I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
Shildon produced almost £800,000 of the £1·3 million profit of British Rail Engineering Ltd. last year. The previous managing director of BREL described it as the most efficient wagon works in Europe. Industrial relations have been excellent for many years. The men have cooperated fully in the cost cutting and new working practices to keep their products internationally competitive. Their reward for co-operation has been a hefty kick in the teeth. Shildon was a birthplace of railways 150 years ago. Timothy Hackworth, who opened the works, was a great rival of George Stephenson, and the first railway in the world ran through Shildon. Four or five generations have given their lives to the works. In any family in Shildon, one will find more commitment to railways than in the entire British Rail Board. Yet no task force will be dispatched to preserve Shildon's way of life. No cash limit free, £275 million operation will be mounted to rescue Shildon from disaster. No brashly baying public-school cultivated voice from the Government Benches will be raised to acclaim the paramountcy of Shildon people's wishes. This decision is as bad for Shildon as was the closing of the steelworks for Consett. The people of Shildon are shocked, stunned and disbelieving. What can the future hold now for them and their families? The Government and British Rail must recognise the social catastrophe that they are inflicting on this long-suffering Durham community, where the people embrace the solid working-class values of hard work, thrift, sturdy independence and self-help that the Prime Minister purports to admire."the announced closure of the British Rail engineering works at Shildon, Co. Durham, throwing 2,500 mostly skilled men on to the dole in a town of only 14,000 in which the unemployment rate is already well above the national average."
The hon. Member gave me notice before 12 o'clock midday that he would seek to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,
The House knows that it is always difficult for me when applications are made for emergency debates on the closure of factories. On this occasion I must tell the House that I was in the locality of the works at the weekend. Therefore, it is all the more difficult for me to explain that it is not in my power to decide whether this matter is to be debated. I merely have the right to decide whether we must change our business tonight or tomorrow night for an emergency debate on the proposed action. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that I listened to him with sympathetic concern. However, I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House."the announced closure of the British Rail engineering works at Shildon, Co. Durham, throwing 2,500 mostly skilled men on to the dole in a town of only 14,000 in which the unemployment rate is already well above the national average."