42. Mr. Glenvil Hall
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that owing to a shortage of rayon staple 202 fibre, manufacturers are having to import supplies from Italy; that there is at present an import duty of ninepence a pound upon it; that this adds appreciably to the price of cloth exported; and whether, in view of the need to encourage exports, he will take immediate steps to allow manufacturers a drawback of the duty paid on such cloth exported.
Imports of rayon staple fibre are very small and practically the whole of the demand is met by domestic production, which is expected to increase further. The duty payable on such imports is thus unlikely to have any significant effect on export prices. If exporters generally can show that the import duty is a serious obstacle to export trade, my right hon. Friend will, of course, be prepared to consider the question of drawback.
I understand that woollen manufacturers in the West Riding have approached the Board of Trade on this matter, and have received no satisfaction. Surely that in itself is evidence that there is need, because these fibres are being imported with the results that I have mentioned.
It may well be that a case has not yet been made out showing that this is a significant handicap to the export business, and if the right hon. Gentleman has any additional evidence, or knows anybody who has, which will show that this is a serious handicap, then whether it has been considered in the past or not I assure the right hon. Gentleman that it will be considered further. We shall be glad of any relevant evidence we can get on this point.
Has the hon. Gentleman any evidence that there has been hoarding by Lancashire manufacturers of this material?
I do not think so. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the production of staple fibres has increased enormously in recent years and consumption in this country now is fortunately running at a very high level indeed. Production is still increasing. I should be very glad to receive from the right hon. Gentleman any evidence he has showing that the present production is insufficient. My evidence is that the total quantity imported is only about 1½ per cent, of the present home production.