I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
the closure on Friday of the long-established Leicester knitwear company T. W. Kempton Ltd, which has its headquarters and major plant at Burleys way in my constituency".
The matter is specific because it concerns Kempton, a fine, well-managed and long-established company and one of the largest privately owned knitwear companies in the United Kingdom.
It used to employ 1,200 people, 840 of whom worked in Leicester. The company was put into the hands of receivers on 6 November, and immediately jobs were lost. On Friday last there was an announcement of closure with the immediate loss of a further 300 jobs. That is important in itself, but especially because it reflects a national advancing catastrophe.
Leicester's main industry is knitwear, which last year still employed about 33,000 people in the county, some 22,000 of whom worked in the city of Leicester. Between June 1988 and November 1989 there were 7,500 job losses in the industry, of which 4,000 were in Leicestershire. The knitwear and hosiery industries are heading for catastrophe. The Government are standing with their hands folded, and there should be an urgent debate on the matter.
Among other companies affected by redundancies are renowned names such as Corah, Ingram, Chilprufe, Strettons, Towles, Lesley Dee and Leofabs. Last week it was announced that the Paisley Hyer group, which employs 1,000 people in Leicestershire, had gone into receivership in conditions similar to those in which Kempton did. In Nottingham, the Response group, employing 3,500 people, has gone into the hands of receivers.
The Government have taken no action while this great industry, symbolised by Kempton, struggles to survive. With employers and unions united in their pleas for help, the Government have done no more than produce a research programme which is due to take effect and to become useful in about five years. How many people will still be employed in the industry by then? How many firms like Kempton will collapse before the Government act?
The hon. and learned Gentleman asked leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
the loss of 300 jobs resulting from the closure of T. W. Kempton Limited of Leicester".
As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 20, I have to announce my decision without giving my reasons to the House. I have listened with care and concern to what the hon. and learned Gentleman said. As he knows, my only decision is to decide whether the application should have precedence over the business set down for today or tomorrow. I regret that, in this case, I do not feel that the
matter that the hon. and learned Member has raised meets the requirements of the Standing Order, and I cannot accept his application to the House.