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,
I am conscious that you, Mr. Speaker, have agreed that there will be a debate tomorrow, but I put it to you that this matter is specific; it is a one-off situation. Today we have the news that 26,000 people in the British Steel Corporation have been laid off. This is a nationwide situation, because, in addition to the 15,000 steel workers in Sheffield, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Hallam (Mr. Osborn), about 6,000 workers have been laid off in the tinplate industry in South Wales. There are also lay-offs in Scunthorpe and in Scotland, so the situation is nationwide. It is also specific because it will have a critical effect on the present earnings position of the British Steel Corporation. Its capacity to break even by April 1980 is now seriously threatened. The earnings of the employees will be sharply reduced, and this will become increasingly difficult for them as the weeks go by unless the strike is settled. The matter is urgent because, in addition to the 26,000 lay-offs announced to-day, about 10,000 lay-offs have come up in the last four days. The situation is changing from hour to hour. The British Steel Corporation tells me that it cannot give any assurance that the situation will not continue to deteriorate. It is, therefore, anxious to establish, as indeed is the whole House, precisely what the code of practice can do to help in a specific and urgent situation such as this. The matter is important. It will be obvious to the House that the problem is not confined to the British Steel Corporation. The principal reason for the lay-offs is the inability of customers of the British Steel Corporation to accept steel supplies, particularly of alloy and special steel. It is therefore the entire engineering industry that is beginning to suffer. The problem is not confined to the British Steel Corporation but is spreading like a deep, dark stain over the whole fabric of British industry. For these reasons, I urge the Adjournment of the House to discover precisely what the Government can do to help in a specific, urgent and important situation such as this."the problem of increasing unemployment in the steel industry arising from the present industrial crisis".
The hon. Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall) gave me notice this morning that he might seek this afternoon to make an application under Standing Order No. 9.The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,
The hon. Gentleman made a serious statement to which I listened with very great care. He knows that the House has instructed me to give no reasons for my decision. I regret that I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House."the problem of increasing unemployment in the steel industry arising from the present industrial crisis".