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Leaving the EU: Textile and Fashion Industry

Volume 641: debated on Thursday 17 May 2018

3. What plans he has to secure export markets and inward investment for the UK textile and fashion industry after the UK leaves the EU. [R] (905356)

I am delighted to tell the hon. Lady that 2017 saw our fashion and textile exports up 6%, that a new creative industries trade and investment board is being created and that trade associations are being extensively consulted ahead of the launch of our new export strategy.

I am chair of the textile and fashion all-party group, and this week we held a wonderful Commonwealth fashion event, with diversity, talent and young design on show. However, there are issues in terms of intellectual property rights and passporting, so would the Minister demonstrate his flair for fashion and attend the all-party group to discuss these issues?

I pay tribute to the hon. Lady. This week, the meeting was on the Commonwealth; the last meeting, I believe, was on China. She is doing a great job with the APPG, focusing on the importance of fashion to the UK economy. It goes without saying that, however poorly dressed I am that day, I will be thrilled to go along and meet the much more fashionable members of that APPG.

For more than 220 years, Johnstons of Elgin has been producing some of the finest-quality cashmere clothing, fabrics and accessories. Will the Minister continue to support this great industry, and will he explain what the UK Government are doing to ensure we have more export markets for the textile industry?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. He is right. Inward investment in Scotland has included Chanel buying Barrie in Hawick and we have trade working groups covering 21 countries. The very formation of this Department means that for the first time we have a Department of State only focused on our international economic competitiveness. For the fashion industry, for Scotland and for the whole of the UK, we will aim to work flat out to build our exports and improve the levels of investment into this country.

In a moment we will hear from the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman). He has been chuntering from a sedentary position about the suit worn by the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne), apparently expressing the hope that it was made in west Yorkshire. That is not a matter for the Chair—I have no idea. It seems to me a most admirable suit, but I have no idea where it was made.

Unlike you, Mr Speaker, the Minister has never been to Huddersfield or visited the Textile Centre of Excellence. I keep inviting Ministers, but I think they are worried because Huddersfield, which is a great centre in the premier league for fashion, has many employers who are fearful about the future and the 90% drop in inward investment in our country. There is real worry about the penetration of European markets after Brexit.

I am pleased to say that the fashion sense of the good people in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency is different from his—that is why they are so well dressed. Not only that, but they have a different, optimistic view about the future of the UK outside the European Union, and that is why, unlike the hon. Gentleman, they voted overwhelmingly to leave.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. My constituents voted to remain. The Minister is misleading the House.

I am sure it was inadvertent. There was not going to be further discussion on this question, but the effect of raising a point of order in mid-question is to preclude any further supplementary questions on the matter. In this case, however, the crime is victimless.