§ 4. Mr. Greville Janner
asked the Minister for Trade what were the levels of United Kingdom imports and exports for the hosiery and synthetic and non-synthetic knitwear industries for the last three months for which records are available.
In the period December 1982 to February 1983 United Kingdom imports of hosiery and knitwear were valued at £130 million cif and exports at £70 million fob.
§ Mr. Janner
Does the hon. and learned Gentleman not recognise the disastrous state of this and other traditional industries in places such as Leicester, where unemployment is at a fearful level? Does he not regard the trumpeted allegations of an upturn as a pre-election fraud that is being perpetrated against the background of a growing army of unemployed?
I recognise that the hon. and learned Gentleman is a stout champion of his constituency interests, but his rhetoric does not accord with the facts. Employment in the industry has been reasonably stable over the past couple of years.
§ Sir Anthony Meyer
Will my hon. and learned Friend consider carefully the proposed takeover of Thomas 586 Tilling by BTR, the effect of which could be the exporting of a great many textile jobs as a result of BTR utilising manufacturing capacity overseas? In the light of this, will he reconsider the possibility of referring the matter to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission?
I take note of what my hon. Friend has said. I remind the House that the new multi-fibre arrangement has recently been negotiated, which will provide a considerable measure of protection for the United Kingdom textile industry. It will enable it to plan ahead with security over the next couple of years.
§ Mr. Janner
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the totally unsatisfactory answer to that question, I give notice that I shall seek to raise the issue on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.