HC Deb 13 December 1949 vol 470 cc2512-3
61. Mr. J. Lewis

asked the President of the Board of Trade if, in the interests of improving the output in the cotton industry, he will consider extending the benefits of the Cotton Subsidy Act to smaller units which make specialised types of goods and which are therefore not in a position to amalgamate.

The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. Bottomley)

The Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act, 1948, is designed not only to encourage modernisation in cotton spinning mills but also to secure a measure of consolidation in the industry.

The Act is administered as flexibly as is possible without the sacrifice of this twofold purpose. I appreciate that mills engaged in a specialised type of production may find it difficult to qualify, and if my hon. Friend has any particular group of mills in mind I would be pleased to look into the case.

Mr. Lewis

In view of the experience which my hon. Friend's Department has already had in regard to this matter, he must know that consolidation is extremely difficult; and in view of this fact would he reconsider the whole question in order to see if efficiency can be brought to bear by allowing the benefits under this Act to apply to smaller units?

Mr. Osborne

Could the Minister tell the House how many groups are amalgamated under this Act?

Mr. Bottomley

Not without notice, but, generally, I would reply again that we are prepared to look at any case which any hon. Member wishes to draw to our attention. We encourage it.

Mr. Austin

Is it not a fact that a concession has already been made in relation to this Act whereby instead of the 400,000 grouping, a grouping of 250,000 is admitted for the benefits of the subsidy?

Mr. Bottomley

Yes, Sir, that is true.