§ 43. Mr. HACKING
asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the recent letter sent to him by the President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in connection with the gravity of the present position of the cotton export trade to India; and, if so, whether he will tell the House the nature of his reply?
§ 66. Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will state the nature of the legislation, if any, which he intends to introduce in order to overcome any impediments to the improvement in the cotton trade which were found to exist as a result of the Government's committee of inquiry into the cotton industry?
§ Mr. GILLETT (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
The committee on the cotton industry did not recommend that legislation should be undertaken except in the event of a contingency which, I hope, will not arise.
§ Sir W. BRASS
May I make a protest to you, Mr. Speaker, on the same point that was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams)? This question was addressed to the Prime Minister, whom I see in his place. This is the second time that I have addressed a question to the Prime Minister and found it turned over to one of the Departments. It is now addressed to the Board of Trade, but even the President of the Board of Trade does not answer it.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I can only say to the hon. and gallant Member what I said to the other hon. Member. It has nothing to do with me who answers questions.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
Is it not the custom that an hon. Member should have the courtesy of being told what is being done, so that if he desires to do so he may withdraw the question? He may not be concerned with the details of the question, but with the wider implication as to the responsibility of the Government as a whole as apart from a particular Department.
§ Captain P. MACDONALD
As this question arises directly out of a statement made by the Prime Minister, may I be allowed to read the statement?
§ 1. Mr. REMER (for Sir GEORGE HAMILTON)
asked the Minister of Labour whether since the provisional agreement in India there has been an increase of employment in the Lancashire cotton industry; and if she will give the appropriate comparative unemployment figures for the industry?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
As the reply includes a table of figures, I will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Mr. HACKING
Do the figures indicate, in the words of the President of the Board of Trade, that there has been a notable improvement in the cotton industry as a result of the signing of this agreement?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I will give the percentages. The percentage of unemployment on 26th January, 1931, was 45.6; on
§ At 23rd March, 1931, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 193,290 insured persons in the cotton industry classification recorded as unemployed at Employment Exchanges in the North Western Division, as compared with 219,517 at 23rd February, 1931.
§ The following TABLE gives figures for the past three months.
|Cotton Industry—North Western Division.|
|—||26th January, 1931.*||23rd February, 1931.||23rd March, 1931.|
|Number Unemployed.||Per cent. of No. Insured.||Number Unemployed.||Per cent. of No. Insured.||Number Unemployed||Per cent. of No. Insured.|
|* The figures for 26th January, 1931, are exclusive of persons disqualified for unemployment benefit by reason of the trade dispute then in progress.|
67. Earl WINTERTON
asked the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department if he will call for a telegraphic report from the British trade commissioner in India on the subject of the import trade of Lancashire cotton goods into India since 1st March last, in respect of both volume and value?
§ Mr. GILLETT
I fear that the suggestion of the Noble Lord is unpracticable because there would be the greatest difficulty in obtaining figures and I doubt whether any sound conclusion could be drawn from them if obtained.
Has the hon. Gentleman's attention been called to the fact that officially the report refers to the cotton industry, and says that this is the most important part of the British imports into India, and why does the hon. Gentleman now say that it is impracticable to obtain a report from the trade commissioner?
§ Mr. GILLETT
That would involve a very great deal of time, and in my opinion, when the figures were obtained, they would be of little value. They would not be worth the time and trouble involved.
Is it not a fact that this official, in his annual report, refers to the cotton industry, and, if that is so, why is the hon. Member not able to give the figures asked for?
§ 23rd February, 1931, 43.1; and on 23rd March, 1931, 38.
§ Following is the statement:
§ Mr. GILLETT
The Noble Lord overlooks the fact that the figures asked for would include figures dealing with goods ordered many months before and therefore would he of very little use.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Will the hon. Member give us the information on which the President of the Board of Trade made his statement the other day?
§ Sir A. CHAMBERLAIN
All I am asking is whether we can have the information upon which the President of the Board of Trade based his statement?
§ Mr. GILLETT
I cannot definitely promise the figures and the same difficulty applies to this question as applies to the point raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winter-ton), but I will undertake to look into the matter.
§ Mr. SANDHAM
Can the Secretary of the Overseas Trade Department intimate to us what progress is being made with regard to the national reorganisation of this industry?