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Volume 87: debated on Thursday 21 November 1985

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4.2 pm

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, to discuss a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the impending collapse of services in the city of Liverpool".
I take this opportunity to raise the matter because I believe that on Monday it would be convenient, without any major disruption to our business, to move the debates to later in the week, without interfering with the important debate on Tuesday and Wednesday on Northern Ireland. I believe that the matter should take precedence over business that has already been laid down, for specific, important and urgent reasons—specifically because Government intervention is the only solution available. It is clear that every other attempt to resolve the matter, involving the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the Leader of the Opposition and many other people, has broken down.

The matter is important because it is a unique problem. It is a tragic first for a city the size of Liverpool, and it is a tragic first for any local authority. The matter is urgent because unless the House acts, 500,000 citizens living in Liverpool will be left without services and 31,000 employees will find themselves without employment and without money coming into their homes to look after their families' welfare. It is also urgent because schools will close and young children will have no opportunity to complete their education. Social services will cease to function and meals on wheels, home helps and a variety of welfare services will not be available—

Those services will not be available, especially to elderly people, in a city where one in four is over retirement age and where the fastest growing group are the over-80s. From a hygiene point of view, there will be major public health problems when the refuse services break down. No contingency plans exist. The Government have not considered the matter, as the Leader of the House made clear earlier. It is a contrived crisis that is now out of control.

The people in Liverpool feel akin to those in the first world war who were caught in a no man's land with belligerent and incompetent generals in the trenches on either side, hurling invective and abuse at one another. Ordinary people are now being made the victims. One in five of the people in Liverpool is already out of work. Liverpool has more than its fair share of problems. This is an urgent matter, which should be properly debated next week.

The hon. Member for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,

"the impending collapse of services in the city of Liverpool"
I do not under-estimate what the hon. Gentleman has said, I have listened with great care to his submission. He knows that my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 10 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business already set down for this evening or for Monday.

I regret that I cannot find that the matter that he raised meets all the criteria laid down under the Standing Order, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House on this day.