House Of Commons
Monday 16 November 1981
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Death Of A Member
I regret to have to inform the House of the death of the Reverend Robert John Bradford, Member for Belfast, South and I desire, on behalf of the House, to express our sense of the loss we have sustained and our sympathy with the relatives of the hon. Member.An opportunity will be given, after the statement by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, for those who wish to pay tribute to their colleague so to do.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When the late Airey Neave's death was announced in the House, tributes were paid immediately from both Front Benches. There is an announcement in the press today that the Government Front Bench does not intend to pay a tribute in this matter. Surely those of us who represent parties from Northern Ireland should be entitled to this privilege.
I am sure that the whole House will understand when I say that every opportunity will be given to those from Northern Ireland and from this side of the water who wish to pay tribute to the late hon. Member after the statement has been made later this afternoon.
I should tell the House that I have given further consideration to the point of order raised by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley). I propose that we pay our tributes to the late hon. Member for Belfast, South (Mr. Bradford) immediately after questions and before the statements so that they may be separate from the political content or otherwise of the statements themselves.
Oral Answers To Questions
Trade Mark Office
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received concerning the siting of the European Economic Commission trade mark office in Greater Manchester.
The Manchester chamber of commerce and industry, supported by the Manchester city council and other local interests, has written to urge that Manchester should be offered as the site for the proposed Community trade mark office. I have also had the opportunity of meeting representatives of the Manchester chamber at which all aspects of this question were discussed. While I understand the concern to aid a regional centre, it must be remembered that there are strong counter-proposals from the Continent. If we are to succeed in our efforts to bring this office to the United Kingdom, we must offer our strongest contender. In my view, this remains London.
Is the Minister seriously suggesting that Manchester, with its historic links with this subject and its magnificant communications network, cannot compete with The Hague and Strasbourg in this matter? Is he aware that in Greater Manchester two sites are on offer—in the city of Manchester and in Stockport? Is he further aware that, once again, the North-West feels that the Government are not really serious about regional policy?
I come from a regional centre, and I have repeatedly given my support to regional projects. In this case, however, the interest of the United Kingdom as a whole must prevail. I am convinced that the offer of a London site is essential to the success of our bid.
Will the Minister explain why Britain has signally failed in putting forward regional centres for EEC institutions?
With respect, that is not entirely correct. The bid for the Patent Office was rather late, but it was inevitable that it would be decided against us. That makes it the more important that we should succeed in attracting the trade mark office. London is the centre for trade mark work in the United Kingdom, and one of the world's foremost industrial property centres.
Since the United Kingdom has nothing like its fair share of EEC offices, is not our claim so strong that we could both demand to have the office here and meet the claims of regional policy?
I understand my hon. Friend's point, but if he considers the strength of the bids being made by Brussels, The Hague and Strasbourg, I think that he will understand that it is essential that we put forward the strongest claim that we possibly can on behalf of the United Kingdom.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the totally unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I wish to give notice that I shall seek to raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.
British Airways (Iberian Flights)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has had from British Airways as to their departures for the Iberian peninsula from Gatwick airport.
British Airways have expressed a wish to operate some of these services from Heathrow and will be making detailed proposals which I shall then consider.
Is it correct that the two principal competitors of British Airways in respect of flights to the Iberian peninsula have refused to move their operations to Gatwick? Is it right that British Airways, in consequence, are losing substantial sums of money? Is it wise to leave that situation unchanged?
The two other airlines have been extremely reluctant to move to Gatwick. I am very keen that British Airways should return to profitability as soon as possible. The recently announced recovery plan is a good start, but I also have to consider the longer term implications for airports policy. As my hon. Friend knows, Heathrow is already operating very close to capacity.
Does my hon. Friend agree that the announcement concerning terminal 2 at Gatwick, reported on the tapes this morning, is overdue in the sense that the decision has only been postponed? Does he agree that there is need for urgent resolution of the problem whether terminal 2 at Gatwick should be built? Can he offer some encouragement in the matter?
We sent out at the end of last week letters that should have been received today informing certain parties to the previous inquiry of new air traffic forecasts. We shall await replies to those letters and then take those replies into consideration before coming to any final decision. That will be done with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the multi-fibre arrangement negotiations.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the present state of negotiations for the renewal of the multi-fibre arrangement.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the present stage of renegotiations of the multi-fibre arrangement.
The textile committee of the GATT will meet in Geneva on 18 November to begin the final phase of the renegotiation of the multi-fibre arrangement. The position to be taken by the European Community in these negotiations is due to be finalised by the Council of Ministers tomorrow in Brussels.
Will the Minister confirm that, among a myriad of aspects, outward processing counting against quotas and a social clause remain features that the United Kingdom will put forward in negotiations? Will he assure the House that when the mandate is finally agreed he will make a statement so that hon. Members can be kept abreast of developments? As the Minister knows, the textile industry views the negotiations with a great deal of concern. Will he assure the House that he intends to ensure that proper enforcement facilities are provided for the agreement when it is reached by the EEC? That was not a feature of the last arrangement.
The question of a statement is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the usual channels. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend will take notice of what the hon. Gentleman says. If that does not happen, I shall ensure that he is made aware of what the hon. Gentleman says. We are well aware of the deep concern of hon. Members representing textile constituencies on both sides of the House.The question of outward processing is very much in everyone's mind in the course of the negotiations. I have stressed on more than one occasion in ministerial Councils that any protocol negotiated in Geneva, particularly, for example, in relation to Mediterranean preferential suppliers, should be comprehensive, practical and readily enforceable. I take the hon. Gentleman's point.
Is the Minister aware that there is great concern in the House and the country that when he goes to Geneva tomorrow he should take a firm stand alongside France and Italy in seeking a tough MFA and that he should not seek to compromise as Germany does? Will he say that the Government are wholly committed to base levels that are based on existing trading levels, and not on 1982 quotas?
The Commission will negotiate on behalf of the members at Geneva. I shall not be present there, although it will be part of my duties to go to Brussels tomorrow. We are well aware of the concern. The hon. Gentleman has expressed his concern personally to me as a member of a delegation of what I might call textile Members.The preferred position of Her Majesty's Government is that we should start at least from 1980 actual imports. I must, however, warn the House that this is a matter of negotiation. There are differences of view not only inside the European Community but also, clearly, outside. The Commission has endeavoured to produce some kind of proposals that will be developed in some detail tomorrow. I hope that we shall be able to reconcile the slightly divergent positions of the various members of the European Community.
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman be more precise? Are the British Government pressing that the EEC negotiating mandate shall include the requirement that the level of low-cost imports will be related to the level of demand in order to avoid any further disruption at a time of prolonged international slump? Will he also indicate whether the British Government are pressing that the negotiating mandate ensures that the global ceilings from countries covered by the MFA bilateral agreements shall be adjustable to take account of, first, low-cost imports from countries not covered by the agreements, notably the Mediterranean and ACP countries, and, secondly, outward processing?
I and those representing Her Majesty's Government at various levels in the negotiations at Brussels and Luxembourg have, I think, established clearly with the other members of the European Community that we attach importance to some kind of recession mechanism. I believe that this point has been taken on board. Global ceilings are crucial for those negotiating at Geneva. The question of ceilings for the Mediterranean or preferential suppliers is a separate matter. These will be taken carefully into account in the negotiated ceilings for countries that are parties to the MFA.
Will my hon. and learned Friend impress on the Germans and other like-minded States in the Community tomorrow that we have the largest textile industry in Europe, that our industry is the second largest employer in the country, and that ours is the industry under the greatest pressure in Europe? It is therefore imperative that we take a firm stand and do not give an inch in the renegotiation of the MFA.
The points made so perceptively by my hon. Friend are the points that I ventured to make to other members of the ministerial Council. I have stressed that our textile industry has had to shed about 150,000 jobs over the past 18 months. I think that the point has been clearly established in the minds of my ministerial colleagues in the Council.
Will the Minister take on board the fact that this is a vital interest for British industry? Will he make sure that in the discussions tomorrow the British interest is advanced forcefully, even to the extent of causing serious difficulty within the Community? Will he seek thereafter to make an early statement? His right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food comes frequently to the House to tell hon. Members about negotiations in that sphere. This negotiation is so important that I ask the hon. and learned Gentleman not to give the usual answer about business being the responsibility of the Leader of the House, but to undertake to make an early statement so that we know where we stand.
I cannot add to or embellish anything that I have stated earlier in the exchanges about a statement. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of the procedures of the House. He is aware that the negotiations in Brussels to establish a common European Community position are technically part of the Foreign Affairs Council. It is questionable whether it would be for me to make a statement. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will take careful note of what the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends have said.As to whether the United Kingdom's position is expressed forcefully, the right hon. Gentleman should perhaps address my colleagues in the ministerial Council. I shall bear in mind his encouragement. I am well aware of the importance of the textile industry in the North, the North-West and the North-East. It will be no advantage to the textile industry if no credible negotiating position is achieved for the European Community before negotiations open in Geneva on 18 November.
Order. I shall call one more hon. Member from each side.
Will my hon. and learned Friend bear in mind especially the threat to the British textile industry when Portugal and Spain become members of the EEC? Their transition from being non-EEC countries to EEC countries must reduce greatly the scope for the global total of imports of textiles from outside the EEC.
I took careful note of that point, which my hon. Friend made lucidly and persuasively in the Select Committee, of which he is a member. I assure him and the House that, naturally, these matters will be taken into account when the interim arrangements are negotiated with Portugal and Spain as part of their accession to the European Community.
To the extent that it is necessary to impress these matters upon the other member States in the negotiations tomorrow, will the Minister remind them that, in our country, the textile and clothing industry still employs 600,000 workers and, as he said, has already shed hundreds of thousands of workers in the last few years? He carries with him the full support of right hon. and hon. Members for a tough negotiating stance, without being protectionist, to preserve industries which are essential to our livelihood. At the end of the day, without jobs, we cannot buy any country's exports.
Like the previous Government, this Administration have never underestimated the importance of the textile industry both socially and economically.
Motor Cars (European Community Imports)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present level of imports into the United Kingdom of cars manufactured in other member States of the European Economic Community.
Detailed import figures for 1981 are not yet available. However, vehicle registrations in the period from January to October 1981 included 479,000 passenger cars assembled in other countries of the European Community.
Is not the cost of manufacture of cars by United Kingdom manufacturers substantially greater than that of competitive models assembled or made in other countries of the Community? Does that not mean that the United Kingdom car market is a highly profitable one for importers? Would not the manufacturing side of the United Kingdom motor industry do well to ponder that if it is serious in its attempt to increase its penetration of the United Kingdom car market?
Does that answer and the previous one suggest any conclusion to my right hon. Friend about the dynamic—or cold douche—effect of joining the Common Market of which we were assured by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath)?
What serious consideration has been given to the local content in cars being brought into the country? Other countries seem able to impose certain percentage levels, whereas we do not seem even to have considered the possibility seriously.
The hon. Gentleman is really asking whether the trade in motor vehicles in the European Community should be subject to national restraints on account of the degree of local content. That simply is not feasible under the requirements of the European treaties.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has evidence of any change in the current year in the way Great Britain is seen by North America as a tourist destination.
In the first eight months of this year there was a small but welcome increase in the number of visitors to Britain from North America, compared with the same period in 1980. In my view, that is an indication that we are no longer regarded in North America as a high-priced tourist destination. I am also pleased to say that the American Society of Travel Writers has voted Britain the most friendly country in the world for American tourists and their favourite European vacation country. This view is supported and augmented by the market research carried out for the British Tourist Authority in the United States.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that encouraging reply. Will she consider whether she can increasingly publicise the fact on both sides of the Atlantic so as to encourage more tourists and to encourage our tourist industry, which is the salvation of many of our unemployment problems?
My hon. Friend is right. This cannot be publicised too often. Britain is almost certainly the best buy for American tourists and, for that matter, for tourists from much of the rest of the world. With a strong dollar and with very competitive pricing, the outlook for the travel trade next year is very optimistic. The United States is a huge market, as I learnt on a recent visit, and one with a great deal of potential which is yet to be exploited fully. We should all do what we can to ensure that that market is realised to the fullest extent.
Does the Minister agree that Scotland is an important element in attracting visitors from North America, and especially from Canada? That being so, is it not a retrograde step that British Airways have seen fit to withdraw their flights from both Toronto and New York? Will the right hon. Lady and her colleagues try to reverse that despicable decision?
I agree entirely with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question or statement. Of course Scotland has a very important role in attracting tourists here. As for the air services to which the hon. Gentleman referred, I understand that Sir Freddie Laker has applied for the route. It is hoped that no vacuum will be created.
As one of the most expensive items for tourists is hotel costs, will my right hon. Friend say where we stand in the world league table? Are our hotel charges still the most expensive in Western Europe?
I assure my hon. Friend that that is a complete myth. It is not true now, if it ever was, that London hotels, for example, are expensive compared with those of our main competitors. A Financial Times survey about 18 months ago showed us near the top of the league. We are now 25th in the league table. Moreover, some 30,000 hotel rooms are available in London alone for between £8 and £25 a night, including breakfast. By any yardstick, that is a very good buy.
Does the right hon. Lady agree that the over-valued pound had a fairly dramatic effect on our tourist trade and that, happily, the trend is being reversed?To what extent are high internal fares a disincentive to people coming here from abroad?
I do not accept what the hon. Gentleman said about an over-valued pound. There is a stronger dollar today. That is how I prefer to view the matter. That is very helpful to the tourist industry.The tourist industry has had a difficult year, for a variety of reasons. But the optimism for the future is a tribute to the industry for responding to increased competitive pressures at a time of rising costs. The hon. Gentleman referred to high travel charges. There are some highly advantageous packages on both British Rail and British Airways available to tourists purchasing their tickets abroad from the BTA and other sources. Travel is by no means a problem. The competitive coach services introduced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) when he was Minister of Transport have helped keep fares for tourists even lower.
What view does my right hon. Friend take of recent moves by the English Tourist Board, the Wales Tourist Board and the Scottish Tourist Board to become more actively involved in the promotion of their respective countries overseas? Is it not about time that we looked again at the Development of Tourism Act 1969 in the light of any changes that there may have been in the last 12 or 13 years?
I welcome any initiative and any action abroad on the part of any tourist board to promote tourism here. Our main tourist bodies do a very good job in this respect. I was able to see them in action recently in the United States.My hon. Friend asked me about the Development of Tourism Act. I am afraid that I require notice of his question.
European Community (Exports)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proportion of United Kingdom exports is now made to other members of the European Economic Community.
In 1980, 43 per cent. of the United Kingdom's exports went to other members of the European Community.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that that is a very significant figure and that it proves that, if we were so misled or misguided as to withdraw from the EEC, it would be a devastating blow to our exporters and to the jobs of those who work in exporting industries?
I agree that this figure demonstrates the great advantages in having a free trade arrangement with neighbouring economies. If this were replaced by a system of mutual tariffs, it would be quite destructive.
What proportion of our exports to the rest of the EEC in this period consisted of oil?
We had a positive oil and oil products balance with the EEC in 1980 of £2,700 million.
Will my right hon. Friend reinforce what he has already said to my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers), because our membership of the Common Market and the growth of our exports to that market is absolutely central to the maintenance of jobs in the United Kingdom? Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Government must spell this out ever more clearly to the public?
I think that the development of trade with the EEC must be spelt out realistically and forcefully.
Is it not a fact that the comparable figure before entry into the Common Market was only about 12 to 13 per cent. less than that? As this increase in trade has come over the last 10 years, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that readjustments, not necessarily in other directions, could also take place over a similar period?
That might be so. I think that any dispassionate and, therefore, helpful analysis of this trade would conclude that both our exports and imports percentages have risen substantially, thus demonstrating the strong attractions that this country has for the Continental members of the European Community, and vice versa.
Japanese Exports (Voluntary Restraint)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade which Japanese exports to the United Kingdom currently are subject to voluntary restraint.
Motor vehicles, television sets, music centres, pottery, stainless steel tableware and a wide range of steel products.
Despite that long list, is my right hon. Friend aware that the balance of trade deficit with Japan stands at an all-time record? Does that not show the futility of voluntary agreements? Therefore, has not the time come for us to move forward to some form of unilateral quota system until there is a fairer balance of trade with Japan?
I think that we should recognise that voluntary arrangements have failed to secure their objectives. We should also recognise clearly that this is not an area in which we can undertake unilateral action. Whilst I appreciate my hon. Friend's anxiety on this point, I would not disparage what has been secured by voluntary arrangements.
Is the Secretary of State aware of the profound concern in parts of the small engineering industry, making component parts for cars and subcontracting to the large manufacturers, about the importation of such parts from Japan? Will he take action to safeguard firms such as Glacier Metals in my constituency?
Most certainly. If the hon. Gentleman can furnish the Department of Trade with any evidence that he thinks constitutes evidence of dumping, it will be referred to the European Commission for action.
Is the Secretary of State aware that the sort of replies that he has been giving have been trotted out for years and years by successive Secretaries of State for Trade without any discernible change of attitude on the part of Japan? Is not the only way to stop the Japanese exporting from fortress Japan to take positive actions against them?
Coming from a Social Democrat, those remarks immediately invite one to wonder whether the Social Democrats are in favour of Britain taking unilateral action in trade negotiations against the Japanese irrespective of our commitments under the Treaty of Rome. When the hon. Gentleman can answer that question, I shall be more disposed to listen to his question.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the voluntary industry-to-industry arrangements have given our motor industry a much needed breathing space, although there is now increasing concern about possible misunderstandings in respect of light commercial vehicles?
My hon. Friend neatly anticipates a question in his own name later on the Order Paper. He is correct in saying that the voluntary arrangement has been observed much more effectively in respect of motor cars than of light commercial vehicles. The Government are deeply concerned about this matter.
In respect of light commercial vehicles and some other products, will the Secretary of State take account of the Japanese negotiating technique of keeping talking and talking to postpone almost for ever the day of action, and that it seems that they respond only in the face of tough talking or proposed tough action by either the British Government or the European Community?
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his comments. I hope that they will convey to the outside world, particularly to the Japanese, that this matter binds both sides of the House.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give the value of United Kingdom total exports to and imports from European Community countries during the last 12 months for which figures are available.
In 1980 the United Kingdom's visible exports to the Community were valued at £20·4 billion compared with imports of £19·7 billion.
I welcome that surplus, which is, presumably, greater if invisible trade is taken into account. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that trade with EEC countries has increased more than fivefold in the past eight years? In view of the supplementary questions by my hon. Friends the Members for Gosport (Mr. Viggers) and for Lincoln (Mr. Carlisle), have the Government made any estimate of how many jobs have been provided when exports have totalled £20,000 million?
My hon. Friend is correct in saying that there has been a rapid expansion in trade between Continental Community countries and ourselves. If that trade were to be interrupted by some system of mutual tariffs, I believe that it would to everyone's disadvantage. That is the refutation of the Bristol South-East economics, which are gradully being fastened on the Opposition Bench.
Does the Secretary of State agree that if Britain withdraws from the Common Market we shall obviously have to negotiate an association agreement? Whilst the pattern of trade with Europe has changed, is it not true that we could regain Commonwealth and other trading arrangements provided that this country were determined and prepared to go out and get them? Is it not clear that the Europeans will have to trade with us whether or not we are in the Common Market?
If we can narrow this controversy from the enticing widths of fantasy to the narrow paths of reality, it would be feasible for this country to negotiate with its European Community partners trading arrangements which observe free trade agreements which are mutally advantageous. But since we are told by the most eloquent advocates of the Labour Party—the new Cambridge school—that the whole purpose of the new economic policy is to erect trade barriers, we are entitled to argue that that is disadvantageous to Europe as a whole, and particularly to the United Kingdom.
Will my right hon. Friend be kind enough to comment on the recent remarks of the Leader of the Liberal Party—that in some of our manufacturing industries, particularly our less competitive industries, our balance of trade has shown such a large deficit with Community countries that we ought to think in terms of some form of restraint in trade between ourselves and the Community?
It is never kind to ask me to comment on the remarks of the Leader of the Liberal Party. However, if he wants the moral smugness of belonging to the Community whilst disavowing every discipline that that involves, all that I can say is that that is the historic standard of Liberal behaviour.
Is the Secretary of State aware—I hope that he is—that the references to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Liberal Party in the question that he has just been asked were a travesty of what my right hon. Friend said?
I note what the hon. Gentleman said. Doubtless we shall have many opportunities to finesse what Liberalism and Social Democracy stand for before we move from the era of the politics of protest to the essential moment of the politics of decision.
Consultancy (Foreign Earnings)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total, for the last 12 months for which figures are available, of British consultancy earnings abroad.
The latest generally available estimates for the overseas earnings of British consultants relate to 1980. The earnings of some of these groups are separately identified in the "United Kingdom Balance of Payments", 1980 edition. From the figures given in that publication, an estimated total of £891 million was earned by British consultants in 1980, of which consulting engineers earned £425 million, consulting services within the nationalised industries £335 million, architects and quantity surveyers £71 million, and management consultants and others £60 million.
Does my hon. Friend agree that these figures of nearly £900 million in 1980, and probably nearly £1 billion for the last 12 months, represent a tremendous achievement for Britain abroad, and that tribute should be paid to those British consultants, engineers and architects in the private and public sectors who do so much to maintain our reputation abroad?Is my hon. Friend satisfied that all his ministerial colleagues are aware of the need to involve British consultants whenever possible in all project and promotional work abroad?
I gladly join my hon. Friend in paying tribute to the considerable efforts made by British consultants and to the important contribution they make in their own right. I offer them my congratulations. Their efforts can pave the way for further British exports. I am sure that the consultants are conscious of the importance of this work. I assure my hon. Friend that we shall do everything possible to support and encourage consultants. If he has any further specific views on the question, I shall be glad to hear them.
To what extent are these figures due to the fact that, in the past, overseas students have been able to study here at a relatively low cost? To what extent will this trade be affected by the suicidal level of fees now being charged to overseas students?
I think the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that the presence of students from abroad has helped the continuing relationship. But it is easy to exaggerate the effect of the reduction in the number of students which, as he knows, has been brought about by our economic circumstances. We are conscious of all the implications.
Is my hon. Friend aware of the vital need to involve our embassies and consulates in seeking opportunities and backing for British consultants? Will he continue to ensure that those who are doing a good job are given every encouragement, and that those who are not always as keen as some of their better colleagues are pressed to improve?
My hon. Friend has made an important practical point. British posts abroad are conscious of their responsibilities in this area. The reports that we receive show that they are responding well and positively to these needs.
Marine Oil Pollution
Wainwright asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he intends to take on recommendations of the eighth report of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution with regard to pollution of the sea by oil from ships.
As a first step, the Government are consulting interested parties on the report. My Department, in collaboration with the other interested Departments, will give careful consideration to the Royal Commission's recommendations, taking into account the further comments and views which may be received. The Government's response to the report will be published in due course.
I thank the Under-Secretary for that reply. What is his Department doing in relation to the EEC on these matters? I refer in particular to the recommendation, which the Royal Commission endorsed, that the EEC should be asked to consider that insurance should be refused to vessels which will not comply with international standards on oil pollution.
We noted the proposal in the Royal Commission's report. We shall be giving it careful consideration, although so far our partners in the European Community have shown very little interest in it
Is my hon. Friend aware that on 27 November there will be a demonstration in Gardenstown, in my constituency, of a new technique, similar to that of the purse seiners, for containing oil pollution? Will he attend that demonstration?
I know how hard my hon. Friend fights on behalf of his constituents. I am glad that he has drawn the matter to my attention. If he will give me further details, I shall consider his invitation sympathetically.
Is the Minister aware of the disquiet felt by the regular passage of oil tankers through the Minches, which is an area of navigational hazard and stormy weather at times? An accident there could cause severe damage to the fish stocks, if not their total destruction.
I am aware of the problem, which was brought to my attention by my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Mackay). I am not aware of any serious oil spillage in the waters to which the right hon. Gentleman refers. We wish to keep closely in touch with all local groups to make certain that everything is being done that should be done.
Does not untreated or partially treated sewage from the shore pollute the sea just as effectively as oil spilt from ships?
My hon. Friend will know that one of the reassuring aspects of the Royal Commission's report was that oil pollution caused only minimal damage to marine ecology.
Film Industry (Legislation)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied with the working of existing legislation affecting the film industry.
In general, yes, although there is the possibility of some duplication of effort between the two advisory bodies of film matters namely, the Cinematograph Films Council and the Interim Action Committee.
Is the Minister aware that the Films Act 1980 and the reduction in the quota have greatly lowered morale in the film industry? Does she agree that we have some of the best film makers in the world, and that their work, among other things, means hard cash in exports? Will she, as a matter of urgency, convene a meeting of all concerned in the film industry, including the unions, so that she may hear of the difficulties that the legislation is causing?
I agree wholehearedly that we have some of the best film makers in the world at every level and in every sphere. I frequently meet them to discuss the various problems of the industry and am always impressed by their constructive approach.There is no point in setting a quota at a totally unrealistic level in terms of the number of British films available and the number of people going to cinemas. That leads only to widespread and legal evasion. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that I was advised at one stage to abolish the quota altogether. I decided that that was going too far. I have instead set the quota at what I believe to be a realistic level which the vast majority of cinemas in this country can meet. I intend to keep the matter under review and to take any further action which may appear to be necessary and valid.
Does my hon. Friend consider the existing system of collecting the film levy to be equitable?
I do not believe that the present method of collecting the levy is equitable; or as equitable as it might be. In recent years, as my hon. Friend will be aware, a multitude of multi-screen cinemas have opened. As a result, the main burden of paying the levy has fallen on those least able to pay. I shall shortly be considering a new formula for collecting the levy on a much more equitable basis. The formula, which will adopt a more even-handed approach, will bring all classes of cinemas into liability for the levy. It should, therefore, be far more equitable.
Airport Capacity (South-East)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade when, in the light of the latest air traffic forecasts, he expects extra airport capacity in the South-East to be required.
This will depend on a number of factors, including the decision on the proposal for a second terminal at Gatwick, which is currently under consideration. The provision of extra capacity in the longer term is being examined at the Stansted inquiry. The inspector will have before him all relevant evidence, including the latest air traffic forecasts produced by the air traffic forecasting working party and other bodies. It would not be appropriate for me to prejudge the issues by commenting at this stage.
Will my hon. Friend defend the integrity of the air traffic forecasting working party? If not, what proper research will he institute in its place?
I certainly defend the report's integrity. Indeed, the report is being considered. This very day we have drawn the attention of interested parties at Gatwick to it. There is no need for further research.
Will the Minister ensure that the diversion of traffic from the airlines to British Rail that might occur when the Channel tunnel is built is taken into account?
That matter does not arise from this question.
As the British Airports Authority tells us that there is an increase in demand, will my hon. Friend assure the House that the BAA does not try to draw operators away from places such as Luton by offering cheap facilities and hangars at Stansted?
Even assuming that all relevant consents were given, the earliest possible date at which Stansted could come into operation would be towards the end of this decade, but not before 1988. Therefore, we must wait a little longer before answering such questions.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what are the main components of United Kingdom aid to Angola.
We are providing a small team of English language teachers to assist the National Language Institute in Luanda.In response to an appeal from the Angolan Government we have met the cost of chartering an aircraft to carry relief supplies made available by Her Majesty's Government and the disaster emergency committee for people displaced or suffering as a result of drought in the southern provinces of Angola. Small items of equipment are provided to Angola under the heads of mission gifts scheme.
Is the Minister aware that the trouble in the southern region of Angola has been caused, not by drought, but by massive and sustained attacks by the South African armed forces using weapons and equipment supplied by Britain? Therefore, is it not at least morally necessary to provide substantial aid to Angola to make good the damage done by those attacks and to ensure that the Angolans have a reasonable chance of developing their economy in peace?
The situation is being monitored closely by the United Nations disaster relief organisation and by our embassy. A report on the United Nations disaster relief organisation's fact-finding mission is expected shortly. In the light of that report and information provided by our embassy, we shall consider the need for further emergency assistance. However, the Angolans receive plenty of help from Russia and Cuba. In addition, their system of government does not seem to help the economy. It is a Marxist system.
In the light of that reply, may I ask the Minister whether he saw the film on BBC 2—which was shown after 10 pm last night—about conditions in the camps in Angola? With the exception of Somalia, I have not seen worse conditions. Will the Minister increase the amount of aid being given? The hon. Gentleman spoke about the drought in the bush. But the South African air force is bombarding people out of their homes and, as a result, they are flocking into camps where there are inadequate facilities and impossibly small amounts of food available.
I saw that film last night. Aid activity is not guided by television films, although we take note of what we see. As I said to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley), the situation is being monitored closely by the United Nations disaster relief organisation, and we shall take any necessary action according to the result of that monitoring.
asked the Lord Privy Seal to what extent the granting of overseas aid to developing countries is determined by the character of their political systems; and if he will make a statement.
British aid goes to countries with a wide range of political systems.In deciding whether to aid any particular country, the Government take account of developmental, political and commercial factors. The weight given to each of these will vary according to the individual circumstances of each case.
I accept that human rights considerations should be important in granting aid. But how can the Minister justify the imposition of double standards when political considerations are concerned, when that may mean perpetuating underdevelopment or relinquishing to a foreign competitor an opportunity that could be taken up by a British industrialist? Comparing Indonesia with Vietnam, does the Minister agree that the Indonesian Goverment's record on East Timor—with the appalling war and slaughter that is taking place—should be considered just as much as other factors that may apply elsewhere?
To answer briefly, "Yes, Sir". We deal with each matter case by case.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that a country's political and economic system determines the use to which aid is put and that countries with inflexible political or economic systems are the least likely to use aid effectively?
Yes, Sir. Since becoming Minister for Overseas Development that has been my experience.
Tanzania (Food Stocks)
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about the Government's response to the worsening food situation in Tanzania.
We are supporting proposals for supplementary allocations of European Community food aid. We shall continue to monitor the situation closely.
I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. But given that European food aid should be effective, what representations has the right hon. Gentleman made to the Council of Ministers about reports of a scandalous situation in which European food firms are making profits at the expense of the Third world?
I have made no representations to the Commission, but I shall certainly consider that point.
To what extent does my right hon. Friend feel that the worsening food situation in Tanzania is due to its political system?
Up to a point it can be said to be an internal matter for the Tanzanian Government. However, they are entitled to approach the International Monetary Fund for the food facility within the compensatory financing scheme. As they are not yet in agreement with the IMF, they cannot make use of that facility, although it would be helpful.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on any discussions at the Cancun summit relating to developed nations giving official aid according to their means.
There was no discussion of this precise question at the Cancun summit.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should have been discussion of that question? Does he opine that if other developed nations had given aid according to their means to countries with the greatest needs in the way that Britain has done during the past 10 years, the problems of the Third world would have been reduced? Will my right hon. Friend contrast Britain's record in that respect with that of the USSR and note Russia's appalling absence from Cancun?
I deplore Russia's absence from Cancun. Russia was invited, but it did not come. The other questions were probably dealt with in the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 26 October. I was not at the summit. Therefore, I cannot speak at first hand about it.
I agree with the Minister's answer about the USSR. But will he confirm that, despite all the promises made by the Prime Minister at Cancun, not a single penny of new money was offered to that conference? Will the right hon. Gentleman also confirm that the Government are still considering further cuts in the aid programme? If so, would that not disgrace the reputation of the House and the Government as a whole?
Cuts generally, or the allocation of money, are being considered. I cannot make a statement at this stage. As regards the allocation of money for the subjects that were agreed at the Cancun summit, there could be an allocation of uncommitted funds within the existing aid programme and a shift of existing aid to the subjects covered—for example, agriculture and energy.
Is progress being made on the proposal that I put forward some years ago for the revision of the Lomæ convention to incorporate an undertaking to observe human rights as a condition of the receipt of aid?
I have not noticed any progress on that subject, but I always bear it in mind.
Tributes To Reverend Robert John Bradford
I announced during Question Time, in response to a point of order from the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), that I would allow tributes to be paid immediately after questions to our late colleague the Rev. Robert Bradford.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that the House will be grateful to you for having allowed us to recognise what has occurred by the murder of our colleague 48 hours ago.Our former colleague was one who made himself a friend to many of those who knew him during the seven years that he was a Member of the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] We in the Ulster Unionist Party, both in the House and in the Province, have lost a sterling and valued colleague. A wife and a child have lost husband and father. Alas, in the circumstances of Northern Ireland, that is no rare event. Above all, Ulster has lost a man who, whatever controversy there may have been about his opinions, was beyond all doubt dedicated to the interests of the Province and its people as a whole, without any distinction or difference. If he had known what was to befall him, he would have thought it singularly appropriate that he was struck down at the very moment of helping others and carrying out the duties for which he was elected to the House. The death by violence of any human being never passes without consequences. It is the hope—perhaps I should say the hope against hope—of my hon. Friends and myself that Robert Bradford's sacrifice will be the means by which the circumstances in Northern Ireland can be met, in ways that recognise their realities—which has not yet happened—and in ways that will bring the results in the Province that have been so vainly sought by methods which were clearly not intended to obtain them. Those bereaved and those who have suffered a personal loss because of the death of Robert Bradford will, I hope, be sustained and proud because of his recognition by the House.
The right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) has spoken for the whole House and for the United Kingdom in expressing our horror and revulsion at the assassination of his hon. Friend, who was killed because he was a Member of this honourable House.Robert Bradford was well known as a conscientious and devoted constituency Member, yet he was murdered on Saturday morning when he was helping his constituents—helping them so that he could better serve them here in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. We shall pursue with the utmost vigour those who committed this wicked crime and we shall persevere in our duty to rid our country of the evil of terrorism. On behalf of the Government and all Conservative Members I extend our sympathy to Mrs. Bradford, whose courage and dignity we all admire, and to Robert Bradford's family, who have lost a father. I also extend sympathy to his constituents in Belfast, South, to the leader of his party and to the right hon. Member for Down, South, who have lost an esteemed colleague and an honourable Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
I have been asked by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—who is abroad at present—to associate the Opposition as fully as possible with the tributes now being paid, and I gladly do so.Robert Bradford was a man of strong convictions. He was a man of controversy, but that is what being a Member of Parliament is. He was murdered because, as the Prime Minister said, he was a Member of Parliament and because he was elected as such. We believe that the violence and the evil that attend that sort of occasion is something that every hon. Member must deplore and must hope to see end. In the meantime, on behalf of the Opposition, we send to his widow and to his small daughter our sympathy and our consolation at this terrible moment in their lives.
On behalf of the people of Northern Ireland, Mr. Speaker I thank you for giving us the opportunity today of saluting the memory of a very great Ulsterman.Bob Bradford was a sincere, evangelical Christian of the Methodist tradition. He worked in his Church life for all sections of the community and entered into their difficulties, their problems and their trials. He knew working-class people on both sides of the religious divide in Northern Ireland. In the area where he carried out his pastoral duties, he saw something happening that brought great distress to his heart. It was in my home that he made the decision to contest Belfast, South as an Official Unionist candidate. Therefore, his death comes perhaps nearer to me and my colleagues than to anyone else in the House. Those of us in Northern Ireland who have been elected to office walk with death. David once said in the scriptures
On the day before his murder, sitting in the American consulate in Queen's Street, Belfast, Robert Bradford and my colleagues talked of the possibility that some of us might not make the proposed journey to the United States of America. Little did we think that he would be the first to go. I would have wished to say to the House that he is the last victim of that sort of terrorism. However, we believe that before Christmas there will be other vacant seats in the House. On behalf of my colleagues I express my sincere sympathy to Nora, to little Claire and to the whole Bradford family. Tomorrow, the people of Northern Ireland, in a demonstration never before seen, will declare how they feel about the matter."There is but a step between me and death."
Order. I shall call the hon. Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), but I hope that we shall soon move to the other business—not out of any lack of respect. I think that the whole House will hold up in its prayers Mrs Bradford and all those who have suffered in Northern Ireland.
At 10.15 last Tuesday evening Robert Bradford rose from his Bench in an Adjournment debate, as he had done so often in the past, to put forward the case for people whom he believed were least able to defend themselves. On this occasion he was speaking about the high cost of living in statutory residential homes in Northern Ireland. I listened to Robert Bradford. It was symptomatic of the occasion that even though he and I were opposed in many aspects of our political beliefs and ideologies we were both concerned about the problems experienced by the people of Northern Ireland.I got to know Robert Bradford. I first read of him and then listened to him on television. I regarded him as a man who would be inveterate in his opposition to me. However, in the years when he was a Member of this House I travelled with him on aircraft. We sometimes shared a taxi, and sometimes the same television studio when we expressed different points of view. I found Robert Bradford to be a man of rich humanity and compassion. The brutal, callous and horrific circumstances in which he was killed while trying to look after the interests of his constituents will bring the contempt of us all on those responsible for this callous deed. It should be put on record that this was not a one-off killing or murder. This was a carefully calculated and meticulously planned murder. The murderers knew where Mr. Bradford would be. They knew of, or hoped for, the effect that they thought it would have. They are trying to drive the Northern Ireland community into total conflict and civil war. The Catholic population, the minority population in Northern Ireland, are appalled by this dreadful deed. In no way do they concur with those who have carried out this terrible act. On behalf of that population, on behalf of Catholicism in the island of Ireland, and as an opponent of Unionism, I express my abhorrence of the terrible deed. I trust that Robert Bradford's wife and young daughter will be able to live and forget about this terrible act.
May I add a little to what has been said? The Leader of the Scottish National Party has asked that I should say a few words on behalf of the other minority parties in the House to one of our fellow parties which has lost a distinguished Member. It is right that somebody on this side of the water should acknowledge how conscious we are of the risk that all people in public life in the Province run when carrying out their public duties. We are very conscious of that, and we wish to join in the expressions of sympathy to the relatives of the Reverend Robert Bradford.Since there was an attack during the same weekend on the home of our Attorney-General, it is right to say that both this murder and that attack reinforce the united determination of the House to defeat terrorism.
I join in the expressions of deep sympathy to the wife and relatives of the Reverend Robert Bradford. He was one more of the many victims of the Provisional IRA. The IRA has shown that it is totally opposed to democracy and Parliament. The Reverend Robert Bradford will be mourned in Northern Ireland as a person who worked hard for his constituents, and he will be mourned as an active Member of this Parliament. Northern Ireland has seen over 2,000 dead, which if expressed in terms of the population of England and Wales would amount to 19,000 people. Far too many have died.
Hon Members For Antrim, North And Belfast, East
The House will recall that on Wednesday last I had occasion to refer to the conduct of the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson), and that I gave them notice that they should come to the House today.In the light of the tragic events that have occurred in Northern Ireland during the past few days, which are fresh in all our minds and to which we have just turned our sad attention, I shall content myself today with reminding both hon. Members and the whole House that the good name of Parliament and its tradition of civilised debate and conduct are part of our parliamentary democracy. I therefore go no further today than to tell the House that I take a very serious view of what happened. I hope that the whole House will respond to the tone of this statement.
Northern Ireland (Security)
I shall, with permission, Mr. Speaker, make a statement about recent events in Northern Ireland.The House has already made clear its sadness and revulsion at the murder of Robert Bradford on Saturday. I should like to add my own tribute to him as a hard working servant of his constituents. As you have already said, Mr. Speaker, all of us here will want immediately to express our sympathy to Mrs. Bradford amd her family—and not only to them but to the other families in Northern Ireland who have been bereaved in recent days. This has been a black week in Northern Ireland. On Sunday 8 November, in Armagh, Trevor Foster was killed in a booby-trap bomb attack intended to murder his father, a member of the UDR. On Tuesday, another UDR soldier—Cecil Graham—was shot dead while visiting his wife and five-week-old baby. Eustace Kerr of the UDR narrowly escaped death on Tuesday when gunmen shot and wounded him at his farm in Fermanagh. The same day in Armagh Charles Neville, an ex-member of the UDR, was bombed and then shot to death when leaving work. On Thursday, in Banbridge, Constable Pollock lost both his legs when a terrorist bomb exploded under his car. On Friday, in Londonderry, a terrorist bomb injured very seriously an innocent woman. During the weekend there was the attack in which Robert Bradford and Mr. Campbell, the caretaker at the community centre died; and in separate incidents one man was murdered and another shot and seriously injured in Belfast. I come now to the murder of the hon. Member for Belfast, South. Robert Bradford arrived at the community centre in Finaghy in his constituency at about 11.15 am last Saturday. He went to the room where he holds a surgery for his constituents. A police officer was on duty with him. At approximately 11.40 am two men wearing boiler suits approached the building carrying a plank of wood. One of the men lowered the plank as he came up to the police officer, revealing a gun. The police officer and the caretaker were forced to kneel and were held at gun point as another gunman went inside the building. He entered Mr. Bradford's room and shot him. In a scuffle at the entrance to the building, the caretaker—Mr. Campbell—was shot dead by another man. In all, there were five assailants armed with a variety of weapons which included a sub-machine gun. They left the building in a car taken from a family who had been taken hostage and, as they escaped, they fired a shot in the direction of the door to prevent anyone following. The police officer who had been with Mr. Bradford fired a number of shots at them, as did an off duty police officer who was in the area and had heard the shooting. In the wake of such horrible murders I understand the anger and resentment that have led many people to urge that more must be done to stop such killings. In assessing our response to them, we must be clear about the purpose of all this violence. The aim is quite deliberately to use murder to provoke further murders. The IRA wants to stimulate and intensify sectarian hatreds, to create the chaos that it believes will help its long-term objectives. We must frustrate that aim. Any form of divisive action that could make the task of the security forces more difficult should be avoided. The right response is to work calmly, but firmly, under the law and under the guidance of the security forces for the defeat of terrorism. The Government are resolute in this task and absolutely committed to that aim.
With the GOC and the Chief Constable——
The blood of Ulster is on your hands.
— in whose professional judgment I have full confidence——
You are the guilty man.
— I am looking at ways to make security measures more effective. Let no one be in any doubt that the Government are prepared to commit every available resource that may be necessary in the fight against terrorism.
But I have to tell the House——
We have seen——
The Secretary of State is the guilty man.
Order. The hon. Member for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) must resume his seat.
I live in the Shankill Road and——
Order. The hon. Member for Belfast, North must leave the Chamber at once.
What about the people of Northern Ireland?
Protestant people are dying in our country.
Grave disorder having arisen in the House, MR. SPEAKER, pursuant to Standing Order No. 26 (Power of Mr. Speaker to adjourn House or suspend sitting), suspended the sitting for 10 minutes.
Sitting suspended at 3.51 pm.
In my judgment the hon. Members for Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade), for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson) and for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) are guilty of grossly disorderly conduct and of ignoring the authority of the Chair. I therefore name Mr. John McQuade, Mr. Peter Robinson and the Rev. Ian Paisley.
I beg to move, That Mr. McQuade, Mr. Robinson and the Rev. Ian Paisley be suspended from the service of the House.
The House proceeded to a Division.
were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. Speaker declared that the Ayes had it.
Question accordingly agreed to.
Order. The hon. Members for Belfast, North, for Belfast, East and for Antrim, North will leave the House immediately.
I shall not be leaving.
Order. The hon. Members will leave immediately. Will the Serjeant at Arms ensure that the hon. Members leave the precincts of the House? I warn the hon. Members that, if they have as much as a touch on their arms, they will be suspended for the rest of the Session.
Amen. It is no use our coming here anyway.
Mr. Speaker directs that you withdraw forthwith from the House.
Order. I suspend the Sitting for 10 minutes while the hon. Members for Belfast, North, for Belfast, East and for Antrim, North, leave the House.
Sitting suspended at 4.5 pm.
Order. Before I call the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to continue his statement, allow me to say to the House, and it may be for the benefit of other people, that I believe that the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley), Belfast, East, (Mr. Robinson) and Belfast, North (Mr. McQuade) came here with the direct intention of ignoring the democratic processes by which the House works. I believe that they made up their minds before they came in that they would so behave until they were named.
With the GOC and the Chief Constable, in whose professional judgment I have full confidence, I am looking at ways to make security measures more effective. Let no one be in any doubt that Her Majesty's Government are prepared to commit every available resource that may be necessary in the fight against terrorism.The Chief Constable and the GOC have told me that they do not need new laws or more resources. What they need is information, positive help and co-operation from everyone in Northern Ireland. Nothing must divert them from their task of thwarting, arresting and convicting the terrorists. I am convinced that the way to defeat terrorism is to gain the support of all people in Northern Ireland, whatever their political or religious convictions, for the simple proposition that murder must be opposed and murderers arrested and brought to trial. That means more than standing aside or not actively supporting the terrorists. It must involve positive support for the security forces in their fundamental task of protecting life. I appeal now for the active co-operation, particularly from those in Northern Ireland who in the past have hesitated, for whatever reason, to provide information. After a week such as we have suffered in Northern Ireland, I have no complacency about the security situation and the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of us. I understand and share the revulsion that all of us here feel against these appalling events. The aim of all of us must be to channel that feeling, not into reactions which provoke one section of the community against the other, but into directions that will maintain calm, will broaden support for the efforts of the security forces against our common enemies and will offer the terrorists what they fear most: a community resolutely united against them.
I thank the Secretary of State, his junior Ministers and his staff for keeping me so well informed about the terrible events over this traumatic weekend.The Opposition deeply deplore the cowardly attacks that have taken place over the weekend, particularly the callous murders that have yet again scarred the Northern Ireland landscape. I send my condolences to the family of Mr. Robert Bradford, as I do to all the families who have suffered terrorist attacks here and in Northern Ireland. In my ministerial dealings with Mr. Robert Bradford we had our political differences, but they were without rancour or malice. I found him to be a hard-working and dedicated Member of Parliament for his constituency. I urge as strongly as I can the people of Northern Ireland to listen to the Secretary of State's appeal for calm and to support the police and the security forces in their difficult task. Meanwhile, we on the Opposition Benches reaffirm our belief that lasting peace and stability will come to Northern Ireland only if the search for a political settlement is pursued. We therefore urge the Government to continue their difficult quest at a difficult time for a workable solution to the ever-deepening problems of that Province.
I am extremely grateful to the right hon. Gentleman, as no doubt the whole House is, and certainly my right hon. and hon. Friends are, for what he has said this afternoon. I believe that, if a message can go out from the House to the people of Northern Ireland to remain calm and resolute, that will be the most effective manner in which we can defeat the terrorists. Meanwhile, we shall do all that we can through the security forces to aid that process.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that what he calls the black week for Northern Ireland was the sequel and, to a large extent, the consequence, of what was done at the Downing Street meeting on 6 November? Will he recall that before 6 November the Government were told that that would be the consequence if they went ahead, and that they are, therefore, guilty of the consequences of which they were warned? Will he accept that, instead of listening to the warning, the Government continue to follow the advice of those who have persistently misled the Government and their predecessors over Northern Ireland? Will the Secretary of State at least refrain from pouring petrol on the flames—by referring to things like political progress and agreements, which indicate to people in Northern Ireland that Her Majesty's Government share, if not the methods, at any rate the aims of the IRA.
I believe that the right hon. Gentleman's comments will do a great deal of damage to those of us who seek the path of peace for all the people of Northern Ireland. Nothing could help more towards the end that we seek than better co-operation on security across the border, which is one of the main objectives that we must always try to promote. Nor do I believe that people in Northern Ireland can afford to turn their backs on economic, social and industrial partnerships with people in other parts of the island. It was those aspects with which the Anglo-Irish talks were concerned last Friday. Many people made up their minds about the outcome of the talks before they began. If they had perhaps waited a bit longer to see what would happen, the petrol that was poured on to the flames need never have happened.
As the best deterrent against acts of terrorism is undoubtedly apprehension, conviction and punishment of criminals by the civil power, will my right hon. Friend, in the words of the Prime Minister, pursue "with the utmost vigour"—I speak as a strong unionist—the aim of obtaining that co-operation across the border and not least insist—for it is long overdue—upon extradition?
I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for that statement. Naturally, we shall continue to press the Government of the Republic on the subject of extradition. In the light of recent events, I hope that the talks that were arranged on Friday of the week before last between my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and the Attorney-General of the Republic will help to produce a situation in which criminals are brought to justice, whether they are in the North or in the South.
Will the Secretary of State accept that my colleagues and I should again like to express deep sorrow at the crimes and to join in the sympathy that is being sent not only to the relatives of Mr. Bradford and Mr. Campbell but to all the others who have suffered in the past week? Is he aware that we support his determination not to be deflected by such crimes from seeking a political solution to the troubles of Northern Ireland and wholeheartedly applaud his resolve that the maintenance of order remains the duty of the security forces and of no one else?It is clear now that the IRA is bent on creating anarchy in Northern Ireland, and also that certain hon. Members appear to pursue the same aim and in the process to obtain as much publicity as they can. The people of Northern Ireland should be aware that only the security forces stand between them and virtual civil war. They could pay no greater tribute to people of all sorts and in all walks of life who continue to serve them at great personal danger than by giving their full support to the security forces and ensuring that the criminals get no aid or comfort from anywhere in the Province.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his remarks. If a message can go out that everyone should remain calm and that we should not fall into the trap that the IRA is busy setting for us, it may be possible not only to help to win the security battle, but in the long term to move to other objectives that will produce peace and prosperity for the North.
I understand that about 16,000 police in London are being directed to search 300,000 garages and workshops for 500 lbs of IRA explosives. Why has not the same systematic and thorough search taken place in Ulster for the enormous quantities of arms, ammunition and explosives that have destroyed so many innocent lives over the past 12 years? The Secretary of State says that he is considering ways to make security more effective, but will he take time this evening to read statements by his predecessors over the past 12 years, which contain the same pompous and meaningless remarks? Has not the crunch now come, and is it not time, at long last, for the Government to root out and destroy these evil sectarian thugs? If the Government fail—I give them this warning—Northern Ireland will move inexorably into a state of civil war.
In the past two weeks the Royal Ulster Constabulary has found two large blocks of explosives amounting to about 1,500 lbs, plus many other weapons. The constant search by the Royal Ulster Constabulary and other security forces continues. We have to make certain that in carrying out our searches we keep within the law, and that we intend to do. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the search will go on and will be intensified.
May I associate myself and my colleagues on this Bench with the remarks made earlier this afternoon about the outrageous killing of Robert Bradford? I repeat that it was an offence not only against an individual and his family, but against representative parliamentary Government. Does the Secretary of State know that he has the sympathy and support of the overwhelming number of right hon. and hon. Members in his impossible task of ensuring security in Northern Ireland? Despite some of the remarks made in the House, and in particular in Northern Ireland, will he continue to seek in the end a lasting peace?
I am certain that after 12 years every hon. Member, whatever his views, seeks the path of peace. I believe that peace will come through absolute intensity to root out terrorism wherever it can be found, while seeking political advance within the law. That, too, is vital.
Will the Secretary of State accept that last week, with its terrible events, was a repetition of an awful lot of other weeks in the past 12 years? There were five or six deaths last week, but in other weeks the total has been considerably more.Will the right hon. Gentleman also accept that the Catholic community in Northern Ireland, through its spokesmen—the Catholic Church, political leaders and others—is at one with the right hon. Gentleman and the Government in taking whatever steps are possible to eradicate the cancer of terrorism? The Irish Government and all others allied with the minority in Northern Ireland in no way support the terrible and traumatic events that have overcome the Protestant community. Will the Secretary of State take it from me, as one who has spoken in the House on behalf of my community when it has been subject to such brutality, that the Catholic leaders in Northern Ireland are only too well aware of the situation facing the Protestant community and will do everything in their power to co-operate with the Government to bring the terrible events to an end?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for those remarks, particularly as they come from an hon. Member who himself has been subjected to so many attacks. Indeed, the Catholic community has been unanimous and resolute this week in its condemnation of what happened at the weekend and in the past.
Since the morale of the majority of people of Northern Ireland is all-important in the struggle against terrorism, will the Government reconsider their apparent withdrawal of support for the principle of unionism as expressed at the summit conference?
I do not think that there has been any withdrawal from unionism. What we have sought to achieve, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made abundantly clear, is an improved relationship between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, which I believe would be of enormous value to the United Kingdom, to the Republic of Ireland and to the North of Ireland. Everything that has been said during the last few days has been published. Everyone knows what the facts are. I hope that people will not seek to distort the facts in any way, because it is the distortion of facts that sometimes leads people to make emotional responses that are not borne out by the facts.
Does the Secretary of State have any concept of what it is like to have had 200 constituents murdered, to lose two more last weekend, and then to be lectured today in the House about calmness and moderation? Can he imagine what it is like to be haunted every day by the thought that the sum total of one's political achievements is measured by death, destruction and the endless tramp of yet more funerals to attend?How much longer do I have to come to the House and demand for my constituents what every other citizen regards as his birthright? If the Minister does not accept my words, the pile of corpses and severed limbs last week say mote eloquently than I could that a change in Government policy must come about.
I fully understand the feelings of the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. McCusker). I appreciate the suffering that his constituents have faced for the past 12 years. We are working to bring about a change in that situation, but it will not be accomplished quickly. It can be accomplished only when we can bring about understanding between the minority and majority groups in Northern Ireland. That, combined with the defeat of terrorism in any way that we can, is what we must do. The hon. Gentleman will recognise that the defeat of terrorism in a modern society is a difficult matter for any security force. I hope that he will bear with us in what I understand and appreciate are the very severe pressures that he and his constituents have to face.
Order. With respect, I believe it is now in the interests of the House to move on and to leave that matter.
Industrial Training Boards
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the future of industrial training boards. These boards at present cover just over half the work force. The system has been under review for some considerable time and it is now important to announce decisions so as to end the uncertainty.In the light of the extensive consultations that have taken place and the recommendations made to me by the Manpower Services Commission, I have decided to retain statutory boards in six of the seven cases unanimously recommended by the Manpower Services Commission and in one other case. The six are the boards for clothing, construction, engineering, hotels and catering, road transport, and rubber and plastics processing. The additional case is a board for the offshore sector only of the petroleum industry. I propose that the other boards should be abolished. My proposals will therefore reduce the number of boards from 23 to seven, excluding the Agricultural Training Board, which is responsible to my right hon. Friends the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales. Where statutory arrangements are to be removed, I am satisfied that the training requirements of the sector concerned can be met effectively on a voluntary basis with less cost and bureaucracy. I plan to make several changes in the scope of the boards that are to be retained.
Why were the boards set up in the first place?
If the hon. Gentleman will listen for a moment, he might learn what the changes are to be.I propose to take the rubber industry out of the scope of the Rubber and Plastics Processing Board and to take road passenger transport, warehouses, agricultural machinery, driving schools and security transport out of the scope of the Road Transport Board. I shall be considering further whether the latter board should be split into two, with one board for road haulage and another for motor vehicle retail and repair. I intend to leave the foundry industry within the scope of the Engineering Board, but to propose to the board that it should revoke its delegation of functions to the foundry industry training committee. I do not propose any change at present to the Hotel and Catering Board, although I intend to review the position early in 1983. I also propose, as a result of abolishing the Ceramics Board, to bring the brick and pre-cast concrete industries into the scope of the Construction Board. I am still considering certain possible small changes in the scope of the latter board and shall be asking it to consider giving a greater degree of autonomy to individual sectors in its scope. I am asking the Manpower Services Commmission to take forward the process of abolition or reduction in scope urgently and in parallel with action to establish or develop effective voluntary arrangements, so as to bring about an orderly transition. I intend to time the making of orders accordingly. I wish to ensure that the winding-up process is completed as quickly as practicable for each board in the course of 1982–83. Where boards are to be abolished, the industries concerned will bear the costs of the alternative voluntary arrangements. The Government will therefore continue to meet the operating costs of these boards as necessary until the end of the financial year 1982–3, together with any net costs of winding them up. Where boards are retained, they too, in future will be funded by the industry concerned. Exchequer support for operating costs was planned to cease at the end of this year, but I have decided that it would be right to extend this support until the end of March 1982. In making these decisions the Government have had very much in mind the objectives of the new training initiative, to which I am firmly committed and on which I hope to make a further statement before the recess. We are confident that our decisions on the sectoral arrangements for industrial training are consistent with those objectives and will provide industry with a framework in which it has confidence and within which it is able to meet its training needs in the 1980s.
Is the Secretary of State aware that there is not a shred of industrial or economic justification for the main decision that he has made, to destroy the majority of industrial training boards? Does he realise that, at a time of unparallelled technological change, it will not only damage training in Britain but undermine our competitive position even further? When unemployment overall and school leaver unemployment in particular stand at record levels and output has already been reduced by 17½ per cent. since the Government came to power, what possible reason can there be to demolish a large section of our training arrangements?Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that at the end of every recession there has been a chronic shortage of skills, and that this recession will be worse than any we have experienced for 50 years? At a time of skill shortages, when apprenticeships are falling and when the need for training opportunities for adults has never been more urgent, is not the path that the right hon. Gentleman has chosen one of great folly? How does the Secretary of State intend to implement this blow to Britain's jobless? Will he lay separate orders for each of the 16 boards that he is abolishing? We shall expect separate orders if he wishes to follow such a course. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that he has ignored the advice of the Manpower Services Commission, the members of which have, by a majority, recommended the retention of a strong statutory system? How does he intend to get overall support for the Manpower Services Commission's objectives contained in its document "New Training Initiative"? Will he inform hon. Members of the true costs of winding up the boards? Is he further aware that today's decision is not only a shabby, little, mean-minded public expenditure cut, but that it is also a cut at the expense of Britain's jobless, a cut at the expense of school leavers and a cut at the expense of Britain's industrial competitiveness? We shall oppose the orders when they come before the House and, in time, do everything we can to repair the damage on which the Secretary of State is now engaged.
I must confess that I am not surprised by what the right hon. Gentleman said, but there was very little in it. The right hon. Gentleman said that there is not a shred of reason for what I am doing, and shows thereby that he treats the opinion of the employers concerned with contempt. It is in large measure in response to what industry has requested that I have acted. The right hon. Gentleman may not give a fig for the opinion of industry and the employers in this country. I think, however, that they have something to say on the matter. I regret the fact that the right hon. Gentleman, as ever, distorts what is happening in order to seek to find divisions where divisions do not exist to the extent that he pretends. He knows perfectly well that industrial training boards have only ever covered 50 per cent. of the work force. He must know perfectly well that my proposals reduce the figure to about 30 per cent. There has never been any agreement—[Interruption.] I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman, having had his say, would listen to what is said to him.The right hon. Gentleman puts an entirely false gloss on the situation by suggesting that the country's training system is being demolished by these proposals. That is simply not true. If I had even wanted to pursue a vendetta against the training boards, I would not have left—as I have—seven boards in being. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the MSC recommendation. He knows that the recommendation was to retain the seven and to consider further the others. Even the latter was a majority decision and not, I understand, an overwhelming majority decision. The right hon. Gentleman says that the training system is being dismantled and destroyed. I have to remind him that expenditure on training in 1979–80 was £683 million, that in 1981–82 it will be £904 million, and that there will continue to be substantial expansion.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on his realistic approach to the needs of training for jobs in the future. Will he bear in mind that the 16 boards that he is abolishing have cash reserves of £40 million? Will that money be returned to those in industry who have contributed? Will he try to ensure that the remaining boards operate and report to him in a standard manner that can be understood, not only in those circles involved in the training boards but in this House that is responsible for their administration?
I take note of my hon. Friend's comments. The amounts of money held in cash and in reserves by the training boards are quite substantial. The largest sums are held by two of the boards that will remain in being, the construction industry and the engineering industry boards. It is important to bear in mind that in future the employers' side in the boards will set the level of the levy. If it believes that the cash holdings are larger than necessary, it would be sensible for it to take this factor into account in its considerations.
Order. As the House can see, a large number of hon. Members wish to ask questions. I am prepared to allow supplementary questions to run until 5.10 pm—that is another 25 minutes. If hon. Members cooperate, all those wishing to put questions should be able to do so.
When the "New Training Initiative" shows that 50 per cent. of young Germans go into apprenticeships compared to only 14 per cent. of young British people, and when it also shows that 600,000 unskilled jobs were lost between 1971 and 1978, is it not a criminal act to remove any training facilities without provision being made for the replacement and expansion of those facilities in current circumstances? Will the right hon. Gentleman say how he intends to achieve discussions between the CBI and the TUC in particular to expand and improve training, especially the apprenticeship scheme?
I hope that the hon. Gentleman understands that the number of apprentices supported by the Government has risen from 21,000 in 1979–80, to 25,000 in 1980–81 and to 35,000 in 1981–82. That is a measure of the Government's concern. I hope that when the hon. Gentleman refers to the German experience he will bear in mind the robust way in which wage negotiations are conducted in Germany, the sensible settlements and the fact that in Germany first-year apprentices earn about 25 per cent., I believe, of the adult wage, whereas in Britain the figure is perhaps nearer to 60 per cent. This has a significant influence on the number of apprentices who can be trained in any year. I take note of the German experience. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will have something more helpful to say when I make my statement on the new training initiative later.
Recognising the commitment to serious training and improvement in training if it is to play a part in our industrial revival, may I welcome the retention of the core of seven statutory training boards? My right hon. Friend says that the rest are to be replaced by effective voluntary arrangements. Will he explain the criteria by which he judges these voluntary arrangements to be effective? What reserve powers does he intend to keep in any sector that proves not to be effective?
The criteria will be whether these arrangements, at the end of the day, convince myself and my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, who has done a great deal of work examining each of these cases with great care, that there will be an adequate supply of trained personnel for the needs of that industry. Training boards in general do not do much training. It is important to remember that. In regard to sanctions, I shall not lay orders until I am satisfied that the voluntary arrangements are satisfactory. At the end of the road, the powers even to create statutory training boards remain on the statute book.
Will the Secretary of State bear in mind that his announcement will be found deplorable in industry generally, and especially on the trade union side? Will he recall that the training boards were introduced by a Conservative Government because voluntary methods had failed? What he has done is an act of political prejudice based on folly. Will he give some assurance that the specialist teams in the training boards that have done so much good work will be kept in being in the interim and that they will be found employment in the voluntary system that he says will be set up in the future?
I find it a little depressing that the hon. Gentleman is so unbearably conservative in these matters and unwilling to accept that circumstances may change over 15 or 16 years. In some cases, industries have declined and no longer justify the statutory arrangements. In other cases, the extent to which training has been improved means that the statutory arrangements are no longer required. When the hon. Gentleman has calmed down a little, he will not use such phrases as "criminal folly", having thought about the proposal. He will accept that many people in industry have asked for this to be done. It has been discussed for the last two and a half years, and it is time that the uncertainty was ended.The hon. Gentleman is worried about the future of the teams. I hope that many of them will find places in the voluntary systems which are set up.
I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend's statement. However, without wishing to appear unappreciative of what he is doing, may I ask him whether he will consider in future the need to carry out regular reviews at specified intervals of the effectiveness of those boards which remain?
I am not sure how that review should be carried out or how regularly. It is appropriate that some view should be taken of how effective the training arrangements in industry are because, after all, we all agree that without that vital supply of trained manpower industry will begin to look very sick before long.
Is the Minister aware that the Ceramic and Allied Trades Union is disgusted that the recommendation of the MSC that the ceramics board should be kept has been rejected. Is he further aware that it is bitterly disappointed that the federation of employers has misled the Secretary of State in its submission on voluntary arrangements and that the union believes that the employers have enough on their plate at present to save the industry from the Government's economic policies? Does he accept also that the union feels that they should not be diverted from that by attempting to make voluntary arrangements work which never have worked previously?
I note what the hon. Gentleman says, but he has to take account of the fact that the Manpower Services Commission's recommendation to keep the ceramics board did not rule out voluntary arrangements for some of the main sectors. I have made arrangements for the brick and pre-cast concrete industries, which preferred statutory arrangements, to be transferred to the Construction Industries Training Board. We have received proposals for voluntary arrangements from the Glass Manufacturers Federation, Pilkingtons, the British Ceramics Manufacturers Federation, the Cement Makers Federation, the British Quarrying and Slag Federation, the Sand and Gravel Association, the China Clay Association and the National Federation of Clay Industries. There is some support for my proposals, despite what the hon. Gentleman said.
As these new arrangements require the active co-operation of employers and the Manpower Services Commission, will my right hon. Friend confirm that if advances in industrial processes require a more specialised form of training, statutory powers remain to create a new industrial training board should it be necessary?
My hon. Friend is right. I have emphasised that those powers remain. The House will see from the attitude that I have taken in keeping a number of the boards—and even one which was not recommended by the MSC for retention—that I take an open-minded and non-partisan approach to these matters.
Does the Minister believe that current standards of training and the quantity going through training are satisfactory? If it is his view, as I hope, that improvements are necessary, why does he believe that these changes will improve a position which many of us regard as highly inadequate and not necessarily a defence of the current system? Why does he believe that this will be an improvement?
I believe that I share the hon. Gentleman's view. We need to improve our training arrangements. That is what the new training initiative is about, and it is a matter upon which I shall make a further statement, I hope before the recess.The House must understand, however, that to a considerable extent the boards were not so much about training as they were about bureaucracy. If we can get rid of the bureaucracy and move to voluntary arrangements and maintain the training, that is wholly good. Of one board, for example, the Manpower Services Commission says:
That does not seem to be a good reason for keeping such a board."The board has not been able to influence training very materially either in quality or in quantity by use of its statutory powers."
Does my right hon. Friend accept that the existence of a given number of statutory boards is essentially subsidiary to whether there is an expanded training programme? Is he aware that there will be strong support for his commitment to the new training initiative, but that there will continue to be legitimate doubts in some quarters until he makes his statement on the new training initiative and reveals the extent of the Government's commitment?