Single European Market

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th July 1988.

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Dr. Thomas::

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what studies are being made by his Department on the implications for the levels of employment in the regions of the United Kingdom of the completion of the European single market in 1992.

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

We are assessing the impact of the single European market on a continuing basis. It will provide great opportunities for business throughout the United Kingdom and should therefore have a beneficial effect on jobs. The impact in different regions in the United Kingdom cannot be predicted at this stage. It depends among other things on how well companies respond to the opportunities that are there.

Dr. Thomas:

I accept that the Minister has no responsibility for what Lord Cockfield may say in his capacity as a European Commissioner, but is he aware that during a visit to north Wales over the weekend Lord Cockfield stated that 60,000 new jobs would be created in Wales as a result of the single market? Is it not about time that the United Kingdom Government and other member state Governments quantified the regional impact of the single market? Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that most of the studies that have been prepared relate to sectoral changes or changes in specific areas of the economy, and that the overall regional impact has not been assessed properly in any member state?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

With respect to the noble Lord, it seems extremely difficult to make accurate predictions for individual regions. We can all guess what it might be. The Cecchini report, which was produced for the Common Market as a whole, suggests that there might be an extra 1·25 million to 2·25 million jobs over five to six years. That is vague enough for a report that covers the entire Community, let alone individual regions.

Photo of Mr Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

Does my hon. Friend agree that European and other investors seeking to make green field investments in Britain will be interested primarily in the availability of single-union, no-strike agreements? Given the persecution of the electricians by the dinosaurs of the TUC, what assurance can my hon. Friend offer to European investors in future?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

Assurance comes from individual unions that are far-sighted enough to see what is required.

Photo of Mr Ronald Brown Mr Ronald Brown , Edinburgh Leith

Is it the case that in 1992 the poll tax will be imposed uniformly throughout the Common Market? Of course it will not, but such ideas are floated, and it is a tax which will benefit the rich at the expense of the poor. Will the Minister leave this special Chamber and come to Scotland for a change, and meet the working class, who are organising, through the anti-poll tax unions, to fight back on the basis of non-payment? Will the Minister come to see reality for a change? Does he understand that on a Scottish, European and Socialist basis, there is a fight-back taking place, and I hope that the parliamentary Labour party will participate in it as well?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

Just because I have the name of Johnny Cope, that does not mean that I am frightened to come to Scotland. I was there a few weeks ago.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Will my hon. Friend confirm that the aims and objectives of the free market, which will be of great benefit throughout, are completely inimical to the nonsenses of regional policy, which are long since discredited? Will he reiterate that the best hope for employment throughout the United Kingdom and Europe is the truly free movement of goods and capital, when Governments will no longer try to force goods and capital to go to regions or anywhere else?

Photo of Sir John Cope Sir John Cope , Northavon

Yes, we want the free movement of goods and capital, as my hon. Friend said.