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Airfix Industries Limited

Volume 975: debated on Monday 3 December 1979

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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 matter of national importance that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the decision of the management of Air fix Industries to close the Mecca no factory, Binns Road, Liverpool, at one hour's notice on Friday 30 November".
I submit, Mr. Speaker, that even though this matter concerns only 900 workers—many fewer than those mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) in connection with the British Steel Corporation—the loss of 900 jobs at one hour's notice is certainly a matter of importance which should be considered by the House.

You will know, Mr. Speaker, that I tried to raise a private notice question—I make no comment about that—

Order. I was hoping that the hon. Gentleman would know by now that reference is never made to an application for a private notice question.

If it can be struck from the record, Mr. Speaker, I shall be happy with that. I was trying to explain why I raised the matter in manuscript form when I had understood from members of your staff that another hon. Member from Liverpool had formally given you notice this morning of his intention—

Order. I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman. If members of my staff said anything to him, I am quite sure that they did not expect him to stand up on the Floor of the House and repeat the conversation. As a matter of fact, if they gave him that advice they themselves were misinformed.

I apologise to them and to the House, Mr. Speaker, and I shall not explain why I have taken this matter on when it might have been raised by another Member, and I expected it to be raised by another Member.

I submit that it is a specific matter—900 jobs to be lost, at one hour's notice—and that it is urgent. There is not just a sit-in at the factory; there is a work-in. Production continues, distribution continues, exhibitions continue. The workers want the product to go through.

Moreover, I submit that it is a matter of national importance. Although in the past hon. Members have been all too used to the giving of 30 days' notice, 90 days' notice, and so on, one hour's notice of closure, even if all the provisions of the law are being followed, is a matter of national importance.

I submit also that it comes within the responsibility of Ministers—the Secretaries of State for Employment, for Trade and for Industry.

For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, I ask that this matter come before the House. If I have done it in less than what I believe to be my usual courteous or knowledgeable way, I ask to be excused by yourself and by the members of your staff—because, obviously, I shall need your good will if I do not get what I want this afternoon.

May I say to the hon. Gentleman that there is not a more courteous Member of the House than he—and that is saying a lot—and I know that he observes the rules, but one of our unwritten rules, which is a matter of honour among us all, is that we do not, except by accident, repeat conversations with servants of the House, or even conversations with one another if they are private.

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice this morning that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believe should have urgent consideration, namely,
"the decision of the management of Airfix Industries to close the Meccano factory, Binns Road, Liverpool, at one hour's notice on Friday 30 November."
As the House knows, it has directed me not to express my reasons when I give a decision in response to an application under Standing Order No. 9,I listened with great care to the hon. Gentleman, and I realise the depth of his feeling on this question, but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.