HC Deb 01 May 1973 vol 855 cc981-2
21. Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the fall in the number of workers in the wool textile industry in the West Riding between June 1970 and the most recent convenient date.

Mr. Dudley Smith

Between June 1970 and June 1971, the latest available date, the numbers decreased by about 15,000.

Mr. Clark

Does not the large fall in the work force in an industry so heavily concentrated in the West Riding show how susceptible labour is in that area when there is a slump in the wool textile industry? Many of the men and women concerned have been made redundant in more than one mill. When the industry is booming, can the Minister introduce a proper redundancy scheme based on service within the industry, as in the case of the docks and coal mines, and not based on the firm?

Mr. Smith

The Wool Textile Industry Economic Development Committee is putting to the Government certain proposals, which are under consideration, for the modernisation of the industry, including the items the hon. Gentleman mentions National estimates indicate that since June 1971 the rate of fall in employment in the industry has been appreciably lower than it was before. Wool textile activity generally has increased substantially over the past six months, so there are encouraging signs.

Mr. Wilkinson

The demand for experienced operatives has been considerable in recent months, and on the distributive side of the trade the demand has been described as hectic by the manager of the Bradford employment exchange. When my hon. Friend considers the Hardman Report, will he ensure that public sector jobs are encouraged in the West Riding, because there is a need for them to broaden the base of our economy?

Mr. Smith

Yes, Sir. These are not directly matters for me, but I will draw my hon. Friend's remarks to the attention of my appropriate right hon. Friend.