Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 11th December 1980.

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Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Ebbw Vale 12:00 am, 11th December 1980

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is a series of extremely important interlocking economic and industrial questions on which we have asked him to ensure that we have statements before the house rises for the Christmas Recess? Will he now tell us about them?

Will the right hon. Gentleman make sure that the Secretary of State for the Environment makes a statement to the House on the rate support grant, which will affect local authorities in a very special way this year and may affect the employment levels throughout the country in a very special way this year? May we therefore have a statement from the Secretary of State for the Environment on Tuesday?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also tell me when we shall get the statement—for which I have asked for two weeks now, or at any rate for one week — on the financial crisis in the railways, which is a matter of major importance for the country's economy as a whole?

With regard to the steel industry, which we were discussing a few minutes ago, we do not believe that the Government's response to what I have said and to what has been said generally in any way meets the position. We believe that it is essential for the House to have a debate on the matter first. [Interruption.] In that case, we shall on Tuesday table for discussion the question of the Government's direct responsibility for the difficulties of the steel industry, which carries it very much further. When the Home Secretary intervenes from his reclining position to tell me how to—[Interruption.] It sounded to me as though he was saying "Supply day, Supply day". He has been saying it for quite a long time. May I tell him that we believe that we had every right to urge—the Government have so far refused to agree—that there should be a general debate next Tuesday on unemployment.

We are confronted, therefore, with a mounting industrial and economic crisis of huge dimensions throughout the country, and we shall have to take that into account in all the business next week, including the motion for the Adjournment for the Christmas Recess, if that is, tabled. We may have to table an amendment to that motion to get the Government to report to the House properly on all these questions.