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Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will pay an official visit to a factory in the city of Leicester.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that if he goes to Leicester he will receive a warm welcome and will have the opportunity to congratulate the trade unions and management on their resilience and craftsmanship and their success in exports? Will he bear in mind the grave difficulties that exist in the traditional industries in Leicestershire, particularly in hosiery and footwear and even more particularly in those that rely on the home market? Can the Minister do anything to help?

I share my hon. and learned Friend's congratulations for the way in which management and trade unions in the area have withstood the pressures of the recession. I am sure my hon. and learned Friend will be glad to hear that the latest figures show that there has been an increase of about 300 in the number of vacancies in the area over the last year. Last year 35 industrial development certificates were approved, and another seven have already been approved this year. Between them about 2,000 jobs will be created. We have taken action to stop the dumping of low-priced foreign footwear. I am sure my hon. and learned Friend will be pleased that at present in the hosiery industry demand for labour, including machinists, exceeds supply.