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Parker Pen Factory, Newhaven

Volume 496: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I rise to propose that the House should debate the matter of the decision to close the Parker Pen Factory, Newhaven.

This is a specific and important matter that should be given urgent consideration. The decision to close the factory, taken by the American parent company, Newell Rubbermaid, will result in the loss of 180 jobs. This will have a terrible effect on the population of Newhaven, which is already suffering far more from the effects of the recession than other nearby towns such as Lewes. There has been a pen factory in Newhaven since 1921 and it has been Parker since 1945. Indeed, Parker Pen is the flagship employer in Newhaven, but the keystone of the bridge is now being removed.

The factory was visited by Mrs. Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, and it has a loyal work force in Newhaven, which has done its best to support Parker Pen over the years. There is a suspicion that the factory is being closed because the much stricter French employment laws make it more difficult to close the factory in Nantes—to which the jobs are being transferred. In other words, the employment laws in this country, which are supposed to encourage employment, will have the opposite effect on this occasion.

Whether you allow a debate or not, Mr. Speaker, I ask Ministers on the Treasury Bench to note the need for an urgent support package for Newhaven, which has suffered grossly from the recession, with a significant unemployment problem and the town centre being in a poor way. The support—or even rescue—package for the town should be put in place through the South East England Development Agency, with Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and help from Jobcentre Plus to deal with the 180 employees who will, sadly, lose their jobs. I ask Ministers to work with me for the benefit of my constituents.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to make this case for my constituents.

I have listened carefully to what the hon. Gentleman has said, and I have to give my decision without stating any reasons. I am afraid that I do not consider that the matter that he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 24, and I cannot therefore submit the application to the House.