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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 18:00 GMT
Blair 'disappointed' over Dyson jobs
Tony Blair, Prime Minister's Questions
Tony Blair denied the blame for manufacturing job cuts
The prime minister has said he was "deeply disappointed" by the decision by Dyson vacuum cleaner company to make 800 workers redundant in Wiltshire.

His response, to a challenge by North Wiltshire MP James Gray during Prime Minister's Questions, gave workers in Malmesbury little hope that the government would intervene.

Mr Gray had offered to arrange a meeting between James Dyson, the founder of the vacuum cleaner company, and the Department of Trade and Industry.

He challenged Tony Blair on the issue in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

James Gray feared for Malmesbury

Mr Gray said: "Some 350 jobs have been lost in the town of Malmesbury before yesterday's devastating news of 800 redundancies as a result of James Dyson moving to the Far East.

"The prime minister will understand that it is appalling news for a town of only 4,500 people.

"Nationally, 350,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since he came to power and manufacturing is now officially in recession.

"Will he (Mr Blair) accept personal responsibility for it, or will he pass the blame on to somebody else?"

Mr Blair said manufacturing had suffered more under the Conservative government, and 1.2m jobs had been created under Labour.

Malaysian switch

Mr Blair said: "Of course, we are deeply disappointed at Mr Dyson's decision, but it is a decision for his company."

Workers and civic leaders in Wiltshire had reacted angrily to the announcement that Dyson was switching production to Malaysia - with 1,000 jobs remaining in Malmesbury.

Two years ago the company was refused planning permission to expand the plant in Wiltshire.

Negotiations have begun with the workforce and a final decision on the switch has yet to be made, but Mr Dyson has told BBC News Online he could see no alternative.

Dyson has invested 32m in the Malmesbury site in the last two years.

Tony Blair at Prime Minister's Question Time
"Of course we are deeply disappointed at Mr Dyson's decision"

Click here to go to BBC Wiltshire
See also:

05 Feb 02 | Business
Dyson to move to Far East
12 Jan 01 | Business
Hoover wins court battle with Dyson
05 Nov 00 | Business
Entrepreneur issues euro threat
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