Page last updated at 16:54 GMT, Thursday, 6 November 2008

Speaker backs brewery jobs battle

Carsberg brewery site
There has been a brewery on site in Leeds since 1822

Carlsberg brewery workers in Leeds who face unemployment have found a champion in the form of teetotal Commons Speaker Michael Martin.

Leeds MP Greg Mulholland said it was "dismaying" that 170 staff faced losing their jobs when the site shuts in 2011.

Mr Martin said the drinks industry was a "very good employer of labour".

He told the MP: "Make sure that you are letting the workers in that industry know that you are trying to be their voice here in Parliament".

Mr Martin said it was right for local MPs to concern themselves with such matters.

Falling consumption

He urged Mr Mulholland to hold a short adjournment debate and put questions to ministers about the closure.

The exchange in the Commons came as Mr Mulholland raised a point of order to ask which department dealt with the issue of beer.

He suggested that Defra should be renamed Defrad - the Department for Environment, Food, Rural Affairs and Drink.

Mr Martin said: "I share your fears because I'm a teetotaller but I have a brewery in my constituency and I have a whisky industry in my constituency and I used to have a tobacco industry in my constituency.

"But what I can say to the honourable gentleman is the industry he talks about is a very good employer of labour and he as a local MP must concern himself about the redundancies."

Carlsberg has blamed falling consumption and higher duties for the decision to shut its Leeds site. Consultation with the workers has started.

There has been a brewery on site in the city since 1822 when it used to produce just Tetley beers.

About 37 major breweries have closed in Britain in the past decade, leaving fewer than 35 with the closure of the Leeds site.

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