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House of Commons

Tuesday 24 July 1990

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

PRAYERS

[Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]

MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN

Income Tax

The Vice-Chamberlain of the Household reported Her Majesty's Answer to the Addresses as follows :

I have received your Addresses praying that the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income) (Italy) Order 1990 and the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income) (Netherlands) Order 1990 be made in the form of drafts laid before your House.

I will comply with your request.

PRIVATE BUSINESS

Penzance South Pier Extension Bill

British Railways Bill

(By Order)

Orders for consideration of Lords amendments read.

To be considered tomorrow.

London Docklands Railway Bill

(By Order)

Order for consideration, as amended, read.

To be considered tomorrow.

Heathrow Express Railway Bill

[Lords]

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the Heathrow Express Railway Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ; That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session :

That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time. That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ; That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented with the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;

That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;


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That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

To be considered tomorrow.

Killingholme Generating Stations(Ancillary Powers) Bill

[Lords]

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the Killingholme Generating Stations (Ancillary Powers) Bill [Lords] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office of their intention to suspend further proceedings not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;

That if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agents for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by them stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session ;

That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be deemed to have been read the first and shall be ordered to be read a second time ; That the Petitions against the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ; That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;

That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

To be considered tomorrow.

King's Cross Railways Bill

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the King's Cross Railways Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;

That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House ;

That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session ;

That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) ;

That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ;

That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the


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time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ; That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

To be considered tomorrow.

Midland Metro Bill

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the Midland Metro Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ;

That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House ;

That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the present Session ;

That the Bill shall be laid upon the Table of the House by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office on the next meeting of the House after the day on which the Bill has been presented and, when so laid, shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) ;

That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ;

That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;

That in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

To be considered tomorrow.

Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill

[Lords]

Motion made,

That the Promoters of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill [ Lords ] shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid ; That, if the Bill is brought from the Lords in the next Session, the Agent for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration signed by him, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the Lords in the present Session ;

That, as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill


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shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) ;

That all Petitions relating to the Bill presented in the present Session which stand referred to the Committee on the Bill, together with any minutes of evidence taken before the Committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the Committee on the Bill in the next Session ;

That no Petitioners shall be heard before the Committee on the Bill, unless their Petition has been presented within the time limited within the present Session or deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business ;

That, in relation to the Bill, Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business shall have effect as if the words under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against Bill)' were omitted ;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session ;

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House-- [The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means.]

Hon. Members : Object.

To be considered tomorrow.

Oral Answers to Questions

EMPLOYMENT

Footwear and Textiles

1. Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a further statement about job losses in the footwear and textile industries.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Eric Forth) : The unprecedented job growth achieved under this Governmentis testimony to the success of their policies, which have allowed industry and workers to adapt to changing circumstances and seize new opportunities. It would be counterproductive to try to bolster uncompetitive sectors.

Mr. Vaz : Nothing that the Minister has said will give comfort to those who work in the footwear and textile industries. Is he aware that since 1979, 197,000 jobs have been lost in those two industries--2.5 jobs for every hour that the Government have existed? Will he, please, as a matter of urgency, in consultation with the Department of Trade and Industry, set up a task force to look at the specific problems of the footwear and textile industries in order to save them from devastation? If he continues to fiddle, by the end of the decade there simply will not be a British footwear and textile industry left.

Mr. Forth : Of course, we are conscious of the problems in those industries, but it is worth stressing that both, in their different ways and in certain sectors, are successful. I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman should try to give the impression that we can magic away any problems with a wand, or even with a task force. Apart from anything else, he must realise that about 38 per cent. of imported footwear comes from the EC, and he and his party, with their belief in all that is good in the EC, must realise that no measures that even they would want to take could possibly do anything about that. I hope that the hon.


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Gentleman will recognise that unemployment in his constituency, at 4.4 per cent., is lower than that for the United Kingdom.

Mr. Marlow : May I say that we in Northampton are proud that we produce the best footwear in the world and have one of the lowest levels of unemployment in the country? Is not that something to do with the fact that we do not whinge, we are proud of ourselves and we get on with the job?

Mr. Forth : Yes, that well illustrates the difference in attitude between the Government and the Opposition. My hon. Friend is proud of his constituency and of the companies in it, whereas Opposition Members can only decry what happens in their constituencies and constantly talk it down.

Mr. Beggs : Will the Minister continue to bear in mind the importance of the textile industry in Northern Ireland, where there has been rapid growth and where many new jobs have been created? Will he bear that in mind especially when negotiations on the importation of textiles are taking place?

Mr. Forth : I am delighted to join the hon. Gentleman in recognising the achievements in his part of the world. He is entitled to be proud and to bring to the attention of the House the fact that people in Northern Ireland are working very hard to built up those key sectors, and to demonstrate their capacity to be competitive and productive. We can all share the hon. Gentleman's pleasure and pride in that.

Dock Labour Scheme

2. Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has received representations seeking the reintroduction of the national dock labour scheme.

The Secretary of State for Employment (Mr. Michael Howard) : I have received no such representations.

Mr. Bennett : Does my right hon. and learned Friend recall the words of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, East (Mr. Prescott), who said that the scheme provided what Labour wanted all industries to have, and the words of the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher), who said that to abolish the scheme was a wilful act of sabotage against the country's economic interest? Will my right hon. and learned Friend say what has happened to productivity and to industrial relations in the docks since the dock labour scheme was abolished?

Mr. Howard : Productivity has increased. We have lost only two days since the collapse of the strike against abolition, compared with an average of three disputes a week when the scheme was in operation. The national dock labour scheme provides an object lesson in what life would be like if we were ever to have another Labour Government.

Dr. Godman : Whatever the merits of the national dock labour scheme, it provided our maritime communities with highly skilled workers. It is essential that the training facilities for those workers are maintained. In terms of industrial relations and productivity, the few Greenock dock workers who are still at work are among the best.


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They may take a few minutes off their work tomorrow to welcome the QE2 as she berths at the container terminal in Greenock.

Mr. Howard : I am delighted that the abolition of the scheme has given new opportunities to port workers at Greenock, as elsewhere. However, the hon. Gentleman is entirely incorrect if he suggests that there has been any deterioration in training since the abolition of the scheme. All surveys show that training has improved, that more of it is available and that it has been of a better quality since the scheme was abolished.

Mr. Rowe : Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that it comes as no surprise to the people of Medway that he has received no representations about the scheme, as both the Medway ports authority and the new container port on the Isle of Grain could be there, thriving and increasing the number of people in employment, only once the scheme had been removed?

Mr. Howard : My hon. Friend is right. Only a week or so ago, I opened a new facility at Sheerness for fruit storage, which cost £3.5 million. It was conceived, designed and executed after the abolition of the scheme and it certainly would not have been there if the scheme had still been in existence.

Rural Employment

3. Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he has any new proposals to increase job opportunities in rural and semi-rural areas.

Mr. Howard : Rural areas have shared in the increased job opportunities that have become available on an unprecedented scale in recent years. Training and enterprise councils are introducing new initiatives to reinforce that trend.

Mr. Pike : Let us dismiss the nonsense with which the Secretary of State started his comments. Does he accept that in rural areas there is a lack of choice of jobs and that there are many low-paid jobs? Will he do something to increase the opportunity for choice of jobs and for higher pay in rural and semi-rural areas?

Mr. Howard : But choice and job opportunities are increasing constantly in rural areas. They are sharing in the increased job opportunities that are becoming available. We have 3.5 million more jobs than we had in 1983 and rural areas have fully shared in that prosperity.

Miss Emma Nicholson : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that when he came to my constituency on Friday, he saw a welcome increase in excellent and well-paid jobs that require high qualifications in several parts of my constituency? Does he further agree that the increase by one quarter in jobs in the

south-west--which is, in essence, rural--since 1983 is laudable and that we have a magnificent increase in jobs in the tourism industry?

Mr. Howard : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I was delighted to join her on Friday in her constituency, where we saw some magnificent examples of the dynamic enterprise which has flourished under this Government and which is providing job opportunities in rural areas. My hon. Friend, unlike the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike), is living in the real world.


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Mr. Kirkwood : Will the Secretary of State undertake to look carefully at the way in which the new regime under which the training centres are operating is discriminating against potential trainees from rural areas? Is he aware that the amount of money that the Government give to the training centres per head must embrace an element for expenses? It is obviously more expensive to travel the 50 miles from my constituency to Edinburgh than it is to go round the corner. Will he make sure that potential trainees from rural areas are not discriminated against in that way?

Mr. Howard : The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that one reason behind the setting up of the training and enterprise councils in England and Wales and the local enterprise companies in Scotland is to enable training to be provided that more closely fits the needs of local areas, including rural areas. They will be able to take the needs of their areas into account in a way that will be far more responsive than has previously been the case.

Labour Statistics

4. Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the unemployment figures in the towns of Barnstaple, Ilfracombe and South Molton in 1979 and the present day ; and if he will make a statement on the future employment prospects in this area.

Mr. Forth : The figures are 1,441 and 1,656, although they are not comparable, the travel-to-work area having been redefined and changes having been made in the coverage of the count. With unemployment at only 4.5 per cent. for the Barnstaple and Ilfracombe area, prospects for future employment are excellent, bearing in mind the fact that there are over 500 vacancies locally.

Mr. Speller : Does my hon. Friend accept that the figures of 4.5 per cent. unemployment in the Barnstaple and Ilfracombe area and a mere 2.5 per cent. in South Molton show how wise we were to take away grant that was based on development areas and to substitute good roads and infrastructure? Can he promise me that when we get our downstream bridge, unemployment may virtually disappear in north Devon?

Mr. Forth : I join my hon. Friend in celebrating the success in job creation in his constituency in the past few years. He is tempting me on to the territory of another Department. I shall resist that temptation, but I undertake to raise the point that my hon. Friend raises with the Department of Transport to see what can be done.

Youth Training

5. Mrs. Maureen Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the improvements made by switching from YTS to youth training.

Mr. Howard : New youth training builds and improves on the achievements of YTS. It offers the promise of a level 2 qualification or more for every trainee who can achieve it. It offers flexible design and duration of training and wider eligibility. It will provide improved help for those with special training needs and those seeking employment after training.

Mrs. Hicks : Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, while a disappointing number of youngsters over 16 are staying on for further education, it is vital for


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the career development of young people and for the needs of the economy that we offer each and every young person who wants it, a tailor-made training, which truly assesses their individual needs, which, we hope, matches the needs of industry, particularly in relation to skill shortages, and which, most of all, guarantees them a good qualification that will be welcomed in the workplace and be highly regarded?

Mr. Howard : I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. The combination of new youth training and the training and enterprise councils offers us the best possible prospect of achieving the objectives that she identified.

Mr. Leighton : Will the Secretary of State please try to do better this year in protecting the budget of his Department than he did in last year's autumn expenditure round, when several hundred million pounds were lopped off the expenditure on employment training and youth training? In particular, will he note that the London borough of Newham feels cheated as do 20 other local authorities, because they wanted to co-operate with the Government on the technical and vocational education initiative but now find that the cash for it has been substantially cut? Does he appreciate that investing in the technical and vocational education of our young people is the best use that can be made of public money?

Mr. Howard : The hon. Gentleman, who follows those matters closely as Chairman of the Select Committee on Employment, will know that in the past four years funding for training has increased by 60 per cent. in real terms at a time when unemployment has halved. That is the context in which this year's settlement must be seen.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell : Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that two members of the England World cup football squad first acquired their footballing skills under YTS? Will he further confirm that the same opportunities for young people to develop their world-class football skills will be available under youth training?

Mr. Howard : My hon. Friend is entirely right. David Platt and Paul Gascoigne, who combined to score the goal that put England in the quarter final of the World cup, were both YTS trainees. I am confident that youth training will enable the England World cup team to do even better in 1994 than in 1990.


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