HC Deb 06 February 1990 vol 166 cc777-8 4.34 pm
Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

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 announcement this morning of 150 redundancies at A. Sykes and Company—better known as Dorlux—bed manufacturers, in Halifax.

According to the management, those redundancies are being made as a direct result of the Government's economic policies. High interest rates and a decline in consumer spending are the reasons given for the proposed job losses. In fact, after the irresponsible consumer boom sponsored by the Government, and within the context of a 7.7 per cent. inflation rate, the Government are now trying to put the brakes on the economy through their high interest rate strategy.

That is undermining economic growth and investment and is slowing down the rate of productivity. Not only will high interest rates and the decline in investment make our long-term inflation and balance of trade position even worse, but they will mean a rise in unemployment, as we see with the latest redundancies in my constituency.

In spite of some welcome jobs from the Halifax building society, Halifax remains—as do many towns in the north—a manufacturing town. For generations, people have used their skills to manufacture goods to sell in the marketplaces of the world. Dorlux is a well known name with a reputation for producing quality goods. The Government should understand that the 400 people who work there have real jobs. The 150 people who will be made redundant want real jobs and work, not some Mickey Mouse scheme that helps the Government to fiddle the unemployment statistics.

Those redundancies need never have happened. We are entitled to ask Tory Ministers what twisted logic allows them to claim as a success the slowdown in the economy that leads to those sort of job losses. How many more jobs have to be lost before this madness stops? Interest rates have increased 11 times in the past 18 months, and our interest rates are the highest among the leading industrial nations.

After 10 years of this Government, Britain stands on the brink of another damaging recession. The manufacturing base in my town suffered severely at the beginning of the 1980s, causing great misery. Between 1979 and 1989, the north lost 30 per cent. of its manufacturing and employment—almost 1 million jobs—[interruption.] I am sorry that the Minister finds it funny. We certainly do not. We cannot afford to lose another million jobs. The House should debate this issue immediately and make it clear to the Prime Minister—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady has had her three minutes.

The Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House—

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

She was interrupted.

Mr. Speaker


The hon. Member seeks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that she believes should have urgent consideration—[Interruption.] Order. These are serious matters—namely the announcement today of redundancies at A. Sykes and Company, bed manufacturers. I listened with care to what the hon. Lady said. As she knows, I have to decide whether her application comes within the Standing Order and, if so, whether the debate should take priority over the business set down for today or for tomorrow. In this case, I regret that the matter she has raised does not meet the requirements of the Standing Order. I cannot, therefore, submit her application to the House.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Well, we have a very heavy day ahead of us. What is the hon. Gentleman's point of order?

Mr. Corbyn

Like you, Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Standing Order No. 20 application by my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) There was one interruption. It is convention that the Minister should come and listen to the application lest you, Mr. Speaker, should grant it. He did not listen—he was smirking and laughing throughout and talking to his hon. Friend the Minister for Corporate Affairs. My hon. Friend was only drawing attention to the misery created by the market forces—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that we can raise the level of interventions. Interventions such as that of the hon. Gentleman do not help in any way.

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