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Column 946Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Garrett, John (Norwich South)
Godman, Dr Norman A.
Golding, Mrs Llin
Grant, Bernie (Tottenham)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Heffer, Eric S.
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Hughes, Sean (Knowsley S)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Macdonald, Calum A.
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Pike, Peter L.
Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Quin, Ms Joyce
Smith, Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Rt Hon J. (Monk'ds E)
Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Wise, Mrs Audrey
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Allen McKay and
Mr. Ken Eastham.
Question accordingly agreed to.
That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.
It being after Seven o'clock Mr. Deputy Speaker,-- pursuant to Order [3 March], put the Question forthwith,
That the draft Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Regulations 1989, which were laid before this House on 1st March, be approved.
Question agreed to.
That the draft Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order 1989, which was laid before this House on 28th February, be approved.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean) : It might be helpful if I make it clear that debate on the order may cover all matters for which Northern Ireland departments, as distinct from the Northern Ireland Office, are responsible. Police and security are the principal excluded subjects.
The draft order has two purposes. The first is to authorise the expenditure of some £473 million included in the 1988-89 spring supplementary estimates. That amount, when added to the £3,618 million previously approved by the House, brings the total estimates provision for Northern Ireland departmental services to some £4,091 million for this financial year. The second purpose of the draft order is to authorise the vote on account of some £1,669 million for 1989-90. That amount is necessary to enable services to continue until the 1989-90 main estimates are approved later this year. Full details of all the provisions sought in the draft order can be found in the spring supplementary estimates volume and the "Statement of Sums Required on Account" leaflet, copies of which have been placed in the Vote Office.
As the draft order covers the entire range of services provided by Northern Ireland departments, I shall say a few words about certain key features of the Northern Ireland economy which inevitably influence the pattern of public expenditure provision. I am glad to say that the Province's economy continues to show clear signs of improvement and revival accompanied by a welcome reduction in numbers out of work. By January of this year, total unemployment on a seasonally adjusted basis had fallen by nearly 16,000 since the peak in October 1986, and by nearly 7,000 on the numbers a year ago. Our public expenditure plans for the coming year, with extra resources for training and investment, should contribute to a continuation of that trend.
Meanwhile, the numbers in employment are increasing. The number of employees in the manufacturing sector has risen by 2,000 in the year to last September. In the same period, the number of jobs in the service sector has increased by 3,000. Recent successes by the Industrial Development Board, which is due to receive additional funding in 1989-90, show that Northern Ireland is a highly attractive location for new investment. In the service sector, the commercial revival of Belfast and other centres continues.
As the estimates show, the Government will continue to pursue economic and public expenditure policies in Northern Ireland to strengthen the Province's economy. I want to ensure that the economic recovery is as broadly based as possible for the benefit of all areas and sections of the community.
I now turn to the specific estimates before the House. The Department of Agriculture's vote 1 provides for the Northern Ireland expenditure on United Kingdomwide
Column 948support schemes. Provision of £600,000 is sought to meet the costs in Northern Ireland of the measures introduced to assist the egg industry, as announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the House on 19 December. These short-term measures were introduced to restore stability to the industry following the sharp fall in demand for eggs as a result of the problems in Great Britain associated with salmonella enteritidis in eggs and egg products. Although no such infection was detected in any eggs produced in Northern Ireland, the industry is co-operating with the Department of Agriculture on further measures and final decisions in relation to Northern Ireland will be taken in the light of developments in Great Britain.
Following the reopening in Northern Ireland of the national element of the agriculture improvement scheme, the order provides for additional expenditure of £4 million, mainly on grants for effluent storage and disposal facilities. An extra £1.3 million is also provided this year for payments of compensatory allowances to farmers in less favoured areas.
The Department of Agriculture's vote 2 requires £0.5 million extra in the drainage programme to meet additional expenditure on the restoration of flood defences at Strabane following the severe flooding in October 1987.
The Department of Economic Development has supplementary estimates for all of its five votes. The most significant item in vote 1 is an extra £15.8 million to meet the current level of expenditure on industrial development grants and loans under selective financial assistance agreements. This reflects the continuing success of the Industrial Development Board in promoting employment in manufacturing industry and tradeable services. The major investments by Daewoo and Montupet will in themselves provide 1,600 new jobs. I should add that this increased expenditure is largely financed by an extra £14.6 million of receipts mainly from the sale of factories and land in line with the IDB's policy of privatisation.
The increases sought on the DED's votes 4 and 5 are all less than £3 million, but vote 2 contains by far and away the biggest single increase in these supplementary estimates. This is the provision of £390 million for the recapitalisation of Short Brothers plc, which the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my hon. Friend the Member for Gosport (Mr. Viggers), announced on 27 February. The House will recall my hon. Friend's previous statement on 21 July 1988, that the Government were ready to consider suitable proposals that might lead to the acquisition of Short Brothers by private sector interests. Subsequently, Kleinwort Benson were appointed as merchant banking advisers, and we have been moving towards our objective of privatisation.
The interest shown in Shorts by potential purchasers confirms our view that Shorts is a company with many fine products and is held in high regard by other companies in the aerospace industry. We remain convinced that Shorts' best interests will be served by an early return to the private sector with the disciplines and opportunities which are available there.
The House will be aware that an information memorandum was issued to companies interested in acquiring Shorts. Detailed discussions are taking place with prospective buyers. The House would not expect me to speculate on a date for disposal, but our intention is to achieve sale as early as possible.