HC Deb 24 November 1953 vol 521 cc183-4
41. Dr. Stross

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has noted the decline in the export of pottery during 1952 and 1953, as compared with 1951; and what are the factors which may account for the decline.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Heathcoat Amory)

Yes, Sir; but 1951 was a peak year when exports of domestic pottery reached a level almost double that of 1938 by weight and about seven times that of 1938 by value. The main factors accounting for the decline since 1951 have been the imposition of import restrictions abroad, increased foreign competition in overseas markets, and some reduction in consumer demand, but there has been some improvement in exports in the last few months compared with the same period in 1952.

Dr. Stross

On the point of increased competition from abroad by manufacturers in other countries, will the Minister bear in mind that the fuel costs in this industry form a high proportion of the overhead charges? Would he, therefore, use his influence with the Gas Board to see that gas supplied to this industry, which is now used in the main for firing, might be offered at a smaller charge than is at present entailed?

Mr. Amory

We are watching the position of this important export industry with the greatest attention, and I will take into consideration the point made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Bottomley

Would the Minister also agree that the removal of controls has had a serious effect, and that the Government ought seriously to consider the question of leaving to free enterprise the ruin that will come as a result of that policy?

Mr. Amory

I think that this industry, as most others, is well content on the whole with the policies which Her Majesty's Government have initiated.