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Steel Industry

Volume 940: debated on Monday 28 November 1977

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I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the grave crisis affecting the steel industry in terms of jobs and investment."
I raise this issue because the British Steel Corporation appears to be acting out of panic in the matter of closures. It is patently not prepared to allow planned investment to go ahead. I am anxious that there should be no wholesale massacre of elderly steel plants, because they are needed to maintain a balanced industry and because the social reasons for maintaining employment are so great—in Scotland in particular—that these plants should be kept open. In Scotland alone the Corporation plans to close the remaining openhearth works at Ravenscraig, Hallside Dalzell, the Craigneuk bar mill and the Glengarnock blooming mill in Ayrshire.

Without going into detail, it has been suggested that as many as 6,000 jobs are directly at risk in Scotland alone. The number of jobs indirectly associated with steel could well bring the total to 12,000 to 15,000. In view of the size of this crisis and its imminence, and since it is a specific and immediate matter which is important, and in view of the exchanges at Question Time this afternoon, I submit that the subject ought to be debated.

The hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford) gave me notice before 12 o'clock today of his intention to raise under Standing Order No. 9 the question of an emergency debate on

"the grave crisis affecting the steel industry in terms of jobs and investment."
I have listened with care to what the hon. Gentleman said. I also listened with care to the exchanges earlier this afternoon. The House knows that I do not decide the importance of the question, only whether it should take precedence over the business set out for today or tomorrow. I have given careful consideration to the hon. Gentleman's representations but have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House.