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Textile Industry

Volume 927: debated on Tuesday 1 March 1977

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asked the Sec retary of State for Employment by what number the labour force engaged in the textile industry has decreased during the last 10 years.

Between June 1966 and June 1976 the number of employees in employment in the textiles industry in Great Britain decreased by 221,000.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, despite the greatly diminished number of people employed in the industry, over the same period the output has been increased by some 30 per cent.? Does he recognise that this applies gen- erally throughout manufacturing industry and that it is time that the Government reappraised their approach by reducing the length of the working week and the working lifetime?

The increase in productivity is needed to maintain the present level of employment. Certainly, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said that we should perhaps look, together with other countries, at the whole question of the working week.

Does my hon. Friend agree that the measure that has been of greatest help to the textile and footwear industries is the temporary employment subsidy? I was pleased to hear the Secretary of State say that an early decision would be taken on this issue. Can my hon. Friend give more precise details as many firms and employers are depending on it for the future?

The decision on the temporary employment subsidy will have to take place in the context of the Budget, because it is of enormous importance to British industry at present. Some 40,000 jobs have been saved in the textile industry.

Will my hon. Friend convey these figures to the Secretary of State for Trade and ask him to bear them in mind when he is arranging negotiations for a new Multifibre Arrangement? Such an agreement badly needs strengthening in the interests of textile workers in this country.

Certainly, my right hon. Friend is well aware of the problems that the textile industry has faced over the last 10 years. He will do all he can, against this background, to get the best possible arrangement for the textile industry.