HC Deb 13 March 1946 vol 420 cc1108-9
84. Mr. Stokes

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there is a large surplus of textile manufacturing capacity available in Northern Italy; and whether he will consider making arrangements for the supply of raw materials on the basis that the major proportion of the manufactured goods would then be available for disposal in this country or elsewhere in the sterling or dollar areas.

Mr. Marquand (Secretary, Department of Overseas Trade)

The existence of surplus capacity in the Italian textile industry has been known for some time and no effort is being spared to make the best use of it in order to relieve the world shortage of textiles. The Board of Trade have already assisted a number of British firms to make arrangements of the kind referred to in the second part of the Question, and we are willing to consider further schemes on similar lines.

Sir Frank Sanderson

Is the hon. Member aware that a considerable volume of textile machinery is standing idle in this country due to the great shortage of labour?

Mr. Marquand

Yes, Sir.

85. Mr. Stokes

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that there are 300,000 quintals of silk about 15,000 tons, surplus in Italy; and whether he will arrange for the supply of scrap iron or other raw material badly needed in Italy, so as to make this surplus available for domestic use in this country.

Mr. Belcher

The amount of silk in Italy at the end of 1945 for home use or export is thought more probably to have been about 4 million lbs. in all. The present total United Kingdom stock, which includes supplies from Italy, is ample for our present capacity to process with the limited labour available. There is, therefore, no occasion for special measures to secure further supplies of silk from Italy.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that he has not answered my Question? I am suggesting that arrangements should be made to put into manufacture this surplus silk in Italy, and the figures I have quoted correspond to the supply of 500,00.0,000 pairs of silk stockings in this country.