Wool Textile Industry

Oral Answers to Questions — Oral Answers to Questions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th November 1979.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ken Woolmer Mr Ken Woolmer , Batley and Morley 12:00 am, 12th November 1979

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.

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

This report illustrates the concern felt in the area about the future of the wool textile industry which has been raised by representatives of the industry.

Photo of Mr Ken Woolmer Mr Ken Woolmer , Batley and Morley

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?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

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.

Photo of Mr Bob Cryer Mr Bob Cryer , Keighley

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?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

When the Government are given real evidence of unfair trading practices they are prepared to raise the matter with the EEC, as we have already done in the case of Prato.

Photo of Sir Frederick Burden Sir Frederick Burden , Gillingham

Is not one of the problems of the wool textile industry that wool textiles are being replaced in many areas by other fabrics?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

There are commercial problems that affect the industry, and my hon. Friend has put his finger on one of them.

Photo of Mr Leslie Huckfield Mr Leslie Huckfield , Nuneaton

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?

Photo of Mr David Mitchell Mr David Mitchell , Basingstoke

The hon. Gentleman has unfairly misinterpreted the answers that I gave during the Adjournment debate. If he is in the House tomorrow he will hear that matter further embroidered in the course of debate.