§ Mr. Woodcock
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, in the light of the announced loss of 1,000 jobs at the Shell refinery at Stanlow, he has any plans to introduce special measures to alleviate the present level of unemployment in the area.
§ Mr. Alan Clark
I was of course concerned to hear of the proposed manpower reductions at Shell's Stanlow refinery. I understand that Shell hopes this can be achieved by means of voluntary redundancies and natural wastage over a two-year period. All the facilities of the Manpower Services Commission will be made available to help those made redundant find alternative employment or train for new jobs. Local jobcentre and training officials have already contacted the company to offer their assistance.
It is in recognition of its particular problems that the Wirral and Chester travel-to-work area has been designated a development area and is thus eligible for assistance at the highest level. However, the only way to achieve a substantial impact on unemployment in Ellesmere Port and elsewhere is for the Government to maintain their economic policies while encouraging greater enterprise, flexibility and competitiveness in industry and the labour market. In the meantime, the area continues to benefit from our special employment and training measures which are doing much to alleviate the worst effects of unemployment.