HC Deb 30 March 1950 vol 473 cc555-6
37. Mr. S. Silverman

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that Japanese-produced grey cloth of American yarns, between 30's and 36's, is being sold in this country at prices lower than this country pays America for the yarns of which it is made; and what steps he proposes to take to protect the Lancashire cotton industry from unfair Japanese competition and unfair American discrimination.

Mr. H. Wilson

Our imports of cotton yarn from the United States are negligible, and accordingly a comparison of the kind suggested cannot be made. The low price of Japanese grey cloth is due to lower production costs in Japan and not to American discrimination in the price of raw cotton. As regards the last part of the Question, His Majesty's Government are giving full attention to the possibility that the Lancashire cotton industry may need help against abnormal competition.

Mr. S. Silverman

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been called to recent statements in the "Manchester Guardian" along the lines on which this Question is posed, and does he deny that the price at which Japanese-produced grey cloth is sold in this country is, in fact, below the price we have to pay for the raw material, however little we buy?

Mr. Wilson

I have read the statement referred to by my hon. Friend, but he will realise that no Japanese cloth is being imported in this country today except in an unfinished state for finishing and re-export and that, in view of the shortage of the type of cloth involved, we are only too glad to get it at the moment.

Mr. Prescott

Is the Minister aware that we are very glad indeed to have the support of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) in this matter?

Mr. Harrison

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the comparative costs of the imported American fibre and of the imported Japanese grey cloth?

Mr. Wilson

Not without notice.

Sir Ronald Ross

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that finished piece goods and cotton cloth are being exported to this country from Japan via Hong Kong?

Mr. Wilson

There have been a lot of allegations about goods coming to this country and marked as of Hong Kong origin, which are alleged to be Japanese. We are making the most stringent inquiries, but I have not had, so far, any evidence that anything that comes from Hong Kong is manufactured in Japan. If it did we should take strict action.

Mr. Sutcliffe

Has the Minister formulated any plan to meet any dangers that may easily arise from serious Japanese competition?

Mr. Wilson

I think that is in the answer I have already given.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of the widespread anxiety on this question, Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I intend to raise the matter at an early opportunity on the Adjournment.