Employment

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st February 1990.

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Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 12:00 am, 1st February 1990

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about employment trends since 1983.

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire

At September 1989, there were an estimated 514,000 employees in employment. This showed a slight increase from the level a year earlier and was some 13,700 higher than five years earlier.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Does my hon. Friend agree that that record is somewhat superior to that of the Republic, where there has been a 40,000 reduction in the number of people in industrial employment since 1982? Do not these differences underline the fact that the social market economy rather than the social charter is the best engine of economic progress?

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire

I agree with my hon. Friend. I do not believe that the social charter will have much benefit for the Northern Ireland economy. However, in the 1990s it is crucial for us to be able to sell ourselves on our merits, which are very substantial. We have a bright, young, well-educated work force, low labour costs and an attractive grants package, and there is no conceivable reason why we should not do better in the 1990s than we have been able to do in the 1980s.

Photo of Mr Roy Beggs Mr Roy Beggs , East Antrim

Will the Secretary of State give immediate consideration to the need to protect the remaining jobs at GEC-Alsthom at Larne in my constituency where 200 redundancies have been announced because of Government policy not to order new nuclear and, indeed, coal-fired stations? Will the Secretary of State therefore endeavour to seek Government approval to proceed with the Kilroot phase II project, which might help save some jobs there?

Photo of Mr Richard Needham Mr Richard Needham , North Wiltshire

I am not responsible for the purchasing policy of the nuclear power industry or of National Power and PowerGen. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the Industrial Development Board for Northern Ireland is working as closely as it can with GEC to find alternative orders.