HC Deb 04 November 1986 vol 103 cc924-5 11.50 pm
Mr. Bill Michie (Sheffield, Heeley)

I beg to ask leave to present a petition signed by more than 2,700 people from the Sheffield area protesting about the level of unemployment and its effect upon the young.

I pay tribute to the marchers who accompanied the Jarrow march from Sheffield to London to present this petition not just to me but to my hon. Friends the Members for Sheffield, Central (Mr. Caborn), far Sheffield, Brightside (Miss Maynard), and for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Flannery).

Since 1979 Sheffield has passed through a difficult period. We need the House to recognise the plight of our people in Sheffield. The petition states: Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House does urge Her Majesty's Government that the necessary action be taken, and the necessary active assistance given to remedy the wrongs at present being inflicted on Sheffield. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.

11.52 pm
Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

I beg to ask leave to present a petition signed by 7,500 constituents who reside in the Barnsley metropolitan district, represented in the House by my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Mason), my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley, East (Mr. Patchett) and myself. It is for the convenience of the House that I present the petition.

The petition is the result of the Jarrow crusade 1986. We had the honour and privilege of being with the marchers during their short stay in Barnsley. It is a crusade of people — young and not so young — who have marched yet again, after the last Jarrow crusade, to bring to the attention of the nation the plight of the unemployed' —more than 21 per cent. in the Barnsley metropolitan district. That represents more than 18,500 people, including hundreds of young people who have never seen real permanent employment. The area has 1,400 school leavers embarking upon a career of unemployment.

Based on the Government's regional assessment submitted to the European Community, the area will be one of continuous decline. That is the pattern if the Government continue in office.

Two of our young constituents joined the crusade at Barnsley and they helped to present the petition outside the House this morning. They were chosen as representatives of the members of the Barnsley Centre Against Unemployment. They are Tracey Devenport and Dean Kenyon. For over three years they have sought employment day in, day out. As they walked south they saw how unemployment became less pronounced and prosperity more evident.

They rightly ask why that is. Why is the nation so divided? What is the House doing about it and how long will it take to get rid of the problem? That is why the petitioners pray that your honourable House urges that necessary active assistance be given by the Government for the provision of work in the area of Barnsley metropolitan district. This is a great credit to all who took part in the crusade.

And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc.

To lie upon the Table.

11.55 pm
Mr. William O'Brien (Normanton)

With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and that of the House, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of 5,000 people in the Wakefield metropolitan district area, covering Wakefield, Hemsworth, Pontefract and Castleford, and Normanton. The 5,000 people have signed a petition asking the Government to take action to arrest the industrial dereliction in the area. The petition talks of seven years of dereliction and industrial depression which has never been paralleled in the history of the area. We ask that the Government take note of the petition.

Young people marched the full length of the country to bring to the Government's notice the need to generate employment in the north of England and throughout the country. We share their plea that the Government should allow employment to be developed in areas with extensive unemployment.

I present the petition on behalf of colleagues who represent the Wakefield metropolitan area.

I beg leave to present the petition.

To lie upon the Table.

11.57 pm
Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

With your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of many thousands of my constituents.

I recall the 1936 Jarrow crusade as a seven-year-old child. Little did I know that 50 years later I would be presenting a petition about unemployment in the town in which I was born and bred.

The petition states: for seven years Jarrow has endured industrial depression without parallel in the town's history. We have lost many jobs. The whole of the shipbuilding industry on the south side of the Tyne has been obliterated by this Government's policies. Ten unemployed constituents, Ken Smith, Wayne Scott, Paul Loft, Lawrence Maloy, David Melia, Billy Orr, John Badger, Harry Thorn, Paul Thomas and Stephen Byrne, carried the petition in the original box which held the petition in 1936.

I beg leave to present the petition.

To lie upon the Table.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will know that to have petitions read at this time of the day the House officials are notified. Other similar petitions will follow. Perhaps you will draw to the notice of those responsible that the Paymaster General, the Minister responsible for unemployment, has not had the decency to turn up for the presentation of the petitions. He was prepared to turn up earlier today when we were discussing availability for work. The Paymaster General himself is not available for work. He is treating the people who have walked 300 miles with nothing less then contempt.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The shadow spokesman for employment is not here either.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Whether Ministers are present or not is not a matter for the Chair.