HC Deb 10 June 1952 vol 502 cc9-10
14. Mr. Anthony Greenwood

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reply he has made to the letter sent to him by the Textile Officials' Association enclosing a resolution passed at the Association's annual conference at Southport, urging the Government to stimulate the purchase of textiles on the home market, and to take further steps to keep the overseas market open.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I have thanked the Association for their letter and noted the points made in the resolution, copies of which have, I understand, been circulated to all Lancashire Members of Parliament.

Mr. Greenwood

Is not the President of the Board of Trade aware that Lancashire needs more than thanks for bringing these matters to his attention? Does he not appreciate that statistics on unemployment published in today's papers are conclusive proof that the Government in fact have taken no effective steps whatsoever?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This resolution was not one to ask me questions about particular aspects of policy but was couched, in perfectly proper terms, to draw my attention to certain problems that exist. I do not think a point arises on giving courteous thanks for that. It was a proper thing to do. If the hon. Member has any questions on specific details of policy, perhaps he will put a Question on the Order Paper.

35. Mr. Lee

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that in the textile producing areas there is now a danger that shortage of purchasing power will cause slump conditions in other industries; and whether he will take immediate steps to remedy this position.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I am, of course, aware of this possibility, but there is little evidence of any substantial increase in unemployment in industries other than those concerned with textiles. The Government are watching the situation and have already taken substantial action to assist the textile areas.

Mr. Lee

Is the Chancellor aware that in actual figures there may not be a lot of evidence; but the slackening down of the number of industries in which there is now no overtime being worked, or in which piece-work earnings are dropping, is quite alarming? Would not he agree that where one has 140,000 or 150,000 people who were earning £7 or £8 per week and who are now drawing 30s., some effect is bound to be felt?

Mr. Butler

We have done our best to help, within our powers, and we shall continue to do so. The hon. Member is correct in saying that if there is a substantial area of unemployment there must be some effect on the ancillary trades concerned.

Mr. Pryde

Is not the Chancellor of the Exchequer aware that whole paper mills are now being closed down in Midlothian?

Mr. Butler

I am aware of most things; but if the hon. Gentleman will give me details I shall be only too glad to have them.