§ Mr. Tim Renton
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the use of Government sanctions against Ford and other private sector employers who break the 5 per cent. guideline.1266 This matter must be clarified in the House. It is evidently specific. The Ford labour force is voting today on whether to accept a wage settlement of about 17 per cent. I understand that the men at Halewood and Southampton have already accepted, yet at the same time we learn from the press that a senior civil servant is now in the United States advising Ford of the intention of the Government to implement the full rigour of State sanctions against the company if it proceeds with the settlement. They know about it in Detroit, but we have not heard a word about it in Westminster.
The matter is evidently important. The Ford company is engaged in a £1,000 million four-year British investment programme which includes expansion in areas of high unemployment such as South Wales and Merseyside. If sanctions are imposed, Ford may well curtail that investment programme and expand elsewhere in Europe, with disastrous employment consequences for the United Kingdom.
The matter deserves urgent consideration as it is still in the melting pot. I believe that Back Benchers on both sides of the House would welcome the opportunity to debate the matter immediately in order to influence imminent Government decisions and that the debate should have preference over tomorrow's Second Reading of the Banking Bill, which could wait for a few days.
Sanctions do not have statutory backing. They are outside the law and are unconstitutional. It is surely right that the principle behind them should he debated in the House before their imposition on an important employer such as Ford. The Government have made fools of themselves over the 5 per cent. policy. The House has a duty to try to protect the country from the consequences of that folly.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,the use of Government sanctions against Ford and other private sector employers who break the 5 per cent. guideline.The hon. Gentleman was kind enough to give me notice before 12 o'clock this 1267 morning that he proposed to raise this matter. I listened with very great care to what he said. Although I have no doubt that the House will discuss the matter at some time, I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House.