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1 July 2008 : Column 834

I welcome the debate, but on that point of principle, I urge the House to reject the new clause.

Mr. Frank Field: I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Motion and clause, by leave, withdrawn.

Further consideration adjourned. —[Siobhain McDonagh.]

Bill to be further considered tomorrow.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees ),

Disabled Persons

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees ),

Constitutional Law

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Delegated Legislation Committees ),

Consumer Protection

Question agreed to.

european documents

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9)(European Committees),

Preliminary Draft Budget of the European Communities 2009

Question agreed to.


Ordere d ,

1 July 2008 : Column 835

Modernisation of the House of Commons


business of the House



HMRC Work Force Change

9.48 pm

Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale) (LD): I wish to present a petition on behalf of my constituents, members of staff at the office of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs at Kendal.

The petition states:

1 July 2008 : Column 836


Planning (Hampshire)

9.49 pm

Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD): I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents, the residents of Botley, Boorley Green and Hedge End.

The petition states:

Post Office Closures (Angus)

9.50 pm

Mr. Mike Weir (Angus) (SNP): I rise to present a petition on behalf of the citizens of the village of Glamis and surrounding areas in my constituency.

The petition states:

1 July 2008 : Column 837

Houghton and Washington, East (Economic Development)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Siobhain McDonagh.]

9.51 pm

Mr. Fraser Kemp (Houghton and Washington, East) (Lab): I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for giving me the opportunity of having this Adjournment debate.

Many Members believe that economic strength and development is a fundamental building block for the people we represent. Those of us who witnessed when that did not occur in our constituencies are aware of the devastating effect it had on the people we represent and the communities we serve. It is crucial that we get that economic development and growth right, not only for existing generations but for generations to come.

I want to concentrate on some of my constituency’s local successes, and to talk about some of the challenges we face in a fast-moving global environment. Coupled with that, in no way do I want to underestimate the problems we have had in the past and the problems we still face now. Although this debate is about economic development in Houghton and Washington, East, it is fair to say that no one constituency, region or nation can address economic development in isolation from current events and the global economy, and the impact that that has on everyone we represent. When 10 years ago textile workers in my constituency working in a former mining village called Fence Houses lost their jobs because Marks and Spencer decided to source from emerging markets, that had an impact and it was a direct result of globalisation. When the Nissan car manufacturer moves towards medium and higher value cars, that is an impact of globalisation as well, because emerging markets are now starting to produce much cheaper cars; we have heard some of the announcements in India and other places, where cars can be built for $1,000 or $2,000.

This global impact therefore affects us all, and the purpose of the debate is to raise some of the issues and to explain how I think we can respond. We must respond with a lot more creativity and flexibility than in the past, because the decision is not about whether we adapt to what is happening in the rest of the world, but how we adapt and what public policy we have, and what measures and mechanisms we put in place to make sure that the people we represent have a competitive advantage. Whether we like it or not, the train is leaving the station and we must be properly on board it. In my area and others, the growth and decline of traditional industries often took centuries, but I suspect that that will happen a lot quicker in future.

The area I represent has learned a number of lessons that it is right I share with the House. It has learned and applied those lessons despite the dramatic loss of its core industries. It is hard to comprehend the devastating impact that the loss of those industries had, not just economically but socially, in a very short space of time. It is against that tough background that the city has made significant progress.

I read in tonight’s Sunderland Echo that

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It has grown by 73 per cent. in that time. Other references to the city’s economy are especially apt for this debate:

While the report endorses the city absolutely, it makes the obvious point—and it is worth placing it on the record—that some areas still require improvement. Public infrastructure is one such area, and improving it would attract more service-based companies to invest in the area. Public investment has come into the area in the past 10 years—and there is more to come—and that has helped us to narrow the gap year on year in a range of economic indicators according to which we lagged behind massively in previous decades.

In a further endorsement of the city council’s strategy, the 2008 Cities Outlook report specifically identified Sunderland as having one of the highest rates of employment growth. A Business Inquiry report showed that growth in employment was 9.4 per cent., compared with 6.7 per cent. in the region and 3.3 per cent. for the UK. However, worklessness in the city is still higher than the national average. It has fallen three times faster than the national average in the last 10 years, and in my constituency alone we have seen a substantial reduction of 12. 5 per cent. in unemployment in the last five years. There are many reasons for that, but the overall success of the British economy has contributed massively. Various initiatives have helped many thousands of people in my constituency get back into work, but more needs to be done, and I shall give one small example. Many people need a multi-agency approach to get them back into work, and the city council believes that there should be more data sharing and co-operation between agencies in that regard.

It is to the eternal credit of the city council, past and present, that it recognised early that our core industries were not just declining, but disappearing. Early intervention through an economic strategy was the best and most secure way to prevent our city from becoming an industrial desert. The council worked hard to attract important inward investment and to promote small, indigenous companies in the city so that they could create jobs. Against a difficult backdrop, the council had the guts and determination to sell the city and ensure that it punched above its weight. It is not surprising that the city is an award winner many times over for its approach to economic development.

The key is not only attracting investment in the first place—which is difficult enough—but ensuring aftercare for the companies involved. Local and national Government have to provide facilities and work with companies that want solutions to problems. It is not just about getting them to come in and then forgetting about them. It is about working with companies over a period of time.

As I said, the city council has won many awards, but I read recently that it also received recognition from an unusual source. I do not usually pray in aid leading members of the Conservative party but I shall make an
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exception on this occasion. A leading former Sunderland businessman and leading Conservative, Sir Tom Cowie, feels that Sunderland—

It being Ten o’clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Mr. Michael Foster.]

Mr. Kemp: As I was saying, a leading Conservative and Sunderland businessman, Sir Tom Cowie, discussing economic development in the city, said in May 2008:

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