HC Deb 13 April 1948 vol 449 cc795-6
54. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the recent rise in raw cotton prices is making it difficult to sell British goods in the American and Canadian markets; and if he is satisfied with the policy of the Raw Cotton Commission.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade (Mr. Belcher)

Recent changes in the price level of different varieties of raw cotton have widened the price difference between Egyptian cotton and other growths. This may well affect the views of potential purchasers of British cotton goods made from Egyptian cotton, whether in America and Canada or elsewhere. It remains to be seen to what extent the increase in the price of goods made from Egyptian cotton relative to the price of goods made from other growths of cotton will exercise a check upon the sale of those goods. I may add that the Raw Cotton Commission has announced its readiness to allow spinners a measure of substitution of other growths, including American. The answer to the second part of the Question is "Yes, Sir."

Mr. Osborne

Since there has been a good deal of anxiety amongst exporters of cotton goods both to Canada and America because of the rises, have any representations been made to the right hon. Gentleman and if so, what answer has been given, and is my hon. Friend satisfied with this new policy as pursued by the Raw Cotton Commission?

Mr. Belcher

I have already said that we are satisfied with the policy of the Raw Cotton Commission. I am aware that there is some anxiety amongst exporters arising from the rise in the price of Egyptian cotton. How far that anxiety is justified it is not possible to say but we have noted the rise in the price of Egyptian cotton, and permission has been given to the manufacturers to use American cotton in substitution for Egyptian because of the rise in prices.

Sir W. Smithers

Is not all this trouble arising because the Government stopped the dealings in cotton futures?

Mr. Belcher

No, Sir.