HC Deb 11 February 1930 vol 235 cc206-7
32. Mr. TOUT

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether his attention has been drawn to the fall in the price of silver; whether he has any information showing the effect that fall has had on unemployment in the cotton industry of Lancashire; and whether he will make a statement as to how he proposes to deal with such un employment?


The fall in the price of silver, which lowers purchasing power in the Far East, is, I am informed, a contributory cause of the present unemployment in the cotton industry of Lancashire, and it is one of the reasons for the recent increase in the number of persons recorded as unemployed. In reply to the second part of the question, I would invite my hon. Friend's attention to the statement which I recently made in Manchester with regard to the cooperation of the City in the reorganisation of industry. I have since had further consultations with representatives of the cotton trade, and I am glad to state that the Joint Committee of Cotton Trade Organisations, on which all sections are represented, has the matter under active consideration. I have every reason to believe that the different sections of the cotton industry will make the fullest possible use of the opportunity which is thus offered.


Does that mean that the Lord Privy Seal has had some conferences with the City with a view to putting up the price of silver to the East in order to give a higher purchasing power?


It does not mean anything of the kind. It means exactly what I have said, that due to the fall in the price of silver, the cotton trade has been affected, and I have been in negotiation with the cotton trade to see how far we can mitigate the effect.


Am I to understand that the right hon. Gentleman is dealing with the silver situation in relation to the cotton industry?


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether, in his examination of the position of the wool-textile industry, he has considered the fall in the price of raw wool as a factor contributing to the present unemployment in the industry; and has he any statement to make on the subject?


Yes, Sir. I am aware that the prices of raw wool have declined sharply. A decline of this kind normally produces an increase of unemployment in the industry as buyers wait to see at what level prices will stabilise. This factor, which is outside the control of the Government, will I hope prove to be temporary in its effect.


In view of the answer he has given, will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the report of the committee of inquiry on the wool and textile trades in. the West Riding which was presented before the present Government came into office?


If the hon. Member will look at that report, he will see that they point out, as I have pointed out, the danger to the trade of an unstable position in wool.


Is not the fall in wool prices merely one symptom of the general slump in raw material and produce prices, due to a general deflation policy; and has the Lord Privy Seal taken up with his City friends the possibility of dealing with the situation?