HC Deb 27 June 1950 vol 476 cc2080-1
24. Mr. J. MacLeod

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement regarding the scheme for distinguishing between hand-woven and power-woven tweed submitted to him by the Highland and Islands Advisory Panel.

Mr. McNeil

I am re-examining this, question, but I cannot pretend that I am optimistic about the outcome.

Mr. MacLeod

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Treasury admitted in the last Parliament that it was just through lack of distinction between them that they refused to reduce the Purchase Tax—the lack of distinction in the difference between hand-woven and power-woven tweed? Is he aware that unless that distinction is possible, as suggested by this report, the industry, which is vital to the small producers in the Highlands, will be virtually killed?

Mr. McNeil

I know the doubts and the fears, and the hon. Gentleman knows better than most people that this is a complex subject upon which no one view has been representative.

Mr. Maclay

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that if a decision is not reached, and soon, this industry will probably disappear altogether? It is a matter of the gravest urgency.

Mr. Grimond

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that apparently it has been found possible to distinguish between utility and non-utility tweeds though made on the same loom and of the same materials? Could not some distinction be made?

Mr. McNeil

I do not think the distinction is nearly so easy.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

Is it not the case that for many years an orb mark has been approved and recognised by the Board of Trade, which distinguishes handwoven Harris tweed from any other? Why has not that been found acceptable to the Treasury as well as to the Board of Trade?

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