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Manufacturing Industry

Volume 130: debated on Tuesday 29 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs have been lost in manufacturing industry since June 1979; and if he will list the sectors of manufacturing industry which have incurred the highest number of job losses.

Between June 1979 and January 1988 the number of employees in employment in manufacturing industry in Great Britain is estimated to have fallen by 2,077,000. Over this period, the largest falls occurred in the mechanical engineering, motor vehicle, metal manufacturing, electrical engineering and metal goods industries. However, recent figures suggest that the trend in manufacturing employment may now be levelling out.

Is the Minister aware that that list of more than 2 million casualties, of which Ron Todd has not been responsible for a single one—[HON. MEMBERS : "Oh!"]—shows the hypocrisy of the Government when they talk about the loss of jobs in the last eight years? The Prime Minister has caused more devastation in manufacturing industry than Adolf Hitler caused between 1939 and 1945. It is no wonder that West Germany and Japan are laughing at Britain where they have a $120 billion surplus on their trade and are walking away to the top of the industrial trade league, while we are losing jobs all around Great Britain.

The immoderate, ignorant and intemperate nature of that question shows that if we ever have a "wally of the week" award, the hon. Gentleman will be in a class of his own.

Is my hon. Friend aware that my constituents do not well receive criticisms from Opposition Members about job losses when they recall that the last Labour Government closed the steelworks in Corby? However, my constituents welcome the enormous assistance that the Government have given them, which has enabled Corby to make such a striking recovery from that disaster.

I am sure that my hon. Friend is right. He might want to compliment the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on having had the courage to address the issue of Dundee, even if he has not managed to reach the inevitable conclusions about it.