Ravenscraig

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:36 pm on 23rd January 1992.

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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".