§ Mr. John Garrett
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to be able to announce the availability of funds for the footwear industry under the assistance scheme proposed by the Footwear Study Group.
§ Mr. Mike Noble
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is now able to announce the Government's response to the footwear industry's request for financial assistance.
Mr. Alan Williams
I am pleased to be able to announce the introduction from today of a scheme of financial assistance for the footwear manufacturing industry under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972. The scheme has an initial allocation of £4.5 million and seeks to encourage:
- (a) the use of consultants by small and medium-sized footwear manufacturers to review all aspects of their operations and to fomulate proposals for improving productivity and efficiency.
- (b) investment in closing room machinery and associated processes.
- (c) rationalisation of companies' operations and, where appropiate, improvements in the structure of the industry.
The above scheme, together with other Government support measures, should meet the industry's requirements. Given a positive response by footwear manufacturers, I am confident that the scheme will play a significant part in assisting the industry to remedy a number of its major internal weaknesses and to ensure its long-term future.
I am placing details of the scheme in the Library of the House.