Assistance Under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972

Part of Orders of the Day — Industry Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:45 pm on 18th June 1980.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Urwin Mr Thomas Urwin , Houghton-le-Spring 10:45 pm, 18th June 1980

The hon. Gentleman gets further into the mire the longer he talks. I maintain what I said. I listened to his remark with horror and revulsion, because he has certainly no understanding of what it means to be unemployed. Those of us who have had that experience know only too well how we are stripped of our dignity, when we have acquired skills by our diligence and effort and are rendered unemployed not once but several times in a working lifetime. And that is the response that we get from the hon. Gentleman.

This awful fate has befallen more and more people during the 13 months of the present Conservative Government. We have the same crisis of confidence. I am afraid that Lords amendment No. 4 will further worsen conditions for the attraction of new industry into development areas such as the Northern region. Almost every day, the Northern press, whether a morning or evening newspaper, in Sunderland, Tyneside, Cumbria, or any other part of the region, carries new accounts of a factory closure involving a loss of 20 to 1,000 jobs next week or the week after that. The possibility of attracting new industry and generating new job opportunities recedes further into the future. Every credit is due to the local authorities in the Northern region—in Sunderland, the county of Durham, and Tyne-and-Wear—that are taking on the role of the Government by investing in small factory units to relieve the desolation of unemployment so many people have to undergo

The deliberate attack on regional incentives, the whole regional policy of the Government, contributes to the developing unemployment. Reference has been made to the possibility that, in all too short a time, the figure will reach 2 million. For as long as I have lived, the Northern region has borne more than its fair share of unemployment, with little benefit in return for the sacrifices that have been made.

The Northern region runs a grave risk of becoming an industrial wasteland. There will be no possibility of recovery even to the level of unemployment that the Conservative Government inherited on taking office. There has been reference to the ravaging of jobs on the West Midlands. I should like to know how many jobs from the West Midlands or anywhere else in the United Kingdom have come to the Northern region in the last 13 months. The answer, I believe, is none, or very few.

I long for the day when regional policies are so streamlined, effective, efficient and productive that we in the Northern region can say that we have arrived at the same economic plateau as the West Midlands, the South and the South-East. That would satisfy us to a greater extent than is ever likely to be the case under the present Government.