Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) rose--

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. The Minister must reply to one intervention before she gives way to another.

Ms Hughes: I will deal with the specific points that my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Derbyshire (Mr. Barnes) raised, but I am perfectly happy to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) and give a composite response to their questions.

Mr. Skinner: The Government have decent intentions, but the two years of Tory spending plans did not help and we have lost a lot of time. The pits were closed in most areas and the women in many pit villages worked in textiles. They were the breadwinners, but they have now lost their jobs. In many constituencies jobs have been lost, and in Bolsover alone in the past seven months, 800 jobs have been lost and most of them were held by women. They feel that no one is helping them.

We have made a proposition for massive infrastructural changes. They will need a bob or two, but the Government are not short of money. Development at a junction just off the M1 would provide about 9,000 jobs and a link between the M1 and the A1 would make the area just like Corby. Remember Corby? The steel industry went but a link road was built. The net result was that the whole area blossomed in terms of industry. Similar action is necessary in my area and it must be done sharpish. We have got to save the Clay Cross Biwater plant, too.

Ms Hughes: In terms of a hard-edged response to some of the local issues, I am a little surprised that my hon. Friend did not mention the rapid response fund. The Government-led response group was established to help the workers affected by large-scale redundances and the closure of the Coats Viyella factories throughout the east midlands, including in Worksop. I am sure that my hon. Friend will know that rapid response funding of more than £1 million for people affected by the closure or scaling down of Coats Viyella sites in the area has taken place. That money will help people to retrain and it relates to the points that he made about the need for money to help people access jobs by improving transport links or by enabling them to develop new skills.

25 Oct 2000 : Column 364

At Courtaulds, £300,000 of rapid response funding has been agreed to alleviate difficulties caused by the closure of its factory in Worksop. At Johnson Control Automotive (UK) Ltd. in Mansfield, I understand that a bid for rapid response funding is to be made shortly and that it is likely to be for more than £250,000. Similarly, in south Yorkshire, which borders the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw, rapid response funding of more than £1 million has helped redundant workers to find jobs.

I understand that change has impacted in many ways on family members, particularly in the textile industry. My hon. Friends will know that, in response to the industry-led textile clothing strategy group's report, in June this year my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry unveiled a plan to help the textile industry adapt and improve to meet global changes in the sector. It offers a number of practical measures to support the industry directly through its supply chain and retailers. The point about the need for a new junction on the M1 to help people to access jobs is important. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover will know that the matter is progressing and I hope that there will be a favourable outcome.

Difficult decisions had to be made concerning the neighbourhood renewal fund. The top 50 authorities that scored on any one of the six measures of deprivation received the funding. As has been said, they included Mansfield and Bolsover, but not Bassetlaw.

I hope that my hon. Friends accept that the Government are trying in a number of ways to address the problems that their areas face. However, the Government cannot change the situation locally without the kind of partnerships on the ground that I know my hon. Friends want to support. We recognise the many real difficulties that people face, and we are trying, nationally, regionally and locally, to create opportunities whereby local partners can begin to turn the situation around.

I recognise the many difficult issues that have been raised tonight and, as far as I can, I shall take those up with the Departments within whose remits they lie. But I hope that my hon. Friends will accept that at those three levels the Government are trying to address the problems that they have rightly outlined tonight and that we recognise.

Question put and agreed to.

 IndexHome Page