MR. HARCOURT (Lancashire, Rossendale)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is yet able to give the promised answer to the request made to him by a deputation at Manchester in January, that His Majesty's Government should take the initiative in summoning an International Conference of those interested in the manufacture of cotton, with a view to considering the present and future difficulties of the industry and the best methods of dealing with them.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR.) Manchester, E.
The subject is engaging a great deal of the attention 1061 of the Government, but the deputation to which the hon. Gentleman refers rather put in the forefront of their argument the necessity of dealing with purchase in advance as a general system. I have some doubt about the propriety of summoning a conference in this country on the subject, because I doubt whether any good can be done by legislation; but there are probably other matters in which consumers and manufacturers of cotton have common interests with their Continental brethren, and if further inquiry should substantiate that view we shall be very glad to do what we can to further communication between branches of the manufacturing industry here and on the Continent.