§ 4.4 pm
§ Mrs. Audrey Wise (Preston)
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 projected closure of the major British Aerospace factory at Preston, with enormous job losses of the order of 4,500.The matter is specific because it relates to one company which is of unique importance to the local economy of the Preston area. If the closure and the redundancies go ahead, it will put a specific blight on my area. Preston borough council calculates the local unemployment could rise from 8 per cent. to as much as 15 per cent. as a direct effect. In addition, there would be a massive indirect effect on many other jobs, including retailing and all the service sector.
The matter is important for all those reasons and for the message that is given about British manufacturing when the largest British manufacturing company resorts to closures and to redundancies. The company should instead ensure continued work by making a transition from an over-reliance on arms production to civil aircraft and to other peaceful products, and the Government should help it to do so. It is important that the end of the cold war should be seen as an opportunity to expand civil aircraft production, for example; it must not become a disaster for my area. The matter is also important because British Aerospace is a reservoir of skills which must not be dissipated.
The matter is urgent because the House should express a view immediately, before decisions become irrevocable. There is an urgent need for the Government, the company and the unions to come together to find a constructive way forward. The unions would do that, but will the company and the Government? Until now the Government have refused to accept any responsibility for reductions in defence employment. A debate would give them the chance to take a new direction, although it is probably over-optimistic to expect them to do so. For the people of Preston, this is a matter of the utmost urgency. They will expect this House to debate the matter immediately.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Preston (Mrs. Wise) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that she believes should have urgent consideration, namely,the projected closure of the major British Aerospace factory at Preston, with enormous job losses of the order of 4,500.As the hon. Lady knows, I have to consider the criteria of Standing Order No. 20. I have listened with care to what she has said, but I do not consider that the matter that she has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20.I hope that she will have other opportunities to bring the matter before the House.