Mr George Park: asked the Minister for Trade if he will assess the impact on the different elements in the balance of United Kingdom visible and invisible trade in 1982 of the common agricultural policy of the European Community.
Mr George Park: Is the Minister aware that the common agricultural policy now costs Britain over £2 billion annually, this sum coming from United Kingdom taxes and going straight into the EC budget? To rub salt into the wound, British consumers have to pay considerably more for their food than current world prices would justify.
Mr George Park: Will the Secretary of State give way?
Mr George Park: Yes, but not to me.
Mr George Park: asked the Minister for Trade when next he plans to meet the chairman of British Airways to discuss the finances of the airline.
Mr George Park: How much taxpayers' money has gone into British Airways in the past two financial years?
Mr George Park: Does the Secretary of State agree that if compulsory strike ballots had been in operation during the recent water workers' strike, that incident would have been unduly prolonged?
Mr George Park: asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans to reduce the numbers of general practitioners relying on deputising services.
Mr George Park: As over 43 per cent. of general practitioners use deputising services, and other doctors make different arrangements, is the Minister completely satisfied that the 1978 guidelines are being observed?
Mr George Park: Bearing in mind that each fall of 1 per cent. in the inflation rate has led to 200,000 more unemployed, does reducing the inflation rate to zero mean that another 1 million people will join the dole queue?
Mr George Park: In previous debates on the west midlands economy Opposition Members, including myself, have been accused of talking the region down when we were really attempting to gain some recognition and positive action by the Government to remedy the disasterous position in the west midlands. The choice of subject by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. King) and other initiatives by midlands...
Mr George Park: I have known the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Beaumont-Dark) for too long to be silly enough to allow him to intervene at this point. Conservative Members may have been helped on their way since the Government take no notice of Opposition Members. However, they may be prepared to accept statements by bodies which have no connection with the Labour party. I refer to the west...
Mr George Park: If the hon. Member for Northfield looks at those factories, he will see that that is the case. It goes even further with banks pulling the rug out from under viable companies, such as Cannings in Birmingham, and the Government allowing the taxpayer to be ripped off for the third time, as in the case of Alfred Herbert, and the Minister with responsibility for the west midlands standing...
Mr George Park: I thank my hon. Friend for that contribution. The Prime Minister would have realised, had she stopped to think—instead of taking off on cloud nine on some popular proposal about the rates — that, after commissions and investigations into the rating system under successive Governments, no viable alternative has been put forward. There is no such easily collectable tax as rates, with so...
Mr George Park: The simple answer is no, I do not agree with that string of shibboleths from the hon. Gentleman. I urge him quietly to examine what he said. According to Accountancy Age, rates represent 1 per cent. of manufacturing costs.
Mr George Park: I wish the hon. Gentleman would permit me to answer the question he has already asked. The Government continue to look for scapegoats on which to offload their responsibility for failing to regenerate industry. If the hon. Gentleman examines the rating system carefully, he may find that what I have said is based more on fact than his slogans. Urgent action is needed in many or all of the...
Mr George Park: Does my hon. Friend accept that the trade unions do not have the sanction of introducing new models? That is a matter for management. Therefore, as there have not been sufficient new models in the past, that must be the responsibility of management.
Mr George Park: How many more excuses will the Government trot out before they deal with the Spanish problem? The Secretary of State was very scornful just now about my hon. Friend the Member for Norwood (Mr. Fraser). Does he recall that when he was previously in the Department of Trade some years ago he told me that he would do something about the problem?
Mr George Park: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that, rather than encroach further on the green belt, it would make more sense to provide more money for derelict land clearance, especially in areas such as the west midlands?
Mr George Park: What are the implications of the review for the west midlands? Will the Secretary of State do anything to stop the continuing contraction, especially in the machine tool industry?