HC Deb 16 October 1991 vol 196 cc299-300
6. Mr. Janner

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on support for the traditional industries of the east midlands.

Mr. Leigh

The traditional industries of the east midlands are well placed to take advantage of recovery.

Mr. Janner

Has the Minister no conception of the disastrous decline in traditional industries in the east midlands and Leicester? Does he not realise that the Chancellor's claim that manufacturing industry is improving and the recession is over is total rubbish? Do the Government intend to offer any practical help to those industries—employers, employees and all who depend on them for their livelihood?

Mr. Leigh

The hon. and learned Gentleman and I share this —we both represent the east midlands, but he enjoys talking down the east midlands whereas I shall do some talking up. He did not tell us, for instance, that retail sales of footwear and clothing are doing better than almost any other retail sales, that exports of clothing are up 14 per cent. in value compared with last year or that the east midlands has a record second to none in inward investment. He did not mention Toyota, Phoenix Electrical, Toray or Nippon Seiko in his constituency.

The hon. and learned Gentleman does not want to tell the good news about Leicester, so I shall do it. I want to encourage importers to come to Leicester and businesses to set up in Leicester. The hon. and learned Gentleman does not because he is too intent on making petty party political points. He could talk about George Duxbury and Sons setting up two new factories in Leicester near his constituency and about Rank Taylor Hudson making a £140,000 investment in his constituency. He could talk about Tyson Scientific putting investment into his constituency. The Opposition do not like it, but that is going on in the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituency.

Mr. Latham

Is my hon. Friend aware that the traditional industries of the east midlands, including Leicestershire, as well as the non-traditional ones, have greatly welcomed the reduction in interest rates that has taken place in recent months and are looking forward to another one pretty soon?

Mr. Leigh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. While we are on the subject of Labour allegations, I happened to look at the Labour party political broadcast. The Sunday Times did a truth test on it. Labour claims that British industry could not compete abroad and that exports have shrunk. As The Sunday Times told us, Fact: Manufactured exports have increased by nearly 60 per cent. in real terms since 1979. Verdict on Labour's political broadcast: "False." We now have lies, damned lies and Labour party political broadcasts.

Mr. Vaz

Does the Minister agree that one way in which we could help the traditional industries in the east midlands is to provide local education establishments with resources for education and training? Will he therefore support an application by Southfields further education college in Leicester for a £50,000 footwear fashion design computer which will greatly help the local footwear industry in Leicester and the east midlands?

Mr. Leigh

I am grateful for that constructive question. We shall certainly look into that, and I will take it up with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Mrs. Currie

May I beseech my hon. Friend not to support traditional industries in the east midlands such as lace making, pork pie manufacture and arrowhead production and instead to recognise the increasing contribution of modern industries not only to the British but to the European economy? I refer in particular to Toyota in my constituency, which will soon be making the finest cars in the world.

Mr. Leigh

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. That investment by Toyota is worth no less than £700 million and will create 3,000 jobs. Investment by another modern industry in the region is that of Phoenix Electrical in Coalville. That is a £14 million investment. Toray industries is investing £50 million. Nippon Seiko is setting up a brand new research centre worth £10 million. My hon. Friend is right. The east midlands is attracting the industries of tomorrow.

Mr. Wigley

Given the long list of successes in the east midlands to which the Minister referred, why was it necessary for the Prime Minister to intervene to take the Toyota plant away from Wales, which had worked hard to get it and had higher unemployment than the east midlands? Was the Department part of that conspiracy which was described in the book written by the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker)?

Mr. Leigh

Not a penny of Government assistance went to Toyota. Derbyshire won that contract on its merits because of the skills of the local work force and the hard work put in by the local Member of Parliament.

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