§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Motherwell, South)
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,British Steel's decision, announced last Friday 22 February, to reduce Ravenscraig steelworks to single furnace working.The matter is specific, in that it relates to the closure of the blast furnace and steel-making capacity, on which undertakings were given by British Steel and announced by the responsible Ministers in both Houses of Parliament at the time of privatisation of British Steel in 1988. Those undertakings, relating to the continued operation of the works and to the offer for sale of the steel-making facilities in the works should British Steel no longer require them, have not been fulfilled, and they must be.
The matter is important because the closure will mean the loss of 1 million tonnes of steel-making capacity, which British Steel cannot do without, given the continuing trade deficit which today's figures have shown extending further. It will reduce Ravenscraig to a level of working from which it will be difficult to recover, greatly increasing the likelihood of an early cessation of steel making in Scotland.
Locally, in my constituency and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid), it will bring to almost 3,000 the total of steel job losses this year, with probably over 5,000 further job losses among suppliers, contractors and local businesses. It will be a shattering blow to employment in Lanarkshire and Scotland generally, for which the Government have made no preparations.
Finally, the matter is urgent because the decision has immediate operational implications at the plant for closing down a blast furnace, which will be irreversible.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 20 for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,British Steel's decision, announced last Friday 22 February, to reduce Ravenscraig steelworks to single furnace working".I listened with concern to what the hon. Gentleman said about this matter and the impact that it will have on his constituents. As he knows, I have to decide whether to give it precedence over the business of the House set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that the matter that he has raised does not meet the criteria of Standing Order No. 20. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.