HC Deb 16 December 1948 vol 459 cc1489-91

9.7 p.m.

Mr. Bottomley (Secretary for Overseas Trade)

I beg to move, That the Draft Lace Industry (Levy) Order, 1948, a copy of which was presented on 8th December, be approved. The order for which I seek approval tonight is the first of its kind under Section 9 of the Industrial Organisation and Development Act, 1947. That Act authorises the Board of Trade and other Departments to make an Order imposing a compulsory levy on an industry where there is no development council. It provides a levy for the purpose of financing scientific research, export promotion or improvement in design, to be undertaken for the benefit of the industry. The purpose of this order is to provide a collection of £10,000 a year from the machine lace industry to finance a new Lace Research Association. There was a lace working party established and they thought it was inadvisable to establish a development council. The Government and the industry accepted that. The working party recommended, however, a compulsory levy to finance scientific and technical research and it is for that purpose that this Motion is being presented tonight.

The Government, through the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, will make a contribution of about 40 per cent. of the total income. Section 9 of the Act requires that we should consult the trade organisations and the trade unions. In that connection I have to report that the employers' organisation agreed by 97 per cent. that the order was necessary and the Amalgamated Society of Operative Lace Makers and Allied Workers, the Transport and General Workers' Union, and the Scottish Lace and Textile Workers' Union, representing the workers, agreed. In all the circumstances it is, therefore, very much an agreed measure.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot (Scottish Universities)

It seems to us that this is a reasonable proposal, but there are some hon. Members who wish to make some comment on it. It would be advisable, therefore, that the opportunity should be given to those who desire, to comment on the proposals which the Parliamentary Secretary has laid before the House.

9.10 p.m.

Mr. William Shepherd (Bucklow)

The lace trade itself is entitled to some credit in this issue, because its regard for research has not been a last-minute idea. In fact, it instituted a research association three years ago and was working some sort of organisation long before the working party itself suggested that it ought to do so. I am glad that the Minister has at last been able to get a proposal which has met with the satisfaction of the whole of the trade, and I hope that this arrangement that has been entered into, may ultimately mean that wider agreements may be reached in the industry.

Many people today are thinking that, because there is a national or trade association, there is no need for individual effort. That is a very dangerous line of thought. What I want to do is to stress the fact that, despite the Lace Research Association, there is still a very strong demand for individual research, and a very definite need for ingenuity by individual firms. We shall not maintain our trade and we shall not improve out trade merely by relying upon one central research organisation. We shall maintain that trade and improve it by the ingenuity and efforts of individual manufacturers. While we on this side welcome this research association, and are glad that a levy will be instituted so that everybody will pay a proper share, we want to stress the fact that the real success of industry does not come from these collective efforts, valuable as they may be, but springs from the individual efforts of manufacturers.

Question put, and agreed to.