§ 7. Mr. Battle
To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the level of manufacturing employment in Leeds during 1990.
I am afraid that the most recent census of employment that we have is for September 1987. It gives the estimates for local areas. In that month, 68,200 employees were employed in manufacturing industries in the Leeds travel-to-work area.
§ Mr. Battle
Is the Minister aware that those figures represent a real decline in the manufacturing base of the city of Leeds? Is he also aware that the recession is hitting hard the printing, engineering and textile industries—so much so that Leeds chamber of commerce predicts that a quarter of Leeds firms will make people redundant in the next three months? What action does his Department intend to take to reverse the elimination of the manufacturing base of Leeds? In particular, I ask the Minister to reopen the only jobcentre in west Leeds. That jobcentre is desperately needed, but it was closed last year by his Department.
We have already had some discussion on the implications of the recession and I have given advice about how unemployment could be kept down, at a time when economic activity is inevitably falling back, by looking more carefully at wage settlements. The hon. Gentleman asked about jobcentres in his constituency. There is, of course, the proposed Horsforth jobcentre and I shall certainly have another look at the jobcentres in his constituency. I know that there has been extensive correspondence about the matter in the past.
§ Mr. Batiste
Is it not true that if the Government had heeded the Labour party's advice last year to slash the defence industry, not only would our troops in the Gulf be less well-equipped but many manufacturing jobs of the highest quality in Leeds would be lost, including many at the Challenger tank factory?
My hon. Friend is right. We would have been further embarrassed in the military operations in the Gulf. The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Battle) would do well to study the implications of what my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) said.