HC Deb 26 July 1951 vol 491 cc618-20
7. Mr. Assheton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps have been taken to ensure that under the proposed treaty with Japan no damage will be done to the cotton trade in Lancashire.

Sir H. Shawcross

I would refer the right hon. Member to the Written Answer which I gave on 12th July in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) concerning the economic aspects of the draft Treaty of Peace with Japan.

Mr. Assheton

Since the right hon. and learned Gentleman was, unfortunately, not able to be present during part of yesterday's debate, would he be so good as to study carefully all the suggestions that were then made and see that as many amendments as possible are incorporated in the draft Treaty before the Treaty is signed at San Francisco in September?

Sir H. Shawcross

Yes, Sir. I also had the advantage only last Thursday of a very full conference in Manchester with the leaders on both sides of the cotton industry in regard to the effect of the draft Treaty of Peace with Japan, and I shall give most careful consideration to all the points which were raised there.

Mr. Nally

While recognising the agreement on all sides of the House as to the menace which Japanese competition constituted to the Lancashire textile trade before the war, may I ask my right hon. and learned Friend whether he is aware that from the early 'thirties onwards all the Co-operative societies of this country operated a complete boycott of Japanese goods? Secondly, will my right hon. and learned Friend inquire to what extent, before the war and since, firms completely under the control of private enterprise were and are most anxious to use sweated Japanese labour to make profits in the retail market of this country?

Sir H. Shawcross

We have made it quite clear that we can give no undertaking to extend most-favoured-nation treatment to Japan in future.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman not agree that by far the most effective way of dealing with this problem is to try to make certain that higher labour standards are observed in Japan, and that she adheres to all the I.L.O. conventions rather than that we should adopt purely protective devices in this country?

Sir H. Shawcross

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman. There is attached to the draft Treaty a list of conventions to which Japan has undertaken to adhere on the Treaty being signed, among them being the one which was referred to in the debate last night, dealing with false descriptions as to the origin of goods. Japan has undertaken to adhere to that convention.

Mr. Joseph Hale

Would my right hon. and learned Friend assure us that no time will be lost by the Government in opening negotiations with the Japanese Government for a commercial treaty as well as the Treaty of Peace which we discussed in the House yesterday?

Sir H. Shawcross

That is another question, but we will certainly give it consideration.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman, in order to relieve a good many anxieties that exist on this matter, endeavour to secure the inclusion in that list of conventions to which the Japanese have agreed to conform, specifically those conventions dealing with trade marks, patents, designs and copyright which they had not signed before the war?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind, while considering that question and all questions about the protection of Japanese labour by international conventions, that there was before the war a Washington convention on labour standards and hours of labour, which successive Governments of Tory complexion, from 1918 until 1939, refused to ratify; and will he undertake that any such international convention made now will be ratified by His Majesty's Government and enforced?

Sir H. Shawcross

We shall endeavour to learn as much as we can from the mistakes made by Governments during that period.