HC Deb 01 December 1949 vol 470 cc1308-9
34. Mr. Austin

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent Lancashire exports of textiles and textile machinery have been affected by Japanese post war production.

The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. Bottomley)

It is impossible to measure the effect of Japanese exports on Lancashire's exports since the war, but there is no reason to think that Lancashire has exported less cotton textiles or textile machinery because of Japanese competition. In fact we have needed to supplement our production of cotton grey cloth by importing Japanese cloth for processing and re-export.

Mr. Austin

Is my hon. Friend aware that Lancashire has already been adversely affected by Japanese competition, and that that has been increased, too, by the removal of the export controls by the MacArthur Administration. Would my hon. Friend refer to a letter in today's "Manchester Guardian," which will supply him and his Department with very valuable information on the subject?

Mr. W. Fletcher

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that printed textiles copied in designs absolutely from Manchester designs are selling on the West Coast of Africa at 1s. per yard less than Lancashire textiles and, therefore, harming the Lancashire textile industry to a very large degree?

Mr. Bottomley

I am bound to say in answer to both supplementary questions that trade is limited by the balance of payment difficulties, and, therefore, I do not think the two questions have any substantial effect for the present.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does the hon. Gentleman realise what the future may be for the Lancashire industry, and will he make representations to the Prime Minister and the Government that the British people should have much stronger representation in Japan on all these matters in order to stand up to this competition?

Mr. Austin

Does my horn Friend realise that with the most efficient machinery in the world, Lancashire cannot compete with the rice standard of Japan, and will he, therefore, urge the Government to make representations to the MacArthur Administration regarding prices at which goods are exported from Japan today?

Mr. Bottomley

That is very much in hand.

Mr. John Lewis

Is my hon. Friend aware that some of the uncertainties which have had an effect on recruitment for the cotton industry are to a large extent due to the fact that prospective new entrants think twice before going into it, because they feel that the Lancashire cotton industry is going to be in the same position in the future as it has been in the past, due to a large extent to Japanese competition?

Mr. Bottomley

I have no evidence to that effect.

Mr. Fletcher

In view of the very weak answer of the Minister, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this question on the Adjournment.

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