asked the Secretary of State for Industry what assessment of the future of the wool textile industry he has made in the light of the West Yorkshire metropolitan county council report "Economic Trends" of September 1979, a copy of which has been sent to him, showing an acceleration of job loss in the industry; and if he will make a statement.
As the wool textile industry has lost 130,000 jobs during the last 20 years, over 60,000 jobs in the last 10 years and this report forecasts that a further 26,000 jobs will be lost in the three years up to 1980, is the Minister aware that employers, unions and local authorities are united in demanding an urgent and thorough review by the Government and the EEC of industrial, regional and trade policies towards the wool textile industry and those communities that are suffering so badly as a result of this decline?
Some of the jobs lost are accounted for by rationalisation of the industry, which has proceeded with assistance from the Government under section 8 of the Industry Act. I believe that the wider question raised by the hon. Gentleman is to be debated in the House tomorrow.
Is the Minister aware that following rationalisation under the Labour Government there was a slight increase in the number of people employed in the industry? Does he accept that the present increase in the number of unemployed in the industry is due to the inertia of the Government over the application of the MFA and the determination of the EEC to do absolutely nothing and thus defeat the aims and objects of the MFA?
Does the hon. Gentleman realise the seriousness of the situation in the areas represented by my hon. Friends? Those areas have seen about 2,000 redundancies declared by 23 firms in the past six months. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the answer that he gave during the Adjournment debate on 6 November, when he virtually washed his hands of the industry, caused a great deal of concern on both sides of that industry?