I beg to ask leave to move the Ajournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
The matter is specific for obvious reasons: on Labour Day, above all days, the closure of a firm with a long and respected history was announced. That firm is also the largest private sector employer in north Southwark. The matter is important because Peek Frean is a firm that is owned by Nabisco, which is run from the United States, but it is none the less known throughout Britain for its production of biscuits, crackers, crisps and Christmas puddings, which, no doubt, most hon. Members have relied on every festive season in the past. It is the last of the series of large manufacturers in the food and drink industry left in a part of London that relied on that industry for its jobs. The matter is urgent because of the sheer statistics involved in the closure of a plant of this size—more than 1,000 jobs will be lost, most of which belong to women. That adds to an unemployment number of more than 7,000 in my constituency alone. The overall unemployment rate is 22 per cent. — 29 per cent. of males and 14 per cent. of females. That puts the constituency in the top 25 constituencies for unemployment in the whole of England. The unions will be meeting this week and have, I gather, only a few days in which to accept the terms by which the whole work force will be laid off. I ask that the matter be debated, not only for the sake of the workers there, but so that the future of manufacturing industry in the inner cities can be debated in the House as a matter of great importance."the announcement last Friday afternoon of the closure of Peek Frean's factory in my constituency of Bermondsey with the loss of more than 1,000 jobs."
The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
Again, I have listened with great care to what the hon. Gentleman has said, but I regret that I do not consider the matter that he raised as appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20, and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House."the announcement of the closure of Peek Frean's Nabisco factory in Bermondsey and the loss of more than 1,000 jobs, the majority of whose holders live in the hon. Gentleman's constituency."
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker.
Order. I have not had a point of order yet. I shall take one now.