HC Deb 04 February 1954 vol 523 cc531-2
11. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is awarethat Messrs. English Spinners, Limited, Blackburn, have been obliged to dismiss 30 workers owing to the refusal to them of a licence to import spinning kraft from Scandinavia; and whether, in view of his promise to encourage alternative industries in areas like Blackburn, he will now issue such a licence.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The answer to both parts of the Question is "Yes, Sir."

Mrs. Castle

While thanking the President for the action he has taken in this case, following my representations, may I ask whether he would agree that the present system of allocating this raw material is totally unsatisfactory? Will he consider whether supplies, instead of going through merchants, may go direct to the firms who are processing the raw material and providing employment in this country?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If the hon. Lady would put a Question on the Order Paper about allocation I should be happy to answer it. But I do not think that any system of allocating quotas can be wholly satisfactory to everyone.

Mr. Shackleton

Would the President treat this matter as urgent, because the present system is the most unsatisfactory which has been devised? Is he aware there are other firms, including Messrs. Somic, Ltd., of Preston, who have been battling with the Board of Trade in an attempt to get more favourable treatment, and have been met by a blank refusal?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The most satisfactory answer would be that our balance of payments position should improve to a point where we might liberalise this trade.