HC Deb 09 May 1934 vol 289 cc1066-7
8. Captain FULLER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware that further discharges of employés in the cotton industry in Manchester are still taking place owing to the continuing loss of markets in our West African Colonies into which Japanese goods are being imported at prices which are only possible because of currency depreciation and subsidies; and what steps he proposes to take to restore fair conditions of trade in these Colonies?

The SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Sir Philip Cunliffe-Lister)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement made on Monday by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

13. Major PROCTER

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what proportion of the total textile exports to the Colonial Empire from Japan are taken by East Africa; whether the proposed quotas will apply to East Africa; and, if not, what alternative measures will be taken to secure for Lancashire the textile trade of this market?


Imports into East Africa of cotton piece goods from Japan during 1932 represented roughly 30 per cent. of such imports into the Colonial Empire, excluding Hong Kong and Aden. The answer to the second part of the question is in the negative. As regards the third part, the position is complicated, as the House is aware, by the Congo Basin Treaties, and I can only say at present that the matter is still being examined.


Are we to understand, then, that for some time in the future Japan will still be permitted to have one-third of the total textile trade in the Colonial Empire?


I am not quite sure what conclusion my hon. Friend draws. It is a fact, of which we all must take notice, that a whole series of treaties precludes any action being taken at the present time in that area, and that is a fact by which we are bound.


May I ask whether some action will be taken in regard to those treaties which are crippling the Lancashire trade?


I have already said that that is being most carefully considered. So far as East Africa is concerned, the attitude that the Governments there have always taken is that if it is considered by those most competent to advise that it would be in the interest of this country and if it is possible internationally to determine those treaties they would readily accept that.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether British trade gains great advantage from those treaties?


That, of course, is one of the considerations which have to be weighed by those who are engaged in deciding what is in the best interests of the British export trade, with which we are concerned here.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not also influenced by the interests of the Crown Colonies?


Yes, Sir. I speak, I know, fully on behalf of East Africa when I say that as East Africa enjoys the preferences granted by this country it would readily accord preferences to this country, if it is possible to do so.


When the right hon. Gentleman says that this matter is being considered, can he give the House any indication as to whether he will be able to make a comprehensive statement in the near future?


No, Sir; I cannot say when that will be possible. My hon. Friend will realise that it is hardly for me to decide, in my particular sphere, what is best in the interests of the British export trade.