§ Mr. Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne, East)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the further job losses in the power plant industry.The matter is immediate because last Friday NEI Parsons declared a further 800 workers redundant. That brings to over 1,700 the total number of jobs that have been gone at NEI in the past year. The matter is urgent because NEI is a pillar of Tyneside's industrial base. It is the largest private sector employer in the county. The matter is also urgent because those redundancies were wholly avoidable, as are other redundancies in that industrial sector—I am thinking particularly of Babcock's just before Christmas.
The fault most certainly does not lie with the company—not with the owners, the investors, the managers or the work force. The company has fought a tremendous battle for overseas work. Production utilises the very latest technology and phase II of the company's investment programme involves £30 million of further investment. Industrial relations at the plant, involving a highly skilled work force, are good.
The problem is lack of orders. No domestic orders have been placed in the industrial sector since 1978. The leader in today's edition of Newcastle's The Journal is headed "800 victims of inertia". It states:Whenever hundreds of jobs are lost in a community—and it is not an exceptional occurrence in the North—there is bound to be disappointment, concern, an understandable degree of bitterness…What is beyond question, however, is that bitterness will turn to justifiable anger if it is felt that action could have been taken to save and secure jobs which have instead been unnecessarily sacrificed.And this is surely the case with the 800 redundancies announced at the end of last week at NEI Parsons, which has been waiting for years for a domestic order for a coal-tired power station.The Government is in a position to place such an order but has refused to do so".That leader speaks for the whole of the north-east of England.
The Central Electricity Generating Board acknowledges the requirement for coal-fired power stations, yet the Secretary of State does nothing. The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. Merchant) lays the blame at the door of the Secretary of State for Energy, and he is right to do so.
The power supply industry must be maintained beyond the mid-1990s, and we should debate the Secretary of State's failure to do so.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the further job losses in the power plant industry.I listened with care and sympathy to what the hon. Gentleman said, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House. However, I hope that he will find other ways of raising the matter.