§ Mr. A. E. P. Duffy (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under standing order No. 10, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,the formation by the British Steel Corporation, GKN and Lonrho of a joint company for the purpose of acquiring Hadfields, and the announcement by Hadfields that 'it may well be that the Hadfields plant will cease operation in consequence'.I believe that the matter is specific, in that I received official notification on Friday last from Mr. Dan Bufton, managing director of Hadfields, and Mr. John Pennington, managing director of BSC Special Steels.
The matter is important, because the closure of Hadfields, which has played a major role in the Sheffield steel industry for more than a century, will cost 750 jobs. More than 1,000 jobs at BSC will also be at risk, in addition to the 1,700 redundancies announced by BSC Special Steels only last November, and the 1,900 redundancies at Hadfields in 1981—the early casualties of this same rationalisation scheme.
The matter is urgent because it arises from a Government strategy, code-named Phoenix 2. The bulk of the money involved will come from Government sources, either through BSC or directly. The next stage is expected to be a complex denationalisation of much of BSC Special Steels in south Yorkshire. Yet there has been no consultation with the trade unions, the workers or the Sheffield city council, which will have to pick up the pieces.
That brings me to the most disturbing aspect of the Government's handling of Phoenix 2. I have been asking parliamentary questions about Phoenix 2 talks since March 1981. The last occasion was as recently as 7 July. In all that time I have received only negative and distinctly unhelpful replies. They are all on the record. Yet the Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry, in a written reply that can be found at the back of Friday's edition of the Official Report, conveyed the announcement to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen). I am not aware of that hon. Gentleman having any steelworks in his residential constituency or any connections whatsoever with the parties to Phoenix 2.
To the workers at Hadfields, that grotesque form of communication will be gall to the wound. To hon. Members, such an evasive discharge of ministerial responsibility must come perilously close to a contempt of Parliament.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) 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 consequences of the restructuring of the engineering steels industry.I fully understand that that is a matter of great concern to the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members, but, as the House knows, under Standing Order No. 10 I am directed to take account of the several factors set out in the order but to give no reason for my decision. I listened very carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said and have given careful consideration to his representations, but I have to 25 rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order and, therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.