HC Deb 24 July 1958 vol 592 cc667-8
32. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations if he will prepare a plan on behalf of Her Majesty's Government for a Commonwealth agreement to ensure that changes in the Commonwealth jute growing and manufacturing industries take place gradually and subject to full employment; and if he will lay this plan before the Governments of the Commonwealth at the Commonwealth Economic Conference at Montreal.

Mr. Alport

Her Majesty's Government are always concerned that major changes in established industries should take place in such a way as to avoid undue disruption or unemployment. If the hon. Member has any new proposals in mind which would require the agreement of other Commonwealth countries, I should be glad to consider them in consultation with my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Thomson

Is not that an astonishing reply? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that it is the responsibility of Her Majesty's Government, with all the resources at their disposal, to put forward plans which will help to resolve the very real conflict of interest between India, Pakistan and Britain in the jute industry; and, further, is he aware that the Government's complete unwillingness to act in the matter is causing large-scale unemployment in Dundee at the moment?

Mr. Alport

If the hon. Gentleman has any particular matters connected with the jute industry to put, I think that he should put them to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.