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Employment (Yorkshire And Humberside)

Volume 892: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1975

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5.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what further effects on employment in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region he envisages because of the further cut in defence expenditure of £110 million.

No major projects will be cancelled as a result of these further savings, so their effects on employment in Yorkshire and Humberside should be minimised.

Is my hon. Friend aware that that statement will be received with much pleasure, particularly by the Yorkshire aircraft workers in the Brough area, who have petitioned him and many, if not all, of the Yorkshire Members?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. As he knows, these are very difficult matters. We do our best to meet the need for saving at the same time as minimising the consequences for employment, but it is not easy.

As Brough is in my constituency, will the Minister confirm that it is the Government's policy to cause unemployment by not allowing Brough to compete for orders for Buccaneers for South Africa?

That is as topsy—turvy as it was intended to be. We shall do all we can to provide employment in the aircraft industry, consistent with the wider policy considerations that all Governments have followed from time to time.

Can my hon. Friend give the House details of any assessment he has made of the improved export potential resulting from the defence cuts because our industrial structure is better able to compete with countries such as Japan, which do not squander resources on providing arms for export?

I wish that I could bring such comfort to my hon. Friend. I cannot do so at this stage, but I shall do my best to help him later.

As the Government spokesman in another place told that House recently that if we could afford to buy the maritime Harrier now we would do so, can the Minister say whether failure to place an order for the maritime Harrier is because of economic constraints or uncertainty about defence needs? Will he confirm that if maritime Harrier orders are not placed that will amount to another defence cut?

I gave a very careful assessment of the whole question of a decisison on the maritime Harrier in the defence debate on Wednesday evening. I should like to rest on that for the moment.