HC Deb 24 April 1958 vol 586 cc1132-3
4. Mr. Osborne

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the negotiations between his Permanent Secretary, Sir Frank Lee, and the Chinese textile manufacturers in Hong Kong on the voluntary limitation of cotton exports to the United Kingdom; and why it was impossible to reach any agreement.

Sir D. Eccles

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the right hon. Member for Battersea, North (Mr. Jay) on 17th April. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State explained, the Hong Kong cotton textile industry has agreed to negotiate with the United Kingdom industry subject to certain conditions.

Mr. Osborne

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in The Times this week it was stated that the Hong Kong manufacturers are now complaining that imports are coming from Pakistan at less than the raw material prices? Since this will tend to cause Hong Kong to export more and more goods against the Lancashire interest, will he get all the Commonwealth people together to see if we can get some united action in this matter?

Sir D. Eccles

I think that cotton goods, and even raw cotton, will be on the agenda of the Commonwealth Conference, but in the meantime we want to try to get voluntary agreements for grey cloth from Hong Kong, India and Pakistan.

Mr. Jay

As Hong Kong is a Colony, are the British Government using their influence to get labour conditions improved in the Hong Kong industry?

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, Sir. The report made to me is that conditions in the Hong Kong factories are good.