HC Deb 14 November 1938 vol 341 cc499-500
70. Mr. Tinker

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered a resolution from the local authority of Leigh, Lancashire, expressing alarm at the condition of the cotton industry and urging the setting up of a public inquiry to ascertain the causes and the immediate purchase of the cotton supplies necessary for the re-armament programme; and what action he proposes to take?

Mr. R. S. Hudson

My right hon. Friend considered the resolution to which the hon. Member refers, but he does not consider that a public inquiry would serve any useful purpose. It is well known that the principal reason for the depressed condition of the cotton industry is the severity of the competition which has developed during recent years in the principal export markets for cotton goods. As regards the steps which the Government are taking to stimulate exports of textiles, I would refer to the answer given to the hon. and gallant Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nall) by my right hon. Friend on 1st November. As regards any further supplies of cotton goods which it may be found necessary to purchase for the rearmament programme, the hon. Member may rest assured that orders will be placed as soon possible, but I have no information that would indicate that their magnitude can be such as to afford any large measure of relief to the industry.

Mr. Tinker

When can we expect something definite from the Government in regard to the cotton industry either in the form of a legislative Measure or in some other form?

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to tell us whether the Government intend doing anything at all to help the Lancashire cotton industry?

Mr. Hudson

That is another question.

Sir N. Stewart Sandeman

Can nothing be done to keep Japanese cotton goods out of the Empire?