HC Deb 09 March 1994 vol 239 c271
7. Mr. Janner

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he will take steps to assist the traditional industries of Leicester.

Mr. McLoughlin

I recently conducted the annual review of city challenge, which is available in the hon. and learned Gentleman's constituency. A decision on future progress will be made shortly. The first business link in the country opened in Leicester on 27 September, with some £725,000 funding from the Department of Trade and Industry. Combined with the other measures that we are taking, we are doing a considerable amount in Leicester.

Mr. Janner

What would the Minister say to Mr. Charles Bradshaw, the managing director of a major clothing company in my constituency, who complains that the Government have allowed numerous manufacturing companies in Leicestershire to go to the wall, that Leicestershire's industry has suffered enormously and that they are looking to the Government for real help in reviving manufacturing industry? What help in reviving manufacturing industry and getting it off its knees are the Government intending to give?

Mr. McLoughlin

I can only say that if the person to whom the hon. and learned Member is referring is complaining, he is probably disappointed with the representation that he is getting in the House—a disappointment with the Opposition which is shared by Conservative Members.

Mr. Burns

Is my hon. Friend aware that Marconi Radar of Chelmsford has a manufacturing base in Leicester, and does he accept that the damage done to GEC Marconi in Leicester by the Opposition parties and by certain newspapers will only have been redeemed— hopefully—by the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Wiltshire, North (Mr. Needham) on the "Today" programme the other day? Will he congratulate our hon. Friend on seeking to redress the imbalance caused by the Opposition parties?

Mr. McLoughlin

That does not need an answer from me. I am always happy to congratulate my hon. Friend.

Mr. Jim Marshall

Is the Minister aware that there are 30,000 jobs in Leicester and the surrounding county in the traditional industries of clothing and textiles and that, if the multi-fibre arrangement is phased out by 2005, many of those jobs will disappear? Would he estimate how many jobs will be left in 10 years' time?

Mr. McLoughlin

We all recognise the importance of the traditional industries in Leicester, to which the hon. Gentleman referred. May I point out to him that, in the Leicester travel-to-work area in January 1986, unemployment was 9.7 per cent. and that the latest figure is 8.8 per cent.—a reduction of more than 10 per cent? I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome that.