No doubt every area believes that it has unique problems to which the Government are oblivious. Nothing is easier than to stand up in the House and denounce the Government for turning a deaf ear. Nothing is easier than to join a delegation to put just such a unique case to my hon. Friend the Minister. I am sure that in his time he has received many such delegations. But at the end of the day probably nothing is so futile as special pleading, especially if it comes from someone who supports the general tenor of the Government's approach and who could, therefore, rightly be accused of hypocrisy. He could be accused of backing up the Government in general terms but not supporting the particular application of their approach to the interests of his area.
I am not here to indulge in special pleading on behalf of the Bradford area. Rather, I want to put my comments in the context of a situation in which many people now recognise that present regional policy is not necessarily giving the taxpayer the best value for money and in which the Government, by establishing an interdepartmental review, have shown that they, too, are prepared to consider that. Thus, although my constituency of Keighley happens to be outside the assisted area and does not therefore benefit from the status enjoyed by the rest of the Bradford metropolitan district, I am not specifically asking for Keighley to be added, even though it might not be too difficult to make out a case for that to be done. Rather, I want to look at some of the ways in which the Government endeavour to assist the regions. Could we do it more effectively?
It would be appropriate if, at this stage, I took my hon. Friend on a short verbal tour of the local industrial scene to ensure that we are all talking the same language. It was soon after my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister became leader of the Conservative party that, as Leader of the Opposition, she first set out the virtures of those Victorian values for which more recently she has been disparaged. She made that speech in St. George's hall, Bradford.
Bradford's success was built on the achievements of successful business men. Its name became synonymous with the heart of the world wool textile trade. For a long time everything seemed to be going right and few could anticipate what changes lay ahead, but the world has changed and the challenges that we now face are dramatic. Emerging semi-industrial nations can go into textile manufacturing more easily than into high technology electronics. Those of us who wish the disparities between the Third world and the most highly developed nations to be reduced can hardly deny those nations their ambitions. It is true that whenever wool men meet the view is always expressed that European competitors, whether or not they are in the Community, are given advantages by their Governments that are denied to our industry, but that is not the main thrust of my argument today.
The area has not resisted change. On the contrary, it has embraced it. A generation and more ago Bradford people could and did solve Bradford's problems. Building societies, car and television companies and mail order firms developed in the area. In the early 1970s Government initiatives such as the wool textile schemes helped to restructure parts of the textile industry. It appeared that market forces were enabling the local economy to restructure itself from its historic textile and manufacturing industry base to one with a broader foundation.
However, unfortunately, since 1978 there have been massive job losses while at the same time the demand for jobs has increased. The district's unemployment rate has moved from 20 per cent. below the national average in 1974 to 20 per cent. above the national average in 1983. That change was indeed recognised by the retention of assisted area status for the Bradford travel-to-work area.
Bradford's job losses do not receive the same national coverage or attention as those in other centres of population, because the changes have taken place much more gradually. Other parts of the country, such as the west midlands, recently had a more rapid increase in a short space of time, encouraging talk of a special Minister for the west midlands, just as we had a special Minister for Merseyside.
Bradford has the equivalent of a major plant closure every year. Although it does not make national headlines, the local social and economic consequences are the same. A typical firm in Bradford employs fewer than 20 people. It is increasingly rare for any closure to attract national exposure. However, last year Bradford lost 4,752 jobs and since 1978 the metropolitan district has lost as many as 21,354 jobs.
The population structure of Bradford, including my constituency of Keighley, is such that, unlike most other urban areas, we shall need more jobs in future, not fewer. Bradford has a relatively stable population. While people from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan make up 11 per cent. of the district's population, 28 per cent of all the births in the district come from that section of its inhabitants. The effect of this change in population structure is that roughly 3,000 more people will he looking for jobs in Bradford in five years' time. Bradford needs to gain 600 jobs a year just to stand still. Over the past decade Bradford has lost an average of 600 jobs a year. Last year only 7 per cent. of ethnic minority 16-year-old school leavers obtained jobs, compared with 28 per cent. of the indigenous population.
Despite the adaptation that has taken place, like many other northern industrial areas the district is overdependent on manufacturing industry. In 1978, 41·1 per cent. of people in the district worked in manufacturing industry, compared with only 32 per cent. nationally. Conversely, only 54·7 per cent. worked in service industries compared with 59·7 per cent. nationally. Bradford has 4 million sq ft of empty industrial floor space, most of it formerly in use in the textile industry. Much of it is partly derelict, but it does not qualify for the derelict land grant, which was devised for mining areas.
It is a great mistake to talk of the textile industry as if it were doomed. Some people like to say in one breath that the industries of the future are only computers, micro electronics and fibre optics, and in the next that we must abandon industries that are rooted in the past. I am not only secretary of the all-party wool textile group, but also treasurer of the parliamentary information technology committee, so I have a foot in both camps. Despite the job losses, textiles are still one of the biggest employers in the country and make a valuable contribution to our export performance.
The pessimists point only to the number of job losses, but that is not necessarily the only or appropriate criterion of the success of an industry. As I said during the debate on the multi-fibre arrangement on 18 June 1981:
I do not believe that the number of job losses is a fair criterion of the health of the industry. It is true that some of the jobs have been lost because of an overall decline in the size of the market and the loss of market share, but others have been lost because of the very necessary process of modernisation, which has reduced the amount of manpower needed.
The companies that have survived have tended to be those that took action early enough and efficiently enough to stop the decline.
Of course, not all the firms that disappeared were bad ones. In a period of recession, and because of the interrelationship of business activities in so diverse an industry as wool textiles, the most efficient companies can easily be dragged down by those that are less able to compete. In the past few months the textile industry has seen a welcome revival in its fortunes. Although it is too early to throw our hats in the air, there is cause to believe that we are over the worst.
There has been a shakeout in the industry and the leaner, fitter firms that now exist are better placed to take advantage of the opportunities that are coming than they would have been a few short years ago. We should not forget that the textile industry does have protection. As I said in the debate on 18 June 1981,
a renewed MFA should not be a blanket for stifling change but a vehicle for encouraging controlled development, both at home and in those countries throughout the world with which to a great extent our fortunes are bound up."—[Official Report, 18 June 1981; Vol. 6, c. 1241–42.]
Now that we have a renewed multi-fibre arrangement, I hope that those objectives will be realised.
Neither Bradford nor Keighley is founded on textiles alone. We also have a major commitment to engineering. In many parts of the engineering industry, any signs of recovery are much more difficult to discern. The picture is patchy. If we examine the results of the most recent economic survey by the Bradford chamber of commerce for the quarter ending 30 June 1983, we see qualified signs of recovery, which must be encouraging. Slightly under one fifth of the companies taking part are in the engineering sector and one must assume that they are still finding the going tough. While slightly over half the responses show that companies expect home market conditions to remain constant in the next three months, more than one third expect them to improve — three times as many as the ones that expect them to decline. About 64 per cent. of companies now have a fuller order book than a year ago, compared with 17 per cent. with a shorter order book. As many as 53 per cent. of companies have seen the volume of their goods and services delivered in the past three months increase, compared with only 10 per cent. that saw them decline.
Unfortunately, developments, as far as jobs are concerned, are lagging well behind, as one knew they would. The recession indicated to many firms that they were previously overmanned. They are determined that as recovery comes there will be fewer employees than before. That trend conforms with the need for greater efficiency and productivity, which the Government rightly seek. A visit to a factory today can be a revelation. In the textile industry, for example, one man or woman can now oversee a cluster of large machines, whereas in the past it would have taken one operative to look after each small machine. It is hardly surprising that during the past three months the survey to which I referred shows that only 22 per cent. of companies have increased their work force while 11 per cent. have seen it decline. In as many as 67 per cent. of the companies it has remained constant. The problem is a particular one for Bradford where, as I have suggested, there is too great a dependence on manufacturing industry and a shortage of jobs in the service sector.
I pay tribute to the efforts which the city of Bradford metropolitan council has made to respond to change. Not so long ago many people might have laughed at the idea that Bradford would be seen as a tourist centre, but last year over 15,000 people bought Bradford-based package holidays. The council has won the Sir Mark Henig English tourist board award.
In partnership with the science museum the council has developed the national photographic museum in the city. I consider myself fortunate to have in my constituency not only the beautiful village of Haworth, with its famous Bronte connections, but the attractive town of Ilkley, whose moor is certainly one of the best known features of Yorkshire. At this time of the year the area is crowded with holidaymakers. Bradford has also made a submission for the 1989 national garden festival. Many other new developments are taking place.
To assist the unemployed the council has developed benefit shops, which present a more informal approach to the formidable problems which claimants may encounter. The council is also exploring area management proposals in an attempt to encourage local democracy. There have been firm responses to Government initiatives. Bradford has responded to the concept of information technology centres, the youth training scheme and the Manpower Services Commission community programme. It has also given widespread publicity to the availability of urban development grants.
Why, then, is regional policy not as effective as it should be? I believe that in some ways the thinking behind it is more relevant to the last century than to this. The concept that assisted area status should be related almost solely to unemployment figures at some time in the recent past means that we pay insufficient attention to the precise industrial structure of an area or to the changes needed in the next few years. Trends are just as important as the position at any given moment.
Keighley is not looking back to the 1970s, but ahead to the 1990s. Industry in the area is traditionally based, largely on textiles and engineering. Despite recent encouraging signs, those industries will employ fewer people in the future. Indeed, it is only by becoming more efficient, which unfortunately often means employing fewer people, that industries such as textiles will prosper. Keighley needs new jobs to replace those which have been lost, and those jobs must increasingly come from newer industries, particularly in the service sector. Regional policy as presently constituted, however, is founded almost entirely on manufacturing industry.
Keighley is outside the assisted area, so it does not have the benefits enjoyed by Bradford. I am asking not for Keighley to be included in the assisted area, but for a new approach which tries to prevent future problems rather than looking back nostalgically to the good old days. Metaphorically speaking, we need more preventive emedicine and health education and not so much drastic surgery designed to save a patient who is already practically dead on his feet.
My hon. Friend the Member for Dewsbury (Mr. Whitfield) used a similar analogy when introducing the debate on regional industrial policy on 22 July. He said:
One is drawn increasingly to the conclusion that the whole system of zones, intermediate areas, development areas and special development areas tends to amount to sticking plasters on sore spots wherever they arise and wherever the pressure groups press hardest."—[Official Report, 22 July 1983; Vol. 46, c. 695.]
Bradford's main need is not just to attract more manufacturing industry, which may produce only a relatively short-term benefit, but to encourage the growth of new embryo service industries to broaden the economic base of the area. We need to attract providers of employment with good long-term prospects. If Bradford's prospects are to be closer to those or the south-east of England, its employment structure must be very different in the future. In reality, current regional policy is in many ways counter-productive to its stated objective of helping areas with high unemployment. Regional policy is a short-term palliative, rather than a long-term cure.
I do not disagree with the Government's view that the proportion of the country with assisted area status should be substantially reduced. It was reasonable to wish to concentrate scarce resources on the areas of greatest need. Thus, the percentage of the working populaton covered by assisted areas fell from 44 to 27 per cent. between 1979 and 1983. The only trouble is that that has in some ways accentuated the differences between the assisted and the non-assisted.
It has been said that the assistance offered is not, in any event, a major factor in determining location but rather an additional benefit to be considered at the margin. Where it has been a factor, it might be said that the result has been merely to transfer employent opportunities from areas which are by no means prosperous to otters which are little different, with little tangible benefit.
The Bradford travel-to-work area has assisted area status while Keighley has not, although its unemployment figure is only about 3 per cent. lower, but this broad brush approach disguises substantial differences within the areas concerned. A couple of weeks ago I was approached by a constituent in Tekley who was interested in establishing a manufacturing base within about five miles of his home. He wished to remain within the Bradford metropolitan district, and I had to admit that he might get more assistance by locating in Shipley, which is in the assisted area, than in Keighley, which is not, but which in many ways probably has a greater need for the new jobs that he could provide.
When I spoke in the debate on 4 March, on employment in Yorkshire and Humberside, when I still represented the Brighouse and Spenborough constituency, I referred to a study by researchers at Leeds university showing that of 57,000 job losses between 1975 and 1981, just over half occurred in factories owned by firms based outside west Yorkshire. I pointed out that almost 30 per cent. of them were controlled by firms based in the south-east. Speaking of firms with subsidiaries in west Yorkshire, I said:
These companies, unlike those based in the county, are easily able to consider in what part of the country they should locate plants. They very often do so".—[Official Report, 4 March 1983; Vol. 38, c. 513.]
This introduces the danger of the branch factory syndrome.
If a manufacturing company experiences difficulties, the easiest solution is often to close down an outpost and concentrate production centrally. The closure of the Thorn electrical factory in Bradford is one example. Renolds is a more recent instance. The amalgamation of local textile firms has progressed similarly, and Bradford now has far fewer centres of decision making than it had three decades ago. Regional policy has not helped to reverse that trend.
In addition to the traditional forms of regional policy, the Government have introduced a radical newcomer—the enterprise zone. One is aware of the benefits that may flow to a rundown area of high dereliction, devastated by the loss of major manufacturing industry. Nevertheless, I cannot deny that I have been worried by the distortions that that has built into the system—the possibility, even the likelihood, that processes and jobs will simply be moved over an artificial boundary, putting competitive companies in the vicinity at a severe disadvantage.
Bradford was invited last year to put forward a submission for an enterprise zone, but the concept of an enterprise zone as at present defined would be of little help to that city, or indeed to Keighley. As I have explained, job losses have not been concentrated in tight pockets, but have been spread throughout the area. Moreover, the topography of the area, in which factories and settlements have grown along valley bottoms surrounded by steep slopes rising to the nearby moors and the Pennine foothills, means that no suitable site exists for an enterprise zone. The Government's enterprise zone concept could, if anything, merely put Bradford and its surrounding communities at a greater disadvantage than before.
Bradford metropolitan council therefore responded with an idea described as the Bradford enterprise zone experiment. Perhaps it would have been better to have given this package of initiatives a different name which would not have confused it with the much more tightly-drawn version devised by the Government. The council's view was that the enterprise zone was inappropriate to Bradford's needs and that, rather than cobble together an inappropriate answer to the area's problems, it would be better to propose an alternative. Although the submission was made about nine months ago and circulated to several Government Departments, including the Department of Industry, no considered response has been received.
Bradford wishes to spread the benefits of the initiatives throughout its entire area rather than try to find a part of the district which would fulfil the necessary criteria. It said in its submission:
A job created for a new tourist activity in Ilkley or Haworth is one less unemployed person in Bradford M.D.C.
The four major aims are to encourage existing industry, to encourage our best job growth sector, to clear obsolete industrial areas and to try to bring in new companies which might otherwise consider going elsewhere.
One of Bradford's problems—this applies equany to Keighley — is that little industry is moving into the district from outside, and almost none is moving in from outside west Yorkshire. Therefore, a narrowly defined enterprise zone could cause imbalances in the local economy by encouraging firms merely to move from one location in the district to another.
Help is especially urgently needed to convert obsolete mills to new uses. The restrictions on area are not helpful. Some of the old mills are extremely large and the existing limits that restrict units to a maximum of 1,250 sq. ft. are somewhat unrealistic. Moreover, the purposes for which new units are needed are diverse. A recent report by Coopers and Lybrand found that demand for small premises derives from a variety of needs, including activities other than manufacturing. The report recommended that a liberal view be taken over user restrictions. That conforms with the theme that I have already developed about service industries.
It so happens that 1984 is industrial heritage year. There could be no better time for providing adequate capital grants to assist the subdivision or conversion of vacant industrial buildings so that they are suitable for modern use, while retaining their character. A permanent home should be found in the area for a museum of Asian history. As Bradford has such a large population of Asian origin, no better site could be found, as attendances at recent pilot exhibitions have demonstrated. The Victoria and Albert museum lacks space for a permanent exhibition in London, but a permanent site in Bradford or Keighley could easily be found in one of the redundant mills. That would be to the ultimate benefit of the tourist industry.
We must also encourage the distributive and retail trades. Bradford is deeply involved in the mail order business, but most people still wish to buy at a traditional point of sale. Many people now come to Bradford at the weekends. The Shops Act 1950 is not helpful in that regard. I drew attention to the illogicalities inherent in that Act when I spoke during the Second Reading debate on the private Member's Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr. Whitney) in the previous Parliament. Of course we must respect the feelings of those who want to ensure that Sunday remains a special day, but we must rationalise and liberalise the laws. That is a responsibility which the Government cannot shirk. I hope that the Home Office will respond without recourse to a commission or a committee of inquiry, which would delay the matter. It is urgent. Were my hon. Friend the Member for Halifax (Mr. Galley) present, he would no doubt refer to the Piece hall in that town, where the lively market and, therefore, jobs were threatened by existing legislation.
Urban development grants can play a useful part in attracting new industries. Indeed, they have already done that, but I hope that the Government will consider tax-free bonds issued by local authorities, which have worked well in some American states.
We welcome the expansion of the enterprise allowance scheme, which greatly benefits unemployed people who want to establish their own businesses. Removal of uncertainty about the future of the scheme would be a great help now as Bradford could then plan ahead on firm ground. There are many people with initiative in the area and an assurance about the future of the scheme would be of tremendous benefit.
Although derelict land grants are extremely helpful, they could be re-examined to see whether they might be improved. For example, some complexes contain some useful buildings but others which are clearly incapable of adaptation. Perhaps derelict land grants could be redefined so that grant could be claimed for parts of industrial complexes.
With many changes taking place, the area urgently needs training and retraining facilities. Because the district has so many small traditional firms, the local authority has felt it right to respond unusually positively to the Government's call for a commitment to the youth training scheme. Unfortunately, it now seems that, because of that necessary additional commitment, the ratepayers will be penalised. Although Bradford is not a high-spending authority, resources devoted to the youth training scheme will help take it above its targets and involve it in penalties. That will drive rates up and discourage local industry further.
Perhaps the Treasury is now learning the lesson that expenditure cuts have bitten far too heavily into the capital side, as it was far easier to do that than to control current costs. What must still be learnt is that not all capital expenditure is equally good. The Humber bridge, with its legacy of high interest charges which will never be covered by revenue, should be a lesson to us all. Many other capital projects commit us to high maintenance and staffing costs for ever and a day. The Government should now concentrate on capital projects which will produce a clear return.
Communications are vital and many capital projects that will produce a clear return relate to transport. They offer the prospect of employment during construction, and also long-term benefits. The north-east main line is one such project. It is worthy of early electrification, the go-ahead for which would give a psychological as a well as tangible boost to Yorkshire and the north-east. I hope that the Government will respond positively when British Rail advances its plan for the future of the inter-city network.
The Aire valley road will benefit Keighley and the surrounding area by forming an essential link with the national motorway network. However, the inspector's decision to drop the section between Cottingley Bar and Shipley creates new uncertainties, which must be resolved.
We should very much like my hon. Friend the Minister or my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to visit Bradford to see what is happening and to meet local people. We do not ask for a Minister for Bradford or for a Minister for Keighley—each area has Members of Parliament who are capable of standing up for their interests. We ask that the needs of the area be considered most carefully during the review of regional policy. At the moment we have what I can only describe as a shotgun approach to regional policy. We need a revised system which tailors aid much more closely to the needs of the areas involved. Why, for example, is part of the district which has the best tourist potential—it is within my constituency—in that part of the metropolitan district which is ineligible for aid from the regional development fund of the EC because it is not Government assisted?
In March I said here that only industry can turn hope into reality. That remains true, but we must get the framework for success right. It is not right at present. It is not the prerogative of industry or of Bradford council to alter that framework. That remains the task of my hon. Friend the Minister and his colleagues. We look to him for support, encouragement and, above all, a positive response.
I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Waller) on an outstanding and extremely interesting speech. It gave me an insight into the problems of his constituency. I strongly agreed with and approved of what he said about how we should not judge the textile or any other manufacturing industry solely on the criterion of employment. He emphasised employment being provided by the service industries and tourism. As my hon. Friend said, for manufacturing to become efficient, it must shed some of its jobs.
My hon. Friend asked whether I would visit Bradford. My visits are obviously like those of ships in the night with the lights off, because I visited Bradford just a few months ago. I enjoyed my visit greatly and was impressed by what I saw. I am certainly prepared to go there again. I should be happy to talk to my hon. Friend about that.
While in Bradford, I visited the chamber of commerce and John Foster, the mohair spinners, where I was presented with a handsome piece of mohair cloth which I hope to have made into a suit soon. I also visited Allied Colloids which is an outstanding example of the marriage of entrepreneurial spirit and scientific knowledge to create a company that has become a world beater. Happiest of all, I was presented with some tapes of the Black Dyke Mills brass band when I left. I enjoyed and was much impressed by what I saw in Bradford.
Bradford is one of the country's great Victorian cities, a monument to the Victorian values to which my hon. Friend referred. It is cities such as Bradford that must revive and prosper if the country is to reverse its industrial decline. Cities such as Bradford must found the new industries and services. Visiting the city, and receiving delegations from the Bradford district council, I have been impressed by the willingness of local businesses and the local authority to take the initiative in improving conditions and in starting this difficult task, rather than just looking to the Government.
In some ways the problems of Bradford are typical of those in other parts of Britain which have worse unemployment problems. The traditional manufacturing industries have been declining, and the job opportunities in new industries have not grown fast enough. My hon. Friend correctly emphasised the population growth in his area, which makes job opportunities scarcer.
Bradford, the capital of the wool textile industry, has been hit by foreign competition and worldwide recession, which have led to the closure or contraction of many old-established firms. The area has suffered other setbacks, including some major reductions in the engineering, vehicle components and tractor industries. Unemployment in the Bradford travel-to-work area is 15 per cent., which represents more than 25,000 unemployed people. This has been accompanied by urban decay in the inner city, where there is a large representation of ethnic minorities with their own needs and difficulties. It is encouraging that relationships among the different commulities in Bradford have been so excellent.
In recognition of those problems, the Government allowed Bradford to retain its intermediate area status when they reduced the geographical coverage of assisted areas. The Bradford travel-to-work area is the only part of west Yorkshire that now enjoys that status. Keighley, which is part of the Bradford metropolitan district but a separate travel-to-work area, suffers many similar problems, but perhaps not to the same extent. In the past, although not today, the area has appealed for the restoration of intermediate area status.
The Government are committed to maintaining a strong regional policy but we wish—my hon. Friend supported this—to concentrate scarce resources on the areas of greatest need. The Keighley unemployment rate is 13·3 per cent., which, although serious—with about 4,000 people on the unemployment register—is well below the average of 14·2 per cent. for intermediate areas. It is only about 1 per cent. above the average unemployment rate for the country as a whole.
What have the Government done to provide direct assistance to industry in the Bradford metropolitan district? Since 1979 companies have received about £7 million in regional selective assistance which has been used for expansion and modernisation. It is estimated that as a result of that assistance about 6,000 jobs will be created or safeguarded. The older-established industries have received a share—Weavercraft Carpets was offered £270,000; William Hutchinson, yarnspinners, £261,000; and New Plan Furniture £270,000. In engineering, Hepworth and Grandage, vehicle engine component manufacturers, was offered £1·5 million as recently as May this year. Outside the traditional industries, there have been offers to support television manufacturing, turbo chargers, visual display units, electronic components and computer software services. As my hon. Friend is aware, discussions are taking place between a consortium of business men and the Department about a proposal to revive tractor manufacturing at the International Harvester factory, which closed last year. I do not believe that my Department has turned down any eligible proposal in providing assistance to a company in Bradford if the project has had reasonable prospects of viability and a genuine need of Government help. That shows that the Government believe that regional policy is crucial in achieving the industrial regeneration of areas such as Bradford, and that it can be applied effectively. It cannot be denied that regional policy has had some effect in Bradford.
A range of Government schemes is available to encourage innovation and enterprise. Support for innovation can be given to improve products, processes and the use of new technology in traditional industries well as the sunrise industries. One of the moves that we would most like to see would be a greater take-up of those schemes in Bradford. The regional office of my Department will do everything it can to publicise the schemes and to give assistance if there is anything that people do not understand. It is disappointing that there has not been a greater take-up of the schemes in the Bradford area, although I understand that duringthe past 18 months grants offered by the Department for support and innovation totalled more than £1,200,000 for 42 projects.
Another important incentive that we have provided to stimulate high technology development is the newly completed high technology units which were built by English Industrial Estates at Listerhills on the Bradford university campus. I visited this science park, which I thought was an impressive development. It is the first project of its kind undertaken by EIE, the Government's industrial property developer. The first tenants to move in are a group of academic entrepreneurs develcroing computer graphics software. That is interesting and exciting.
My hon. Friend made some general points about regional policy, and what I regard as the valid point that regional policy in the past has concentrated too much on manufacturing industry and not enough on services. We have been trying to publicise the offices and services industries scheme more, but I accept my hon. Friend's argument. I have pointed out that it seems wrong, when so much of employment growth is expected to come from services, that our regional policy has been heavily weighted towards manufacturing. That is a major issue which we shall consider in our review of regional policy.
I agree with my hon. Friend that there are too many branch factories in the regions. If regional policies are to be effective in creating indigenous jobs and not just moving jobs round the country, it would be a good idea if more of our major companies had research and development policies. We tried to do that in our OSIS scheme. This is a major requirement in achieving an effective regional policy. I agree that some regional policies seemed only to shift jobs around the country. That might have been justified when there was fuller employment, but it is less justified today when unemployment affects much larger areas. That is one reason why we tightened the criteria under section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 for selective regional assistance, so that industries were not eligible merely because they were moving jobs around the country. That is another issue that we want to examine in our review of regional policy. My hon. Friend's points are well taken.
Anyone who believes that Bradford is just clinging to the old industries, without moving forward, is wrong. Many science-based companies are realising that Bradford has facilities to help development, including one of the country's leading science-based universities, and the best parts of an industrial heritage on which to build. A core of companies give the potential for growth, such as Lucas Aerospace, Microvitec, Filtronic Components and Tatung Research, all of which have been assisted by the Department.
Bradford has always had many small firms. My hon. Friend needs no reminding of all that the Government and the previous Conservative Government have done and are doing to help small businesses. I give the local authority credit for what it is doing to encourage industrial development.
My hon. Friend mentioned tourism. That is of particular interest to me as I have just taken on tourism in addition to my other responsibilities in the Department. Bradford has shown great imagination in encouraging the growth of tourism in the district, making known the attractions of the Bronte country, Ilkley moor and the industrial heritage.
The lord mayor of Bradford was recently in London promoting tourism. He asked unsuspecting travellers at Kings Cross station how many tourists Bradford received last year. I do not think that many people were able to answer, or that many hon. Members would have guessed the correct answer of 15,000.
My hon. Friend inevitably mentioned the textile industry, and I agreed very much with what he said. It is entirely wrong for the textile industry to be thought of or described as a dying industry. It is one of our most important industries, accounting for 9 per cent. of our employment in manufacturing industry. Its sales are equal to those of the motor industry and are twice those of the steel and coal industries. There has been a contraction of employment, although, as my hon. Friend said, that is not the only way to look at the industry. There are some encouraging signs, as there are also in the wool textile sector. The Confederation of British Wool Textiles recently said that output was between 5 per cent. and 10 per cent. higher than a year ago.
My hon. Friend made the valuable point that we should not simply contrast old and new industries. There are tremendous opportunities for the application of new technology in traditional industries, and that applies to the textile industry. Some of the modern mills are equal to the best in the world. As long as they keep advancing and applying new technology, they can meet the competition from the low-cost countries. They can be as efficient and competitive as the mills of Taiwan or anywhere in the Far East. There are many opportunities for the application of new technology in the industry, such as the use of robotics and mechanical handling. The handling of soft fabrics is a difficult problem and the Department is sponsoring research into it.
Textiles is not a dying industry. I am convinced that we can compete. There is no reason why we should not compete very successfully. It is not an industry that has had bad industrial relations or excessive wage claims. It has been a model in that respect. As elsewhere, good management and modern technology are needed, but also the proper use of design. It is not enough just to rely on traditional products or the good name of the past.
I have recently seen some incursions by the Italians into the wool industry. I know that it worries people, and we shall investigate any instances of unfair competition. The Italians show great flair in the application of design. We also need to show that sort of flair. There are bright spots in the textile industry and in the wool textile industry, and I am convinced that we can take on and beat the world.
There are now signs of recovery in Bradford. As I have said, the wool textile industry is showing an improvement. Exports are being helped by the decline in the value of the pound, the fall in inflation and the reduction in interest rates. British Mohair Spinners increased sales last year by 20 per cent. and profits doubled to £2 million. Stroud Riley Drummond and Parkland Textiles and other companies are reporting order books at much higher levels.
The reversal of Britain's industrial decline is a daunting task but I assure my hon. Friend that we shall do our best, through the instruments that we have available in the Department, to help firms in Bradford. I shall see that he gets a copy of the reply from the Department of the Environment to the Bradford district council's request for its own form of enterprise zone. I shall be very pleased to visit my hon. Friend's constituency and see some of the problems at first hand. There are solid grounds for believing that Bradford can prosper and that many firms will do well.