Assistance Under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972

Part of Orders of the Day — Industry Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:30 pm on 18th June 1980.

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Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley 10:30 pm, 18th June 1980

What the hon. Member is saying is that his economic system has no understanding of or care for social consequences. I reject his economic system, which puts people on the dole in Tyne-side, West Midlands, Liverpool, or anywhere else in this country. The Government have a prime duty, which they are miserably failing to fulfil, to provide decent opportunities for workers in this country. I see that the Minister of State finds the whole thing incredibly funny. He is not exactly a person who has faced the dole queue himself, having been born with a rather large silver spoon in his mouth. I am filled with contempt by the way in which Tory Members find the whole question of unemployment so passively amusing. It is the chaps outside who face the dole queue, while the people on the Conservative Benches enjoy their membership here and generally half a dozen company directorships as well. Their lack of understanding and concern is disgraceful, and it is shown in the policies involved in the amendments.

The Government have no mandate to destroy British manufacturing industry. The only way in which we shall be able to develop British manufacturing industry is.. achieving a balance, helping firms, nation-wide, that need assistance. There are some firms that do not and will not need it; that is all to the good. But there are a number of industries that simply do not have the information, or the skill and understanding, to collate the necessary information about where the level of investment in their industry is most needed. That is why the Government have in the past undertaken discussions nation-wide with machine tool organisations and with organisations representing foundries, and produced a scheme, with the co-operation of the industry concerned.

This sort of amendment is an inhibiting factor on that ability to produce schemes—schemes that the industries themselves have said are of advantage, enabling them to increase productivity and to have a better chance against international competitors. We have to balance national schemes with help for the regions, the areas that have the greatest amount of deprivation, the greatest amount of un- employment, which, sadly, is growing apace week by week. This sort of amendment inhibits the Secretary of State's ability to bring assistance to bear where it is needed. The sad fact for Conservative Members is that capitalism is failing. It cannot exist by itself. The rising dole queues, the decline in production and the erosion of British manufacturing industry are a testimony to the fact that capitalism cannot stand on its own.