HC Deb 14 December 1950 vol 482 cc1314-6
5. Mr. Fort

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he can yet assess the effect on the cotton textile industry of the detailed allocation of raw cotton exports made by the United States Government.

9. Mr. Harrison

asked the President of the Board of Trade what means he has devised of obtaining additional supplies of raw cotton, in view of the reductions from the United States sources.

Mr. H. Wilson

As I informed the House in answer to similar Questions on 30th November, I am not satisfied that an adequate share of the United States crop has been made available to us. The supplies which have so far been allocated to us, total only one-third of our imports from the United States in the year ending June, 1950. We have for some time been seeking to secure as much cotton as possible from sources outside the United States—including our own Colonies. We shall, of course, continue to do so, but I am hopeful that the representations to which I referred on 30th November, the importance of which has been underlined by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister while he was in Washington, will result in a fuller appreciation of our needs by the American authorities. Meanwhile, I do not feel that I should make any further comment.

Mr. Fort

Can the Minister say what reactions the Americans are showing to the statements made to them by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister when he was in Washington, and what action is being followed with the American authorities at present?

Mr. Wilson

I have said that I think we have succeeded in making the American authorities fully aware of our needs. Until they have had time to consider their position in relation to them, I feel that I ought not to make any further comment.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Can my right hon. Friend say what relation there is between the allocation of raw cotton to us and the allocation of raw cotton to our competitors in Japan? Will he bear in mind that the whole of Lancashire is watching this matter with the greatest possible anxiety?

Mr. Wilson

The allocation to us so far has been 235,000 bales, and to Japan it has been 693,000 bales. I am fully aware of the anxiety in Lancashire, and I can assure my hon. Friend that those points have been made fully to our American friends.

Sir Waldron Smithers

Is not the real answer to this question to re-open the Liverpool Cotton Exchange?

Mr. Wilson

Since the hon. Gentleman will be fully aware that the Raw Cotton Commission and the Government are prepared to make full arrangements for buying far more cotton than we have been allocated, it should be clear, even to him, that the re-opening of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange would make no difference whatever to the present situation.

Sir W. Smithers

On a point of order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman to say "It should be clear, even to him"?

Mr. Speaker

It was not a reference to me, so I think it is all right.

Sir W. Smithers

I am asking for your protection, Sir.