HC Deb 15 November 1977 vol 939 cc156-7W
Mr. Lomas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is aware of the loss of jobs in the woollen towns of Yorkshire; and what is being done to provide alternative forms of employment.

Mr. Cryer

I have been asked to reply.

There has been a decline in the numbers employed in wool textiles. Nevertheless, I am pleased that unemployment in West Yorkshire generally and Huddersfield in particular remains below the national average at 5.8 per cent. and 4.3 per cent., respectively, against a national average of 6.3 per cent.

Regional selective assistance is offered under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 for eligible projects in all industries which create or maintain employment in the assisted areas. From the start of the Act in 1972 up to 30th September 1977 offers totalling £11 million—excluding offers lapsed or deferred—have been made on 298 projects in West Yorkshire, estimated to cost £159 million. These projects were expected to provide 15,233 new jobs and to safeguard 1,230 jobs.

I regret that it is not possible, except at disproportionate costs, to provide similar information on regional development grants paid in West Yorkshire. However, the total of such grants paid in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region as a whole since the start of the Industry Act up to 30th September 1977 was £65 million.

Since March 1972, 20 advance factories totalling 190,000 sq. ft.—including six announced on 10th November— have been authorised in West Yorkshire to provide an estimated 750 jobs.