Steel Industry

– in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 21st October 1985.

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Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke , Monklands West 5:30 pm, 21st October 1985

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, British Steel's intention to close the Gartcosh plant and the implications for the future of the steel industry. At this moment, a number of my colleagues — including my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) and my hon. Friends the Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray)—are meeting the TUC steel committee to discuss the decision, announced by British Steel during the parliamentary recess, to close the Gartcosh plant in my constituency by 31 March next year. That decision came as a great blow to my constituents and caused great concern to many people in Scotland. British Steel says that just over 700 jobs will be lost, but we know that, because of the knock-on effects, we are thinking in terms of more than 1,000 jobs in a very hard-pressed area, which is looking for new jobs rather than wishing to experience the loss of any of the jobs that we now have.

In addition, there is extremely grave concern about the Ravenscraig complex of which Gartcosh is very much a part. Gartcosh is the cold finishing mill for Ravenscraig and clearly its biggest customer. If Gartcosh is removed and there is not the reasonable investment in Ravenscraig that Scottish people rightly demand, there will be great worry across the whole political spectrum in Scotland about the future of this very important plant, the closure of which would be devastating for the industrial future of west central Scotland.

On 2 July the Prime Minister told us that the House would be made aware of British Steel's plans for these matters, but, although the announcement was made in the recess and is now being implemented, the House has had no discussion whatever on this major decision by British Steel. It seems to me right that there should be discussion and debate on this and that we should consider the implications, not just for my constituency, important and profound though they are, but for the whole of the British steel industry — in Wales and England as well as in Scotland. I believe that the steel industry and its future is essential to our manufacturing base and I know that this is of the utmost importance in the priorities that the House has set.

In Scotland we are gravely concerned about the unemployment situation that we face. In my constituency, because of the decline of major industries in an area that was once prominent in the mining, steel and iron industries, there have been so many closures that one village after another has faced devastation, and what was once known as the "iron burgh" of Coatbridge has hardly a steel job left. In those circumstances, a debate on the future of the British steel industry is of the utmost importance.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for listening and I know that the House will give due regard to the case that I have made.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, British Steel's intention to close the Gartcosh plant and the implications for the future of the steel industry. I have listened with great care to what the hon. Member has said. He knows that my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 10 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business already set down for this evening or tomorrow. I regret that I cannot find that the matter raised by the hon. Member meets all the criteria laid down in the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.