HC Deb 17 May 1976 vol 911 cc939-40
7. Mr. Madden

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what specific proposals exist to increase industrial development in textile areas, particularly in West Yorkshire, which have been subject to mill closures and redundancy in recent years as a result of the operation of the Wool Textile Scheme.

The Minister of State, Department of Industry (Mr. Alan Williams)

Regional development grants on new buildings, regional selective financial assistance and Government factories are available in West Yorkshire, as well as assistance to industry under the various industry schemes and under the accelerated projects scheme.

Mr. Madden

Does the Minister realise that that reply will be regarded as unsatisfactory in West Yorkshire? Does he accept that, when public finance is made available to bring about rationalisation, mill closures and redundancy, there is a distinct obligation on the Government to accompany that rationalisation by programmes to boost employment? Will the Minister ensure that if further money is made available under the Wool Textile Scheme there are guarantees from the employers in respect of employment and job creation programmes to combat migration from West Yorkshire to more prosperous areas?

Mr. Williams

I am glad to have my hon. Friend's enthusiastic support for the Government's policy. Unemployment in West Yorkshire is below the regional level and below the national level. Over 6 million square feet of new factory space has been approved since 1st January 1974, offering 6,500 new jobs. Under the Wool Textile Scheme 75 per cent. of the benefits of the scheme have gone to the Yorkshire-Humberside Region. There is a £20 million clothing scheme, much of the benefit of which will go to this region because 16 per cent. of the industry is there. Furthermore, industry is beginning to feel the benefit of the up- turn. In the circumstances, I do not think that I need to apologise for my answer.