HC Deb 22 February 1951 vol 484 cc1426-7
5. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he can now announce the result of his further discussions with the United States authorities on the question of securing more adequate supplies of raw cotton.

Mr. H. Wilson

My hon. Friend will have learnt from the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in reply to Questions by the hon. and gallant Member for the New Forest (Colonel Crosthwaite-Eyre), and the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), on 13th February that it has now been decided that cotton will be one of the raw materials to come within the purview of the commodity committees now being set up in Washington. In the meantime, I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort), on 23rd January.

Mr. Hynd

Could not my right hon. Friend add to these rather general replies and statements something which would ameliorate the feeling of uncertainty and disquiet in Lancashire about possible unemployment?

Mr. Wilson

I should very much like to ameliorate that condition of uncertainty and disquiet, but I cannot add to the statement I have already made, that we are disturbed and concerned about the size of the allocation of raw cotton which has been made to us and that we have taken this matter up very strongly—and are still doing so—with the United States Government.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

is this not one of the results of Government buying?

Mr. Wilson

I have already given an answer on that point to the hon. Member for Orpington (Sir W. Smithers). The right hon. Gentleman should know that the amount of cotton we get in this country is directly the result of the size of the allocation made by the United States Government, and that private buying or centralised buying would make no difference to that.

Mr. Hudson

We have only the right hon. Gentleman's word for that, and we do not accept it.

Mr. Wilson

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will accept this: in the purchase of cotton by the Raw Cotton Commission outside the United States, the Commission have greatly increased the amount to far above anything which would be bought by private buying.