HC Deb 13 March 1975 vol 888 cc803-5
Q4. Mr. Michael Latham

asked the Prime Minister whether he will pay an official visit to Anstey, Leicestershire.

The Prime Minister

I have at present no plans to do so, Sir.

Mr. Latham

Will the Prime Minister help the shoe and knitwear workers of Anstey and Leicester, who are at present being made redundant or put on short time, by bringing about a really rapid solution to the problem of low-priced imports from State trading and Far Eastern countries, which are currently causing very great trouble in these industries?

The Prime Minister

I agree with the hon. Gentleman, and he is right to express concern about this matter. It affects not only his area but a number of areas in the Midlands and the North, and north of the border as well. The problem is not confined entirely to the industries he mentioned—footwear and knitwear; it extends through a wide range of clothing and textiles. Many hon. Members on both sides of the House have been meeting together on this question. My right hon. Friends are considering the memoranda they have submitted. I agree that this is a matter of extreme urgency and that employment in some of these areas is prejudiced by what, in many cases, we can only regard as unfair trading.

Mr. Madden

Will my right hon. Friend clear up the mystery which surrounds the reply to 70 Labour Members who are anxiously seeking informa- tion about the future of the Industry Bill and the National Enterprise Board —which is of concern to the trade union movement—should we remain in the Common Market? If the position is clear and uncertain, what is delaying this reply?

An Hon. Member

"Clear and uncertain"?

The Prime Minister

I have not had any representations from the village of Anstey on this question, and therefore that question does not in any way, directly or indirectly, arise out of the original Question. While I am always anxious to help the House in these topographical visits, I feel that it might be unfair and an abuse of the House if any question on any subject could be related to a visit to the village of Anstey, in Leicestershire. My hon. Friend will get an answer to his question, if he puts it appropriately, in due course.

Mrs. Knight

Will the right hon. Gentleman use the time which he might have spent in going to Anstey to interfere in the strike which at present is seriously hampering the ability of Members of Parliament to work properly on behalf of their constituents? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that no mail is allowed in or out of the House, and that we cannot serve our constituents properly while this continues?

The Prime Minister

After all these years when this type of Question has been used, I congratulate the hon. Lady on finding a new way of exploiting it. All credit is due to her. I shall have to think what to do about it. As for the important question which she has raised, I understand that some of her remarks about the mail are not true. The Leader of the House will be making a statement on the matter later.

Mr. Roy Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend accept that when he visits Cardiff on Saturday he can be assured of a warm welcome? Does he appreciate that when he comes for the Ireland v. Wales Rugby match the Welsh people will not be so easily seduced by the blarney of the Irish as he seems to have been in Dublin this week?

The Prime Minister

I am grateful for the warmth of my hon. Friend's welcome and for his concern. I would expect such a welcome in Cardiff, or even Newport which he represents. We will have to wait until Saturday to see whether the Welsh succumb to the blarney of the Irish, as they succumbed to the blarney of the Scots a fortnight ago.