HC Deb 06 March 2001 vol 364 c154 3.38 pm
Mr. Adrian Sanders (Torbay)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 24, to debate an important matter that requires specific and urgent consideration, namely,

redundancies at Nortel Networks, the largest private sector company in the Government office of the south-west region. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me permission to raise a matter of grave importance in my constituency. Four weeks ago, Nortel Networks announced 700 redundancies, and last Thursday announced a further 700, bringing the total to 1,400. Compared with the 1,300 job losses at Corns in south Wales, 1,400 such losses in our travel-to-work area, with its higher unemployment rate and lower incomes, are significant. Furthermore, our area has suffered for some time from the decline in agriculture, tourism and the fishing industry.

One of the big problems is that the losses are in full, all-year-round jobs rather than the seasonal employment on which our economy used to depend before the very welcome investment by Nortel. Those job losses and their effect are important not only to my constituency but to the constituencies of other hon. Members in south Devon and in the whole region, because south Devon has become the European centre of the fibre optic industry—a position that we want to retain.

The matter is urgent because we are beginning the 90-day consultation period between the company and the affected staff, and because the foot and mouth crisis is affecting the hinterland of south Devon. That has a knock-on effect on the other industry in the area—tourism. People are considering whether to take holidays in our area. This week, we heard the appalling news that the Austrian Government were advising people not to travel to this count y. That affected one of the language schools—another industry in the area—in my constituency, at which a party of Austrian students were due to study an English course. For those reasons, I seek permission for a debate under Standing Order No. 24.

Mr. Speaker

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Torbay (Mr. Sanders) has said. I must give my decision without stating any reason. I am afraid that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House.