HC Deb 21 May 1952 vol 501 cc454-5
13 and 14. Mr. Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what steps he is taking to facilitate imports of Lancashire textile goods into the Colonies;

(2) to what extent fresh licences are being granted to Japanese textile suppliers to export to the colonial territories.

Mr. Hopkinson

The Governments of the colonial territories have been asked, for balance of payments reasons, to limit imports from non-sterling sources, including Japan, to essentials, and already several territories have markedly reduced, and in some cases suspended, the issue of import licences for Japanese textiles. This should create an increased demand for United Kingdom textiles of the right type and price and, after consulting my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, my right hon. Friend has recently drawn the attention of colonial authorities to the improvement this year in the ability of the United Kingdom cotton and rayon industries to make prompt deliveries at competitive prices.

Mr. Shepherd

While this is satisfactory, as far as it goes, is not my right hon. Friend aware that Lancashire supplied colonial territories with cotton goods when they were very difficult to obtain and that the arrangements now made are satisfactory only during a time of a shortage of dollars or of other foreign currency? Will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of reinstituting a system of quotas, which worked quite satisfactorily before the war?

Mr. Dugdale

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last year there was a great demand from West Africa for these goods and that that demand could not be met from Lancashire? Will he draw the attention of his right hon. Friend and of Lancashire to the importance of meeting this demand and not finding reasons for failing to meet it?

Mr. Hopkinson

I know that in certain territories, and I have East Africa particularly in mind, there is still some complaint about deliveries and, in general, about some lack of initiative on the part of the cotton industry in this country. Following discussions between my Department and the Board of Trade, a telegram has been sent to all colonial Governments emphasising the improvement in the ability of our textile industry to make prompt deliveries. We hope that that will lead to increased orders from the Colonies.

Mr. Sorensen

What is the approximate difference in price between Japanese textiles and Lancashire textiles? Secondly, does the right hon. Gentleman mean that this order or recommendation, whatever it is, is to rest upon the decision of the Governor of each of the Colonies, or will the local legislatures be taken into consideration?

Mr. Hopkinson

I think that that is another question.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it sufficient to send a telegram to the colonial Governments? Is this not a serious enough matter to warrant sending out some high-powered officials or even Members of the Government? And is not the trouble that people out there have not the consuming power to enable them to buy the goods, and should that not be investigated?

Mr. Hopkinson

As far as getting on with the job is concerned, obviously a telegram is the quickest way of doing it.