§ 2. Mr. Allaun
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether, following the recent refusal of Hong Kong to limit cotton cloth exports to Great Britain, he will now consider introducing a minimum wage in Hong Kong textile mills.
§ The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies (Mr. John Profumo)
No, Sir. As my right hon. Friend informed the hon. Member on 24th October, 1956, wages and working conditions in this industry compare favourably with those in other industries, and it is not proposed to introduce a legal minimum wage.
§ Mr. Allaun
But is the Minister aware that Lancashire is increasingly alarmed by the growth of cotton imports, made by underpaid Hong Kong labour, which has increased from 5 million square yards six years ago to 55 million square yards last year? Since the wages of textile workers in Hong Kong are so far below those of the workers in Lancashire, would it not be in the interest of both to introduce a legal minimum wage?
§ Mr. Profumo
No, Sir, and I do not agree that they are underpaid. I think it would be improper to enforce a higher minimum wage simply to protect the United Kingdom cotton industry.