article-0-0CFF4E9F00000578-298_634x400Former prime minister Gordon Brown will speak in the House of Commons tonight for the first time in more than a year.  It marks only the fourth time the ex-Labour leader has spoken in the Commons since losing power in May 2010.  He will use the rare appearance to highlight a plan to save two Fife Remploy factories.

Mr Brown has been criticised for rarely speaking in the Commons and has addressed MPs only three times since leaving No 10, with his most recent appearance in November 2011.

The former Labour leader, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, will say that two textile factories, which have been part of the fabric of the local economy for 60 years, have full order books and a product with an acclaimed design and established market which could end up being produced in Asia if the plants close.

When the debate was announced last week Mr Brown said: ‘If we cannot save these two factories which employ disabled men and women and which have a full order book, a renowned design, a successful product and an established market, it is unlikely that we will save many of the 50-plus Remploy factories around the United Kingdom.

‘So this is a test case of the willingness to invest to ensure a future for disabled men and women who work hard today and want to work in the future.’

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: ‘Our priority throughout the commercial process has been to safeguard jobs, which is why we are offering a wage subsidy of up to £6,400 per disabled employee to encourage interested parties to come forward.

‘We have also been clear from the start that we have protected the £320 million budget for disability employment services.’

The Government has focused efforts on getting disabled workers into mainstream employment.

‘All disabled employees affected by the changes will be guaranteed tailored support from an £8 million package, including a personal case worker, to help with the transition into mainstream employment,’ the spokesman said.