§ 44. Mr. Albert Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he proposes to take to assist the 19,000 unemployed textile workers in the Leeds area, and to bring about a complete refurbishing of the textile industry.
§ Mr. Cryer
We are unable to identify the figure of unemployed quoted by the hon. Member, but think it likely that what he has in mind is employment in the clothing firms in Leeds. The clothing industry has suffered from increasing competition from imports mainly from East Europe and the Far East and also from a fashion change away from formal suits. We took the lead during the re-negotiation of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement last year in insisting on more effective protection for the industry and now virtually all low-cost imports are subject to actual or potential restraint.
In addition, we have already made available £15 million under the clothing industry scheme to the industry to encourage modernisation and re-equipment to assist it to compete against imports and to develop exports. Clothing firms in the Leeds area are eligible for selective financial assistance under the Industry Act.