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Expenditure Cuts (Redundancies)

Volume 888: debated on Tuesday 11 March 1975

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17.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he can yet state what redundancies will occur in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire as a consequence of cuts in defence expenditure.

It does not seem likely that these areas will be much affected in terms of redundancies or loss of job opportunities.

Is my hon. Friend aware that I am delighted with that answer? Will he make certain that whatever pressure he comes under from our hon. Friends to increase defence cuts, North Staffordshire will not be affected, in employment terms?

As always, I shall do my very best to draw a fence round my hon. Friend's constituency.

In view of the prospect of rapidly rising levels of redundancy in the aircraft industry in the Greater Manchester area, will the hon. Member say what estimate was made of the loss of jobs in the industry nationally, prior to going ahead with the defence review?

The hon. Members gets too angry too often, and he shows too little patience. We gave an overall figure and we are now examining the detailed implications of the review. As I said, I have had representations from workers and management in the aircraft industry, and consultations are continuing. The Defence White Paper will be published shortly, but some of these consultations will be continued thereafter. We are trying to find the best possible accommodation, and it takes time.

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many redundancies he now expects there to be as a result of his proposed defence cuts.

The Defence White Paper will give details of the likely scale of redundancies amongst Service men. So far as redundancies or loss of job opportunities affecting civilian employees of the Ministry of Defence or of defence contractors are concerned, our consultations are continuing. Much will depend on how our proposals are worked out in detail.

Because of the tremendous concern amongst all the forces about continuing employment, will the Minister prior to the publication of the White Paper make a statement about possible redundancies and where they are likely to occur?

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is present and it is for him to decide whether, at a busy time, given publication of the White Paper next week, it will be possible to meet the hon. Gentleman's wishes.

Is the Minister aware that many of the engineers who met a deputation of Labour Members of Parliament at two aircraft factories last week would greatly prefer to work on civil rather than military contracts— for instance, on the HS146 and the civil version of the HS748, which would be of great value to the developing nations? Are these workers, who rightly want work, entitled to expect civil alternatives from the Government for their factories?

Certainly not from the Ministry of Defence, which is not concerned with civil versions of aircraft. My hon. Friend may be right in saying that the workers involved in the aircraft industry prefer work on civil contracts, but I can say that they would prefer work of some kind to no work at all The representations made to me in recent times have been for such modification as we can secure within the budget fixed by the defence review which will enable them to look forward with less anxiety to their future.