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Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 19 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies have been notified to his Department since 3 May 1979.

The number of proposed redundancies notified to my Department under the redundancy handling provisions of the Employment Protection Act 1975 during the period May 1979 to 31 January 1980 was 471,645 and involved 7,610 establishments. During the same period 91,376 redundancies at 1,280 establishments were formally withdrawn.

Is the Minister aware that a large proportion of the half million redundancies he has announced are in the Falkirk company of Glynwed Limited? We have been notified that, owing to Government policies, that company will have to declare a fair number of employees redundant. As that company gave £10,000 to the Tory Party election fund and has obviously been misled, could the Minister make arrangements for the £10,000 to be refunded?

Matters concerning Central Office are not the responsibility of my Department.

Does not the Minister accept that the figures he has just given are extremely disturbing? Are they not a disgraceful commentary on nine months of Conservative Government? Many thousands of those redundancies have been in the North-West, not least in my own constituency. When will the Government stop confronting trade unions and workers and begin to deal with the real, deep-seated industrial problems that confront our society, many of which have been created by this Government?

I agree that the figures are disturbing, and many of our policies are designed to deal with this changeover in industry. Perhaps I could put those figures in perspective by pointing out that there is no statutory requirement for people to notify withdrawals of redundancies. The Manpower Services Commission figures for the same period are 150,273. Set against 8 million job changes a year, I think that that puts the matter more into perspective.

Is it not clear that the Government's policy of non-intervention in economic matters, and the failure to help those who are put on the dole in areas such as Merseyside, is causing great difficulty and poverty? Is it not time that the Government changed their policy?

As regards my Department, the £360 million that my right hon. Friend announced in terms of special measures can hardly be described as nonintervention.