken into account these particular problems in creating the proper basis for sustainable growth and thus lower levels of unemployment generally and, in particular, those policies providing special assistance to the Northern region and deplores the Opposition's continuing attempts to undermine the efforts of those in the region seeking to attract new businesses and new jobs.'. I assure the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) that, contrary to what he may think, I am delighted to debate the problems of the northern region. I am also delighted to follow the hon. Gentleman, because he is distinguished in his capacity as chairman of the parliamentary Labour party and he has been a constant champion of the northern region. He has championed the northern region in a forceful and charming way for a long time as well as being the vice-president of the local tourist board.

The hon. Member for Easington and I are old partners in crime in terms of our capacities as pairing Whips for Government and Opposition in successive Parliaments.

The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Mr. Michael Jopling)

Crime in the Whips' Office!

Mr. Morrison

My right hon. Friend has picked on the word "crime" in terms of what we were up to in the Whips' Office. Of course there was no crime—we were merely enjoying doing what was best for all our hon. Friends.

I believe that we last debated the northern region some time ago, in 1983. I may be wrong, but it occurs to me that the timing of today's debate may have something to do with a by-election in the north-east on Thursday.

Mr. Dormand

If the Minister thinks that we need to mount a debate on the northern region to win the Tyne Bridge by-election, he is even further out of touch with reality than I thought.

Mr. Morrison

As the hon. Gentleman knows, I am an innocent fellow and such thoughts cross my mind occasionally, but I accept entirely that I was wrong.

I accept entirely that unemployment in the region is far too high at more than 18 per cent. I hope that the Opposition will acknowledge, although there is a political debate about it, that unemployment remains very much at the top of the Government's priority list. [Interruption.] The Opposition may mock that. We hear a great deal of analysis of unemployment levels from them, but we never hear any solutions. It is a continuing challenge to create jobs and to reduce unemployment. That is bound to be so. As our amendment states, the transition from the old industries to the new is more painful in the northern region than in other parts of the country.

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Morrison

No, I should like to get on as I know that a large number of hon. Members wish to participate in the debate.

I hope that the Opposition will endorse the Government's view that the only way to tackle the unemployment problem in the northern region is to get the economy as a whole on a sound footing. That means being competitive, productive and profitable. It is not easy, but it is possible and it takes time. I emphasise that if the solution, which the hon. Member for Easington may have been suggesting, were simply to pump money into the region, the problems would have been solved long ago. I will give some figures to illustrate my point.

Since the Conservatives came to power in 1979, more than £108 million has been paid out in regional selective assistance and about £700 million has been paid out in regional development grant. More than that, the urban programme has entailed £214 million, urban development grant £11.5 million, which has attracted about £60 million in private investment, the traditional urban programme has reached nearly £10 million, derelict land grant more than £61 million and the housing investment programme more than £870 million. In all, that is more than £2 billion. That does not include the training and special employment measures to which I shall allude later and to which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will no doubt also refer.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

What would the figures have been if the Government had not cut regional aid and the rate support grant?

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman will surely agree that it is sensible to have some control of rates, as high-rating authorities drive business away. There is no doubt about that, as can be seen in various parts of the country, perhaps including certain parts of the northern region.

Throwing pounds at problems is not the simple answer that the Bishop of Liverpool or Sir Richard O'Brien—

Mr. Giles Radice (Durham, North)

Those well-known Marxists.

Mr. Morrison

—would have us believe. As a Minister I have had to deal with both those gentlemen and I was not surprised at their most recent proposals as they have been in the business of throwing pounds at problems for some time.

The creation of jobs in the northern region will depend on the overall attractiveness of the area to potential investors and the competitiveness of local industry. I agree entirely with the hon. Member for Easington that it is people who count. I know from my many visits to the area since I became a Minister that the people of the north positively welcome the outsider and the outside investor.

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

How does the Minister expect the people of Cumbria, especially those who work for Matthew Brown, to welcome the intervention of Scottish and Newcastle Breweries and its attempt to take over a highly profitable brewery in Workington with the sole intention of closing it? Does the Minister wish to justify that, or will he condemn it from the Dispatch Box?

Mr. Morrison

I do not wish to get involved in what seems to be an internecine dispute between certain parts of the north. Business decisions are no doubt being taken, but it is not for me to promulgate from the Dispatch Box the benefits of Newcastle or Cumbria in a debate about the region as a whole.

The suggestion made by the hon. Member for Easington towards the end of his speech—that the Government were not interested in the north—is totally belied by the facts. Quite the reverse is true. There are many pockets of very high unemployment in other regions which do not receive the same attention. In the northern region, we have provided direct and practical help, first, for those most affected by unemployment through our wide-ranging employment and training measures, secondly, through our regional industrial policy aimed at reducing disparities in employment opportunities, and, thirdly, through our urban programme aimed at combating inner city deprivation.

Mr. Beith

The Minister refers to areas outside the region in which those measures do not apply, although similar problems exist, but those facilities have also been withdrawn from areas within the region by the narrowing of assisted areas and the exclusion from the urban programme of many small communities with severe urban problems.

Mr. Morrison

I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but many other parts of the country can make the same claim. Tiny pockets are extremely difficult to administer, so I hope that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the panacea that he seeks is not easily achieved.

The hon. Member for Easington, unlike some, did not promote an air of doom and gloom. He will recall that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister described certain reporters as moaning minnies, and she was right to do so because they do not represent the attitude of the people of the northern region. They undermine the attitude and attractiveness of the northern region.

There are many successes, and I think that the future can be viewed with a certain amount of optimism—for example, the Newcastle technology centre was recently opened. No Government handout was given and the centre came about because of local initiative. That is a demonstration that there is confidence in the region and in its industry. The result will be more competitive practices and processes and the promotion of the take-up of new technology. This is good because it has been born out of its own.

The north-east is becoming increasingly less dependent on the old industries and more attuned to the growing sectors of the economy—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) laughs. Is he not proud of the fact that the pharmaceutical industry, which hardly existed 10 years ago in the north-east, now employs over 5,000 people? Is he not proud that 16,000 people are engaged in electronic-related industries, which range from component manufacturers to computers, radar, fibre-optics and opto-electronics? All the hon. Gentleman does is laugh at those who are employed in those industries. I am sure that his constituents would not be laughing.

The Nissan project was the most sought after scheme in the United Kingdom during the past four years. It is a £350 million development which offers direct employment which could—I emphasise "could"—reach 2,500. This is a great pat on the back for the northern region and confirms the point made by the hon. Member for Easington. It has happened by a combination of the Government's encouragement and the taxpayer's encouragement to come to the region. In addition to the 2,000 employees at Nissan, there may be a further 2,000 employed indirectly. That is a vote of confidence in the northern region.

The Nissan project is not the only project. Last year, NEK Cables of Norway announced a £4.5 million expansion, which will mean a further 100 jobs in Washington.

In October of this year, Ikeda Bussan (Japan) announced a joint venture with Hoover to manufacture car seats for Nissan. This is an investment of £1.5 million that will create 200 jobs. NSK Bearings (Europe) Ltd. of Japan last year announced further expansion in Peterlee. That is a further example of inward investment. I could continue to give examples of inward investment, but it is not just a matter of plant and machinery.

Mr. Tony Blair (Sedgefield)

Does the Minister realise that pats on the back are fine provided that there are not punches in the solar plexus at the same time? Thousands of jobs have been lost in the northern region even since 1983, let alone 1979. When will the Government realise that unless they take steps to encourage intervention in the north-east there will he no possibility of building future success out of past failure?

Mr. Morrison

I said earlier that about £2 billion had been provided in urban grants, industrial grants and regional aid. By any stretch of the imagination, that is a significant amount of money over the past six years. Had no grant been available, those industries would have Seen less likely to come to the region.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)


Mr. Morrison

I must get on. I shall give way in a moment.

New plant and machinery are important and so, too, are new working practices. Labour Members may not like the example of Black and Decker, a factory which I have visited, but in 1974 it had about 2,500 employees and was producing 40,000 units per week. Now it has only 1,300 workers. This has caused a problem of about 1,200 unemployed in the region, but the company is far more productive and is now producing 150,000 units compared with 40,000 previously. The company is competitive and making profits, and that is what attracts new industry to the northern region.

Mr. Dormand


Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman knows that it is coming. He has heard of the examples and he can see them when he visits his constituency every weekend.

The basis of a sound economy is a relatively well-developed small firms sector. This sector is relatively undeveloped in the northern region because of its past reliance on large public sector industries. I am sure that the Opposition will be pleased to know, however, that the small firms centre in Newcastle deals with more than 1,500 inquiries a month. There are now about 90,000 self-employed people in the north-east compared with 57,000 in 1979, an increase of about 60 per cent. The House will be pleased that that is a trend in the right direction.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will be interested to know about the pleasing developments in Cumbria. In Workington, more than 500 jobs have been created in the enterprise zone since its creation two years ago. The number of firms in the area has doubled and full-time employment has risen. The largest single increase was on the Solway estate at Maryport, where over 370 jobs have been created. This was due to the expansion of existing firms and the fact that new firms have moved into the units offered by the English Estates as well as by private investors.

There are many examples. The CADAM centre in Middlesbrough could provide about 5,000 high-tech jobs by 1995 and—[Interruption.] Labour Members laugh once more. The Metro centre shopping and leisure complex, which is an investment of £50 million in Gateshead, could provide between 4,000 and 5,000 jobs.

Mr. Radice

The Minister has given us much anecdotal evidence. Can he say how many jobs have been lost and how many have been created in the northern region since 1979?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot give the hon. Gentleman precise figures and I do not wish to mislead the House, but—

Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)


Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman scoffs and scorns the enterprise and initiative that has taken place in the northern region. He is what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister described as a moaning minnie. He is turning away potential industrial investment—because his words are closely heeded by the industrial investor—and that cannot be good either for his constituents or for the northern region.

Some Labour Members say that we ignore the northern region. They should remember that since 1983 we have spent £141 million on the youth training scheme within the region on about 61,000 entrants. It is said that a place on the YTS is not a real job. Those who take that view should understand that it is real training and that it enhances substantially—there is no question of this—the opportunity of getting a job at the end of what will be potentially for every 16-year-old a two-year scheme.

We have introduced the community programme for the long-term unemployed. We have spent about £190 million on the programme since October 1982. There have been about 6,700 applicants for the enterprise allowance scheme. These figures show that there is much activity.

I accept, as I did at the beginning of my speech, that the problems of the north-east are difficult. I accept that the problems in the northern region are greater than those in some other areas. There can be no doubt about that. However, I do not accept the implication of the hon. Member for Easington—that the Government do not care. Nothing could be further from the truth. We recognise the problems and, as I have demonstrated, about £2 billion or more of aid in many different forms—this is not an anecdote—has been made available by the Government. We care, and we are doing a great deal to try to overcome the region's problems. There is still more to be done, and we shall continue to do it.

4.52 pm
Mr. Ian Wrigglesworth (Stockton, South)

The Minister was right to say that the debate has been initiated by the Labour party because of the Tyne Bridge by-election. Let the House have no doubt about that. The message that goes out from the House is that the Labour party is clearly running scared in Tyne Bridge and has initiated the debate to try to secure a party political by-election benefit. It has not done so because of the desperate unemployment that exists throughout the region.

Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Wrigglesworth

No. I shall give way later.

The Labour Opposition might have been expected to set out on the Order Paper a list of proposals to show how they would tackle the problems of Tyne Bridge, Sunderland, Teesside or other areas that are hit so badly in the northern region. As was said about a candidate in a Democratic primary, there is no meat in the diet that has been put before the House. The Opposition have moved an entirely negative motion. It was the alliance which had to introduce some proposals for dealing with the northern region's problems.

There are many ways in which the northern region can be helped, and we should welcome some of the information that the Minister has given to the House about the expansion of self-employment in the region and the number of new businesses that are being started. That activity goes to the core of one of the problems that the region must face. We need more new business start-ups, more self-employment and more service industries. That has been urged by many of us over many years in debates of this sort.

Unemployment in the north stands at 238,200—which is the equivalent of unemployment figures 30 years ago when Lord Stockton was Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is a sad reflection upon our abilities, and especially on the Government's policies, that the level of unemployment in the region is similar to that which prevailed when Lord Stockton was Chancellor of the Exchequer. The number of jobs has fallen—I shall give the figures if the Minister will not—by over 200,000. That is twice the rate of decline nationally and is the greatest fall in any region. That is why the northern region has the highest level of unemployment outside Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister visited a ward in my constituency on the day when she made an offensive remark about moaning minnies. There is 30 per cent. unemployment in that area—42 per cent. male unemployment. It is not good enough for Ministers to talk about the unemployed getting on their bikes, being workshy or being moaning minnies, and to lecture those in the northern region about getting off their backsides. Those are the implications behind the comments of many Ministers. When we in the north hold our surgeries we see week by week a sad trail of those who have tried time after time to get a job. Those who are in that trail tell us that they have not even received acknowledgements of job applications, and that that has happened dozens of times. Against that background, we hear Ministers' offensive remarks about the plight of those who are genuinely searching for jobs and cannot find them.

Mr. Peter Morrison

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I made precisely the point that the hon. Gentleman is making. I observed that a characteristic of north-easterners, or northerners, was that they were not moaning minnies. I said that the pity was that one or two were and that they gave the wrong impression. I agree with the argument that the hon. Gentleman is advancing.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

One of the major problems of the northern region is that it dwells too much on the past and does not think enough about the future. There is one way in which the region could help itself more than in any other—by snapping out of nostalgia about the old industries and directing itself—[Interruption.] Labour Members might listen to what I am about to say. Excellent work is being undertaken in Newcastle polytechnic on fashion design and—[Interruption.] That is a source of amusement for Labour Members. I mention fashion design as an example, because it seems so remote from the traditions of the northern region. It is the sort of service industry that has brought enormous employment opportunities in other countries and other parts of the United Kingdom.

Benetton of Italy has provided work for many Italians and has become an international firm. We must recognise what Laura Ashley has done in Wales. We must not scoff at what Newcastle polytechnic is doing. Many Labour Members wallow in the nostalgia of mining, shipbuilding and the past generally, instead of turning their attention to the industries of the future, such as the high technology and service industries.

Let us have Civil Service jobs by all means. They were referred to by the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) when he opened the debate. Let us have the white-collar industries and the professional jobs that the region needs desperately. The mix of employment oppportunities that it has been able to create and provide is all wrong. The entire region is skewed in the wrong way. Unless we address ourselves to that problem, we shall never provide a long-term solution to the present high levels of unemployment.

How can that be done? The Government must play a major role in bringing that about. It is no good the Minister reading out a list of the moneys that have been given to the region and boasting about them. Why did he not do that six years ago? Instead, he was decrying the amount of public money that was being put into industry and criticising the extent of Government intervention in industry.

As I said yesterday, there has been a C-turn, but I have no doubt that it will become a U-turn by the time of the next general election. The Government realise that votes for the Conservative party depend on reducing unemployment levels. By then, the Minister and the Government generally will have realised that unless they boast more about the contribution that they are making to the creation of jobs in areas such as the northern region, they will not win the next general election. That is what the U-turn that is taking place is all about. The Government have started to boast of their record. The Minister is hoist on his own petard. Having criticised public investment so much, he is now having to laud the Government's record to try to secure votes.

Sir Nicholas Bonsor (Upminster)

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman is unable to distinguish between the aid given by the Labour party, which was aid with strings attached so that it could control the industries in which it invested, and aid given by the Government to stimulate investment and make the economy grow.

Mr. Wrigglesworth

The hon. Gentleman might believe the hyperbole and rhetoric from his own party conference, but he should not try to persuade people who look at those matters objectively that that is the case.

The Scottish Development Agency still exists. It is bigger in terms of the number of people that it employs—700 or 800—and it is one of the most interventionist agencies that one could imagine. The Government have not abolished it, for one political reason—they would lose even more votes than they did over Gartcosh. They are no different from the previous Labour Government. Let us do away with the party political hyperbole in which the hon. Gentleman is indulging, and look at the facts.

The facts are that the Government are intervening and supporting industry, but not as much as they should. Following their party conference hyperbole, they cut regional aid by a massive amount. They have halved the level of support to the regions since they came to office. In the most recent public expenditure forecast, they are again proposing to halve the support for regional aid. Inevitably, regions such as the north have been hard hit.

As we said in our amendment, there must be changes in the way in which the Government work and a radical change of attitude towards regional government. There should be decentralisation of power from Whitehall and Westminster. I mentioned the Scottish Development Agency. In the meantime, high priority should be given to the creation of a northern development agency. That should be the first step in shifting decisions to people in Newcastle, Durham, Sunderland and Middlesbrough rather than Ministers and their civil servants in Whitehall and Westminster.

The polarisation between central Government in Whitehall and the northern local authorities has undermined the valuable initiative of the proposed regional industrial executive. That was not mentioned by the hon. Member for Easington. It is amazing that it was not mentioned by him. The proposal is supported by some, but not all, in the trade union movement. It has the support of the local CBI and it would address a desperate need for the region.

One of the problems of the northern region, which Scotland does not have, is that it does not have a united voice and organisation, and it does not act in concert, as in Scotland. Instead, we have bickering between local authorities and between trade unions and the CBI. We do not have the cohesion that is found in other parts of the country. It is sad that the local authorities have not been prepared to give more credence and support to the proposal for a regional industrial executive, which has foundered because of the lack of cohesion in the region.

A northern development agency should have a venture capital arm and a small firms division, as in the Scottish Development Agency, to help business start-ups and small businesses. The Scottish Development Agency and the Highlands and Islands Development Board are good examples of the excellent work that can be done by Government agencies, stimulating new businesses and helping existing small businesses to grow. There is a desperate need for that to happen in a more co-ordinated way in the region. It should also take over the role of the NEDC in promoting indigenous firms and attracting inward investment. It is equally important that it should co-ordinate the plethora of regional job-creation agencies.

We have the most incredible position, with job creation agencies all over the region fighting one another for jobs. I turn on Radio Tees and hear Easington spending money advertising for jobs in Teesside which has the highest level of unemployment of any county in the country. It is a ludicrous waste of money for a neighbouring enterprise body to advertise in an area that has higher unemployment than the area to which the advertisement is asking new businesses to go. There are many examples of that beggarthy-neighbour attitude by local authorities and agencies that are all trying to beat one another, wasting public funds. They should help businesses rather than try to promote narrow areas—areas that should be promoted on a wider basis.

We saw a national example of that when Nissan and other overseas projects were being proposed. People tripped off to Japan spending public funds for no apparent reason in an unjustified and unco-ordinated way. It is even worse when one studies what is really happening.

The agency could build up links with financial institutions, even though it does not have Scotland's advantage of administrative devolution and close links between industry and the banking system. In my view, economic development in the region is held back by lack of private financial capacity. The region has no private investment trust, no commercial bank of any size, one major building society only, in Newcastle, and no local headquarters of a building society or bank. Of 52 pension funds in the region, only six are locally managed.

In co-operation with the banks, the agency could help to administer the industrial credit scheme, which we have proposed. As the House of Lords report on overseas trade—which is being debated today—recommended, it would be specifically targeted on low-interest medium-term finance for small and medium-sized enterprises directed at high technology projects, product innovation, marketing, exports and design. I was delighted to see that the Treasury spokesman for the Labour party took up the proposal of an industrial credit scheme. I hope that the Government will also take it up.

If we are to do anything about the state of the region's employment, there needs to be a regional dimension to the allocation of public spending directed towards increasing the region's share of expenditure on research and development, which is currently 2.5 per cent., contrasted with a remarkable 47 per cent. being spent in the south-east. The region also needs new venture capital incentives through a corporate business expansion scheme to enable large companies, including multinationals, to write off up to £100,000 per annum in investments in small high-tech companies and full 100 per cent. depreciation allowances in the first year for start-up high-tech companies.

Those are the sort of proposals that might get new businesses and new industries under way in the region, but the Government have followed a scorched earth regional policy. Last week the Minister admitted, in reply to a question which I tabled and which the hon. Member for Easington quoted, that the Government had cut regional aid by 57 per cent. in real terms, from £287.1 million in 1978–79 to £122 million in 1984–85. That is before the cut in regional development grants and before the cost per job limit was imposed. In December 1984 the Government cut the national regional aid budget by half. Projecting that for the northern region could mean a further reduction, in the next three years, of some £60 million in regional aid.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry told the Conservative party conference that regional decline now represents the gravest social and economic problem facing us as a nation. We ignore it at our peril … He went on to say: In making all our economic and regional decisions we should always ask ourselves this question: What impact will that decision have upon that gulf between the different parts of the country? Unfortunately, his colleague the Chancellor has no such awareness. Only the alliance has spelt out how the economic policies that we want will help the northern region. We estimate that cutting the employers' national insurance contribution by 1 per cent., will create 2,000 jobs in the northern region. The north-eastern share of the £1 billion infrastructure programme that we propose would create 20,000 jobs. Doubling the community programme in the northern region would create 15,000 jobs. Our anti-poverty programme, which expands FIS and gives the long-term supplementary benefit rate for those unemployed for more than one year, would boost demand and create 10,000 jobs. Expanding local authority spending on labour-intensive services and a crash programme of education and training for skills would create 8,000 jobs. Setting up new businesses through small firm investment companies and the industrial credit scheme, as well as the enterprise allowance scheme, would initially create 2,000 jobs.

Those policies, which we have proposed nationally, would reduce unemployment in the north by 50,000 to 60,000 within two years. That is a realistic target. It is not enough, but it would be a substantial improvement on the present prospects for the region. It would give new hope not only to Tyne Bridge, but to Wearside, Teesside and other parts of the region that have been devastated by the events of the past six years, particularly the devastation of our manufacturing and industrial base during that time.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It will be obvious to the House that many hon. Members wish to speak in this short debate, so I appeal for short contributions.

5.10 pm
Mr. Neville Trotter (Tynemouth)

I agree that we should not dwell on the past but look to the future, but it is germane to remind the house that the industrial background of the north-east, with its traditional dependence on heavy industry, is largely to blame for the serious unemployment that we face. Such industries in all the western world face intense competition, especially from cheap labour in the far east, as well as technical change on a scale that was never foreseen, even 30 years ago. We are seeing technical change in a time span of five years that took a generation only a few years ago. All too often, those technical changes produce automation and less employment in the traditional heavy industries. These are largely the reasons for the problems that we face in the north-east, and it is right to look to the past for that historical background.

We should look to the future and success stories such as Nissan, mentioned by the Minister of State, and described as the most attractive industrial prospect in recent years. The north-east won that chance through its own efforts.

The north-east is certainly not a desert. We should never, wittingly or unwittingly, convey the impression that it is. It is important that we create a true impression of the advantages in the north-east. I am sure that hon. Members taking part in the debate appreciate that. It is essential that potential employers are aware of the regional pluses and are not led astray by moaning about the problems that we face.

I remind the House that we possess the finest communications system in the country. We have an excellent system of roads, fine airports and up-to-date sea ports. Our rail system from the south is about to be electrified. We have outstandingly beautiful countryside. We have a skilled and hard-working work force. I pay tribute to our fine industrial relations. Traditionally, the north-east has enjoyed good relations between the two sides of industry. I am pleased to be told by those involved in the industrial scene that industrial relations have never been better than they are today.

I pay particular tribute to the leaders of both sides of industry who have been working quietly and persistently for about 18 months seeking to establish a new co-ordinating body for the north-east, which has, I am sure, the blessing of all hon. Members representing constituencies in the north-east. I believe that the scheme will also have the Government's blessing when the proposals are put formally to them.

We have not only the prospect of Nissan as a fine manufacturing centre but every sign of confidence from the retail trade. In fact, there are staggering signs of confidence in retailing. I am told by those who run the Newcastle branches of national shops that the trade that they are now doing in the city is among the best in the whole country. The Metro centre is opening in Gateshead in a year's time and will employ about 5,000 people. This imaginative local initiative will be the first such gigantic shopping centre in the country. There is every sign of confidence in the community in the north-east. That does not mean that we do not have problems, but we are confident that we can match up to them and we are seeking to do so by our own efforts as much as possible.

In recent weeks the Queen Mother, always a most popular visitor to Tyneside, opened the new coal staithes on the Tyne, an effective investment in the future by the port of Tyne. In Scotswood, the Vickers tank factory is one of the most modern plants in Britain. In my constituency, at the former Clellands shipyard we have a thrusting, dynamic and successful offshore oil industry firm—William Press. Also in my constituency is Elmwood Sensors, a very successful subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley. Eighty three per cent. of that factory's production is going to the German and French car industries, which is a great success story.

Recently, smaller companies have been established in north Tyneside, such as Aerial Access Equipment and Scanro, both of which recently received the Queen's Award for Exports early in their lives. The former company sells hydraulic lift mechanisms and the latter sells windsurfing boards. Both are examples of small businesses and both are very successful. There is, however, a need for us to encourage small firms and entrepreneurs more than we have in the past. The recent celebrated comment that more needs to be done in this respect was not wrong. As The Newcastle Journal said in an editorial at the time, it is not criticising the north-east to make that point but simply recognising a problem that is there, and one that most northerners, in their hearts, know is there. We need to face that problem.

Much has rightly been said by the Minister of State about the huge amount of money that has been made available for the north-east in urban and industrial aid. Enormous efforts are being made by the Manpower Services Commission in the region in training and in the many different schemes in which it is involved. I should like to give an example of self-help—the creation of Northern Investors. A number of leading industrial and commercial firms in the north-east have got together to provide finance for investment in new businesses in the region. It has got off to a good start, and I am sure that we all wish it well.

We can take great pride in our education system in the north-east. We have two fine universities and three fine polytechnics. However, Lord Elliott who, for many years, contributed to our debates on the north-east as a Member of the House, was accurate in saying in his recent maiden speech in another place, that in the past the north-east had given too much emphasis to academic education and training rather than vocational training. We should bear that in mind for the future.

I was pleased to be present at the recent opening of the technology centre at Newcastle university when he performed the opening ceremony. Mr. Reay Atkinson, the regional director of the Department of Trade and Industry, referred to the centre's major role in the regeneration of the region. He saw it as helping in the creation of new forward-looking businesses and keeping more of our young people in the region by showing them that there was scope and hope for them. This could help the north-east to become more closely involved in the prosperous offshore oil and gas business. That was a local initiative, taken by the university of Newcastle, working with local businesses.

I pay tribute to the work of Mr. Reay Atkinson, who, for the past few years, has been the head of the Department of Trade and Industry in the north-east. He retires at the end of the month, and I know that all hon. Members from the northern region will join me in paying tribute to his outstanding work. He has become very much a northerner in the past three years. Indeed, he originally came from our part of the country, but he suffered for a while because he was based in London.

I have said that I do not believe that we do enough to encourage people in the north-east to set up businesses and to become entrepreneurs and employers. We must however, also seek to increase the amount of inward investment in the region. It is for that reason that for a long time I have been of the opinion that we needed to improve the co-ordinating machinery in the north-east, which is now non-existent. I fully support, as I believe all hon. Members should do, the creation of a regional industrial executive, or whatever one likes to call it. It does not matter what the name is as long as we get the organisation right. I hope that in 1986 it will be the principal feature of the north-east's move to help itself. I hope that during next year a proposal will come from the north-east to London to set up a new agency. It will probably take over the work of the North-East Development Council. It will have a small central staff and two prongs, one dealing with inward investment and the other with promotion of the region. It will be what is known as a one-stop shop. There is a great need for that if we are to play our full part in the development of the north-east.

This initiative of the region's Confederation of British Industry and the TUC, I hope to be supported in the near future by the local authorities, will be the greatest achievement that we can look forward to in 1986. In the north-east we have people of great ability and pride. It is only right that we should come to the Government in the new year with proposals to help ourselves by setting up an agency on the lines that I have suggested.

5.19 pm
Mr. Ron Lewis (Carlisle)

I am delighted to take part briefly in this important debate on the northern region. If I concentrate on my area, I hope the House will forgive me, because the region stretches from the far north-east right across to the far north-west and embraces the county of Cumbria and my constituency of Carlisle.

The hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) made an unwarranted attack upon the Labour party, bearing in mind that he would never have been in the House had it not been for the Labour party. I hope that at some time he will be honest with himself and publish the amount of money that he received from the Labour and trade union movement in the past when he was a Labour candidate and that helped to get him here. I also point out that humility is not one of his great characteristics.

I want to concentrate upon my patch, the city of Carlisle. A delegation met the Minister of State recently to request development area status. Although the Minister received us courteously, I very much regret that he turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to our request.

My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) referred to Matthew Brown and the Scottish and Newcastle breweries. This may seem odd coming from me, but the great fear in my constituency is that, if the deal goes ahead, not only will the brewery in Workington close but there is every possibility that the brewery of Theakstones in my constituency will also come under the hammer. When amalgamations take place, the ordinary working man and woman employed in the industries asks, "Will my job be secure?"

As hon. Members know, there is also the possibility of the amalgamation of Imperial Tobacco and United Biscuits. No doubt the first thing that my constituents who are employed by United Biscuits and who work at Carrs factory in Carlisle will ask is, "I wonder if my job will be safe." That is a perfectly legitimate worry. From my contacts in the past with the chairman of United Biscuits, Sir Hector Laing, I believe that he will do all that he can to retain the biscuit factory in Carlisle.

In the 1930s, there were many small family firms in my constituency, but over the years they have been swallowed up and now belong in the main to great combines. In the 1930s, there was very little unemployment in the constituency when the rest of the country suffered massive unemployment. In the 1980s, the position has changed considerably. In Carlisle in October of this year unemployment was running at 12 per cent., four times what it was 10 years ago when Carlisle had assisted area status.

More than 6,000 persons are unemployed in the Carlisle travel-to-work area. The unemployment rate shows an overall upward trend and, despite what the Miniser said, there is little to suggest that it will not continue to do so. Despite the promising fall during the summer of 1983, the unemployment rate is back to its highest level, equivalent to the previous peak in 1982.

In his speech, the Minister did not say one word about unemployment in the city of Carlisle. Male unemployment has gone up from 5.3 per cent. in 1979 to 14.1 per cent.; female unemployment has grown from 5.3 per cent. to 9.6 per cent. in the same period. A few weeks ago I met a group of young people, together with representatives of the social services. Every one of those young people was out of work. They could not get jobs and there is no hope for them. No wonder that at times people are driven to despair.

Statistics reveal that long-term unmployment is emerging as a major problem in my constituency. About 40 per cent. of all the unemployed men have been without work for more than a year and nearly a quarter of the unemployed men under 19 have been unemployed for more than a year. As for those under 19, there is nothing worse for a young person leaving school and looking forward to starting work than finding that there is no job to go to. There is no encouragement for them in what the Minister said today.

Mr. Peter Morrison

The hon. Gentleman said that I did not refer to his constituency; that is correct. I hope he will be generous enough to remind the House that he and some of his constituents came to see me only last week to discuss the position in Carlisle. I hope that he felt that he had a fair hearing.

Mr. Lewis

I thought I had made it clear that I had no complaint about that meeting. I thought I had paid tribute to the Minister; if I did not, I apologise. He received us courteously and listened to us. But when we went out of his office, that was the end of it. I give him full marks. The first thing that happened when we went into his office was that someone put on the kettle. The trouble with many Ministers is that they put the kettle on after delegations leave.

Despite everything the Minister said today, what hope has he given to the unemployed in my constituency? What hope will the Under-Secretary of State for Employment be able to offer to unemployed men and women in Carlisle when he replies to the debate? We look to him for an answer. I hope the Government will act as a result of this short debate.

5.30 pm
Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)

I can agree with the hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis) on one point. It is typical of the Opposition's cynical disinterest in the north-east that the first full-scale debate that they table on the north-east should take place in a week when their majority in the safe seat of Tyne Bridge is at risk. Tyne Bridge is a good example of the results of Labour misrule— captive municipal misery, with people herded into council houses and deprived of jobs by high-rating Labour-controlled authorities.

It is a great shame that the Opposition motion did not draw attention to the systems of Socialism in the north-east that deny choice, frustrate ownership and deprive people of the standards of living to which they are entitled. The Socialism that we have seen in the north-east has contributed to a serf mentality in many constituencies.

The debate is about the role of government in the north-east and aid for the north-east. It should be about not the quantity of aid, but rather its quality. There should be no doubt about the quantity of aid that has been provided. The north-east has been an assisted area since the early 1930s. In the past 20 years it has received one third of the regional aid budget—about £6 billion out of £20 billion.

Since the Government came to power in 1979, the north-east has received, as we have heard, more than £1 billion. It is a £1 billion-pound region. Every Member who has studied the problems of the north-east knows that it is not the quantity of aid that matters. There is no shortage of public money. The problem has been the shortage of private money, capital, investment and enterprise. I can think of no project that my right hon. Friends have not been prepared to consider on its merits and to give aid where appropriate—Nissan, the electrification of the east coast main line and many others. The question before us is not the quantity, but the quality of aid that has been made available. How can we make it more effective? That is the test that we should apply to the Government.

There is no doubt that the Government are doing well on that test and that regional aid is very effective. There has been an end to endless capital subsidies and subsidies of replacement investment—merely modernisation investment that creates no new jobs. There has been an end to the Sullom Voes, the Moss Morrans and the Billingham nitric acid plants, and so on. More jobs are now being created for the taxpayer's money.

Subsidies are being reduced. The wasteful subsidies that we saw in the past poured down the pits and shoved into the shipyards and the steel plants have been reduced, and all three industries are now edging towards a more profitable position than they have had for some years. The hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) mentioned the smaller companies, the service companies and the new technology companies that are now coming. They are already there. They are not just pipe dreams for the future. In the north-east, 5,000 new companies register for VAT every year. New service companies are being created and new technology companies are now coming to the region.

About 20,000 people in the region work in about 160 new technology enterprises which operate across the range of the technologies—computers, telecommunications, electronics, and so on. It is a myth to pretend that those companies have not yet been created. Those jobs exist and there are more of them to come.

Mr. John Ryman (Blyth Valley)


Mr. Fallon

I shall not give way because we are short of time.

The Government are stimulating job creation and providing training. Next year about 18,000 adults will receive training and about 25,000 youngsters will go through the YTS in the north-east.

Mr. Stuart Randall (Kingston upon Hull, West)


Mr. Fallon

The north-east is seeing training and retraining on a scale that it has not seen in any previous time of industrial change. On that point the Government are to be congratulated.

Mr. Ryman


Mr. Fallon

The role of the Government is not to fossilise the region through extensive and unnecessary subsidy, as encouraged by the Labour party, and not to prolong the agony of industrial change, but to assist that change, to put people at the front of that change and to stop them being the victims of that change. Public money should be used to do that, but it must be used wisely to clear away the debris of the last industrial age, to pay for the retraining of our work force, to stimulate job creation in a modern industrial environment, and, above all, to help re-establish in the north-east the spirit of enterprise and self confidence that the region needs.

Those policies will need time to take effect. The problems did not start in 1979. They are deep-rooted. They have existed for more than 20 years in the north-east. Even Joe Mills, the secretary of the northern TUC acknowledges that the problems of the north-east began over 10 years ago. It is a period, interestingly, that starts with the beginning of the former Labour Government.

There is no doubt that, applied thoroughly, those policies will succeed. The House need not take my word for that; it can take the word of those companies which have come to the north-east from overseas—Nissan to Washington, the Grove Corporation to Sunderland and Tabucchi to Teesside. It is inconceivable that the north-east would have seen overseas investment on that scale had Labour won the last election, had this country been pulled out of the European Community, and had those companies had to face the prospect of investing in a country with high inflation and with public finance out of control.

Mr. Boyes


Mr. Fallon

No one can reasonably argue that Nissan would have come to this country.

Mr. Boyes


Mr. Fallon

Nissan and the other Japanese companies that we hope to attract take a long-term view. They are correct to do so. They chose the north-east. They were not directed there. They chose it because of its strength and because this Government, unlike any previous Government, have provided the stability—

Mr. Boyes


Mr. Fallon

—the low inflation and the attractive control of public finances for which they have been looking. Instead of moaning about the north-east, we should be playing on those strengths. The north-east has plenty of natural resources. We have water, coal and offshore gas. We have human resources, skills in the new technologies and a work force that can adapt, as Nissan is proving, to new working practices.

Mr. Boyes


Mr. Fallon

We have a work force that has transformed itself—

Mr. Boyes

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask for your guidance? Is there not a convention by which, if a Member spends a considerable part of his speech talking about a factory or something else in another Member's constituency, he gives way, especially when he has made erroneous—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. It is a matter for the hon. Member who has the Floor. I remind the House that there is great pressure on time and that interventions prolong speeches.

Mr. Fallon

I am not giving way, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I know that many hon. Members, especially Opposition hon. Members, want to speak.

We have natural and human resources. We have, above all, cheap land and housing, space for development and the attractive environment that the modern company needs. If those skills and resources are encouraged, we can promote the north-east not as an industrial museum which lives in the imagination of the Labour party, but as a region of opportunity, combining low-cost enterprise with a higher quality of life than that found in rootless southern suburbia or the overcrowded Thames valley.

My right hon. Friends can help in that process, first, by keeping down inflation. Low inflation puts more money into the coffers of companies in the north-east than any amount of regional aid or subsidies. They can help by keeping public finances under control to continue to attract overseas investment to the north-east. They can help by stimulating the enterprise and job creation that will allow and encourage our home-grown enterprises to expand and develop.

I agree with the hon. Member for Stockton, South that it is time that our public expenditure system was reviewed. There is no reason why it should not have a regional dimension. There is no reason why our public expenditure system should continue to discriminate against the English regions by over provision for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There is no justification for the formula by which the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland automatically receive block grants which are not based on proven need and which are beyond Treasury scrutiny.

Secondly, I should like the Government to cut down on some of the reverse regional subsidies—the southern comforts. Each year £300 million is spent on London and the south-east commuter services, and the Government, local government and other public bodies pay their staff £150 million a year in London weighting allowance. Will the Government consider mortgage interest tax relief, not the principle of it, but its effect of trapping people in the north, and making it more difficult for them to move within the United Kingdom labour market?

Finally, will my hon. Friend the Minister knock a few heads together in the north? As the hon. Member for Stockton, South said, a plethora of agencies are wastefully competing among themselves and chasing international investment. If we are to sell the north as a region of opportunity in the United Kingdom and overseas, we need to co-ordinate our efforts in a much better way than the development corporations, agencies, local authorities, and a range of other bodies have done until now.

5.40 pm
Mr. Jack Thompson (Wansbeck)

The debate is taking place today because it is an Opposition day and the Government have never created an opportunity in their time to discuss the problems in the north of England. I remind hon. Members who have spoken—especially the hon. Members for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) and for Darlington (Mr. Fallon)—and the Minister, who is not present, that the issues of the northern region have been brought to our attention by an organisation called the North-East County Councils Association. Each year it produces a report, and this year it presented its sixth report to various Ministers and Secretaries of State. Those documents have been made available on six occasions—the seventh is being prepared—yet they have been almost completely ignored by the Government.

I had the honour and pleasure of being a member of a delegation which came to London to meet the Secretary of State for the Environment and his colleagues to present the fifth report on the state of the region. It, too, was examined and rejected. There is no question but that the north-east has been interested in presenting its case during the past six years, and the credit for that rests entirely on the shoulders of the local authorities.

The debate is important because the north of England has severe problems. That is recognised by various organisations, including the Confederation of British Industry, the Trades Union Congress, local authorities and other organisations that are keenly interested in the economic development of the region. We have valuable assets, but some are in decline. The coal industry is almost completely lost now, and the steel industry has been decimated. They were part of our natural resources. We have other resources, particularly our people.

During the past 150 years, we have developed the coal and steel industries, which were the foundation of the industrial revolution. I remind the few hon. Members from the south of England who are present that their prosperity is based on the resources that came from the north of England, Wales, Scotland and other peripheral regions. The south is reaping the benefits of what we in the north have established during the past 150 years.

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley)

Not for long.

Mr. Thompson

I am reminded that the south will not enjoy those benefits for long.

One remaining asset is our people. As the hon. Member for Darlington recognised, they have adaptable skills, but, sadly, the Government are penalising our people by actions such as the closure of the Killingworth skillcentre. My hon. Friends the Members for Wallsend (Mr. Garrett) and for Blyth Valley (Mr. Ryman) and I met the Minister earlier this year about the closure. I remind my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis) that we, too, had a cup of tea. That seems to be the procedure in the Minister's office. One gets a cup of tea but loses a skillcentre. I would have preferred it the other way round. That is an example of the Government's attitude to the north. The Killingworth skillcentre was the only one between the Tyne and the Borders, and we have lost it.

The retention of the skillcentre was important for training and retraining our people. Every hon. Member who represents the northern region recognises that we want to keep our communities together. That is of paramount importance. At present, we are not succeeding. We are losing our better educated young people because there are no opportunities for them in the north. Our communities are close-knit, and we are fighting desperately to preserve them. As the Minister said, we should be allowed to play a full part in achieving national prosperity, but it should be a fair part, in the sense that we have the same rights and privileges as people elsewhere.

I shall tell the House a short story which reflects the employment position in the south and the north. Two years ago, before I came to the House, I met a gentleman in a hotel in London. He told me that he had a brother-in-law in Brighton who had lost his job two years previously, found another job, was made redundant, found another job, lost that one, and found another job. In other words, he had four jobs in two years. He was despondent about his brother-in-law. I reminded him that in the north when one loses one's first job there is no other job. That is the difference between the north and the south. We have the manpower, and the basic skills, which need to be topped up through skillcentres, but we are not allowed to use and develop them as we wish.

In the north, manufacturing investment fell from £613 million in 1979 to £343 million in 1982. That is a decrease of 61 per cent. All sections of our community resent the lack of a regional dimension in Government policies. At one time, the attitude towards the regions was positive—for example, in the days of industrial development certificates. They were important to the northern region, and their loss had a serious effect.

An aluminium smelter in my constituency directly employs 1,100 people. It came in the 1960s, with the help of intervention from the Labour Government. The company agreed to establish the smelter in the north, and the Wilson Government helped. The plant supports a further 5,000 jobs, which extend as far as the River Tyne, which is 15 miles away. That sort of project could be undertaken again.

The problem cannot be solved by encouraging large numbers of people to move. Already evidence shows that social pressures are building up in other parts of the United Kingdom because of the migration of people from the north. The south-east has housing problems, but the north is not under the same sort of pressure. Our main problem is unemployment. We have accommodation and people, but no jobs. Complaints are made in the south-east about over-development. We do not suffer from that.

It is not true that the northerners keep carping about the position. They are placid, quiet and gentle. That is shown by the fact that, despite all the economic pressures on them, they have not yet taken violent action, such as has occurred elsewhere.

I apologise to my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton and Washington (Mr. Boyes) for mentioning this matter, but I think that he will support what I have to say. One of the reasons, although not the principal one, that Nissan came to the north-east—I participated in the exercise—was because the North-East County Councils Association met five northern counties, the Tyne and Wear county council and the North-East Development Corporation, and agreed to support a site at Sunderland. I was honoured and privileged to take part in that exercise. Nissan did not come to my area, but there has been a regional dimension in the work that has been done, and that will be expanded.

It is not all doom and gloom in the north of England. Many companies have settled there and are satisfied. The Government are keen to remind us of the value of private enterprise. If the United Kingdom were recognised as a private company and we in the north were recognised as shareholders, like the other regions, it would also be recognised that we have put a considerable amount of wealth into the enterprise. Now we ask only for the dividends to which we are entitled.

5.51 pm
Mr. Piers Merchant (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

I am grateful to the Opposition for giving us the opportunity to debate this subject, for it enables the House to consider three most important facts about the northern region. First, the region offers unparalleled opportunities for investment, industry and growth, and should be regarded as a frontier region, ripe for expansion, where the best hopes can be nurtured. The city of Newcastle is the gateway not to despair, as some would have us believe, but to future enterprise. Secondly, this is not a dream; it is coming true. There is now a thriving record of achievement with major new job creation, thanks entirely to the Government's policies. Thirdly, heavy and damning responsibility for the decline and industrial hiatus since 1974 must lie with the Labour leadership of the region and with the Labour party.

Bearing those three points in mind, it is curious that the Opposition have sought to highlight their failure and the Government's successes only two days before a by-election in a constituency that admirably proves all these points. It is all very well to talk vapidly about the future, but we shall not get it right if we do not understand the lessons from the past nor address ourselves to the difficulties that the region has faced and the way that they are now being overcome.

The region is particularly dependent on traditional smokestack industries which made it especially vulnerable to a combination of recession and fundamental changes in the pattern of market demand, which did not begin in 1979. This dislocation could have been avoided, and much of the blame for not preventing it from happening in the early days must be borne by industrialists and business leaders whose talents had become exhausted and who had lost the drive, initiative and inspiration that their predecessors on Tyneside had possessed.

The appalling condescension that these exhausted industrial leaders showed to their work force only encouraged the worst elements in trade unionism to prosper, and blame must lie on them. For sheer destructive obstinacy, little can beat some of the union attitudes displayed on Tyneside until a few years ago. They are responsible for as many lost jobs as bad management, which must also take its fair share of blame. Today, luckily, as many well as good industrial leaders in the north-east, there are many responsible trade union leaders.

An important part can be played by constructive trade unionism on Tyneside. For example, I should like to praise the efforts of Mr. Joe Mills, to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) has referred. He recently sought to obtain all-party support in a move to improve the region. I welcome that, and I am happy to co-operate, as I am sure my hon. Friends will. In his letter, Mr. Mills had the honesty to point out that the region's problems did not begin in 1979, as some Labour Members would have us believe. He specifically and correctly pointed to a decline that began in 1974. Everyone knows which party was in power between 1974 and 1979.

Perhaps Labour Members who have been lecturing the Government on their economic policies can explain why they did so little when they were in power and why, if they now claim to have better policies than the Government, such policies were not applied when the Labour party had ample opportunity to do so. Why, in 11 years of their national rule, did the region not improve but deteriorate? Perhaps they can explain why decades of municipal Socialism have succeeded only in creating inner city jungles of despair in the north-east and concrete labyrinths of decay, which anybody who visits Tyne Bridge, next door to my constituency, can see amply demonstrated. Perhaps they can explain that the problem lies in the failure of policies, not resources, the shortcomings of state planning as a system and the lack of virtually all incentive.

The success that the north so badly needs means independence, and that breaks the power of municipal bosses, shop stewards and Labour political control. The policies that have been advocated by the Labour party and pursued by their town hall apparatchiks have been anti-enterprise, anti-growth, anti-investment, and therefore anti-job creation, and ultimately anti-people. The results are living proof of the failure of intervention policy over the years.

It is no coincidence that the most deprived regions are always those that are controlled by the Labour party and that have lived longest under Labour rule. The so-called north-south divide is fundamentally not economic but political. Regions that formerly had almost identical industrial structures, and therefore potential problems similar to those of the north-east, were able to avoid the high unemployment and consequent problems because they had the political will and flexibility to adapt rather than become fossilised in a dogmatic Socialist dust bowl.

Thankfully, in 1979, a Government with the strength and determination to tackle the long-term problems in regions such as the north-east took power. Overcoming years of neglect was inevitably slow, but now clear results are being reported weekly. In the past few months, Tyneside has been promised almost 15,000 new jobs. I can list them. Some 5,000 jobs will come at the new Metro centre in Gateshead, with, according to the developer, a possible future expansion of up to as many as 11,500 jobs. In addition, between 500 and 1,000 jos have been created during construction work. There will be 2,500 spin-off jobs as a result of the Nissan project in Washington. Another 3,000 jobs will come from the Gateshead garden festival—1,200 jobs in construction and reclamation, which have been started, 1,000 during the festival and up to 1,000 afterwards, not to mention the spin-off jobs that will be created.

Another 2,000 jobs are to be created at the newly announced Armstrong centre on the north bank of the Tyne in Newcastle. This large superstore and leisure complex combined with a business park will create 350 construction jobs, with the promise of 1,700 jobs once it has been built. There will be 1,000 jobs at the Howard Doris oil rig construction yard at Wallsend, and 500 jobs at the new Lipton superstore at Tyneside. Another 400 jobs are to come at Burton the tailors, and 400 at Morrisons in West Moor. An additional 400 are to come at new Fine Fare stores on Tyneside. Also, 250 jobs are to come at the Charlton Leslie offshore company at Wallsend, 200 at the new Dewhirst clothing factory in Sunderland, 200 at Presto at Cowgate, 100 at NEI, 100 at Findus and 50 at Boots—I could go on and on.

Thousands of new jobs have been created and are being created by the Government's policies. Last week, the Evening Chronicle found it necessary to produce a special supplement to include the 300 job vacancies that were available on only one day. In addition, in the enterprise zone about 12,000 new jobs have been created, including the Vickers Dreadnought factory project and a tank factory on the banks of the Tyne. It is the largest covered tank factory in Europe. Apart from the permanent jobs that have been created, 6,488 people in the northern region have benefited from the enterprise allowance scheme. Under the city action team programme, Newcastle and Gateshead alone will receive next year £23.5 million of public money. It will be split among 300 separate schemes and will create hundreds of jobs.

I said at the beginning of my speech that the north is a region of opportunity. If the conditions are right, we shall flourish. We have the raw materials, people with skills and talent, unlimited space and a beautiful environment. The enterprise zone has shown what can happen if the shackles of the state are struck off and if an atmosphere of incentive is created. Great opportunities are available—for example, in tourism. Next year the tall ships race and the Gateshead garden festival will attract thousands of visitors and millions of pounds to Tyneside.

The Government are to allow £300 million of public money to be spent upon east coast electrification. There is to be direct investment in the roads system. The completion of the Newcastle western bypass is foreshadowed, as well as other major road projects.

I criticise the Government in only one respect. I do not think that many of my right hon. and hon. Friends sufficiently appreciate what the north could achieve if only it were encouraged to develop an enterprise culture. The north does not want subsidies or endless grants. It does not want its begging bowl to be filled. It wants to be freed from controls and overburdening taxation. I should like at least some of the advantages of the enterprise zone concept to be extended to the whole of the Tyneside development area. I want something fully and finally to be done about penal rates. The rates in Newcastle—the highest in the country—have destroyed many jobs. As industry is modernised and grows in the enterprise climate that is created, I want the Government to appreciate, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington, that a proper regional aspect—at least temporarily—to the Government's procurement policies is needed. The north-east wants change. It wants to look forward, not back. It wants to stand on its own feet. If it is given a full opportunity to do so, the only moaning to be heard will be the death rattle of the Labour party.

6.2 pm

Mr. John McWilliam (Blaydon)

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) has made a number of points with which I agree: that the north-east has the infrastructure and the skilled manpower, the will to work and the ability to attract industry. However, I take exception to the fact that Conservative Members claim that they attracted Nissan to the north-east. They did no such thing. The Secretary of State for Wales went to Japan and tried to get the Nissan plant for Wales. It was only because the Labour-controlled local authorities and trade unions in the north-east acted in concert that Nissan came to the north-east.

There is no point in the hon. Gentleman also claiming that the Metro centre in my constituency was paid for with Government money. It was not. It is situated on land that is included in the development zone. It was expected that that land would attract manufacturing industry, but it did not. I am grateful for the Metro centre and for the construction jobs that it has created, but for every job that is created in the Metro centre another job will be lost somewhere else in the north-east.

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central read out a long list of jobs that have been created. I shall read out another list of jobs that have been lost. In Tyne Bridge alone there have recently been redundancies. Vickers has made 1,918 workers redundant. NEI Nuclear Systems—not exactly low technology—has made 1,588 workers redundant. Smokeless Fuels has made 310 workers redundant; Osram 300; G. Shepherd, 255; BOC Cutting Machines, 254; Huwood, 180; Rose Forgrove, 160. The list goes on and on.

Between 1979 and 1984, Tyne and Wear firms lost 85,000 jobs. That represents a 16 per cent. reduction in the employment base. That is the reality of it—not the padded lists that have been handed out by parliamentary private secretaries to Conservative Members who are enjoying a short tenure of their north-eastern constituencies.

There are real problems in the north-east. Conservative Members agreed with the Government's policy to close the Consett steelworks, but it was producing the cheapest liquid steel in Europe. Why did the Government close it? It was closed because of the British Steel Corporation's stupid accountancy policies and because the Government believe that if we cannot make steel more cheaply than the subsidised steel of our overseas competitors we should import steel from them. For an island nation that is a very dangerous philosophy. If we do not have a steelmaking and shipbuilding capability and if we do not develop our indigenous energy resources, we shall be in strategic trouble. The sooner the Government realise that, the better.

It is no use the Government saying that this country can buy Korean steel because it is cheaper than steel that is produced by British companies. It is no use saying that the European Community's distribution of steel quotas is good enough. It is not. It has cost us dear. We are not pitting our traditional industries against the new technology industries. We need steel to make motor cars and other manufactured goods. To make steel we need coke, but the closure of the Derwenthaugh coke works in my constituency has been announced, with the loss of 300 jobs. It produces a third of the coke for the British steelmaking industry. If the Government are killing the cokemaking capacity by a third, they will cut the steelmaking capacity by a third. I warn those who make steel in other parts of the country that, because the Government have cut our steelmaking capacity, they will be in trouble.

The Labour party has policies to deal with this problem. A northern development agency is needed urgently. The billions of pounds that have been exported overseas since exchange controls were lifted by the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer must come back to this country and be invested in British jobs—not in Taiwanese, Korean or South African jobs. British money ought to be invested in Britain. The hon. Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) is right. Private capital is not being invested in the north-east. In 1979, £600 million of private capital was invested in the north-east. In 1982 it had been reduced to £300 million and, it is still falling. We need capital investment. However, the Government are exporting it overseas.

There is a simple solution to the economic problems of the north; get rid of this lot and elect a Labour Government—the sooner the better.

6.8 pm

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

It is a privilege to follow two of the best speeches that I have heard since I became a Member of Parliament. They epitomise the differences in philosophy and outlook between my party and the Opposition over the problems of the north-east. There have been speeches from two young. vibrant Members of Parliament. They looked to the future. Their speeches were not based upon class warfare or historic concepts. They looked to the future and brought to it the kind of dimension that I should have liked to find in the speeches of Opposition Members, but we have heard from the Opposition only words of gloom and doom. They came from the hon. Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson). That is part of the culture of the north-east which many of us are trying to eradicate, and the quicker we do that the better.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) wants to see changes in investment and at the same time he wants to claim the credit for Nissan coming to the north-east. Of course we want Japanese investment. We want multinational investment from all over the world. We want to make sure that there is an enterprise culture. We do not want that enterprise culture stultified at the end of the day by the dead hand of Socialism, which has been the ruination of the north-east for too many years.

Let me say something about Cleveland. Cleveland is a bureaucratic nightmare. Those who represent my part of it wish that they were still in Yorkshire and those who represent the other part wish they were still in Durham. [HON. MEMBERS: "Your Government created it."] We may have created it. We make mistakes, but I hope to God that we shall eventually get rid of it in the same way as we have got rid of Tyne and Wear, Greater Manchester, the GLC, and others. I have been on record several times as saying that I would like to get rid of Cleveland county council because it is a duplicated tier of local government which adds nothing to the economic welfare of the region. It is that stultifying hand of Socialism which creeps in. Conservative-controlled areas do not have special committees run by trade union officials and organised by trade unions to control the destiny of the local council and tell it what it can do.

I want to be fair. I do not want to suggest for one moment that the Labour party is entirely wrong or that the Conservative party is entirely right. That is also part of the culture problem that my hon. Friends referred to when they talked about the north-south divide being a political one. If Conservatives put forward an idea in my area, however well thought out and merited, that idea is knocked on the head straight away. It is not given proper thought, yet there might be a germ of a good idea there. That sort of thing does not enhance the area's economy.

Let me give a short example. A factory in my constituency wishes to expand and take on 20 people. It submitted a planning application to Langbaurgh council and was told that permission would be granted provided that the factory was relocated in South Bank—a Socialist ward. So that investment does not take place and there is no expansion. That happens on a large scale.

I do not want anyone to run away with the idea that Langaurgh does not have its success stories. I went to a factory the other day and was amazed to see a huge piece of metal. The managing director told me that it was a rib for a Trident submarine. When I went round the corner I saw some small pieces of metal, all worked in the same factory by the same excellent work force. I was told that they were the end cappings for motorway safety barriers. That sort of enterprise exists in the north-east if we can bring it out rather than knock it on the head with the planning and financial strictures which we enjoy from Socialism.

I must take issue with my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) yet again, and I apologise for doing so for a second time. Newcastle is not the highest rated authority; it has the highest rate poundage. Unfortunately, it is my people who suffer from the highest rate. Last year ICI, a fundamental business in the area, had to pay £1 million in increased rates. How many jobs might ICI have been able to provide within the region if it had not had to produce £1 million for no extra productivity? That money had to be handed over straight away to those who run the county council. That council is doing important business on behalf of the people of Langbaurgh and of the north-east. It is using that money to go to Spain for a meeting of the nuclear-free zone international committee—£10,000 worth of ratepayers' money.

My constituency stretches across Langbaurgh council and Middlesbrough council. When I leave my home I am in Langbaurgh. When I reach the border between the two local authorities, signposts tell me that I am entering a nuclear-free zone. I am waiting for the retaliation from Langbaurgh county council in the form of a signpost saying "Now you are leaving it, thank God." The money wasted on such things by local authorities in the north-east is what drives businesses, industrialists and others away from the region.

Since I was elected I have written hundreds of letters to people asking them to consider investment in the north-east. I have extolled all the virtues which my hon. Friends have mentioned. But the industrialists are not prepared to come to an area where others interfere in the running of their businesses.

The hon. Member for Blaydon talked about the steel industry and the price of steel. He should accept that if we have to use high-price steel we shall make high-price cars and we shall not sell either the steel or the motor cars. That is why it is necessary for us to produce steel profitably and properly, and that is now done for the first time in many years.

Of course, one of the tragedies of the shake-out is that far too many people are unemployed. Here I look to my Government for more concern in the way in which we handle this transitional period. Seven years ago on south Teesside, two employers, ICI and British Steel, employed 47,000 people. Today they employ fewer than 20,000. Frankly, it is impossible for 27,000 people to become hairdressers and ice cream salesmen overnight. The Government should look again for ways in which they can ameliorate the problems of transition. It was that to which the Conservative party chairman referred and which the hon. Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand) mentioned when he talked of the lost generation. I lay much of the blame for that at the door of the Labour party, because it has not taken a proper lead in looking after the north-east. There has been low calibre leadership among the municipal authorities in the north-east for generation after generation. The people who come here are afraid of losing their electoral power base; they are not prepared to turn round and tell some of those in the municipal town halls in the north-east that they have got it wrong. The Labour party has had years in power, but there is only one area in which it has any political clout left at all, and that is the north-east, yet that is being rapidly dissipated. Labour Members will learn to their cost that they have neglected the north-east for too long.

It is because of the spirit of enterprise put in by the Conservative party to encourage entrepreneurs, having identified where the ratholes have been, that the people of the north-east are more and more turning to the Conservative party. We may not win the by-election on Thursday, but Labour Members will not be too pleased with the result either.

I said that the Government were not doing sufficient to assist in the transition. We should be looking at shipping, because the north-east had great pride in that industry and it employed great numbers. Successive Governments have allowed the shipping industry to run down and it is now in a parlous state. We should start doing something about that, thereby demonstrating what the Labour party could have done when it was in power. There are many problems that we are now having to put right, because former Labour Administrations spent and spent but achieved little.

Is the Japanese language being taught anywhere in the north-east? In other words, what is that region doing to encourage other than Nissan to go there? After all, Nissan is only one small jewel, whereas many more are needed in the crown of the north-east.

Mr. Fallon

Does my hon. Friend agree that the ports in the north-east would have a better chance of attracting international trade of the sort he is describing if they were able to opt out of restrictive arrangements, such as the dock labour scheme, and prove themselves as attractive as ports such as Felixstowe and others on the east coast?

Mr. Holt

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. [HON. MEMBERS: "Get on."] Opposition Members may complain about my having spoken for 12 minutes. Some of them spoke for much longer. They may not like to hear the facts of life from these Benches, but they will have to listen to them.

The House has heard success stories and the job potential of the Newcastle area. Other excellent developments are going on elsewhere, although they are not mentioned by Labour Members. They do not mention Whessoe, the development for offshore oil and the huge development on Teesside. Klingers will become the major gasket manufacturers in the world, and Tees Components is already a leader in industrial engineering.

Having said that, I cannot allow the Government to get away with it. I think of the revenue by way of BBC TV licences and wonder how much is spent in return in the north-east by the BBC. Why do we not have something akin to the PSA and other centralised Government services in the north-east?

I conclude by not attempting to attribute blame 100 per cent. in either direction. We have a signpost to the future. It is clear that whatever the result on Thursday, the north will become a Conservative enterprise area, as is the whole of the midlands and the south of England.

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

The question that I put to the House tonight is simple. To what region does Cumbria belong? Historically, we have been linked to the north-east, yet the Departments covering industry, employment, transport and the environment, and the operations of the MSC, are now based in Manchester. The only remaining link with Newcastle and the north-east is in the sphere of health. Indeed, I am wondering whether in the ministerial box today there are any civil servants from the north-west region.

The message that I bring from Cumbria is a desperate one. Five years ago, whenever a closure occurred or redundancies were announced, inevitably a fight was put up by the workers at the plants concerned to try to defend their jobs. That climate of fight no longer exists. Far too many redundancies and closures now occur, with the work force resigned to the loss of their jobs. They seem unwilling to fight for the future of their employment. Perhaps they recognise the Government's inflexibility.

I do wish, however, not to dwell on the past but to look to the future and to the prospect of a Labour Government being in power from 1988. That Government will set about the restoration of a compassionate society in a three-stage approach to resolving the problems of unemployment. In Cumbria, we shall see the restoration of the community programme on a sensible basis.

Some interesting work has been done by Mr. Gavin Davies of city stockbrokers Simon and Coates. He found that for the expenditure of £1 billion on tax cuts, only 21,000 jobs would be produced; that if the £1 billion was spent on public infrastructural works, 382,000 jobs would be produced; that if the £1 billion was spent on health, education and current public expenditure, 65,400 jobs would be created; and that if the £1 billion was spent on the community programme on the basis followed by the Government in the last two years, nearly 500,000 jobs would be created.

Mr. Cecil Franks (Barrow and Furness)


Mr. Campbell-Savours

I will not give way to the hon. Gentleman. The hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) spoke for far too long.

If the next Labour Government pursue that approach and spend £1 billion, we shall be able at a stroke to cut unemployment in the county of Cumbria, and that will be but the first stage.

The second stage will be to deal with the wider area of public expenditure increases. We shall increase expenditure on housing development and improvements and on the development of sporting facilities, and we shall try to establish a more equitable arrangement in the use of public money in the north and north-west of England compared with the situation in Ulster, where there is gross inequilibrium with other parts of the United Kingdom.

We shall see major expenditure in public building works. In Cumbria, £4 million is desperately needed now for repairs to schools, and we need £2 million to cope with the backlog of repairs to hospitals. Indeed, to restore the buildings in the hands of the county council to their former glory, we should need to spend £35 million. Yet in the budget last year, only £4.8 million was allocated when even to stand still we needed £11 million.

There are many public sector projects which the incoming Labour Government, following the next election, will support in the county of Cumbria. I can tell my electorate, and the 500,000 people throughout Cumbria, that the salvation of our county rests on there being a change of Government with the adoption of a brand new strategy based on the careful and selective use of public expenditure.

The third stage in Labour's new deal for the people of my county and of the northern region as a whole will be to set about the economic reconstruction of Great Britain. We shall have a real regional policy that deals with the underlying problems that have arisen not recently but in successive generations, problems that have been severely aggravated under Tory rule. That incoming Labour Government will take action on imports where at present there is much unfairness and injustice in international trade. We shall reconstruct a real policy on training and further develop schemes such as the YTS.

In the few minutes during which I have addressed the House I have explained how Labour will give a new deal to the people of the northern region. We are committed to putting them back to work. We intend to do that, and the sooner we have the opportunity to do it, the better. Our policies will be in the interest of all the people of Britain.

6.28 pm
Mr. Robert C. Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, North)

The House will forgive me if I begin my contribution on a personal note. I am angry. I have spent much of the past three weeks observing and taking a small part in the Tyne Bridge by-election campaign and in the Scotswood ward. The Scotswood ward is where I was born and bred, where I was married 40 years ago—and I still am married—and where my two children were born. Having my roots there, having lived there for 32 years, and having represented the area for 10 years as a city councillor and for almost 18 years as a Member of Parliament, I can reasonably claim to know the area and its people well.

During the past three weeks that I have been in the Scotswood area, it has grieved me to see the amount of degradation inflicted on the people there. The awful increase in hardship is evident in the faces of people who answer their doors to canvassers. In the past I could readily identify long-serving Conservatives in the Scotswood area, because there were not many of them. However, let me tell the Prime Minister that many lifelong Conservatives whom I met during the past three weeks told me that she had forfeited their vote in the by-election and that they would not support her candidate in any circumstances.

If the Government had not juggled the figures for lost deposits from 12.5 per cent. to 5 per cent. of the vote, the Tory candidate would lose her deposit. Indeed, I am not sure whether, with 5 per cent. of the votes needed to save a deposit, the Tories will not lose their deposit on Thursday. Tyne Bridge will exact a heavy price at the ballot box on Thursday for the treatment that they have received from "TBW" and her Government.

The debate is on the northern region, but I wish to discuss the economic problems of the city of Newcastle. Unemployment in Newcastle has reached an unprecedented high. It has doubled during the past eight years. In October this year, 25,794 people were unemployed in the city, whereas in 1976 there were 11,900. That is the measure of the disaster that the Government have wreaked. A year ago there were 7,300 people unemployed in Tyne Bridge. In 12 short months that figure has increased to 9,815. Can anyone justify the Government's record during the past five years?

New job opportunities have contracted to the extent that there are now 17 unemployed city residents for every notified vacancy. In 1976, the ratio was 7:1, which was far too high, but it was like paradise compared with today. In July this year, 46 per cent. of the unemployed in the city of Newcastle had been out of work for more than 12 months, compared with 3,500 who had been unemployed for that time during the Labour Government's tenue of office.

School leavers are the worst affected group, with only 16 per cent. entering permanent employment within three months of leaving school. That contrasts dramatically with the 1974 figure when more than 75 per cent. of summer school leavers were in employment by the end of September, only weeks after leaving school. The problem has continued to deteriorate since the Government were elected. Of a total of 12,200 redundancies in the Tyne and Wear county, there have been 2,337 in Newcastle in 1984–85.

I could continue, but that would be unfair to the Front Bench spokesmen, who need the time to reply to the debate. I leave the House with the message that the debate may be taking place at a propitious time, but that we do not need any debate to sweep away Tyne Bridge's Tory candidate on Thursday.

6.35 pm
Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

We have had a good debate today on the problems of the northern region that have been created by the Government's policies. My hon. Friends have made genuine speeches about genuine people, and they have made constructive points.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Dormand), who opened the debate with a magnificent and constructive speech. He talked about the development agency, which was in our 1983 programme and which the Social Democrats, two years later, have decided to follow, which is typical of the Social Democrats. My hon. Friend also made a point about aid for the arts.

My hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis) discussed the problems in his area. My hon. Friend the Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson) talked about the North-East County Councils Association and its report on the state of the region which all hon. Members representing constituencies in the northern region should read, if they have not already done so. My hon. Friend the Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) discussed employment in the Tyne and Wear county and mentioned a northern development council. My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Brown) discussed the Tyne Bridge area and the city of Newcastle, which has tremendous problems. On Thursday, those problems will be drawn to the notice of the Government by the ballot box rather than by the brick as in other areas. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) talked about the problems in the county of Cumbria.

We have heard one or two speakers from the Opposition, and one wonders, having listened—

Mr. Robert Atkins (South Ribble)

Conservatives are not the Opposition.

Mr. Dixon

They will be shortly.

When I return to the north at weekends I wonder whether I am going back to the same area as before, because there is now massive unemployment and massive problems. It ill behoves some Conservative Members to lecture unemployed people in the north when they have two jobs themselves.

Our motion is about people who want the right to work but who are denied that right because of the Government's policies. It condemns the Government's deliberate policy of creating mass unemployment as an instrument of economic policy. Every week in my surgery I see out-of-work people who have suffered from the harmful effects of Government policies on family life. For the breadwinner, those policies mean acute financial hardship, worry and depression. For young people leaving school who are unable to find work, the effects are tedium and demoralisation, which in some cases lead to solvent abuse, to drug taking and eventually to crime.

Beyond Whitehall, in the northern region, there are real people living in the real world of bankruptcies and lay-offs. The region is the worst affected in mainland Britain, with 227,000 unemployed but only 11,000 vacancies.

We all welcome the coming of the Nissan plant, but, even if Nissan were to employ 2,000 people in a few years' time, it would take 120 Nissan plants to absorb the unemployed in the region. In its recent final recruitment phase, Nissan advertised 240 shop floor jobs at the princely wage of £6,700 a year—less than the sum hon. Members receive for their London accommodation. It expects 15,000 applications for those 240 jobs. That is the sort of thing that happens in the northern region. That is the truth about the north, not the nonsense that we have heard from some Tory Members and from the Minister.

In the north, we continue to have no control over our destiny. Since the Government were elected in 1979, more than 290,000 jobs have been lost in the region, and three in 10 of all manufacturing jobs have gone. In 1979, three quarters of north-east manufacturing employment was in firms controlled outside the region. Of the 43,000 manufacturing jobs lost in Cleveland, Durham, Tyne and Wear, Northumberland and Cumberland between 1979 and 1982, more than 80 per cent. were in externally owned firms. Many of the larger companies in the region do not have local purchasing programmes, which means that they bring in their materials from outside the region. That does not assist the development of smaller companies or service industries. Many of the subsidiary firms that have been established are only production units, and we have discovered to our dismay that they can be shut at a minute's notice.

Many of the unemployed in the north are long-term unemployed. They suffer most from the brutal impact of unemployment. They suffer from severe poverty, desperate demoralisation, the loss of self-respect and the loss of self-confidence. The strains of family life become intolerable, and marriages break up. That is the reality of the Government's policy.

I wish to read a letter from one of my constituents. It is better than any speech I have heard in the House. It states: Please help me, through no fault of my own, I have been out of work for over a year now. I assure you, sir, I have tried, I have looked for work. Within the last year sir, I have had over 52 formal interviews within south Tyneside and out, including places as far as Dover, Hull and London. Some of these interviews I've even hiked it. He probably took the advice of the former Secretary of State for Employment and got on his bike. The letter continues: Even whilst I write this letter sir, I promise you I am seeking fitfull employment. I feel despair, I feel degraded, no longer a member of the human race. That is what the Government have done. That is what long-term unemployment means. Although one Minister talked about high wages being a problem, the director of the north-east region low pay unit, A1 Rannie, claimed that more than half a million people in our area are low paid. The Minister talks about people pricing themselves into jobs, but what happens to the people who are priced out of jobs?

Of course, we relied on the traditional industries in our region for a long time. The steel industry at Consett, Hartlepool and Redcar has disappeared, and in Jarrow the last steel plant will close next year, with 240 men being thrown out of work without the hope of obtaining new jobs. The same thing has happened to the mining and power industries in our area. At one time, NEI Reyrolles of Hebburn employed 13,000 men and women. Indeed, the Labour candidate at the Tyne Bridge election, David Clelland, worked there for 22 years until he left two years ago. Only 2,000 people are employed there now.

One need only visit the River Tyne to see what has happened to shipbuilding. At one time one could walk from one bank of the river to the other across ships, but now there is hardly a ship on the river. It is no good telling the men that they priced themselves out of jobs. According to last year's financial report from British Shipbuilders, the Tyne shipyards made a profit of £13.3 million, so we cannot blame the workers on the Tyne for the problems there. It is economic nonsense to put a shipyard worker out of work. It costs £6,000 to put him on the streets, whereas the Government accept that it costs them only £3,000 in subsidies for each shipyard worker on the Tyne.

The shipbuilding industry is not dying. For as long as Britain is an island, it will need a shipbuilding industry and a ship repair industry to maintain its fleet.

We have heard a great deal from the Minister and from Tory Members about the new tech industries. I assisted my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Dr. Clark) with a problem at Plessey, in his constituency. It paid off 600 people, and at the same time as we met the Prime Minister to discuss the matter, Plessey used Government grants to open a plant in Plymouth that will employ 600 people. That is an example of the problems with which we have contended for many years.

In addition to all our problems, regional aid has been cut. In 1984, regional aid to industry was cut by £28 million. The resources for the English Industrial Estates have been cut. Its money was frozen following the Government's decision to divert money to the west midlands, which resulted in the axing of plans to build much-needed factories in the north at a cost of £3 million. Schemes at Sunderland, Longbenton and in my constituency of Jarrow have had to be dropped. That is what has happened to the resources that the Government claim are being pumped into the north.

Local authority spending has been cut. For each of the past six years, the Government have cut financial support to local authorities, which are among the biggest employers in the area. The biggest employer in my constituency is south Tyneside council. Compared with the rate support grant of 1979—

Mr. Keith Best (Ynys Môn)


Mr. Dixon

Sit down. Go and take a car ride or something.

Compared with the rate support grant in 1979, Newcastle has lost £240 million and Gateshead has lost £123 million. That has been repeated all over the area. When the former Secretary of State for Employment talked about people getting on their bikes, he meant the young and active; but when they get on their bikes to look for work they cannot take with them community centres, old people's homes or libraries, which must be paid for by the rest of the people. Yet at the same time the Government are cutting resources.

Housing investment has been slashed. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) talked about housing. In Gateshead, the housing budget has been cut by £82 million, and in Newcastle it has been cut by £130 million. In 1979, when I was chairman of the housing committee of south Tyneside council, its HIP allocation was £14.7 million. This year, it is £6.2 million—[Interruption.] It is no good the hon. Member for South Ribble (Mr. Atkins) looking at the clock. If his hon. Friends had not spoken for so long, we should have been finished by 7 o'clock. There is no way that I will sit down early.

Had south Tyneside maintained the 1979 figure, it would have needed £27 million in real terms this year. Those who desperately need assistance in the north are being denied it because of the Government's policy.

Adding to the devastation that their policies have wreaked on our communities, the Government, without inquiry or investigation, decided to abolish Tyne and Wear county council and remove the safeguard of a caring and active council that has been a powerful defender of jobs in public transport in our area. When one switches on the television and sees the Prime Minister shedding tears about her father, Alderman Roberts, losing his council seat because of the Labour party, one wonders how many tears she has shed for the hundreds of decent councillors who will be sacked because the Government wish to abolish the metropolitan county councils and the GLC.

The Transport Act 1985 has jeopardised the best transport system in Britain—the Tyneside metro. The Government have refused to guarantee that pensioners in the area will continue to be provided with valuable and much-needed concessionary passes. I challenge the Minister who will reply to the debate to guarantee that the concessionary passes held by pensioners in the Tyne and Wear area will be maintained.

The Government's new board and lodging regulations are a special insult to the young. On 13 November, The Journal in Newcastle carried an article headed, Young 'to be forced out for Christmas'. It stated: Up to 1,000 youngsters in the North will be forced to leave their homes just two days before Christmas because of the new DHSS regulations on board and lodgings … Housing aid leaders throughout the region have condemned the new laws and say it will mean hundreds of youngsters wandering the streets looking for accommodation. That is an example of what the Government have done to the area, and to Tyne Bridge, where the election will be held on Thursday.

Some youngsters went to the recent Tory party conference to present a petition about the board and lodging regulations. One of those youngsters was a Gateshead lad who lived in Tyne Bridge. In a letter—

Mr. Holt


Mr. Dixon

I think that the hon. Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt) wishes to make an intervention. It will not take him long to find his place after the next general election. He will be back on the GLC if there is a chance for him there.

As I was saying before I was interrupted, the youngster in my constituency said: I am a Gateshead resident. I live here, my friends are here and my family live here, my life is in Gateshead. Yet the Government tell me to move to another part of the country every four weeks or lose my benefit. My constituent then goes on to say—this is a message for the youngsters of Tyne Bridge— First they took our future, then they took our jobs, now they want our homes. That is what the Government are doing to the Tyne Bridge area.

The by-election on Thursday will allow the people of Tyne Bridge to say what they feel about Tory party policy and about the Government's policies since 1979. As I said earlier, the people will decide and send their message via the ballot box rather than the brick. I have no doubt that on Thursday the people will do just that and sweep Dave Clelland in with a massive majority.

6.52 pm
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Alan Clark)

I recognise the depth of feeling and concern with which the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon) has spoken and which affects hon. Members who represent constituencies in the northern region. I have been in the Chamber throughout the debate and listened to all the speeches. I shall do my best to deal with as many of the points raised as possible in the time left to me.

There is general recognition that the region's problems are deep-seated and long-standing and that they have their origins long before the Government took office. The region has depended on traditional industries that have suffered setbacks over the past 20 years. World recession, technological change and market shifts have led to more than 200,000 jobs being lost. There has had to be a fundamental change from the old industrial pattern to new technologies.

The hope for the region's future is to be found in the new technologies and the second industrial revolution. Many of my hon. Friends have given examples of how progress is being made and new jobs created on these fronts. For example, 16,000 people are now engaged in electronics and 5,000 in pharmaceuticals. The £3 million CADCAM computer centre in Middlesborough will bring a further 5,000 jobs to the region.

I realise fully that the flavour of the impending by-election has run through many Opposition speeches today. For that reason, the Opposition are more than usually averse to hearing good news. But a volume of good news has been cited by Conservative Members who represent constituencies in the area.

The hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Wrigglesworth) was the first hon. Member to be called after the Front Bench spokesmen. He began with a rather prim reproach to Labour Members for couching their assault in terms of the impending by-election. He then moved smoothly and characteristically into a strongly party political by-election speech of his own. He argued for the establishment of new businesses and suggested, as an example, that a fashion designer might establish new jobs in the area. That is a perfectly reasonable argument. He followed that with certain ritual arguments about new technology, but rather spoiled his case because his crash programme for establishing that was conspicuously uncosted. He concluded by making a plea for re-establishing a manufacturing base in the area.

That was the customary alliance specification for doing something for everybody and pleasing everybody who might listen to his speech. It was, in fact, the most overt of all the by-election speeches made this evening.

My hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) rightly drew attention to the advantages of the area in communications, industrial relations and the cheapness of land for industrial development, and he recorded his wish for a regional industrial executive for co-ordination. I understand that my right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has agreed to meet my hon. Friend to discuss that matter.

The hon. Member for Carlisle (Mr. Lewis) made an extremely interesting point. He mentioned that in the 1930s there were many small family firms in the area and little unemployment. He recounted how the small firms had been swallowed up by the great combines and how small businesses had disappeared, resulting in an increase in unemployment due to their vulnerability to factors outside immediate local control. The hon. Gentleman will be pleased to hear that there are now 87,000 self-employed people in the region. That figure is more than 50 per cent. higher than when the Government took office and new business registrations are running at more than 5,000 a year. That figure, too, is rising and well exceeds business failures.

My hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon), in an excellent speech, rightly drew the distinction between public and private money. He, too, drew attention to the strengths of the area—its cheap land, space for development and its loyal and efficient work force.

The hon. Member for Wansbeck (Mr. Thompson) argued somewhat on the lines of my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington, for a regional dimension. He referred to the North-East County Councils Association and the excellent work that it has done. I have attended meetings of that association in London. It always couches its arguments in a most temperate and constructive way, and certainly played a part in Nissan's decision to go to Washington.

My hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant), also in an excellent speech, gave an interesting historical perspective on responsibility for the north's decline over many years. His catalogue of new jobs, however, was most impressive. It was significant that the hon. Member for Jarrow tried to drown out my hon. Friend's recitation. That is a testimony to how uncomfortable the speech made the Opposition feel.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr. McWilliam) at least made some attempt at a constructive argument, but when the unspoken question of where the money was to come from was asked, he replied that it should come from compulsory repatriation of sterling from abroad. I took that to be a slightly more exaggerated expression of the views which the shadow Chancellor formulated a month ago but which have since been discredited.

A splendid and robust declaration of war against the Cleveland county council was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh ( Mr. Holt), who revealed to the House the political gerrymandering that blighted the flourishing of enterprise in his constituency.

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) was flagrant about the amount of expenditure that he wished to see. He expected an extra £1 billion to be spent on the community programme and an enormous nation-wide increase in public expenditure, but with the scrapping of Trident and enormous job losses in that work force. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Brown) made a completely party political by-election speech with virtually no constructive elements in it whatsoever.

As I review the arguments of the Opposition, I find a depressing absence of any constructive solutions to the problems for which they are so ready to apportion blame. No solution has been offered which has not been tried before or is not tainted with the same inflationary and dirigiste dogma, the certain end result of which is to reduce the economic prospects not just of the region but of the whole United Kingdom and to undermine the efforts of those in the region who are seeking to attract new business and new jobs.

Many of my hon. Friends drew attention to the advantages of the area—communications, cheap land and lower housing costs. As for the qualities of the people, I can do no better than quote the words of the hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Leadbitter) in the Adjournment debate on 22 October. He said: History has recorded the nature and character of the people. There are no doubts about their industry, tenacity and tolerance. There is an abundance of evidence of their adaptability and responsiveness to change."—[Official Report, 22 October 1985; Vol. 84, c. 270.] In the end, it will be those very qualities that will pull the region out of its difficulties into sustainable growth and low unemployment.

I invite the House to support the Government amendment.

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

The House divided: Ayes 182, Noes 280.

Division No. 15] [7.00 pm
Adams, Allen (Paisley N) Barron, Kevin
Alton, David Beckett, Mrs Margaret
Anderson, Donald Beith, A. J.
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Bell, Stuart
Ashdown, Paddy Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Ashley, Rt Hon Jack Bennett, A. (Dent'n & Red'sh)
Ashton, Joe Bermingham, Gerald
Atkinson, N. (Tottenham) Blair, Anthony
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Boyes, Roland
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Bray, Dr Jeremy
Barnett, Guy Brown, Gordon (D'f' mline E)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Brown, R. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne N) Kennedy, Charles
Brown, Ron (E'burgh, Leith) Kilroy-Silk, Robert
Bruce, Malcolm Kirkwood, Archy
Buchan, Norman Lambie, David
Caborn, Richard Lamond, James
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. Leighton, Ronald
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Campbell, Ian Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Litherland, Robert
Canavan, Dennis Livsey, Richard
Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y) Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Cartwright, John Loyden, Edward
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) McCartney, Hugh
Clarke, Thomas McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Clay, Robert McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann McKelvey, William
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) MacKenzie, Rt Hon Gregor
Cohen, Harry Maclennan, Robert
Cook, Frank (Stockton North) McNamara, Kevin
Cook, Robin F. (Livingston) McTaggart, Robert
Corbett, Robin McWilliam, John
Crowther, Stan Madden, Max
Cunliffe, Lawrence Marek, Dr John
Cunningham, Dr John Martin, Michael
Dalyell, Tam Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Davies, Ronald (Caerphilly) Maxton, John
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'l) Maynard, Miss Joan
Deakins, Eric Meadowcroft, Michael
Dewar, Donald Michie, William
Dixon, Donald Mikardo, Ian
Dobson, Frank Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Dormand, Jack Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Douglas, Dick Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Duffy, A. E. P. Nellist, David
Eadie, Alex Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Eastham, Ken O'Brien, William
Ewing, Harry Park, George
Fatchett, Derek Patchett, Terry
Faulds, Andrew Pavitt, Laurie
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Pike, Peter
Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn) Radice, Giles
Fisher, Mark Randall, Stuart
Flannery, Martin Redmond, M.
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Rees, Rt Hon M. (Leeds S)
Forrester, John Richardson, Ms Jo
Foster, Derek Roberts, Ernest (Hackney N)
Foulkes, George Robertson, George
Fraser, J, (Norwood) Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Freud, Clement Rogers, Allan
George, Bruce Rooker, J. W.
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr John Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)
Godman, Dr Norman Rowlands, Ted
Golding, John Ryman, John
Gould, Bryan Sheerman, Barry
Gourlay, Harry Sheldon, Rt Hon R.
Hamilton, James (M'well N) Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hamilton, W. W. (Fife Central) Short, Ms Clare (Ladywood)
Hancock, Mr. Michael Short, Mrs R.(W'hampt'n NE)
Harman, Ms Harriet Skinner, Dennis
Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Smith, C. (Isl'ton S & F'bury)
Haynes, Frank Soley, Clive
Healey, Rt Hon Denis Spearing, Nigel
Heffer, Eric S. Steel, Rt Hon David
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth) Stott, Roger
Holland, Stuart (Vauxhall) Thomas, Dafydd (Merioneth)
Home Robertson, John Thompson, J. (Wansbeck)
Howells, Geraint Tinn, James
Hoyle, Douglas Torney, Tom
Hughes, Dr. Mark (Durham) Wainwright, R.
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N) Wallace, James
Hughes, Roy (Newport East) Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Hughes, Simon (Southward) Weetch, Ken
Janner, Hon Greville Welsh, Michael
Jenkins, Rt Hon Roy (Hillh'd) White, James
John, Brynmor Williams, Rt Hon A.
Johnston, Sir Russell Winnick, David
Wrigglesworth, Ian Tellers for the Ayes:
Young, David (Bolton SE) Mr. Sean Hughes and
Mr. Ray Powell.
Adley, Robert du Cann, Rt Hon Sir Edward
Aitken, Jonathan Dunn, Robert
Alexander, Richard Durant, Tony
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Dykes, Hugh
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke)
Amess, David Evennett, David
Ancram, Michael Eyre, Sir Reginald
Ashby, David Fairbairn, Nicholas
Aspinwall, Jack Fallon, Michael
Atkins, Robert (South Ribble) Farr, Sir John
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y) Fenner, Mrs Peggy
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Fletcher, Alexander
Banks, Robert (Harrogate) Fookes, Miss Janet
Batiste, Spencer Forman, Nigel
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Bellingham, Henry Forth, Eric
Bendall, Vivian Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Benyon, William Fox, Marcus
Best, Keith Franks, Cecil
Bevan, David Gilroy Fraser, Peter (Angus East)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Freeman, Roger
Blackburn, John Fry, Peter
Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter Galley, Roy
Body, Richard Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Garel Jones, Tristan
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Bottomley, Peter Glyn, Dr Alan
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Goodhart, Sir Philip
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'to'n) Goodlad, Alastair
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Gorst, John
Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard Gow, Ian
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Gower, Sir Raymond
Bright, Graham Grant, Sir Anthony
Brinton, Tim Gregory, Conal
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Griffiths, Sir Eldon
Brooke, Hon Peter Griffiths, Peter (Portsm'th N)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Grist, Ian
Browne, John Ground, Patrick
Bruinvels, Peter Grylls, Michael
Bryan, Sir Paul Gummer, Rt Hon John S
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Buck, Sir Antony Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Budgen, Nick Hampson, Dr Keith
Bulmer, Esmond Hannam, John
Butcher, John Haselhurst, Alan
Butler, Rt Hon Adam Hawkins, C. (High Peak)
Carlisle, John (Luton N) Hawksley, Warren
Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S) Hayes, J.
Carttiss, Michael Hayhoe, Rt Hon Barney
Cash, William Hayward, Robert
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Heathcoat-Amory, David
Chapman, Sydney Heddle, John
Chope, Christopher Henderson, Barry
Churchill, W. S. Hicks, Robert
Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n) Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford) Hind, Kenneth
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hirst, Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clegg, Sir Walter Holland, Sir Philip (Gedling)
Cockeram, Eric Holt, Richard
Colvin, Michael Hordern, Sir Peter
Conway, Derek Howard, Michael
Coombs, Simon Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A)
Cope, John Howarth, Gerald (Cannock)
Cormack, Patrick Howell, Rt Hon D. (G'ldford)
Couchman, James Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)
Cranborne, Viscount Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Critchley, Julian Hunt, David (Wirral)
Crouch, David Hunt, John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Hunter, Andrew
Dickens, Geoffrey Irving, Charles
Dicks, Terry Jackson, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, Den Jones, Robert (Herts W)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Shelton, William (Streatham)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Kershaw, Sir Anthony Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Key, Robert Shersby, Michael
King, Roger (B'ham N'field) Silvester, Fred
Knight, Greg (Derby N) Sims, Roger
Knowles, Michael Skeet, T. H. H.
Knox, David Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Lamont, Norman Soames, Hon Nicholas
Lang, Ian Speller, Tony
Latham, Michael Spence, John
Lawrence, Ivan Spencer, Derek
Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Squire, Robin
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Stanbrook, Ivor
Lester, Jim Stanley, John
Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd) Steen, Anthony
Lightbown, David Stern, Michael
Lilley, Peter Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant) Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Lord, Michael Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Luce, Richard Stewart, Ian (Hertf'dshire N)
MacKay, Andrew (Berkshire) Stokes, John
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury) Sumberg, David
Major, John Taylor, John (Solihull)
Malone, Gerald Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Mather, Carol Temple-Morris, Peter
Maude, Hon Francis Terlezki, Stefan
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Thomas, Rt Hon Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)
Mellor, David Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Merchant, Piers Thornton, Malcolm
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Thurnham, Peter
Miscampbell, Norman Townend, John (Bridlington)
Moate, Roger Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Monro, Sir Hector Trippier, David
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Trotter, Neville
Morrison, Hon C. (Devizes) Twinn, Dr Ian
Morrison, Hon P. (Chester) Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Moynihan, Hon C. Viggers, Peter
Neubert, Michael Waddington, David
Newton, Tony Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Nicholls, Patrick Waldegrave, Hon William
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Walden, George
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Walker, Bill (T'side N)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Waller, Gary
Parris, Matthew Walters, Dennis
Pattie, Geoffrey Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Warren, Kenneth
Portillo, Michael Watson, John
Powley, John Watts, John
Prior, Rt Hon James Wells, Bowen (Hertford)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Wheeler, John
Rhodes James, Robert Whitfield, John
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Wiggin, Jerry
Roe, Mrs Marion Winterton, Mrs Ann
Rossi, Sir Hugh Winterton, Nicholas
Rost, Peter Wolfson, Mark
Rowe, Andrew Wood, Timothy
Rumbold, Mrs Angela Woodcock, Michael
Ryder, Richard Young, Sir George (Acton)
Sackville, Hon Thomas Younger, Rt Hon George
Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Sayeed, Jonathan Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, Giles (Pudsey) Mr. Donald Thompson and
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Mr. Peter Lloyd.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 53 (Questions on amendments), and agreed to.

Resolved, That this House recognises the particular problems the Northern region has faced in the transition from old to new industries and fully endorses all the Government policies which have taken into account these particular problems in creating the proper basis for sustainable growth and thus lower level of unemployment generally and, in particular, those policies providing special assistance to the Northern region and deplores the Opposition's continuing attempts to undermine the efforts of those in the region seeking to attract new businesses and new jobs.