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Northern Ireland

Volume 530: debated on Tuesday 20 July 1954

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asked the Minister of Labour what proposals he has to relieve the unemployment in Northern Ireland.

During a recent visit to Belfast, I took the opportunity of discussing with Members of Her Majesty's Government in Northern Ireland, the unemployment situation there. I have reported these talks to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, who is responsible for relations with Northern Ireland. He is arranging for further consideration to be given to this problem, and a meeting of Ministers is to take place this week.

While thanking the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that reply, may I ask him to say something about the position at Short Brothers where there is now the problem of the dispersal of a very greatly skilled labour force, and whether or not his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply could not put into that factory some other type of aircraft production in order to keep that skilled labour-force together?

That is one of the problems which we shall be discussing. I have already communicated with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply, but I have to remember that this is really a matter for Her Majesty's Government in Northern Ireland. While we are very ready to co-operate, I cannot act without them.

While welcoming the new-found interest of hon. Members opposite in the question of unemployment in Northern Ireland, may I ask the Minister whether he will continue to keep in touch with hon. Members on this side of the House, and with the Government of Northern Ireland who are making every effort with regard to this serious problem with very considerable success?