Ravenscraig

– in the House of Commons at 6:50 pm on 23rd January 1992.

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Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring 6:50 pm, 23rd January 1992

We now come to the debate on Ravenscraig. Time is limited. Many hon. Members wish to speak, so I appeal for short speeches. I should also inform the House that Mr. Speaker has selected the Government amendment.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden 7:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

I beg to move, That this House condemns the repeated in defiance of guarantees given by the company; calls for British Steel to honour these guarantees and for the failure of British Steel to support and invest in its Scottish plants, culminating in the announcement that Ravenscraig is to close Government to explore with determination every possible means of saving the steel industry in Scotland, including the search for a new owner and the use of new technology; deplores the inadequate response from Ministers to the present crisis; and demands a co-ordinated and determined drive to rebuild the Lanarkshire economy which has been cruelly damaged by the policies of both the Government and British Steel. This debate is about a great industry and the trouble which has befallen it. Inevitably much of the spotlight will fall on the role of Government. I suspect that the Secretary of State is in difficulty and is embarrassed by his predicament. Well he might be.

At the end of last week, as the right hon. Gentleman may know, I put down a priority written question. It was a simple request for a list of dates of any meetings in the last six months between Ministers in the Scottish Office and British Steel. The list could not be long, and it did not require an extensive diary search. The first effort at a reply was: I shall reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible. Clearly the Secretary of State had no great interest in getting the information on the table. However, he may have had a tactical rethink, because today there crept on to the board a reply. It was the reply which I had expected. In the last six months, the entire contact at ministerial level between British Steel and the Scottish Office boiled down to one meeting on 6 January, after the Government knew that the closure decision had been reached.

According to reports in the Sunday Mail, the Scottish Office knew as early as 20 December that closure was coming on 8 January. It is a serious charge, but I fear that, as Ministers contemplated the grim future, their one thought was how best to survive the fine mess that their own incompetence had created.

So far as I can find out, the Secretary of State did absolutely nothing to influence events. I am strengthened in that conclusion by a letter which the Secretary of State wrote to me on 14 January, in which he told me precisely what happened at the meeting on 6 January. I remind the House that that was the one meeting at ministerial level with British Steel in the last six months. What happened at the meeting was that he pressed Sir Robert very hard indeed to make public British Steel's assessment of market conditions". Faced with the final blow, with the long history of decline, and with the abdication of duty which has marked their course, the Government finally got into the presence of top management of British Steel, merely to press Sir Robert to make public the market assessment which had made him decide on closure. That is a fit comment on the total lack of action and the lack of fight shown by the Scottish Office over the years.

That is typical of the hands-off, do-nothing approach which has been the hallmark of the Government. Successive Secretaries of State have been licensed to protest carefully packaged concern for Scottish consumption only. The one condition laid down was that no action was to follow and no real pressure was to be mounted on British Steel.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

Can the hon. Gentleman tell the House what action he would take? When the Labour party refers in the motion to every possible means of saving the steel industry in Scotland, including the search for a new owner", does that mean that he would propose the nationalisation of Ravenscraig?

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I genuinely regret having given way to the hon. Gentleman. As he well knows, that will be the burden of the main part of my speech. He has an important role as a substitute Scot on this occasion. I hope that he will stay, listen and learn.

Suspicion of the Government's plans and of their attitude became a certainty when the Department of Trade and Industry finally blew their cover. Perhaps I do not recognise an unsuspected luminary, but I do not think that there is a representative of the DTI here. I remind the House that the DTI is supposed to be the lead Department in this business. That absence is therefore the height of discourtesy.[Interruption.] I know that the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) likes to run everything, but so far as I know, he is not yet running the Department of Trade and Industry. He may be omni competent in the Scottish Office but, so far as I know, he has not yet got beyond the Scottish Office.

When we saw the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley), he was disastrously frank. I recall it because it made such an impression on me. He said that he was doing nothing to help, because the Scottish Office had not asked him to do anything. The harsh truth is that there has been no real attempt to derail British Steel's plans. The search has always been for a face-saving formula, never for a solution.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South

The hon. Gentleman would nationalise the industry.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I shall deal later with the hon. Gentleman's point.

What can now be done? There has been a long campaign to try to persuade British Steel to consider offers for the Ravenscraig plant. British Steel now says that it will do so, but I fear, because one has to face reality, that it has probably agreed to consider offers because it is confident that offers will not be forthcoming. The tragedy is that, when there was an opportunity to find a buyer, it was fiercely obstructed by British Steel. The Secretary of State for Scotland lamented that fact before the Select Committee but, as far as I can determine, he did nothing to unblock the logjam. The option of a new owner should be kept on the agenda for as long as possible.

The possibility of new technology must also be examined urgently. It was identified as a possibility—not, I admit, as a strong possibility—in the Arthur D. Little report. I know that it is still being investigated by Scottish Enterprise. Many of those who have followed the argument will be familiar with the innovative proposal that has been put forward. It contemplates the linking of thin slab casting to traditional steelmaking techniques. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray), showing more energy and determination than any Minister, is going to Indiana in the next week or so to look at one of the plants where thin slab casting is in operation. I do not pretend that it is an easy option, but it must be pursued to find out whether there is any possible way forward.

Dalzell is still producing plate. As everyone connected with the plant knows, the Labour party has always maintained that there is a case for investment there, and it has consistently challenged the single plate mill strategy. It is not in the best interests of the industry. In our view, it was always likely to be bad news for Dalzell. Sadly, that was almost borne out.

Circumstances have changed. The recession has undermined the plan for a new plate mill on Teesside. The Government should be pressing for the modernisation of Dalzell, including the installation of accelerated cooling. It still remains a low-cost option. In hard times, it must be attractive to British Steel.

There are no short cuts, however. This is a time for realism. I want to make it clear, as I have done in the past, to the hon. Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall) that we do not believe that nationalisation is the answer in this case. If I believed that it was, I should be arguing for it.

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman will not give way.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

If the hon. Gentleman is expressing surprise at what I have just said, it shows that he is abysmally ignorant of the debate.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Let me again make the point that we do not believe that in the current circumstances nationalisation is an option or a way out for British Steel. If the hon. Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown) can understand and digest that statement, we can come back to it.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

No. I believe that nationalisation is no more than a slogan—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—in these circumstances. It is a doubtful luxury, available only to a party with no expectation of gaining power. I say that honestly. It is irresponsible to consider nationalising the industry; it would hold out hope where none exists. The arguments do not stand up. I repeat that, if I thought they did, I should argue for nationalisation. It is not a matter of dogma; it is a matter of doing what is right for the steel industry and for the people of Lanarkshire who have taken such a pounding.

Hon. Members:

Sit down.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The nationalists want Ravenscraig to operate—hon. Members will correct me when they speak if they believe that I have got the detail wrong—on two blast furnaces, tied to the Dalzell plate production, with a pipe mill on an unnamed Motherwell site. The problem is the market.

Dalzell, expanded to 1 million tonnes—two or three times current output—could survive only on the assumption that British Steel was not competing in the market. Plans for a new plant at Teesside would have to be abandoned. Plate production at Scunthorpe would have to be closed, together with the welded pipe mill facilities at Hartlepool. Ironically, the whole scheme would depend for its viability on British Steel's acquiescence.

There is no escape in myth-making about the North sea market. Every authoritative commentary tells the same story. Structural steel, tubes and plates for the North sea are not required in sufficient quantities to breathe life into the SNP headlines. All the signs are that the market will fall sharply over the next few years. It is—to use a perhaps unhappy phrase—no more than a nationalist pipe dream.

This is not a plan to rescue Ravenscraig. It would be left as a slab producer, in effect tied to one outlet. If it runs on one blast furnace and produces 1 million tonnes, the cost base will be wrong. If it loads effectively at 2 million tonnes, there will be a surplus for which there is no demand. The European hurdle on competition policy would be formidable. An operating subsidy would simply not be available.

I say all that with no pleasure, but I do so because I am not prepared to be dishonest and go down a road that I do not believe is open. The SNP claimed initially that its target was the restoration of Ravenscraig, complete with a hot mill, cold reduction plant, relined blast furnaces and much work done to such facilities as the coke ovens.

In order to discredit the pointed attack, on grounds of cost, by the Ravenscraig stewards, the SNP has been reduced to confusing market capitalisation with British Steel's asset value—as it does in the most blatant way in this pamphlet that I am holding. It is nonsense to pretend that the share capitalisation of the company is relevant to the argument in favour of putting plant on the ground. It is a deliberate attempt to falsify the argument, and suggests a certain desperation. The back-up has been to dispute the integrity of the stewards whom they were once proud to praise and who are universally seen as having fought a sustained and courageous campaign in defence of the steel industry.

The SNP once did a lot of running in and out on Scottish industrial matters, including nationalisation. I remember when the nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry was on the agenda. SNP Members sat in the Chamber tearing up telegrams from the work force on the grounds that they did not believe in that particular form. The scheme that has now been produced has changed shape and content several times.

It is worth remembering that there is no provision for this adventure in the ingenious sums cobbled together by the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) to form his so-called Scottish Budget. The scheme has only one essential virtue for the nationalists: it gives them something to say.

The debate takes place on the day that The Sun has declared itself the house journal of the SNP. I fear, although I may be a little over-confident, that that will turn out to be something of an embarrassment to the party. In the context of this debate, the party might care to remember that, on 9 January, The Sun considered the future of the steel industry and claimed that that particularly misbegotten group of men, the socialists, could only throw money at problems. It went on to pronounce: Sure, 12 hundred jobs could be saved at Ravenscraig. But in the end the price would be the loss of ten times as many jobs elsewhere.The Sun's principal columnist happily contributed the thought.

Ravenscraig should have been shut down years ago. All that I can say about The Sun and the company that it is now keeping is that, if it is a conversion, it is not one based upon principled conviction. I predict that the future of that misalliance will be private grief for the SNP.

We must look to the future. There is much that must be done to rebuild and strengthen the Lanarkshire economy. Although I can only sketch what needs to be done, I shall try to state what I believe are the most important points. The sites must be dealt with and reclaimed. It is no use the Government paying lip service to the principle that the polluter pays when the Secretary of State for Scotland announced on 13 January, as though it was good news, that British Steel would clear the Ravenscraig site down to ground level and … leave it in a tidy condition".—[Official Report, 13 January 1992; Vol. 201, c. 672.] The Government must not be allowed to cover their retreat with a handful of grass seed.

I believe that the enterprise zone was scrambled into the frame only when the closure announcement loomed. The Sunday Mail reported that the Scottish Office had indeed been pushing for that, and that there would be £100 million of investment, but that has now been reduced to £50 million.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I shall correct that mistake from the hon. Gentleman now, but I shall deal with some of the others later. That is entirely and absolutely without foundation

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Of course I take the Secretary of State's word for that. It was not scrambled quickly into the frame when the announcement of the closure was known. However, I understand from a press release from Sir Leon Brittan's office, which reached me today, that a formal application under article 93.3 of the treaty was launched only today. That does not suggest that there has been a great deal of forethought or planning.

I am conscious of the difficulties that may arise. I understand the problem over the Mossend freight village and terminal. There are always difficulties over the boundaries of enterprise zones. However, I think that, on balance, that is an important part of the package, and something on which we expect the Secretary of State to deliver. The package that the Government have put together lacks coherence and shape. It is a case of anything and everything being thrown together. Significant sums would have been available in any event. I refer to Lanarkshire development agency's and East Kilbride development corporation's contributions.

I hope that the Secretary of State will be prepared to listen to the local community and that he will create some sort of forum in which the ideas of the local community can be taken into account and considered in a wider way than has been possible up to now. It is important that emphasis be placed on infrastructure improvements, and especially on the M74 and M8 link.

Lanarkshire does not want a series of reports on infrastructure questions—a buck-passing exercise to a regional council that does not have the finance. We must capitalise and have a targeted strategy to encourage development around the freight terminal and the new electrified line linking Motherwell to Glasgow and Edinburgh. I hope that that will be tackled with more energy than hitherto.

There must be a real drive to improve training and to encourage innovation. The Government should consider the possibility of establishing a central institution of Lanarkshire to give a new impetus to the excellent work that is carried out by the existing colleges there. My hon. Friend the Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) will have a word or two to say about training towards the end of the debate. The experience and expertise of East Kilbride development corporation's industrial team should be kept together.

The Labour party has argued for a Scottish innovation centre. There are many examples of similar successful ventures in Europe, some of which have an almost international reputation, such as the Steinhers Foundation in Baden-Württemberg. Such a venture would give a boost to the local economy and allow companies to plug into a Europewide network of technology transfer so that even the smallest firms would have access to the best of the world's technologies and to the expertise that would allow them to put that technology to work. It would offer positive support on production methods and marketing. It should be based in Lanarkshire, complementing the work already carried out at the National Engineering Laboratory in East Kilbride.

I finish—

Hon. Members:

Sit down.

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

What a pathetic performance.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

I should like to conclude, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I am conscious of the fact that, although very few Conservative Members will seek to participate in the debate—and certainly very few from Scotland—many hon. Members have constituency interests and want to participate.

There can be no promises of an overnight transformation. The Government's dereliction of duty has contributed to a major crisis. I refer to their failure to challenge British Steel at a time when such a challenge would have had an impact, and to the ravages of a recession that was made, at least in part, in Downing street.

We argued for a DTI task force, and found no sign of life. We pushed for an export drive, but got no reaction. We looked for a reference to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, but got no co-operation. There has been no attempt to force British Steel to honour its guarantees at a time when the market was more optimistic and there was the possibility of new owners.

The Secretary of State will claim that everything possible is being done that could be done, but that is simply not true. Promises and expressions of concern there are in plenty, but what is missing is the commitment and determination to fight unemployment and industrial decline. We have had soothing words from the Secretary of State. Suggestions that unemployment in Lanarkshire is not as bad as it might be add insult to injury. A male unemployment rate of 16 per cent. is no justification for the kind of complacency that we have seen in recent months. There has been one meeting—after the event—with British Steel in six months.

The charge remains—not that Ministers have failed, but that they have never really tried. Their record of inactivity strips them of all credibility. The Secretary of State can hardly complain if he and his colleagues are not trusted by the people of Lanarkshire and of Scotland. This Government should go, and surely will, whether it he in April or May. There will he no reprieve—and neither should there be.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr.Ianang):

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: commends the Government's response to the announcement by British Steel of its decision to close Ravenscraig; acknowledges the extensive and effective nature of the measures already being undertaken by the Government as part of its continuing commitment to improve the economy and infrastructure in Lanarkshire, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, the Lanarkshire Development Agency, and a range of other public and private bodies; welcomes the Government's commitment of some £120 million since the beginning of March 1991 for economic development and training in Lanarkshire; and supports the proposal by Her Majesty's Government that an enterprise zone be established in North Lanarkshire. The kindest thing that could be said about the speech of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) is that he must have been fazed and thrown by the extraordinarily good news of the winning of the contract for three frigates by Yarrow in his constituency. What a pity that he did not find it possible even to express his appreciation for that. Instead, he spoke in a wholly sniping, dull and negative way to a motion that is wholly negative. He did a considerable discourtesy to the House in failing to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), formerly the Member for Brigg and Scunthorpe, who has direct and close experience of the steel industry. My hon. Friend said that he was surprised by that. Of course he was, because the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) gave a firm commitment to the House—admittedly four years ago, which is probably a long time in the life of the Labour party. He said that Opposition Members "strongly believe"—not just "believe"—that the steel industry is most appropriately owned in a form of public ownership."—[Official Report, 23 February 1988; Vol. 128, c. 184.] Therefore, when my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes read the Opposition's motion, which states: That this House … calls … for the Government to explore with determination every possible means of saving the steel industry in Scotland", he clearly thought that "every possible means" would include nationalisation. However, it turns out that that phrase not only does not include nationalisation but that nationalisation is "no more than a slogan".

Photo of Mr Michael Brown Mr Michael Brown , Brigg and Cleethorpes

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. He may recall that I served on Standing Committee D in the 1987–88 Session. Having listened on many occasions to the then Opposition Front-Bench spokesman, the hon. Member for Great Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell), as well as to the hon. Member for Dagenham, I can confirm that we heard a commitment to renationalise the steel industry at virtually every Standing Committee sitting. As a member of that Standing Committee, I can confirm that my right hon. Friend is correct.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend and hope that there will be time in the debate for the House to benefit from his experience.

The tone of the Opposition's motion is without doubt interventionist, dirigiste, and very much in the mould of the old Labour party, calling for the Government to explore with determination every possible means of saving the steel industry in Scotland". Indeed, it isn't intervention that the steel industry needs. What the steel industry needs is a more vibrant domestic market, specially in the manufacturing sector and a chance therefore to make even further increases in their productivity and be more competitive in difficult international markets. The industry does not need some civil servant or minister sitting on their shoulder saying to them well, strategically this is what we think you should do". That is what I believe. It is also what the Leader of the Opposition believes. Those were not my words but his words from today's Financial Times. He said: it isn't intervention that the steel industry needs … some civil servant or Minister sitting on their shoulder saying to them well, strategically this is what we think you should do. That quotation clearly puts the House in great difficulty. It discredits and disqualifies about 90 per cent. of what the hon. Member for Garscadden just said. But the position becomes more confusing. The interventionist motion tabled today calling for the Government to explore with determination every possible means of saving the steel industry bears the name of the Leader of the Opposition. Yet the article appeared in the Financial Times today with a quotation in inverted commas which gives the directly opposite view. Which is the view of the Leader of the Opposition—let alone that of the Labour party?

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Does the Secretary of State realise that this fourth form debating stuff is neither funny nor smart and impresses no one back in Scotland? Will he concentrate on what the Government can do in their dying moments for the steel industry in Scotland and for the people of Motherwell?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I just wish that someone on the Opposition Benches could help us. Perhaps next week at Luigi's the Leader of the Opposition will manage to extricate himself from the spaghetti in which he is entangled.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The Secretary of State has been adamant that Government intervention and attempts to influence these matters are wrong as a matter of principle. Does he remember when his immediate predecessor as Secretary of State for Scotland said that the decision to close the hot strip mill at Ravenscraig was wrong and should be reviewed and reversed, and that his policy was to achieve that? Did the right hon. Gentleman support that?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Of course I did. I should have liked to see it happen. However, I do not believe in intervening in the steel industry to do it; nor do I believe that the Labour party believes in that. Certainly, its leader does not believe in it. I know that the Leader of the Opposition has a Welsh interest to protect. Perhaps it is asking too much to expect him to rise above the Welsh interest and look to the Scottish, let alone the United Kingdom, interest.

The Labour party must be in a great shambles when we hear that nationalisation is no more than a slogan and that the entire history of the Labour party's commitment to nationalisation not only of the steel industry but across the board is abandoned. The Leader of the Opposition says: it isn't intervention that the steel industry needs … some civil servant or Minister sitting on their shoulder saying to them well, strategically this is what we think you should do. I am grateful to the Labour party for calling the debate tonight, even though it is a half-day debate on a Thursday, so that we could obtain that revelation about its policy on nationalisation.

I want to make a little progress on the positive measures that the Government are taking to meet the difficulties that Lanarkshire faces. It is important that we recognise the position as it has developed. When we came to office in 1979 we found an industry which was over-manned, under-invested, uncompetitive and riven with industrial dispute. Funds were being poured into it by the taxpayer at the rate of £100 million a month at today's prices. That not only failed to solve the steel industry's problems but damaged the interests of the taxpayer, other industry and the economy in general.

Some contraction was inevitable with the industry in such a state. It would not be particularly rewarding to reflect on how or why the Ravenscraig problems developed—whether the cause was the original decision of the Conservative Government to encourage the industry to locate the mill at Ravenscraig, the decision to split the effort between Scotland and Wales, the location 40 miles from the sea, the separation from the cold strip mill or the loss of Linwood. At Linwood industrial disputes eventually destroyed one of the major markets for its product, just as they destroyed many of the shipyards on the upper Clyde. We could reflect on whether nationalisation destroyed the old Scottish companies by moving their control to London and creating such a mess that it was impossible to reprivatise them on a Scottish basis.

The Labour party owes it to the House to tell us even now what it would do. We have heard what it would not do, but it must tell us what it would do if it were to win the election. It may find itself in office with four or five months to go. If it does, it will owe it to the people of Scotland to tell them what it will do. We heard nothing from the hon. Member for Garscadden.

Photo of Tommy Graham Tommy Graham , Renfrew West and Inverclyde

Is the Secretary of State telling the people of Scotland that they will need to wait almost 10 years, as the people of Linwood had to wait, to see anything come into that massive empty factory space? Surely the Secretary of State has more to offer the people in Lanarkshire than he offered the people of enfrewshire—nothing.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for a well-timed intervention which enables me to describe the initiatives which we are taking, have taken and will continue to take.

Photo of Mr Philip Oppenheim Mr Philip Oppenheim , Amber Valley

Surely it would be within the power of the Opposition spokesman, should he ever become Secretary of State for Scotland, to take powers to insist that Ravenscraig should remain open. Why does my right hon. Friend think that the hon. Member for Garscadden is so unwilling to make that pledge?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I wish that I knew. Some two and a quarter hours of the debate remain and I hope that the Labour party will make its position clear as the debate advances.

I wish to make it absolutely clear that I entirely share the general disappointment and dismay at the effect of the loss of jobs in Lanarkshire as a result of the closure of Ravenscraig. But what matters is action, not words, and it is action that the Government have been taking.

Photo of Mr William Powell Mr William Powell , Corby

My right hon. Friend knows that I have many thousands of constituents who have brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers who live in the Motherwell area and are involved with Ravenscraig. He will also be aware of the massive assistance that the Government granted to my constituency by creating the enterprise zone, by granting assisted area status, by a massive infusion of derelict land grants and of money for new roads and infrastructure, through European grants. They made available many millions of pounds for retraining and so on. My constituents in Corby would like to hear from my right hon. Friend that the same range of incentives will be made available to Motherwell.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I am grateful to my hon. Friend who, like my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes, speaks with direct and substantial personal experience of the beneficial effects of the Government's measures. He knows the benefits that will flow from the Government's measures in Lanarkshire.

We are making good progress in providing assistance for Lanarkshire. Our plans are going forward in a businesslike and sensible way. As soon as we heard that the closure of Ravenscraig was to be announced, we accelerated the consideration, already well advanced, of the case for an enterprise zone in north Lanarkshire. The Government quickly concluded that the case for such a zone was strong. I announced our intention to seek EC approval for the establishment of the zone on the day that the closure was announced.

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Legislation Committee

Last week, my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) challenged the Prime Minister. He said that there was good information that the Prime Minister knew about the closure of Ravenscraig 14 days before the announcement. How many days before the announcement was the Secretary of State told about the closure?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I will not answer for my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but I heard about the closure on 20 December. I made that clear as soon as the announcement took place. There is no great mystery about that.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I advanced consideration of our preparation of our application for enterprise zone status and I persuaded my Government colleagues that that was a desirable step forward. On the day of the announcement I was able to write to Sir Leon Brittan, the Commissioner, to alert him to the fact that the United Kingdom Government would seek the Commission's agreement to the establishment of such a zone.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

No, if the hon. Lady will allow me, I must make progress. I will give way to her later.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

My point is about the enterprise zone.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Let me first say what I have to say about the enterprise zone. I will then give way to the hon. Lady if she still feels that it is necessary.

I spoke to Commissioner Brittan yesterday and I am pleased to confirm that formal notification of the Government's case for an enterprise zone in north Lanarkshire was made to the Secretary-General of the European Commission this morning. I know that the Labour party does not understand much about enterprise zones—after all, they were created by the Government—but they involve an enormous amount of preparation. That preparation has been carried out extremely thoroughly. When asked yesterday whether he thought that he had been informed of our intention at an adequate time, Commissioner Brittan replied that he considered it "pretty prompt". He added: Time spent in preparing well prepared applications is not prevarication or time wasted … Time spent now in amassing detail could save time in the long run.

Photo of Margaret Ewing Margaret Ewing , Moray

Although I do not wish to interfere in the argument about which of the Front-Bench spokesmen could more speedily achieve an enterprise zone, I believe that they should be fighting for the retention and expansion of the Scottish steel industry. Is it true that the condition that there will be no steel-making capacity in Lanarkshire will be attached to enterprise zone status?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

That is the first time that I have heard the suggestion. It is highly unlikely. However, it is for the Commission to pursue and develop any conditions that it thinks appropriate.

I believe that our case is strong and that the zone will be of great help to north Lanarkshire, attracting many thousands of new jobs in a range of companies, thus broadening Lanarkshire's economic base.

I can also announce that I have approved the commissioning by Lanarkshire development agency of a consultancy study of the long-term economic development opportunities, to follow on from the immediate work in hand arising from the Lanarkshire working group's report.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

I am grateful for the Secretary of State's courtesy in giving way. I sincerely hope for the sake of the people of north Lanarkshire that the enterprise zone which is to be created there is given far more financial and other support by the Government than was the case with the Inverclyde enterprise zone. That so-called enterprise zone has proved to be a bitter disappointment and failure for thousands of my constituents who are unemployed.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

While the Inverclyde enterprise zone has not yet made a substantial breakthrough because of the difficult circumstances in which it operates, it substantially enhances the opportunity to bring employment to Inverclyde. The hon. Gentleman was keen enough for it to be established. The Government were glad to he able to secure that for him and I should have thought that it was in our interests for both of us to work together to make it a success.

The resources and investment by Government in an enterprise zone take the form of income forgone, in terms of capital allowances, exemption from rates and other benefits. The estimated costs to the Exchequer from the enterprise zone in Lanarkshire are about £50.5 million, which is expected to trigger about £250 million of private sector investment and to create a substantial number of jobs.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

Perhaps the Secretary of State would write to me, as I am interested in his remarks. The basis upon which that figure has been arrived at means that he must be able to calculate the revenue loss, which presumably means that he has made assumptions about the size and occupation of the zone. Would he be prepared to put those calculations in the Library?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I should be happy to give the hon. Gentleman whatever information is available to the Government, but when one sets up an enterprise zone, one does not know the nature of the employment which will come into different parts of it. The zone is based on six areas, which add up to almost 500 acres. The Government's experience and estimates have been carefully negotiated and calculated as accurately as possible, and they are based on our experience in other enterprise zones and upon expected take-up of opportunities there.

Today I wrote to Sir Robert Scholey, the chairman of British Steel, to say once again that he should release sufficient evidence about the world domestic market situation in the steel industry and about Ravenscraig's costs and other circumstances to shed light on the factors which led the British Steel board to take its decision.

I pressed British Steel to help deal with decontamination of the Ravenscraig site and its restoration to industrial or other use by granting Lanarkshire development agency immediate access to site records and by funding and other support for a site assessment to gauge which parts of the site could be quickly redeveloped and which need special or prolonged remedial treatment.

I have further suggested that British Steel might wish to enter into early discussions with the public agencies involved about the future of buildings on the site and about future site ownership and development, aimed at making the most of potential public and private sector contributions.

I pressed Sir Robert to say by how much the funding of the British steel industry will increase to take account of 1,200 additional job losses since its £10 million programme was announced in north Lanarkshire last June. I emphasised the importance of training measures, as they would give much valued flexibility in tailoring training and retraining to meet likely future needs.

During the past decade, in a sustained and systematic way, the Government have developed a programme to help Lanarkshire. The House will be familiar with the Motherwell project, which has run for about eight years, in which the Scottish Development Agency had invested about £56 million by 1987. That project is estimated to have created or saved about 4,000 jobs. The partnership and commitment to Motherwell established by the project is being maintained through the Motherwell enterprise partnership, led by Motherwell Enterprise Development Co., which had a budget of £930,000 last year.

There is also the Coatbridge project, which ran from 1983 to 1988, in which SDA expenditure totalled £22.8 million—a project judged to have created or safeguarded about 2,500 jobs. A number of enterprise trusts are operating, many initially 20 per cent. funded by the SDA, which now deliver services under contract to the Lanarkshire development agency.

Last year, in response to the developing situation, I set up a working group under the chairmanship of the Under-Secretary —my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart)—to review Lanarkshire's immediate needs and to develop projects. That was an immensely successful initiative, for which I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I am grateful also to the many public sector individuals and bodies which came willingly and co-operatively together to develop effectively the sort of plans which are now being implemented—16 early action projects—

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram , East Kilbride

On East Kilbride development corporation—

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I have not come to East Kilbride development corporation yet. If I have time, I shall do so.

Sixteen early action projects—mostly industrial site developments—were identified and work has already begun upon 13 of them; two more medium-term projects are moving ahead; and five others are subject to feasibility studies.

The remedial measures range across a wide spectrum of commitment in terms of finance and skill. Lanarkshire development agency had a basic budget of almost £3 million last year, to which was added an additional £15 million allocation, announced by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in May, and a further —4 million allocation for extra training. Scottish Enterprise was allocated about £5 million for use in Lanarkshire in 199–92. Those resources were used by the SDA largely to develop sites purchased by the SDA in March 1991. Further resources, amounting to about £1 million, were put into employment action and training programmes.

East Kilbride development corporation's capital programme for the year in question was about £26 million. In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry, under the iron and steel employers re-adaptation benefit scheme for 1991–92, expected to spend about £28 million. The capital allocations to local authorities for factory building were set at £4 million, to enable a response to be made to the needs of the area.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram , East Kilbride

Hon. Members will recognise the importnt role that East Kilbride development corporation has played in the regeneration of the economy of Lanarkshire and Scotland and the role that it will play in the years ahead. Why is the Secretary of State proposing to wind up the development corporation within the next four years?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

Such is the success of East Kilbride that it has reached a level of maturity where it no longer needs the special commitment of resources—which might be better used in other parts in Lanarkshire—to maintain and continue its development. East Kilbridge development corporation has handled its opportunities extremely well and has succeeded in attracting about one in five of all inward investment cases coming to Scotland. That, too, is for the benefit of Lanarkshire.

Lanarkshire has important advantages—it is well-located, with good communications, and the Government are doing all in their power to ensure that those are improved. I know that hon. Members on both sides of the House welcomed the decision by British Rail to locate its Mossend channel tunnel freight terminal in Lanarkshire. Considerable benefits will flow from that. The Government have also substantially expanded the roads programme to take special account of the needs of Lanarkshire with regard to the M8 and A8 and—most important of all—the improvement of the A74, which is being developed into a motorway.

The Government have a sustained, well considered and broad-ranging commitment to Lanarkshire. We are implementing policies that have proved effective and successful in Brigg and Scunthorpe, Corby and in other parts of the United Kingdom. Lanarkshire has got advantages and we are doing our best to help the people there to capitalise upon them.

Our amendment to the motion describes the extensive and effective nature of the measures already being undertaken by the Government as part of its continuing commitment to improve the economy and infrastructure in Lanarkshire". I urge the House to reject the motion and to conceal it from the eyes of the Leader of the Opposition, who signed it. Instead, the House should endorse the words of the right hon. Gentleman which appeared in the Financial Times today, and support the Government's amendment.

8 pm

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

For the people of Motherwell, and for Ravenscraig steel workers and their families, this is a sad occasion. They have worked hard and loyally, they have learnt new skills, developed new methods, pioneered new technologies and triumphed over disasters. They have acted intelligently, with foresight, courage and integrity. They have achieved unequalled levels of performance.

Steel is the most dramatic of industries, but it is not an industry for drama. It is an industry for steady, careful, considered judgment, because a worker's life and those of his work mates depend upon what he does. Because the steel workers have felt, worked and argued their case in that steady way—not just for our own interests as a steel community, but for the public who invested in the plant, for the customer and for the end consumer—they have seen the direction in which British Steel was taking us since the closure of Gartcosh in 1985, and even before that. It has been a long planned closure and now the workers have been told that British Steel is planning, finally, to close the works in September.

On Second Reading of the British Steel Bill in February 1988 I pointed out the likelihood that the privatisation of British Steel as a monopoly producer in the United Kingdom would lead to the closure of Ravenscraig, as British Steel exerted its unfettered monopolistic power to restrict capacity. I argued how a competitive solution, with the separate privatisation of Ravenscraig, Shotton and Dalzell, would give Ravenscraig a chance to demonstrate its market strength. But the Government would not listen. I said: If Ravenscraig is to be killed, it will die with dignity. But the House will understand the politically explosive effects in Scotland if our largest fully competitive industrial unit were closed with the Government having denied the test of the market, in which they believe".—[Official Report, 23 February 1988; Vol. 128, c. 215.] That effect will soon show in the ballot box.

First, is there any possibility of a phoenix operation now that British Steel is pulling out? The chances are slim, but they must be pursued until all reasonable possibilities are exhausted. The search must be taken up again for a steel business elsewhere in the world that has the finishing mills which British Steel has stripped from Ravenscraig. It could be supplied with high quality slabs from Ravenscraig at lower cost than by building itself a new modern steel-making plant. Scottish Enterprise must explore all possibilities. It will not be easy, and the chances of success are not high in view of the excess slab capacity elsewhere in Europe seeking distress sales.

I put the different proposition of using Ravenscraig as a demonstration plant for introducing thin slab casting into the integrated steelwork BOS—basic oxygen steel—route. Arthur D. Little endorsed it as the other option worth exploring. It would be a world first, with a new product and a new process. The Secretary of State and the Government have never understood that the last thing that British Steel and other conventional steel producers want is a new process which will undercut their costs and make their plants obsolete, so it has been a mini-mill in NUCOR in the United States that has pioneered the new thin slab technology. Without the research and development resources of a big steel company, there are still surface quality and other problems that need ironing out before the product can sell as top quality strip. There is no problem about installing it on a BOS plant; the quality problems will be solved there. There were similar problems with thick slab casting when it was introduced and it was Ravenscraig that pioneered that and strip products in this country. In some respects thin slab strip has inherently superior qualities, with its finer grain from more rapid cooling.

NUCOR and its plant builder, the German firm, Schloemann Siemag, is ready to assist in the examination of possibilities at Ravenscraig. I have suggested that the most likely way forward would be with a consortium of at least three steel producers interested in a full-scale demonstration of the process on a BOS plant. The process is long past the pilot plant stage. Because of the reluctance of British Steel and perhaps other European steel companies to encourage a new process in their own market, the first member of the consortium might have to be a non-European steel company. Once it was apparent that the demonstration was likely to go ahead, European steel companies and, I suspect, British Steel—I have told it so—might have second thoughts. They might like to look at what is happening with the Japanese car plants.

There is precious little time to explore the options. I am going to NUCOR on 5 February to discuss the possibilities with the chairman, Mr. Kenneth Iverson. I am grateful to the Secretary of State for allowing an executive from Scottish Enterprise to come to NUCOR with me. British Steel has told me that its offer to sell the Ravenscraig plant will expire in September when it closes the plant. It has pointed out that the one remaining blast furnace will then be allowed to cool, which normally results in the collapse of the brick lining, making the furnace inoperable until it has been re-built at a cost of £50 million. The coke ovens would also collapse, and their replacement would cost £150 million. To continue operating Ravenscraig from September, it would have to use the existing thick slab concast, so only slab sales would be possible and that faces the difficulty of the present depressed state of the steel market.

However, the blast furnace lining and the coke ovens are coming to the end of their useful life—that has been a careful part of British Steel planning—so little would be lost if there was a break in production while a new thin slab plant was built, but it means that a new operator would have to spend at least £250 million putting the steel making end in working order. People in Motherwell would have no wish to keep a derelict steel plant lying around. They are not interested in a Mickey Mouse gimmick to keep the plant stumbling along for a year or two. They would also not wish the liability for the costs of the reclamation of the steel sites to fall on a shell company with no resources, which would not be able to meet the costs. There is therefore no interest in keeping British Steel waiting indefinitely against the contingency of a buyer turning up at some indefinite time in the future.

Conversely, it would not be in British Steel's interest to be over-hasty in the demolition of Ravenscraig if the effect was to incur the heaviest possible claim for the most expensive kind of reclamation and restoration of the site as a country park. The Government's consultants, appointed by the Lanarkshire development agency on the prompting of the Scottish Office, have estimated that that would cost about £200 million.

My experience of the operating management of British Steel is that, within the limits of their job, they are reasonable men acting in a reasonable way, and I am sure that it is in our interests in Motherwell to deal with them as such. I am sorry that the Secretary of State and the Scottish Office have not done that. There have been no informal meetings and no serious discussion, and now the Secretary of State has written formally to the chairman and wielded the big stick.

Everyone in Scotland supports the case for the modernisation and extension of the Dalzell works to the limits of its capacity as British Steel's lowest-cost option for the development of plate, and that is not now affected by the closure of Ravenscraig.

The Scottish National party policy for nationalisation as a solution does not add up, as The Glasgow Herald shows in articles today. My hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) will show that clearly, if he is successful in being called to speak in the debate. Once the election is over, Dalzell workers will be seen to be getting on with keeping their plant the model of efficiency, which is best calculated to win the long life for the plate mill that Motherwell desperately needs.

We must explore all possible avenues for steel, and we are doing so. The Secretary of State is utterly wrong to accuse us of not having specific proposals. We have some of the most specific and practical proposals, and I have the full support of the shadow Secretary of State, of the Leader of the Opposition, of the whole shadow Cabinet and of all my colleagues in Scotland in making these comments. It is therefore utterly preposterous for Conservative Members to think that my hon. Friends and I can be embarrassed on the token issue of nationalisation. We are not in that kind of political debating area. We are dealing with the serious business of industry.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

I, too, am dealing with the serious matter of industry. I should be grateful if the hon. Gentleman would say which of his leader's policies he supports. He cannot support them both.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

Just prior to the debate, I was at a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition at which I went over the grounds of our case. He gives us his absolute, full and unqualified support. We must explore all possible avenues for steel. Everyone in Motherwell accepts that our future lies in new jobs, new industries and a new image of Lanarkshire.

The Government's antics have been pathetic. I shall not go into the details of the enterprise zone because, from what the Secretary of State said, it is clear that he has not been informed about the way in which matters have been developed and formulated.

The Secretary of State did not even mention the new link that is needed between the M74 and the M8, running through the Ravenscraig site, a matter which the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State was asked by the Prime Minister to investigate when we met the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. Gentleman failed to do that to the extent of writing to me afterwards, saying that it was a matter for Strathclyde regional council.

We need the image-changing impact of a new Motherwell Parkway mainline station on that new motorway link and on the electrified Glasgow-Edinburgh mainline, with its InterCity services. We need that opening up of the steel sites as a new central Scotland business site linked to the overcrowded centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow. We need a new role for Motherwell and Bell colleges in providing vital new skills. We need the core developments that will launch new growth, with the encouragement and involvement of the private sector, which the Government have been totally inept in seeking.

We get none of that. We get, instead—this is typical—a cut in the housing capital allocation for Motherwell district council from the £25 million in the five-year capital programme to an appalling £15 million. What is the Secretary of State up to? Is he counting on the depopulation of Motherwell?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The hon. Gentleman is making an incorrect claim because he is comparing the provisional allocation figure for 1992–93 with the final allocation for 1991–92. One must compare like with like. The council's housing revenue account gross provisional allocation for 1992–93 totals £14.767 million. When expressed on a per house basis, far from being a decrease it represents an increase to £451 per council house.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

I will not pursue that matter with the right hon. Gentleman at this stage. I will follow it up in writing.

Motherwell people hesitate to put to the Secretary of State any of the lively suggestions now being made because he simply strangles them at birth. He has made a total shambles of the redevelopment of Lanarkshire. Now that he has demonstrated the depth of the Government's incompetence, the people of Motherwell just want to get rid of the Government so that we can get on with building a new life for a viable and worthwhile comunity.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries 8:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

It is impossible to listen to the remarks of the hon. Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) without appreciating his knowledge and sincerity. I assure him that we feel for him as he obviously feels for his constituents.

Before dealing with the subject of the debate, I must say that, on a day when we have had such wonderful news about Yarrow, it is important to put on record our congratulations to the management, work force and design team there on having produced a contract that was manifestly acceptable to the Government. It is right also to pay tribute to the Secretary of State for Scotland for the part he played in achieving this vital order for the west of Scotland.

I look on this debate about Ravenscraig, sadly, as a lengthy extension of the debates we had on Gartcosh many years ago, when I forecast—at that time I voted against the Government—that, if we gave way on Gartcosh, it would be the long-term beginning and end of Ravenscraig. I regret that that has turned out to be the case.

That is why I am annoyed with the directors of British Steel for their action. We are talking of a great industry, and British Steel has a responsibility far wider than a normal public company with a board of directors responsible to its shareholders: it has a responsibility to the nation. It is British Steel, not Motherwell steel, Llanwern steel or Shotton steel. As British Steel, it has a responsibility to its work force, epitomised so wonderfully by Tommy Brennan over many years—I was delighted to see him mentioned in Her Majesty's new year's honours list.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field , Birkenhead

The hon. Gentleman said that British Steel was responsible to its work force. He will be aware that British Steel negotiated an extraordinary package of redundancy money, representing two years' pay for workers made redundant at Ravenscraig—double the amount paid in the strip or general steel division. If the plant had stayed open until 1994, British Steel would have had to pay wages for two years and, on top of that, redundancy money. So, in effect, the company has stolen, on average, £30,000 from every Ravenscraig worker.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I do not profess to be a great expert on the ins and outs of British Steel and its relationship with its work force. I want to talk about the future, and the direction in which we may have to go.

I am extremely disappointed with Sir Robert Scholey and his fellow directors, who had an equal share in the decision. They manifestly failed to produce the financial case. If they have such a case, let them publish it so that we may see the figures on which they based their decision. I also hope that they may in the not-too-distant future give some guarantee about investment in the Dalzell plate mill, so that there can at least be some confidence over the future of that plant.

I hope that the directors also appreciate the knock-on effect of their decision on local industry and concerns further afield. I also hope that there may be some way to save part of the plant, as the hon. Member for Motherwell, South recommended. But if, reluctantly—and, I must say, with some anger—we must accept the British Steel decision, let us concentrate on the future and consider how we can turn an area of desperate trouble into a thriving economic region. In that context, I want to see some useful precedents used in the future.

This is not the first time that an area in this country or in America has run into a major economic disaster. We all remember the Tennessee Valley authority's great restoration plan before the war. The present situation, which has been signalled for a considerable time, has many similarities to the cases of Corby, Consett, Shotton, Barrow-in-Furness and perhaps even Cornish tin and some of the Welsh valleys. So we know what can happen in large-scale economic disasters and that we should set about trying to introduce new jobs and industries as soon as possible.

Whether the problem is on a large scale, such as the Ravenscraig closure, or on a small scale such as I faced in Sanquhar and Kirconnel way back in the 1960s when the coal mines closed, we must do everything possible to build advance factories and bring in new industries. Those do not provide a complete answer, but at least they provide jobs and help to make rapid progress.

I am glad that my right hon. Friend set up the Lanarkshire working group, which is now the Lanarkshire development agency, because it has been a great success. He must use every possible form of assistance available to him, whether it is the local enterprise company, Scottish Enterprise, Locate in Scotland or Industry in Scotland. We must look urgently at what each of those agencies can offer and they must be co-ordinated. I hope that they will be co-ordinated in the enterprise zone. That will be the key, as was shown in Corby. I hope that Sir Leon Brittan and Bruce Millan, if their responsibilities overlap, will do all they can to help us to achieve the enterprise zone as quickly as possible.

I was a little worried when my right hon. Friend mentioned—perhaps off the top of his head—500 acres. I should have thought that we would need a much more substantial area. I suspect that the Ravenscraig site measures more than 1,000 acres.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

I suspect that the hon. Gentleman will find that the Ravenscraig site is not even included in the enterprise zone.

Photo of Mr Hector Monro Mr Hector Monro , Dumfries

I am glad to have that information. It worries me to an extent because of the future of the site, which I shall discuss in a moment.

I am also glad that the Secretary of State has been able to report success in attracting new industry to the area and that unemployment is now some 9,000 lower than it was four years ago. However, once we have that enterprise zone, it will need funding, leadership, speed and everyone working together—cross-party, local authorities, planning authorities—at top speed to bring to fruition the advantages of having an enterprise zone.

Geographically, the area is well placed, with motorways, the new Mossend rail depot, the main line, the airport not too far away and, most importantly, the skilled work force. With spirit and determination, there can be great advantages ahead, so that that work force, which must be extremely despondent at British Steel's announcement, can look confidently to the future.

We must also consider quality of life and the environment. That will be partly the responsibility of British Steel. The hon. Member for Motherwell, South expressed his view on that. I am interested that he feels that the Ravenscraig site should not be changed into an environmentally attractive area but should remain a possible steelworks for some time to come. It will be a big operation to bring in all the agencies and authorities if we are to convert a major steel works, with all its contamination and toxic waste problems, into a new environment. We shall need a major new environmental assessment.

It was reported in The Scotsman that the Lanarkshire development agency has called for and received such an assessment and therefore has a basis upon which to work. However, the site could generate both revenue and capital rather than become the liability that some people anticipate. Throughout the process, speed is the watchword. We have no time to waste if the plant is really to close in about six months' time. We must consider the repercussions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which comes into force next year, so that British Steel does not take a hasty decision to avoid responsibilities.

I am glad that it is the Secretary of State's responsibility to co-ordinate all those agencies and the enterprise zone to push people forward with spirit and determination to achieve the new industries and bring new jobs to the area that has been afflicted by British Steel's decision. It can be done if we all approach it constructively. Let us get on with it now.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry) 8:25 pm, 23rd January 1992

I echo the comments of the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) about comparing this debate with that at the time of Gartcosh. Many people recognise, as the shop stewards did at the time, that the closure of Gartcosh was the beginning of the long road towards the end of the steel industry in Scotland. That is why they marched to London and some members of my party, not least councillor Jim Bannerman, took a prominent part in that march. Some Conservative Members who are still in the House did not exactly cover themselves with glory at that time. The hon. Member for Cunninghame, South (Mr. Lambie) will confirm that members of the Select Committee sought to investigate the implications of Gartcosh but had some difficulty getting the Committee to agree to do so. We then had to suffer a filibuster from the hon. Members for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) in an attempt to prevent the report from being completed.

Photo of Mr David Lambie Mr David Lambie , Cunninghame South

The hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) should also mention the hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), who made a gentleman's agreement with me at that time to vote with the majority of the Committee but reneged on it. The hon. Gentleman sheds crocodile tears now, but he should have stood up and been counted then.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I do not know about that, but the important point is that the problem has a long history and the people have seen it coming.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

No; the hon. Gentleman will get his own chance to speak.

The workers at Ravenscraig have been seeking to mobilise opinion for years to try to ensure that the steel industry had a future in Scotland. At the time of Gartcosh, the Conservatives could have done something about it but they tried to deflect a genuine attempt to investigate the implications of that decision. When it came to privatisation, the Secretary of State explained on three or four occasions why the Government did not explore the option put forward by the hon. Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) or some similar option to create a competitor to British Steel at the time of privatisation. Instead, the Government gave the limp and weak response that they had to suffer from the fact that the industry had been nationalised and, as usual, they tried to blame the previous Government. The reality is that the entire ideology of privatisation has been about privatising monopolies to maximise the price—and to hell with competition policy and the real strategic interests for the future of the industry and the economy.

Once the Government let that opportunity go and we knew that Bob Scholey, with his commitment, was to become chairman of British Steel, Ravenscraig's future was sealed.

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The hon. Gentleman is wrong on both counts. First, it was not a matter of not exploring. Our advisers and the Government explored and reached the conclusion that it was not possible to privatise a separate, viable Scottish industry. Had an attempt been made to do so, it would have disappeared in the present economic circumstances. Secondly, the hon. Gentleman is wrong to suggest that all privatisation is monolithic. He need only look at Scottish Buses or Scottish Electricity.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

Those came a little later and certainly the record of the major privatisations is that competition has not been a prime motivation of the Government.

The Secretary of State has chosen his words carefully in terms of the kind of privatisation that is to be explored. Is he seriously suggesting that the only possible future for the steel industry in Britain is as a single monopoly? I find that a rather extraordinary claim from a party that claims to believe in a free enterprise system. He knows that he failed both the people of Scotland and the people of Britain, because his predecessor, while British Steel was still in public ownership, used his power to prevent the closing of Ravenscraig. As a result, British Steel was able to secure markets which it would have forgone if it had been free to make its own choice. The intervention that the right hon. Gentleman deplores, carried out by his predecessor, was beneficial to British Steel, to its shareholders, to the Scottish economy and to the British economy. So while he may not wish to second guess British Steel management, that management has been one of continuous retreat from market share, with the abandonment of markets to foreign competitors in a variety of areas. I regret to say that that appears to continue to be the strategy, to the detriment of the entire British economy.

Having got to where we are, the question that now arises is what is to be done to try to secure a future for the economy of Lanarkshire and west central Scotland as a result of this run-down and decline. We face a very serious situation. It would be helpful if the Government could give us a genuine, honest and detailed statement of exactly how much new money will be put into Lanarkshire when and if they secure the agreement of the European Community to the various measures being proposed, and if they will ensure that any additional money provided through the European Community will go to the people of Lanarkshire—rather than to the Treasury, as has been the Government's policy so far. I know that the Commissioner responsible has indicated that unless he gets that assurance from the Government he may not be able to secure that agreement from the Community.

With regard to the future of the steel industry in Scotland, I believe that all of us hope that any possible avenue which might lead to securing the future of the steel industry in Scotland should be explored and developed. That means the investment at Dalzell, of course, but also the potential for Hunterston to be the focus of a new steel industry in Scotland at some time in the future. It is still rated as one of the best deep-water sites in Europe and still seen to be a site which could be the focus of new investment. It seems to me that British Steel has shown itself unwilling to provide that investment, but it should not be in a position to prevent it.

Photo of Mr Brian Wilson Mr Brian Wilson , Cunninghame North

I am grateful for the opportunity to refer to Hunterston in the course of the debate. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that Hunterston's potential is enormous. Hunterston must not be forgotten in this whole process. There must be every effort, involving Government, local authorities and all other parties, to try to get it right for Hunterston. I am sure that everyone would welcome as united an approach as possible on this.

Photo of Malcolm Bruce Malcolm Bruce Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry)

I echo what the hon. Gentleman has said. That is the right way forward.

The other question of great concern is the contribution that British Steel is likely to make to the reinstatement of the site. It has already been mentioned that the site will probably not be included in the enterprise zone. I hope that it will not. I believe that in the short run nobody will want to do anything with that site, if it is not to continue as a steelworks, until it has been thoroughly examined and reinstated. We have to get new jobs in the area quickly; we therefore want attractive areas in which people will want to invest, rather than places where people will be saddled with a whole range of problems. It is important that those two issues are kept separate.

In this connection, British Steel must co-operate fully in terms of making every bit of information that it has available to anybody and everybody who needs it for the purpose of reinstating the site. It is also important that British Steel should make a contribution which does not amount merely to a scorched-earth retreat. It must recognise that it has gained a great deal from the community of Lanarkshire, and that it has shown a remarkable contempt for that community in not even being prepared to meet the work force through all the years that this battle has been going on. I am talking specifically of top management, though not necessarily the middle management. It would be helpful if the Government could indicate just what measures they are prepared to take to secure a real contribution from British Steel on those fronts.

The suggestion that there is any easy, quick fix which can resolve this matter has already been addressed. A solution cannot be plucked out of the air. I have already indicated that there were moments in the past when we might have secured it. We should still explore the options. The hon. Member for Motherwell, South has indicated some of the ways in which we might move forward, and I hope that they will be explored. Nobody wants a situation in which this misery is dragged out to the point where false hopes are maintained only to be dashed again. The community has to lift its eyes to a future that will last.

The suggestion that somehow or other simply nationalising the plant could solve all the problems is a mean one. It does not change anything fundamentally about the reality of the situation. While the European Community might allow nationalisation to take place, the notion that it would do so without very serious scrutiny of the motivation, mechanisms and financial implications is one out of cloud-cuckoo-land. The go-ahead that has been given for the French plant has been on the basis of four months' thorough investigation by independent Swiss auditors, with everything held on ice while it is being carried out and with major protests now coming from Spain and Germany at the Commission's allowing it to go ahead.

It will therefore not be possible to take the steelworks over on the cheap, because that would be anti-competitive and contrary to the Community terms. If it were taken over, the question to be asked would be whether it was really the best use of public money, even for the people of Lanarkshire. I would like to ask the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond), if he were here—I choose him specifically because his constituency is next to mine—whether he really thinks that the people of Banff and Buchan, with the hon. Member as Prime Minister, would necessarily regard £200 million to nationalise a steel plant in Lanarkshire as the best way to spend the Scottish taxpayers' money. The answer is that they probably would if they were absolutely sure that this would save those jobs permanently and create an industry that would last, but if it would only lead to tears two years later, they might well ask whether the money could not have been invested in a way that would better have secured the future of the economy of Lanarkshire.

It is important that the people of Scotland focus on how they would make such decisions if those decisions were under their own control, rather than simply blaming the Government and British Steel management for the way they have failed the people of Scotland so far, on which there is wide agreement.

It must be accepted that the community of Motherwell and the surrounding area wants recognition of what it has done and the responsibility that it has undertaken. The hon. Member for Motherwell, South gave a moving testimony to the people he represents. He has illustrated far more fully than I could what British Steel certainly owes to that community, and what the people of Scotland and of Britain also owe to that community, which has conducted itself with considerable dignity and intelligence. That has been recognised by the overwhelming majority of people throughout Britain. Indeed, in a leader in the Financial Times, which unfortunately does not have a very wide circulation, it is indicated that that community deserves the very best that we can give it. I hope that some rather less sanguine organs south of the border may read that message and accept that at the end of the day the work force and community of north Lanarkshire deserve the kind of investment that will secure the long-term future for them and their children.

I wish to stress—as I have on numerous occasions, although I have not had the right answers yet—the role which I believe that the new town development corporations can play in this. It remains a fact that the Government intend to wind up the new towns. I accept the argument that they have been successful and that their role is coming to an end, but the expertise which exists in those new towns has attracted to Scotland investment which would not have come to Britain at all but for that expertise. We should redeploy that expertise to give the people involved the opportunity to attract new investment to the new sites in other parts of Lanarkshire. I do not mean just to advise; they need power and authority, and the kind of organisation that they have had in the new town development corporations. I urge the Government to look again at how that can be done. We should not be stealing jobs from other parts of Scotland or the United Kingdom but attracting mobile investment which might otherwise go elsewhere in the Community or to Japan or north America. That seems to me to be a worthwhile aim. We should not give up the expertise that we have at the very moment when we need it most. It would be an extraordinarily foolish Government who did not recognise the case for redeploying that expertise.

This has been a long debate—it has been going on for years. In many ways, I hope that it will not continue for many more, but that there will be hope and a future. No one can suggest that there are easy answers. We need co-operation involving all sorts of organisations—ultimately, across political parties and between Government, local authorities and the public and private sectors. We must put the machinery in place. The people of Lanarkshire deserve the best. If we cannot give them such co-operation, we shall have failed them.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside 8:40 pm, 23rd January 1992

As ever, the hon. Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) demonstrated to the House the great depth of his knowledge of the industry and the fact that he genuinely cares about those who sent him here. He is a credit to them and to his party. Anything that I may say in no way reflects on him or on the hon. Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid). During my time in the House, both of them have fought valiantly for those they represent.

I wish that I could say the same of the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), who makes the most appalling accusations. He suggested that I had behaved wrongly in relation to the Select Committee inquiry into Gartcosh. My views and my position are on record, and I stand by them today. I did not behave dishonourably in insisting that the report reflected the evidence given to the Committee. The final report did just that, so I cannot see how I behaved badly.

Photo of Mr David Lambie Mr David Lambie , Cunninghame South

The hon. Gentleman said that he did not behave dishonourably. I accept that he was one of the few Tory members of the Select Committee who stuck to his view, which was that he was not in favour of giving any help to Gartcosh. That is certainly correct. That was not the case with the other Conservative Members, some of whom behaved dishonourably and let us down.

Photo of Mr Bill Walker Mr Bill Walker , North Tayside

You, Madam Deputy Speaker, would not expect me to respond to that appalling statement. The hon. Gentleman accuses me of one thing and then accuses my colleagues of another. The plain truth is that he was rumbled, and he did not like it.

This is both a good day and a sad day for Scotland—the day of Yarrow and Ravenscraig. Earlier, we had the good news that the order for three frigates for the Royal Navy has gone to Yarrow. That order allowed the privatised yard—something that the hon. Member for Gordon seems to have forgotten—to retain its design team and so continue in competition in the world market.

That was made possible because, under a Conservative Government, there is a substantial home market for military hardware, and steel is important in military hardware. Such a home market would not have existed under a socialist Labour Government at Westminster or a socialist nationalist Government in Edinburgh. The lesson is that private sector competition and a substantial home market allow even specialist industries such as warship building to compete in world markets. I hope that we shall not forget that lesson when we discuss other matters.

I congratulate the work force and shop stewards of Ravenscraig. For the past eight years, they have been nothing less than magnificent. They have removed restrictive practices and broken all production records. Today, they are paying the terrible price for world over-capacity in steel-making and the lack of demand. They are also paying the price, I believe, for the mistakes made by politicians—in the location of the plant so far from the deep-water port of Hunterston—and it is right and proper that Hunterston should come into our considerations. They are also paying the price for the failure of the European Community to deal quickly and effectively with such matters as the Spanish steel subsidy and also for the world recession. All those factors have brought about the present situation.

The workers of Ravenscraig deserve better. If the proposals of the hon. Member for Motherwell, South are not realised—I sincerely hope that they can be—the workers are right to demand good redundancy terms and special assistance to the area, to create an environment in which new enterprises and jobs can be created.

I believe that it is right—it is a principle from which I will not deviate—that management decisions must be made by the management of companies. I also believe in the private sector. Consequently, I support the right of British Steel to make the decision that it has made, painful though it may be. British Steel should, however, explain—I believe it has a moral duty to do so—why it has made that decision.

Following its promise to keep the plant open until 1994, that moral responsibility is enormous. British Steel ought to explain in detail the grounds on which the decision has been made. That is the very least that it can do for its work force, given the way in which that work force has responded over the years to the demands placed upon it. Similarly, those who are looking to the Government to intervene have a duty to spell out exactly what they would do with their intervention within what is possible under EC restraints and rules and within the constraints of the marketplace as it stands today. They must spell out clearly how much it would cost and explain who will pay in a manner that can be understood.

The two articles in today's Glasgow Herald address the realities of the situation and do a fair demolition job on the nationalist party's simplistic, non-viable, opportunist proposals. The socialist nationalists have learnt nothing from the failure of collectivism and state industry in eastern Europe. Their behaviour in the Usher hall last Saturday was a vivid demonstration of what narrow nationalism is really like.

Socialist nationalism is the worst form of nationalism. I am reminded that, between the French revolution and the first world war, narrow nationalism was the cause of most of Europe's wars. I am also reminded that, between 1930 and 1945, socialist nationalism almost destroyed Europe.

Ravenscraig and Scotland do not want narrow socialist nationalism—nor do we want any further examples of the Fuhrer-like superior attitudes, tendencies and characteristics of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond). Those, coupled with Goebbels-type misinformation about saving the steel works, will be rejected by the workers at Ravenscraig and by the Scots at the general election. They have been exposed by the Glasgow Herald today and will be rumbled by the people of Scotland at the election.

This is a sad day for the people of Motherwell, but I hope that it can also be the beginning of a new dawn for them; they certainly deserve it.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability) 8:49 pm, 23rd January 1992

Monklands is an important part of Lanarkshire. Strathkelvin includes Gartcosh, which almost every hon. Member speaking in this debate has mentioned. I would be less than human if I were not to say that I am disappointed by the signals that I have been getting that I should speak for only five minutes. However, out of respect for my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid), who has made such a contribution to our debates on steel, I shall confine myself to five minutes.

I wish, in the very brief time available to me, to make four points. I am sorry that the Secretary of State is no longer on the Front Bench. If anything summarises the supine, do-nothing approach to steel, it is the timetable leading up to the announcement which the Secretary of State confirmed in the House tonight. In answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) the Secretary of State, from a sedentary position, confirmed that, although he knew on 20 December that this closure would take place, the only action he took between then and 9 January, when the other place resumed, was to make application for an enterprise zone. [Interruption.] I am going by what the Secretary of State told the House. Although I have only five minutes, I am willing to give way to the Minister.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman would not knowingly mislead the House. He must know that the Secretary of State wrote immediately to demand a meeting with Sir Robert Scholey and his colleagues before the board meeting at which the decision was taken. Of course, that meeting with Sir Robert was held.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

The Minister's intervention takes absolutely nothing from my general point. The Secretary of State ought to recognise that either he has power or he does not have power. There is a very clear precedent. His predecessor as Secretary of State—the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind)—came to the House and made a statement when the hot mills were closed. Whereas the current Secretary of State has not found it possible to criticise British Steel, the right hon. and learned Member for Pentlands made it absolutely plain that he was opposed to British Steel's position.

The present Secretary of State's weak and mealy-mouthed response on this issue is entirely unacceptable. [Interruption.] It looks as though the Under-Secretary would like me to give way again. If I had time to do so, I would. If the hon. Gentleman is to be fair, he will allow me, as the Member representing the much-mentioned Gartcosh, another two and a half minutes to say a word or two about something we happen to know about. During the Gartcosh episode, we warned, both in the Select Committee and in the Chamber—indeed, we warned again and again and again—that, if the cold mill was closed, it would be a matter of time until Ravenscraig too would go, and that is what has happened.

There has been a search for scapegoats. We are told that there are several problems, one of which is that there is not a finishing plant. But that is the result of a Government decision, supported by the House. Obviously, privatisation weakened our position. In the case of Scottish Power, where there was not even a Scottish dimension, privatisation was not the same, but that too was the result of a Government decision endorsed by the Conservative majority, and we in Lanarkshire are now paying the price.

Then we were told by British Steel and the Government that this had something to do with profits. We were told that British Steel's profit would go down from £307 million to £19 million. Whose fault is that? Is there not a recession? Do the Government not have something to do with it? Did we not warn that if we did not have the necessary investment in manufacturing industry and training, and the necessary investment in Lanarkshire, this was inevitable?

Despite the unacceptable brevity of this debate, the people in my constituency are left with a number of problems.[Interruption.] The Under-Secretary's sedentary interruptions are not helping one iota. Let him go to Gartcosh and see things for himself.

I hope that it does not signal what we shall see at Ravenscraig, given that British Steel tells us that it will cost £200 million to clear the site. At Gartcosh, we have a derelict site, with not a job in sight. Despite the promises of 1985–86, the paper recycling plant has not got off the ground. This is the result of the Government's economic policy, in addition to what they did to Gartcosh.

I want to end with a plea. Even today there is a case for a fight for what remains of the steel industry in Lanarkshire. Even today we have to consider the Ravenscraig closure's implications for 149 firms in Monklands itself, as well as for the Mossend freightliner depot, about which the Government today, yet again, told us so proudly.

This decision is a major blow to the infrastructure of Lanarkshire and the matter will not end with this debate. The Scottish people reserve the right to make their comments, and I believe that they will do so. This decision was made inevitable by weak, supine men—men who do not match the steel of the steelworkers of Lanarkshire—but let it be clear that, when the election is held in a few weeks' time, just as the Conservatives have manifestly deserted Scotland, the people of Scotland will desert them

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North 8:55 pm, 23rd January 1992

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) for making time for me. One of the tragedies of debates of this kind is that, although they should be held in Government time, they are not. After all, the Government are the guilty men. In addition, we could do without juvenile interventions such as we had earlier from the young Back-Bench Conservative Member wearing the red tie—I refer to the hon. Member for Amber Valley (Mr. Oppenheim). Apparently he has gone back to his nursery, as he does on such occasions, having made one or two interventions. Conservative Members obviously have no interest in this matter, nor have they shown any for the past five years.

What has happened at Ravenscraig is a tragedy. "Tragedy" is a word that the sophisticated leader-writers do not like us to use. They have said that it is a word that we Scots take out of the bottom drawer on such occasions. They do not believe that we know its meaning. Well, Ravenscraig is a tragedy in the classical sense. It is the unfolding story of men and women, not eminently good or bad, but decent and dignified, fighting against almost insurmountable odds and eventually being overpowered by powers outside their own persuasion or dictation. Perhaps, before so easily dismissing Scottish Members of Parliament as bawling illiterates, the leader-writers of the London and southern English press should consider the story of Ravenscraig.

Tonight the Secretary of State used a wonderful euphemism when he told us that it was inevitable that there would be "some contraction". The Secretary of State regards the closure, the industrial murder of Ravenscraig as "some contraction". I have no personal ill-feeling towards the Secretary of State, who appears to have departed for the moment, but tonight he performed in the most oily fashion that I have seen any Secretary of State display. That was in contrast not just with his predecessors, including the right hon. Member for Ayr (Mr. Younger), who is with us tonight and who was at least prepared to fight, to answer honest criticism and even at one stage to put his office at stake; it was in marked contrast also with the dignified contribution by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray).

The word "inevitable" which the Secretary of State used today typified the attitude of the Conservative party over the past few years. The closure of Ravenscraig was never inevitable. I do not want to dwell on the past tonight, but we need to understand the past to understand where we are, and we need to understand where we are to understand the alternatives for the future.

There is no integrated modern steel plant in the world that does not have two essential components: a steel-making side and a finishing side, a hot and cold mill. That is patently obvious to anyone who knows anything about the steel industry. Yet in a cold, calculated fashion British Steel went ahead, at best with Government collusion, at worst with Government connivance, and on occasion with encouragement from the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) over Gartcosh, to deprive the Ravenscraig plant of one half of its essential elements—the finishing side.

In 1985–86 British Steel closed the Ravenscraig cold mill at Gartcosh. In 1990, it closed the hot mill. Simultaneously it refused to invest in the blast furnaces, running the plant down to a one-blast furnace operation. There were two consequences of that cold, clinical action. First, it left what remained of Ravenscraig on 7 January this year completely dependent on other plants inside British Steel for its finishing operation. Secondly, the action ensured that if Ravenscraig were removed from British Steel it would be left as a producer of raw slab steel only, without a finishing side and requiring massive investment for it to be brought back to being a viable and integrated plant.

We start from here, not from where we want to be, and I shall return to this idea later when considering some of the proposed options. For the present, I put it on record that the Government were well aware that the emasculation of one half—the vital half—of the Ravenscraig steel plant was under way.

The Government were warned six years ago almost to the day, on 8 January 1986, by those of us who marched from Gartcosh to London to bring the matter to the attention of the Prime Minister, who, as I recall, was too busy to meet those of us who had walked 400 miles. She was having tea with Ian Botham. The hon. Member for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro) mentioned that tonight, and full credit to him for his support on that occasion.

The Government ignored the warnings. They were continually warned at the time of privatisation, especially by my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South, that if British Steel was privatised as a single unit monopoly, that would inevitably lead to the closure of Ravenscraig. This was the last chance, yet the Government ignored the warnings. We pleaded with them, asking them to allow the privatisation of a separate unit of Ravenscraig, of the plate mill at Dalzell and of the finishing works at Shotton.

The Secretary of State told us tonight that on that occasion he voted against a separate Scottish steel industry. Not only did he reject the idea, therefore, but he did not even understand what was being proposed. No one was asking him—apart from the Scottish National party—for a separate Scottish steel industry. We were asking the Secretary of State for a unit that included the steelmaking at Ravenscraig, the finishing side at Shotton and the plate mill. The Government rejected that and ignored our arguments. The tragedy was that, although the idea had the support of the Liberals, the Labour party, Motherwell district council, Strathclyde region, the campaign for the steel industry and the Ravenscraig shop stewards, the only people who opposed that last chance to save Ravenscraig as a viable unit—apart, that is, from the Government—were members of the SNP. Indeed, the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan (Mr. Salmond) said on Third Reading of the relevant Bill that his party opposed the idea, presumably because Shotton was not in Scotland. What a way to make a decision of such importance for the industry!

Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Leader, Scottish National Party

If the hon. Gentleman checks the record, he will find that I voted for the RSD option, despite the fact that I was arguing for a separate Scottish steel industry. He may also care to recall that he did not even carry his Front-Bench spokesmen with him in supporting that option.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

That is not true and the hon. Gentleman should withdraw that remark. We had discussions throughout with the people involved, and we carried our Front-Bench spokesmen with us. As so often, the hon. Gentleman is wrong.

Although I wish the Dalzell workers well, I must point out that, tragically, the only other people who opposed the idea were the shop stewards at Dalzell, even though it was the last chance to save Ravenscraig. We remember that now, when the SNP proposes keeping the Dalzell works and Ravenscraig without a finishing side at Shotton.

As I say, the Government ignored our warnings, and on occasion we have been bereft of support from others. What is to be done now? The Government say that there is nothing to be done. That is typical of their attitude over the past few years. For all their posturing and posing, the word was given out by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when refusing to meet the shadow Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Trade and Industry. Three days ago he said: Ravenscraig shows the folly of political intervention in commercial decisions". There you have it. For the Tories, Ravenscraig is not an industrial tragedy; it is and always has been a political folly. Despite the posturing, that is what has underlain their words.

But if we have a "do nothing" Government, we are not helped by a "promise everything" Opposition in the person of the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan. It is a tragedy that we have been diverted from the main possible alternative to save steelmaking by the fantasies that have been put forward for political reasons by the hon. Member. I have to spend some time tonight going through them because they are deluding some people—not many in Motherwell, I may add, but the less one knows about steelmaking the more attractive those proposals sound.

I should like to spend some time on the plans—there have been more than one. The first, in the immediate aftermath of the closure announcement, was to nationalise and restore Ravenscraig, presumably as a Scottish competitor to Port Talbot and Llanwern. The hon. Member for Banff and Buchan shakes his head. It was not he who made it; it was the steel spokesman who spends all the money apparently, Mr. Lawson. To the Ravenscraig shop stewards who knew the plant and industry better than anyone, the plan was sheer fantasy.

It will be obvious from what I have said already that the proposition would require vast expenditure. The purchase price of the plant, £50 million to reline the blast furnaces, £650 million for a cold mill, £750 million for a hot mill and £100 million for other necessary investment, such as coke ovens and blast furnaces, came to a total of about £1,700 million. The Scottish National party has never disputed that figure. It has said that it cannot be realistic because the share value is greater than that. I have to say to the right hon. Member for Ayr that, in his new job as chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland, one of the first things to do is to make sure that the economists he employs know the difference between share value and capital value, because it is obvious from the hon. Member for Banff and Buchan that not all of them have done in the past.

Plan 2 came 48 hours later. When the Scottish National party found out the actual cost, it dropped the plan to reinstate Ravenscraig. It suddenly announced—again, Mr. Lawson in a radio broadcast with me and after a telephone conversation with the shop stewards at the Clydesdale works, who informed me about it, I am afraid—that the new plan was to nationalise Clydesdale. Clydesdale had been closed eight months earlier, but presumably then the Scottish Nationalists were committed to refitting the mills at Clydesdale. This would cost another £150 million. They threw in Clydebridge and Dalzell at the same time.

Plan 3 was on the Sunday, because the cavalry came over the hill in the form of the Dalzell shop stewards. They gave them a plan which was perhaps new to the Scottish National party—it was certainly not new to the Ravenscraig shop stewards, who had been offered it for three years and had tossed it aside as unrealistic. Plan 3 is the one that they stick to now. It promises to restore Ravenscraig as a producer sending 1 million tonnes of slab to the Dalzell plate mill, and proposes the building of a new pipe mill at another site in Motherwell, the cost of which varies between £150 million and £250 million. We will not quibble about that: different people make different analyses.

There is absolutely nothing new in the proposal. It has been considered and consistently rejected by those who know the industry—above all, the steel workers at Ravenscraig. But for the sake of fairness to the SNP—because, as hon. Members know, I am a fair man—let us assume that this £250 million is not in addition to the £2,000 million already spent by Mr. Lawson. If we were to assume that it was in addition, at the present rate of daily expenditure announced by the Scottish National party steel spokesman, by my calculations that party would have spent the entire budget of an imaginary Scottish government by St. Valentine's day this year.

Let us even assume, for the sake of argument, that costs for Ravenscraig and a new Dalzell pipe mill are accurate. The problem with the SNP nationalisation plan 3 is neither dogmatic nor ideological; it is that it is still wholly unrealistic. Let us look at just some of the criticisms. First, it assumes that a two-blast furnace operation at Ravenscraig would be viable at a production level of 1 million tonnes. Wrong. As the work force, economists and industrialists will tell the SNP, the viability figure of Ravenscraig is nearer 2 million tonnes.

Secondly, if Ravenscraig is to produce the necessary 2 million tonnes to make it a viable unit and Dalzell is to take a supposed 1 million tonnes on the plate mill, what is to be done with the extra 1 million tonnes of raw slab from Ravenscraig? Give it to charity? Perhaps give it out in Leningrad along with the butter? It certainly cannot be sold.

Thirdly, what makes the SNP think that Dalzell can take I million tonnes from Ravenscraig? In the best years, 1988–89 and 1989–90, it took only about 350,000 tonnes a year. How will the SNP suddenly triple the amount that can be taken by Dalzell?

Fourthly, the SNP assumes a massive, easy and open market in the North sea. Of course, no figures are given, so I bothered to check on the latest figures. The total market for the United Kingdom sector in the North sea in the past year—which was not a bad year—was 274,000 tonnes, roughly 25 per cent. of what will pass through Dalzell's plate mill. Of that 274,000 tonnes, only 71,000 tonnes was plate. Much of it was in seamless tubes, light gauge plate, which are not produced in Scotland—unless the SNP intends to reopen the Clydesdale works and spend £250 million on that mill.

Fifthly, is the SNP aware that the maximum length of Dalzell plate production is 23 m while the modern market demands 50 m plate? Even if money were invested to meet that requirement, the layout of the Dalzell plant is such that, to get the extra length, the plant would have to be turned at right angles. Do SNP members propose to turn it at right angles? If they do, have they told Bishop Joe Devine, because they would need to knock down Motherwell cathedral?

Sixthly, does the SNP think that it would be commercially competitive to produce steel at Ravenscraig at 1,500 deg, cool it and load it on a lorry, transport it to Dalzell, unload it and put it in the plate mill, heat it again to reduce it to plate, cool it and load it on a lorry, transport it to the new pipe mill that it proposes to build somewhere else, unload it from the lorry, place it in the pipe mill, bend it, put it on a lorry and send it to the customer? If the SNP thinks that that is a viable scenario to compete with others in the market, its view of competition is different from mine.

I shall not go into detail on the challenge to me about what Labour would do, but I shall deal with it quickly. First, we would insist that British Steel maintains the plant for sale on the market. [Interruption.] One of the ways is to make British Steel aware that £200 million in reclamation charges are hanging over its head if it does not play ball with the Government. Secondly, Government resources must be used in the search for a buyer. It should not be left to British Steel. Why are not the embassies and the Department of Trade and Industry making efforts to sell it? The third course of action is to do what my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South has been doing, which is single-handedly to investigate thin-slab casting. It is amazing that the Government, with all their resources, are sending someone along with an Opposition Member to the United States to study an issue that they should have been studying long ago.

Finally, it should be made absolutely plain to any potential buyer that the Government would be prepared, if necessary, to intervene financially in a joint venture. That matter has been discussed with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, who is at one with the Ravenscraig shop stewards. Eighteen months ago, my hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) pledged to make finance available to develop it.

I thank the shop stewards and the representatives of the workers at Ravenscraig. With three possible exceptions, the message from all hon. Members to those shop stewards is: "Do not think that you are demeaned or belittled when you are attacked by lesser men." It is the easiest thing in the world to take workers into a struggle that they cannot win and then to wash one's hands and say, "We did not sell out." It is harder to lead with honesty. The Ravenscraig shop stewards made it plain at the beginning of the campaign that they would never make aim promise that they could not keep, never make a pledge that they would not strive to maintain, and never make a claim that they could not justify. They have done us proud. The Labour party will adopt those three slogans, as it has in the past. We shall continue to fight for steel. We shall not make promises that we cannot keep or pledges that are fantasy, and we shall not exploit the workers in our area for our political advancement. The Ravenscraig stewards have done it, we have done it and the people of Motherwell, Lanarkshire and Scotland generally will recognise it and support us for doing exactly what the stewards did.

Photo of Mr John Marshall Mr John Marshall , Hendon South 9:14 pm, 23rd January 1992

I congratulate the hon. Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) on his devastating analysis of the interventionist policies of the Scottish National party. Just as those policies are madcap, so are the interventionist policies of the hon. Gentleman's own party. I look forward to his being equally critical of some of the policies put forward by the hon. Member for Dunfermline, East (Mr. Brown) from time to time.

This has been a good day for Scotland. Earlier today, the Secretary of State for Defence was able to announce that Yarrow is getting the order for three frigates. That will guarantee employment at the Yarrow yard for a substantial time. There was some snide comment that it was a political decision—and it was, of course, because the size of the defence budget is a political decision.

If the defence budget were cut by one third, as the Labour party advocates, there would be no orders for frigates at Yarrow today. If the defence budget were cut by 50 per cent., as the Liberal Democrats suggest, there would perhaps be no Scottish regiments left, and there would certainly be no orders for Yarrow. It is hypocritical of the Liberal party to go round Kincardineshire saying that it is against the removal of the regiments and that it supports orders for Scotland when it wants to halve the deference budget.

We have had an interesting debate. We heard the shadow Secretary of State announce that nationalisation was a slogan put forward by those with no expectation of power. I shall remember that when the Labour party says that it intends to nationalise the water industry. The people of Scotland are being told by the SNP that British Steel assets in Scotland should be nationalised to preserve jobs. Did nationalisation ever preserve jobs on the railways? Has it preserved jobs in British Coal? Did it preserve jobs in the shipbuilding industry? Of course it did not. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about Rolls-Royce?"] Hon. Members who intervene from a sedentary position should realise that the prosperity of companies like Rolls-Royce will be better guaranteed in the private sector than ever it would be in the public sector.

The lesson of Ravenscraig is that it provides a cautionary tale for those politicians who think that they can buck the market indefinitely. The lesson of Ravenscraig, Bathgate and Linwood for the Scottish people is: Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. It casts doubt on those politicians who say that they can bring 5,000, 10,000 or 15,000 jobs to Scotland overnight.

The speech of the shadow Secretary of State was, as usual, very loquacious. He was happy to pour words on troubled waters, but he could not produce a policy that would create or save one job at Ravenscraig.

The most dishonest policy in respect of Ravenscraig comes from the Scottish National party. If it were campaigning for an independent Scotland within Europe, how would it expect that country to solve the problem of Ravenscraig? The European Community would not stop the SNP nationalising Ravenscraig, but it would tell the SNP that it could not carry on subsidising Ravenscraig once it had nationalised it. It is in order for a private company to run a plant at a loss, but for the state permanently to subsidise an industry would be against the rules of the European Community. The Scottish National party knows that an independent Scotland within the European Community could not run Ravenscraig at an indefinite loss. It is trying to con the people of Scotland, and particularly of Ravenscraig, by pretending that it could save the plant by nationalising it. It is putting forward a misleading campaign. It knows that it is a misleading campaign.

Similarly the Labour party is putting forward a misleading campaign. That is why the Opposition chose to have only a half-day debate on Ravenscraig. They have frozen out some of their colleagues by having only a half-day debate. They also chose to hold it in the second half of a Thursday when they know that most members of the press who would realise that they are using merely empty words have gone home.

The long-term prosperity of Lanarkshire and Scotland will not be guaranteed by shoring up loss-making industries and indulging in quill pen economics. Prosperity will come only by encouraging profitable, dynamic industries to come to Scotland. Lanarkshire has many attractions for industry. It has a well-recognised, well-respected labour force and good communications. It will be unbeatable as an enterprise zone. I hope that Commissioner Milian, who has done so much to restrict money coming to areas of high unemployment in the United Kingdom, will do nothing to stop an enterprise zone being created in Lanarkshire.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan 9:20 pm, 23rd January 1992

When the hon. Member for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid), who sat down to great cheers from his supporters, reads what he said tomorrow in the cold light of day, I do not believe that he will feel as happy as he did a few moments ago. What we got from him, tragically, was a comprehensive rubbishing of the Dalzell plant. [Interruption.] Hon. Members are unhappy, but they will have to listen. I intend to continue until I have finished my speech.

Although the hon. Gentleman's supporters clapped and cheered, one of the things that they have to understand is that his argument against the Ravenscraig-Dalzell link up—

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

Sit down. The hon. Gentleman made fun of steel passing backwards and forwards—[Interruption.]

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) does not intend to give way, so he has the Floor.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

I hope that it is a point of order that the Chair can deal with.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

When I went to give my notes to Hansard, as requested, I understand that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) referred to me. In those circumstances, is it not the convention and would it not be courteous for the hon. Gentleman to give way to me so that I can correct what was a lie? I did not refer to the steel workers at Dalzell——

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. First, I will ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his phrase "a lie." Then I can deal with his point of order.

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

I meant, of course, that it was an untruth.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

It is up to the hon. Member for Govan, who has the Floor, to decide whether to give way. He appears not to be doing so. He must therefore be allowed to continue with his speech.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

That was the first of the Freudian slips that were made by the hon. Member for Motherwell, North. I never mentioned the workers or the shop stewards at Dalzell. I said that he had rubbished the plant at Dalzell.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

Does not the stupid Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) understand——

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Why does not the hon. Gentleman stand against me and have a go at the next election?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. This has been a very well conducted debate so far. We are now coming towards the end of the debate and we want a proper winding up. Let us listen to all those hon. Members who want to speak.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

As I was saying, and as I intend to say, this stupid man here does not understand that, if we rubbish a plant, we damage its future standing in the minds of the policy makers who have to decide its future.

One of the tragedies of the first phase of the Ravenscraig closure was the comprehensive rubbishing of the Ravenscraig plant—(Interruption.] Then they said—

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

Opposition Members who have been——

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

You are the paymaster.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

You people who have been——

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Deputy Speaker (Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I can hear only one hon. Member at a time—[Interruption.] Order. I cannot hear myself think this evening. Will hon. Members please come to order? Mr. Sillars.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

We are taking no lectures from folk who, for a long time, were in political bed with that crook, Bob Maxwell. The great tragedy of the first phase was the rubbishing of the Ravenscraig plant. How is it possible to say thereafter, "We should like somebody to come along and buy a plant that we have just rubbished"? Every speech that I have heard tonight from a Labour Member has been towards the compelling logic of the public ownership of the steel industry.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

Oh yes. Opposition Members have kept saying, "We could press British Steel, but everybody knows that that is a waste of time." The hon. Member for Motherwell, North said, "Let someone take Scottish assets into private ownership and we will join in a joint venture"; but why not take Scottish assets into public ownership and then be open to a joint venture with a private organisation later? Their compelling logic is certain. We all know that what we have had from British Steel has been the malevolent exercise of monopolistic power in the private sector. The standard socialist answer to such power is to take it into public ownership—not to allow that malevolent power to dominate strategic industries and communities.

The hon. Member for Motherwell, North said, "We don't like to make promises that we canna keep." So let me ask him about the promise that was made on 23 February 1988, when his hon. Friend the Member for Dagenham (Mr. Gould) said: for the reasons that I have yet to develop fully, Opposition Members and the trade union movement strongly believe that the steel industry is most appropriately owned in a form of public ownership. We shall decide that form and the order of priorities by which it is to be secured when we return to power"—[Official Report, 23 February 1988; Vol. 128, c. 184.] What about the priorities now in Lanarkshire? The hon. Gentleman's priorities now are to take British Steel's assets in Scotland out of the grip of the board of British Steel, that being the only guarantee of preserving jobs and the Scottish steel industry in Lanarkshire.

The hon. Members for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) and for Motherwell, North have said, "Look at the nonsense of the £1.7 billion compared to the price of the shares on the stock exchange today." Do they not understand that, if I say to somebody, "I should like you to spend £1.7 billion buying our plant", that person is likely to reply, "I would buy your plant only if I wanted access to certain markets, but I can get the whole of British Steel, including the assets of your plant, wholly and totally for only £1.3 billion and, as a matter of fact, if I want control, I do not need to spend £1.3 billion, I need to spend only £700 million"—

Photo of John Reid John Reid , Motherwell North

Let us suppose that that mythical chap did come along and that the share value stayed at its current level—because it was known that there was a buyer, it might double or even treble—but let us suppose that, against all the evidence from the history of the market, the share value remained static. The buyer would still have to spend £1.7 billion on top of the share value simply to make it productive.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

As I understand the hon. Gentleman's account, the strip mill is still there. He included it in the £1.7 billion. He has the same economic adviser and calculator as Alf Young of the Glasgow Herald.

I want to argue that the best way to save the Scottish steel industry is to take all British Steel's assets in Scotland into public ownership. The thing to do is to captialise on the reprieve for Dalzell because Dalzell is the key to the retention of the base of the Scottish steel industry, on which base we could rebuild the industry.

If folk say to me, "Where did you invent that 1 million tonnes stuff?", I will tell them that it is from a report produced for Labour Strathclyde region by the department of political economy at Glasgow university in February 1990. It said: The Dalzell plant currently takes about 25 per cent. of Ravenscraig's production. Later, on page 23, it makes a good point. This is endorsed by Labour Strathclyde region. The report says: Ravenscraig's product range is ideal for supplying a large plate mill. We are talking about a 1-million-tonne mill.

It has developed special techniques for ingot production for thick plate applications and has a casting capacity of 1.9 million tonnes per annum which can be flexibly switched between slab and strip production to suit market sentiment. It went on to argue that the configuration between Ravenscriag and Dalzell was suited to the market that is now developing. It described the market as a fragmented, demand-led market, where people might demand a smaller tonnage of steel but wanted highly specialised steel and special products. The report argued eloquently that that configuration would meet market circumstances in the years that lay ahead. So that is the argument on which we have founded our case—an argument produced by Glasgow university and endorsed by Strathclyde regional council.

At the root of the matter lies this issue. There will be a 100-million-tonne plate mill with a pipe mill attached thereto, with a steel supplier up front. The question is whether it goes to Teesside or Lanarkshire, because the potential of the Scottish steel industry as we conceive it is exactly the same as British Steel conceives it. It would do what we ask today if the cash position was better than it is. That is the key factor. The only way to guarantee that the mill goes to Lanarkshire is to take the assets into public ownership. If the Labour party was worth its socialist salt, it would agree with me 100 per cent. of the way.

It is remarkable to hear Labour Member after Labour Member complain about the misapplication of private power but not follow the ideological guidance system and say that that private power must be curbed by the application of public power to take those assets into public control. They remind me of the ditty: "The people's flag is now mauve in hue. No longer red, it is turning a contemptible blue".

Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson , Hamilton 9:33 pm, 23rd January 1992

I am grateful for the chance to speak briefly at the end of this extremely important debate for my constituents and for people in many other parts of Scotland.

I begin by quoting the Financial Times. The Secretary of State for Scotland chose to give a quotation from it earlier. I shall come to that in a moment. First, I should like to quote a section of an editorial which appeared in that prestigious newspaper on 9 January. It is quoted in the document given to me and to many other hon. Members by my friend and constituent Rev. John Potter, the industrial chaplain to Lanarkshire who has done so much during the period of the rundown of the great steel industry to comfort the people that he serves and to campaign on their behalf. The words that he quoted are worth listening to because the Financial Times played such a marginal part in the Secretary of State's speech.

The editorial stated: The only other thing to be written in the Ravenscraig epitaph is that there was never a community more deserving of EC and UK Government help in rebuilding its local economy. Ravenscraig's work force has been loyal, hardworking and as efficient as the plant permitted. It has every right to expect politicians to move whatever bureaucratic obstacles stand in the way of measures to stimulate the creation of jobs in industries more suited to the periphery of Europe. I hope that the Secretary of State will pay as much attention to that as he did to his selective quotation. So much was made of that quotation that I wish to direct the House's attention to the rest of it, which the Secretary of State did not choose to point out.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition said, in response to a question put by the Financial Times about sectoral intervention, taking steel as an example: it isn't intervention that the steel industry needs. What the steel industry needs is a more vibrant domestic market, specially in the manufacturing sector and a chance therefore to make even further increases in their productivity and be more competitive in difficult international markets. If the Secretary of State agreed with the part that he quoted, does he agree that the Government have supervised a Scottish and a British economy which has created the conditions in which the steel plants of Scotland and of Britain are in such trouble?

Photo of Mr Ian Lang Mr Ian Lang , Galloway and Upper Nithsdale

The hon. Gentleman's attention must have wandered. Had he been in the Chamber throughout my speech, he would have heard me read precisely that part of the quotation which he has just quoted and which I endorsed.

Photo of Mr George Robertson Mr George Robertson , Hamilton

It was a selective quotation, underscored, missing out the key component that the people of Lanarkshire and Scotland understand—that it is not intervention at this stage which matters, but the fact that the economy is in such deep trouble that we are at the bottom of all the European leagues. That is why Ravenscraig has been picked out at this point.

In this debate, as my hon. Friends and those who represent the rest of industrial Lanarkshire have rightly pointed out, it would be easy to be critical of a Government who have done so little and yet protest so much when the final decision has been taken. One cannot complain if a butterfly cannot get into the air when its wings have been taken off. The Government stood back when the steel industry got into that plight.

British Steel is a public limited company which does not even have the guts to come to Scotland and explain the reasons why a controversial decision was necessary. Sir Bob Scholey may well believe in his heart of hearts that it is the right decision, but if that is so, as the steward of the private steel industry in this country, why did he not have the courage and decency to face those people who rose to every exhortation to deal with the challenge put before them?

I shall briefly outline some of the arguments put by Rev. John Potter to hon. Members. He did not do so in a spirit of looking back or of recrimination. Practical issues concern him and should concern all Members of the House. He mentioned the number of small companies which will be dramatically affected as a result of the premature closure of Ravenscraig and which cannot expect to get headlines in the way that major companies have. Both he and I ask the Minister whether it is possible to survey the impact on such small companies and study what can be done for them. What about employees of the contractors' firms, who will not be able to share in the benefits of the redundancy terms offered by British Steel? What will be done in the way of retraining and re-employment for the people affected?

Rev. John Potter asks about the possibility of a "brainstorming" meeting at which ideas, many of which were raised by my hon. Friends the Members for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray), for Motherwell, North (Dr. Reid) and for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), could be put forward to help the future regeneration of an area which has been so hard hit. He asks about the enterprise zone. I shall not go over the ground covered by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) about the unacceptable and unforgivable delay in moving between the recommendation of the Lanarkshire working party and the application for enterprise zone status. What about the delay and uncertainty that will be created in the meantime before the small enterprise zones get off the ground? Those few questions are relevant, reasonable and deserve serious and sober answers from a Government who have an obligation and a responsibility.

The decision to close Ravenscraig has been a blow to the industrial heartlands of Scotland and to the thousands of people and their families whose livelihoods depend upon those works. The workers of Ravenscraig have done so much, not just in terms of campaigning, but in delivering productivity and production records. The communities that will be affected are linked together in their sadness—but although they are sad, they are far from beaten.

Photo of Mr Tony Worthington Mr Tony Worthington , Clydebank and Milngavie 9:40 pm, 23rd January 1992

I am pleased to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson), who has brought dignity back to the debate. He reminded us that 400 miles away many people are sad and have been deeply damaged by what has occurred. We must keep that memory constant.

My hon. Friend was also right to remind us that when Scholey promised that steel would continue to be made at Ravenscraig until 1994, Labour Members knew that that was not a reprieve, but a stay of execution. Sir Robert Scholey—never kind and gentle to Scotland—thought that that was how long he would need in Lanarkshire. That was his pessimistic estimate because he wanted out of Lanarkshire. The Government's principal fault lies in their running of the economy, which was such as to surpass even the pessimism of Sir Robert. The economy was run down to the extent that Sir Robert felt that he could move out two years before his pessimistic promise.

The Government must come to terms with their guilt. The decision has been put down to market conditions, but a market does not just occur. A market is constructed mainly by Government policies. The recession that the Government have created is the reason, above all, why we are here on this sad night.

We must look ahead at what we can do. We would not start from here. It is a tragic point from which to start. We would certainly not give any promises that we cannot deliver.

My memory of tonight is of the quiet dignity of my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray). Motherwell has been served well by its Members of Parliament. I shall remember the quiet dignity with which my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South has pursued this issue for a decade or more. He is constantly seeking solutions.

A strange absence from the debate has been talk about private sector leadership and the enterprise culture, of which we heard so much in 1988 and 1989. What has happened to them? Why are they not mentioned now? Now we are thrown back, as we always knew that we would be, on the need for public sector intervention.

We must obviously carry on seeking a buyer, and we must give every encouragement to that buyer if one can be found. Another striking thing about my hon. Friend the Member for Motherwell, South—and all good wishes to him—is that he has more ideas than are produced from all the resources of the Government.

The enterprise zone concept must be pursued with all energy, not picked up again whenever bad news appears. The Government are jerked into activity only when there is bad news. There is no zeal about them. We must stop all dishonesty about capital involvement, an issue to which the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) referred. There must be nothing tricky about the resources that will be put in. We must be told clearly just what are the new resources.

We must examine the capital infrastructure that is needed, and let it be clear that there is no political game playing between regional councils and the Government over roads. We must demand an environmental clean-up from British Steel. That is the least we should have. British Steel must go beyond the legal minimum, and I hope that the Minister will assure us that he is persuading, even forcing, the company to do that.

We must get the full educational and training resources of the country into Lanarkshire. There must be a full analysis of the job and investment prospects. Let us abandon the pretence that the local enterprise companies can cope with education and training. In their employment training and youth training programmes, they are concerned with 2 to 3 per cent. of the work force and the available-to-work force. The local enterprise companies are involved with only 20 per cent. of 16 and 17-year-olds who are on YT schemes. That is not the way forward with education and training in the context of which we are speaking. Reference has been made to the possibility of upgrading the education institutions of Lanarkshire and making sure that the universities and colleges in the area are fully involved.

We must review the rundown of the East Kilbride development corporation. It is extraordinary that the Government are not prepared to look at that issue. What dogma is behind that? What difficulties are there between Scottish Enterprise, the local development agency and East Kilbride development corporation?

It is sheer folly for the message to be sent out in respect of the East Kilbride development corporation, "We are winding down." It is extraordinary that that should he happening now in Lanarkshire, which has the most successful job development agency in the country. The message now going out reads, "We are winding down and shutting up," even though that body last year, in the dire conditions of the time, attracted 1,100 jobs and £34 million of capital to Lanarkshire. Yet the Government will not even address the question whether the East Kilbride development corporation can be kept going.

The Scottish Office must take full responsibility for that state of affairs, for it has acted with truly Thatcherite zeal. Even the present Government could not have done more. The contrast, on the issue of public expenditure, between the Scottish Office and the Welsh Office is truly remarkable. The Welsh Development Agency budget went up 98 per cent. between 1979 and 1990. The Scottish Development Agency budget, in the same 11-year period, stagnated; it increased by only 2.4 per cent. That happened at the choice of the Government.

When the Welsh had steel closures in the early 1980s, at present-day prices an additional £187 million went to the Welsh areas, and good luck to them for that. When Scottish Enterprise was set up—we knew that it would happen—there was a cut of nearly £200 million in its budget. Its budget in Lanarkshire, until there was a protest, was cut from £7 million to £4.2 million, a reduction of 42 per cent. The original allocation to the Lanarkshire development agency went down from £7.3 million to £4.2 million. There was then a protest and the Government realised—again, in embarrassment—that the figure should be adjusted, and so it was. Unless the Government are constantly brought to face the problems, they will back away from and neglect Lanarkshire.

The Government have failed Lanarkshire. Last Monday, the Secretary of State pretended that the closure of Ravenscraig would add just 1 per cent. To Lanarkshire's unemployment rate. Over a period of 11 years, Motherwell lost 60 per cent. of its manufacturing jobs, and Lanarkshire as a whole lost 40 per cent. of its manufacturing jobs before the closure of Ravenscraig. In the Lanarkshire travel-to-work area in 1979, male unemployment was 10 per cent. It is now 20 per cent. That is a measure of the Government's derelict position on training in Lanarkshire. The Government should go, and they should take their guilt with them.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire 9:51 pm, 23rd January 1992

This is an important debate. In one sense, it has been two debates. In the first debate, hon. Members on both sides of the House made constructive and reasoned suggestions about the future of Lanarkshire. Those hon. Members included my hon. Friends the Members for Dumfries (Sir H. Monro), for Tayside, North (Mr. Walker) and for Hendon, South (Mr. Marshall), who rightly pointed to the dangers of intervention. I do not think that he was arguing about whether it was wrong for a Conservative Government to have been instrumental in setting up Ravenscraig in the first place. Speeches of Opposition Members also contained constructive and reasoned suggestions. The comments of the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce) about the Ravenscraig site and the enterprise zone were correct. I shall come to the points raised by the hon. Member for Motherwell, South (Dr. Bray) if I have sufficient time. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) referred to the points made by the Rev. John Potter. I was glad to meet the Rev. John Potter this morning. He has made a major contribution and I agree substantially with the points which he made to me and which the hon. Member for Hamilton made to the House.

The second debate has been political. I have seldom seen the hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar) under such pressure. He is normally the most courteous of Members in giving way, but he would not give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Cleethorpes (Mr. Brown), who not only represented a steelworks but was on the Committee that considered the British Steel Bill, to which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Sillars) so effectively referred in his speech. That saves me from repeating exactly the same in mine.

The Labour Members who made the political arguments in this debate were bowled middle stump. Either they are socialists, in which case they must agree with the thoughts and philosophy of the hon. Member for Govan, or they are loyal followers of the Leader of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman seems to be having all sorts of meetings tonight because each time Labour Members were challenged about the quotation in this morning's Financial Times they said that they had had a meeting with the Leader of the Opposition and had checked the policies. There will be a U-turn tomorrow, so we shall see the right hon. Gentleman's next argument.

Opposition Members cannot tell the House that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State should have intervened in some undefined way given that the Leader of the Opposition said—I remind them of the quotation—that the steel industry did not need some civil servant or minister sitting on their shoulder saying to them well, strategically this is what we think you should do. That is what the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, and the hon. Member for Garscadden has been bowled middle stump, not by Conservative Members but by the Leader of the Opposition.

Photo of Donald Dewar Donald Dewar , Glasgow Garscadden

The hon. Gentleman seems to have the rather odd view that either one is in favour of total intervention and state control in every situation, despite the practicalities, or one does nothing at all. That is the choice that he is presenting. Does it not occur to him that there are some politicians who, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition advocates in that article, look at intervention where it is justified and act in the way that the circumstances demand? That is what we have been advocating throughout and that is what we want to do now. We do not believe in going down the public ownership road when there clearly is a market problem and there clearly is no case for it, but we do not believe in sitting on our backsides and doing nothing, as the bewhiskered Under-Secretary is advocating.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I should like to be a fly on the wall at the forthcoming meeting between the Leader of the Opposition and the hon. Member for Garscadden when they try to sort out what the Labour party's policy actually is.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

I will give way, but it will have to be for the last time.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke Shadow Minister (Disability)

The Minister will recall that I gave way in a five-minute speech, so he is not over-generous. Does he accept that the fundamental issue of the Secretary of State's role between 20 December and 9 January was what he did or did not do? Why did he not remind British Steel that we were given not a letter, not a promise, not a meeting, but a guarantee? What happened to the guarantee?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

My right hon. Friend of course asked for and was given a meeting with the chairman of British Steel and his colleagues. We went through the guarantee, which was always subject, of course, to market conditions. But I will tell the hon. Member what would have been the case if the Labour Government had been elected last October. The Labour Secretary of State for Scotland would not have been told anything by British Steel, because it would not have trusted a Labour Government to keep the matters confidential.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

No, I will not give way. The hon. Gentleman would not give way more than once.

I turn to the constructive points that have been made from both sides of the House. My hon. Friends the Members for Dumfries and for Tayside, North, the hon. Member for Gordon and, of course, the constituency Members and others have rightly paid tribute to the Ravenscraig work force for their hard work, effort and endeavour. I, too, pay tribute to them, and I hope that when the furore has died down British Steel will lose no opportunity to pay the same tribute—[Interruption.] It is not a matter for laughter. It is crucial for the future of Lanarkshire that firms are encouraged to come into Lanarkshire and that the message that the work force are skilled and dedicated and that this closure was no fault of theirs gets across to the whole industrial community.

The hon. Member for Clydebank and Milngavie (Mr. Worthington) and other hon. Members talked about the future. I entirely accept that we must look at mechanisms that will follow up the success of the Lanarkshire working party. I am discussing that with Lanarkshire development agency. I accept the point made by the hon. Member for Hamilton that not just economic consultants and economists have expertise and that we must involve the whole community.

What have we had from the Opposition? We have had from the Scottish National party a policy that is unworkable and, from the Labour party, no policy at all. The Labour party gave not £1-worth of extra commitment to Lanarkshire tonight. I urge the House to support the Government's amendment.

Question put, That the original words stand part of the Question:—

The House divided: Ayes 212, Noes 242.

Division No.1 54][10 pm
AYES
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.)Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Allen, GrahamBennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)
Alton, DavidBermingham, Gerald
Archer, Rt Hon PeterBlunkett, David
Armstrong, HilaryBoateng, Paul
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyBradley, Keith
Ashley, Rt Hon JackBray, Dr Jeremy
Ashton, JoeBrown, Gordon (D'mline E)
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)
Barron, KevinBruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Beith, A. J.Callaghan, Jim
Bell, StuartCampbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Bellotti, DavidCampbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Canavan, DennisKilfoyle, Peter
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Kirkwood, Archy
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Lambie, David
Clelland, DavidLamond, James
Clwyd, Mrs AnnLeadbitter, Ted
Cohen, HarryLeighton, Ron
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Lewis, Terry
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Litherland, Robert
Corbett, RobinLivingstone, Ken
Corbyn, JeremyLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Cousins, JimLofthouse, Geoffrey
Cox, TomLoyden, Eddie
Crowther, StanMcAllion, John
Cryer, BobMcCartney, Ian
Cummings, JohnMacdonald, Calum A.
Cunliffe, LawrenceMcFall, John
Cunningham, Dr JohnMcKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Darling, AlistairMcKelvey, William
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)McLeish, Henry
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly)Maclennan, Robert
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)McMaster, Gordon
Dewar, DonaldMcWilliam, John
Dixon, DonMadden, Max
Dobson, FrankMahon, Mrs Alice
Doran, FrankMarek, Dr John
Douglas, DickMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Dunnachie, JimmyMartin, Michael J. (Springburn)
Eadie, AlexanderMartlew, Eric
Eastham, KenMaxton, John
Enright, DerekMeacher, Michael
Evans, John (St Helens N)Meale, Alan
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E)Michael, Alun
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Fatchett, DerekMichie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Field, Frank (Birkenhead)Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)Moonie, Dr Lewis
Fisher, MarkMorgan, Rhodri
Flannery, MartinMorris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Flynn, PaulMorris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)
Foot, Rt Hon MichaelMowlam, Marjorie
Foster, DerekMullin, Chris
Foulkes, GeorgeMurphy, Paul
Fraser, JohnOakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Fyfe, MariaO'Brien, William
Galbraith, SamParry, Robert
Galloway, GeorgePatchett, Terry
Garrett, John (Norwich South)Pendry, Tom
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend)Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
George, BrucePrescott, John
Gilbert, Rt Hon Dr JohnPrimarolo, Dawn
Godman, Dr Norman A.Quin, Ms Joyce
Gordon, MildredRadice, Giles
Gould, BryanRandall, Stuart
Graham, ThomasRedmond, Martin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Reid, Dr John
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)Robertson, George
Grocott, BruceRobinson, Geoffrey
Hain, PeterRogers, Allan
Harman, Ms HarrietRooker, Jeff
Hattersley, Rt Hon RoyRooney, Terence
Haynes, FrankRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
Henderson, DougRowlands, Ted
Hinchliffe, DavidRuddock, Joan
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)Salmond, Alex
Hogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)Sheerman, Barry
Home Robertson, JohnSheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Hood, JimmyShore, Rt Hon Peter
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)Short, Clare
Howell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)Sillars, Jim
Howells, GeraintSkinner, Dennis
Howells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)Smith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)Smith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark)Snape, Peter
Illsley, EricSoley, Clive
Ingram, AdamSpearing, Nigel
Janner, GrevilleSteel, Rt Hon Sir David
Steinberg, GerryWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Stephen, NicolWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Stott, RogerWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Strang, GavinWilliams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Wilson, Brian
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)Winnick, David
Thompson, Jack (Wansbeck)Wise, Mrs Audrey
Turner, DennisWorthington, Tony
Vaz, KeithWray, Jimmy
Wallace, JamesYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Walley, Joan
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)Tellers for the Ayes:
Wareing, Robert N.Mrs. Llin Golding
Watson, Mike (Glasgow, C)Mr. Thomas McAvoy
NOES
Alexander, RichardEmery, Sir Peter
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelEvans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)
Allason, RupertEvennett, David
Amess, DavidFallon, Michael
Arbuthnot, JamesFarr, Sir John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Favell, Tony
Arnold, Sir ThomasFenner, Dame Peggy
Ashby, DavidFishburn, John Dudley
Atkins, RobertFookes, Dame Janet
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Forman, Nigel
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Baldry, TonyFowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Banks, Robert (Harrogate)Freeman, Roger
Batiste, SpencerFrench, Douglas
Bendall, VivianFry, Peter
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Gale, Roger
Benyon, W.Gardiner, Sir George
Bitten, Rt Hon JohnGill, Christopher
Body, Sir RichardGilmour, Rt Hon Sir Ian
Boscawen, Hon RobertGlyn, Dr Sir Alan
Bottomley, PeterGoodlad, Rt Hon Alastair
Bowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n)Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bowis, JohnGrant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir RhodesGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardGreenway, John (Ryedale)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Gregory, Conal
Browne, John (Winchester)Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Grist, Ian
Buck, Sir AntonyGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Budgen, NicholasHague, William
Burns, SimonHamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Burt, AlistairHampson, Dr Keith
Butler, ChrisHannam, Sir John
Butterfill, JohnHargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)
Carrington, MatthewHarris, David
Carttiss, MichaelHawkins, Christopher
Cash, WilliamHayes, Jerry
Channon, Rt Hon PaulHayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney
Chapman, SydneyHayward, Robert
Chope, ChristopherHeathcoat-Amory, David
Churchill, MrHicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)Hill, James
Clark, Rt Hon Sir WilliamHogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Conway, DerekHordern, Sir Peter
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnHowell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Cormack, PatrickHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Couchman, JamesHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Cran, JamesHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaHunter, Andrew
Davis, David (Boothferry)Irvine, Michael
Day, StephenJack, Michael
Devlin, TimJackson, Robert
Dickens, GeoffreyJanman, Tim
Dorrell, StephenJessel, Toby
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Dover, DenJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dunn, BobKey, Robert
Dykes, HughKilfedder, James
Eggar, TimKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)Raffan, Keith
Knight, Greg (Derby North)Rathbone, Tim
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)Redwood, John
Knox, DavidRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Lang, Rt Hon IanRhodes James, Sir Robert
Latham, MichaelRiddick, Graham
Lee, John (Pendle)Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Lightbown, DavidRost, Peter
Lloyd, Sir Ian (Havant)Rowe, Andrew
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)>Rumbold, Rt Hon Mrs Angela
Lord, MichaelSackville, Hon Tom
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
McLoughlin, PatrickSayeed, Jonathan
McNair-Wilson, Sir MichaelShaw, David (Dover)
McNair-Wilson, Sir PatrickShaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Madel, DavidShaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Malins, HumfreyShelton, Sir William
Mans, KeithShepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Maples, JohnShepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Marland, PaulShersby, Michael
Marshall, John (Hendon S)Sims, Roger
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)Skeet, Sir Trevor
Mates, MichaelSmith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Mawhinney, Dr Brian.Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Maxwell-Hyslop, Sir RobinSoames, Hon Nicholas
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir PatrickSpeed, Keith
Mellor, Rt Hon DavidSpeller, Tony
Meyer, Sir AnthonySpicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)
Miscampbell, NormanSpicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)Squire, Robin
Mitchell, Sir DavidStanbrook, Ivor
Moate, RogerStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Monro, Sir HectorSteen, Anthony
Montgomery, Sir FergusStern, Michael
Moore, Rt Hon JohnStevens, Lewis
Morris, M (N'hampton S)Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Morrison, Sir CharlesStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Moss, MalcolmStokes, Sir John
Moynihan, Hon ColinSumberg, David
Neale, Sir GerrardSummerson, Hugo
Nelson, AnthonyTapsell, Sir Peter
Neubert, Sir MichaelTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Nicholson, David (Taunton)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Norris, SteveViggers, Peter
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Oppenheim, PhillipWaller, Gary
Page, RichardWard, John
Paice, JamesWiddecombe, Ann
Patnick, IrvineWilkinson, John
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Patten, Rt Hon JohnWinterton, Nicholas
Pawsey, JamesWood, Timothy
Porter, Barry (Wirral S)Younger, Rt Hon George
Porter, David (Waveney)
Portillo, MichaelTellers for the Noes:
Powell, William (Corby)Mr. Tim Boswell and
Price, Sir DavidMr. Timothy Kirkhope.

Question accordingly negatived.

Question, That the proposed words be there added, put forthwith pursuant to Standing Order No. 30 (Questions on amendments):—

The House divided: Ayes 221, Noes 195.

Division No. 55][10.11 pm
AYES
Alexander, RichardBanks, Robert (Harrogate)
Alison, Rt Hon MichaelBatiste, Spencer
Allason, RupertBendall, Vivian
Amess, DavidBennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arbuthnot, JamesBiffen, Rt Hon John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Body, Sir Richard
Ashby, DavidBoscawen, Hon Robert
Atkins, RobertBowden, A. (Brighton K'pto'n)
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley)Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Bowis, John
Baldry, TonyBoyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes
Braine, Rt Hon Sir BernardHordern, Sir Peter
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Browne, John (Winchester)Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South)Howell, Rt Hon David (G'dford)
Buck, Sir AntonyHughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Budgen, NicholasHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Burns, SimonHunter, Andrew
Burt, AlistairIrvine, Michael
Butler, ChrisJack, Michael
Butterfill, JohnJackson, Robert
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)Janman, Tim
Carrington, MatthewJessel, Toby
Channon, Rt Hon PaulJones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Chapman, SydneyJones, Robert B (Herts W)
Chope, ChristopherKey, Robert
Churchill, MrKilfedder, James
Clark, Rt Hon Alan (Plymouth)King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Clark, Dr Michael (Rochford)King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Clark, Rt Hon Sir WilliamKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Conway, DerekKnight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Knox, David
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Lang, Rt Hon Ian
Cope, Rt Hon Sir JohnLatham, Michael
Couchman, JamesLee, John (Pendle)
Cran, JamesLeigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Currie, Mrs EdwinaLightbown, David
Davis, David (Boothferry)Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Day, StephenLord, Michael
Devlin, TimMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dickens, GeoffreyMcLoughlin, Patrick
Dorrell, StephenMcNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesMadel, David
Dover, DenMalins, Humfrey
Dunn, BobMans, Keith
Dykes, HughMaples, John
Eggar, TimMarland, Paul
Emery, Sir PeterMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Evans, David (Welwyn Hatf'd)Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Evennett, DavidMawhinney, Dr Brian
Fallon, MichaelMaxwell-Hyslop, Sir Robin
Farr, Sir JohnMayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Favell, TonyMellor, Rt Hon David
Fenner, Dame PeggyMeyer, Sir Anthony
Fishburn, John DudleyMiscampbell, Norman
Fookes, Dame JanetMitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Forman, NigelMitchell, Sir David
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Moate, Roger
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir NormanMonro, Sir Hector
Freeman, RogerMontgomery, Sir Fergus
French, DouglasMorris, M (N'hampton S)
Fry, PeterMorrison, Sir Charles
Gale, RogerMoynihan, Hon Colin
Gardiner, Sir GeorgeNeale, Sir Gerrard
Gill, ChristopherNelson, Anthony
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanNeubert, Sir Michael
Glyn, Dr Sir AlanNicholson, David (Taunton)
Goodlad, Rt Hon AlastairNicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Goodson-Wickes, Dr CharlesNorris, Steve
Gorman, Mrs TeresaOnslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N)Oppenheim, Phillip
Greenway, John (Ryedale)Page, Richard
Gregory, ConalPaice, James
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)Patnick, Irvine
Grist, IanPatten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Gummer, Rt Hon John SelwynPatten, Rt Hon John
Hague, WilliamPawsey, James
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)Porter, David (Waveney)
Hampson, Dr KeithPortillo, Michael
Hannam, Sir JohnPowell, William (Corby)
Hargreaves, A. (B'ham H'll Gr')Raffan, Keith
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn)Rathbone, Tim
Harris, DavidRedwood, John
Hawkins, ChristopherRenton, Rt Hon Tim
Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir BarneyRhodes James, Sir Robert
Hayward, RobertRiddick, Graham
Heathcoat-Amory, DavidRidsdale, Sir Julian
Hicks, Mrs Maureen (Wolv' NE)Roberts, Rt Hon Sir Wyn
Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.Rowe, Andrew
Hill, JamesSackville, Hon Tom
Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)Sainsbury, Rt Hon Tim
Sayeed, JonathanStewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Shaw, David (Dover)Sumberg, David
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Summerson, Hugo
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')Tapsell, Sir Peter
Shelton, Sir WilliamTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Shersby, MichaelViggers, Peter
Sims, RogerWalker, Bill (T'side North)
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)Ward, John
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)Warren, Kenneth
Soames, Hon NicholasWiddecombe, Ann
Speller, TonyWilkinson, John
Spicer, Sir Jim (Dorset W)Winterton, Mrs Ann
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)Winterton, Nicholas
Squire, RobinWood, Timothy
Stanbrook, IvorYounger, Rt Hon George
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Steen, AnthonyTellers for the Ayes:
Stern, MichaelMr. Timothy Kirkhope and
Stevens, LewisMr. Tim Boswell.
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
NOES
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley, N.)Enright, Derek
Allen, GrahamEwing, Harry (Falkirk E)
Alton, DavidEwing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Archer, Rt Hon PeterFatchett, Derek
Armstrong, HilaryField, Frank (Birkenhead)
Ashdown, Rt Hon PaddyFisher, Mark
Ashley, Rt Hon JackFlannery, Martin
Ashton, JoeFlynn, Paul
Banks, Tony (Newham NW)Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Foster, Derek
Barron, KevinFoulkes, George
Beith, A. J.Fraser, John
Bellotti, DavidFyfe, Maria
Benn, Rt Hon TonyGalbraith, Sam
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish)Galloway, George
Bermingham, GeraldGarrett, John (Norwich South)
Blunkett, DavidGarrett, Ted (Wallsend)
Boateng, PaulGeorge, Bruce
Bradley, KeithGilbert, Rt Hon Dr John
Bray, Dr JeremyGodman, Dr Norman A.
Brown, Gordon (D'mline E)Gordon, Mildred
Brown, Nicholas (Newcastle E)Gould, Bryan
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith)Graham, Thomas
Callaghan, JimGrant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Campbell, Ron (Blyth Valley)Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.Grocott, Bruce
Canavan, DennisHarman, Ms Harriet
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g)Haynes, Frank
Clark, Dr David (S Shields)Henderson, Doug
Clarke, Tom (Monklands W)Hinchliffe, David
Clelland, DavidHoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Clwyd, Mrs AnnHogg, N. (C'nauld & Kilsyth)
Cohen, HarryHome Robertson, John
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)Hood, Jimmy
Cook, Robin (Livingston)Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Corbett, RobinHowell, Rt Hon D. (S'heath)
Corbyn, JeremyHowells, Geraint
Cousins, JimHowells, Dr. Kim (Pontypridd)
Cox, TomHughes, Robert (Aberdeen N)
Crowther, StanHughes, Simon (Southwark)
Cryer, BobIllsley, Eric
Cummings, JohnIngram, Adam
Cunliffe, LawrenceJanner, Greville
Cunningham, Dr JohnKaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Darling, AlistairKilfoyle, Peter
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)Kirkwood, Archy
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Dewar, DonaldLambie, David
Dixon, DonLamond, James
Dobson, FrankLeadbitter, Ted
Doran, FrankLewis, Terry
Douglas, DickLitherland, Robert
Dunnachie, JimmyLivingstone, Ken
Eadie, AlexanderLloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Eastham, KenLofthouse, Geoffrey
Loyden, EddieRooney, Terence
McAllion, JohnRoss, Ernie (Dundee W)
McCartney, IanRowlands, Ted
Macdonald, Calum A.Ruddock, Joan
McFall, JohnSalmond, Alex
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)Sheerman, Barry
McKelvey, WilliamShore, Rt Hon Peter
McLeish, HenryShort, Clare
McMaster, GordonSillars, Jim
McWilliam, JohnSkinner, Dennis
Madden, MaxSmith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Mahon, Mrs AliceSmith, C. (Isl'ton & F'bury)
Marek, Dr JohnSmith, J. P. (Vale of Glam)
Martin, Michael J. (Springburn)Soley, Clive
Martlew, EricSpearing, Nigel
Maxton, JohnSteel, Rt Hon Sir David
Meacher, MichaelSteinberg, Gerry
Meale, AlanStephen, Nicol
Michael, AlunStott, Roger
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)Strang, Gavin
Mitchell, Austin (G't Grimsby)Taylor, Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Moonie, Dr LewisTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Morgan, RhodriThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)Vaz, Keith
Morris, Rt Hon J. (Aberavon)Wallace, James
Mowlam, MarjorieWalley, Joan
Mullin, ChrisWardell, Gareth (Gower)
Murphy, PaulWareing, Robert N.
O'Brien, WilliamWatson, Mike (Glasgow, C)
Parry, RobertWelsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Patchett, TerryWelsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Pendry, TomWilliams, Rt Hon Alan
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Prescott, JohnWilson, Brian
Primarolo, DawnWinnick, David
Quin, Ms JoyceWise, Mrs Audrey
Radice, GilesWorthington, Tony
Randall, StuartWray, Jimmy
Redmond, MartinYoung, David (Bolton SE)
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn
Reid, Dr JohnTellers for the Noes:
Robertson, GeorgeMrs. Llin Golding and
Rogers, AllanMr. Thomas McAvoy.
Rooker, Jeff

Question accordingly agreed to.

Mr. Speaker forthwith declared the main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.

Resolved,That this House commends the Government's response to the announcement by British Steel of its decision to close Ravenscraig; acknowledges the extensive and effective nature of the measures already being undertaken by the Government as part of its continuing commitment to improve the economy and infrastructure in Lanarkshire, in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, the Lanarkshire Development Agency, and a range of other public and private bodies; welcomes the Government's commitment of some £120 million since the beginning of March 1991 for economic development and training in Lanarkshire; and supports the proposal by Her Majesty's Government that an enterprise zone be established in North Lanarkshire.