Orders of the Day — Unemployment

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 1972.

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Photo of Mr Tony Benn Mr Tony Benn , Bristol South East 12:00 am, 31st January 1972

I beg to move, That this House deplores the grave damage inflicted on the engineering and shipbuilding industries throughout the United Kingdom by the policies of Her Majesty's Government which have increased unemployment, created uncertainties and held down essential investment. This debate is one of a series of debates that the House will be having this winter on the subject of unemployment. It began last Monday with the general debate on unemployment following the publication of the figures indicating that 1 million people were out of work. We shall be coming back to further debates on the crisis in Scotland, Wales and development areas generally and the English regions which have also been very badly hit, especially so since the figures released by the Department of Trade and Industry on Thursday last show that there was a big drop in the number of new jobs which have become available in development areas in every part of the United Kingdom.

Today we are concentrating on the engineering, metal and shipbuilding industries which are the key sectors of our economy and which are now the most depressed. Without intending any personal discourtesy to the Secretary of State for Scotland, I hope he will understand when I say that neither he nor his hon. Friend the Minister for Industry are really able to answer the charges that we shall make over the whole range of the Motion covering the aircraft industry as well as machine tools, shipbuilding and other industries. I believe that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry ought to have been here today to answer what is in effect a censure Motion on the policies for which he is the responsible Minister in the Cabinet.