HC Deb 22 June 1981 vol 7 cc10-1
11. Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will bring forward new proposals to encourage investment in the textile industry in the East Midlands.

Mr. MacGregor

We already have very generous investment encouragement for all manufacturing industry, including textiles. Moreover, the textile industry in the East Midlands and elsewhere in the United Kingdom is entitled to take advantage of the various schemes of assistance which operate under the Industry Act 1972 and the Science and Technology Act 1965 subject to the published criteria.

Mr. Janner

Is the Minister aware that the policies that he has just described have completely failed? Is he aware that the textile industry in the East Midlands, not least in my constituency, is in a catastrophic state, with vast unemployment and huge amounts of short-time working? Does he have no new proposals to try to rescue the industry from its plight?

Mr. MacGregor

As was made clear in the debate last week, the textile industry receives more assistance through quotas and the MFA than any other industry in Britain. The industry has over 500 individual quota arrangements, and that is substantial. The Government are pledged to seek a tough successor to the present MFA. Over £2½ million in selective financial assistance and the products and process developement scheme has gone to the hosiery and knitwear industry in the East Midlands in the comparatively recent past, including help for a number of schemes in Leicester itself.

Mr. Woolmer

Will the Minister check the verbatim record of the recent Yorkshire Television programme on textiles, since the Minister of State said that almost all the regions affected by the textile industry decline have assisted area status? Will he publish in the record which areas are and are not assisted areas? Will he explain why his Department is withdrawing assisted area status from certain areas? Will he check the record and explain the discrepancy?

Mr. MacGregor

If the hon. Gentleman tables a question on that issue I shall answer it.

Mr. John Garrett

Given the scores of thousands of jobs lost in the textile industry in the last year, when will the Government say "Enough is enough" and agree that the present size of the industry must be maintained by Government assistance and protected from unfair imports? The Minister referred earlier to assistance schemes for the textile industry. Which schemes are still in existence and open to application?

Mr. MacGregor

Selective financial assistance and PPDS are still open. As was made clear in the full debate last week, and in a recent Adjournment debate, the industry receives greater protection than most others because of its particular problems. A full answer about the MFA negotiations was given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade last week.