HC Deb 06 November 1958 vol 594 cc1088-90
19. Sir A. V. Harvey

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the textile industry and its current difficulties; and what action is being taken to counteract these.

Sir D. Eccles

The Government are deeply concerned with these difficulties, as my hon. Friend will see from my speech in last Tuesday's debate.

Sir A. V. Harvey

While I appreciate the interest that my right hon. Friend has taken in this matter, may I ask him to consider another aspect of the problem, that at places like Macclesfield and Congleton, where the local authorities have acquired industrial sites, they are getting little support from his Department to bring in new industries? If I bring such cases to my right hon. Friend's notice, will he do what he can to help?

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, Sir, I will.

Mr. H. Hynd

As the Minister's speech on Tuesday, to which he has referred, expressed nothing but pious hopes—

Sir A. V. Harvey


Mr. Hynd

—oh, yes. What he said, in effect, was that he hoped the increase in purchasing power would lead to more textiles being bought. Can the right hon. Gentleman give something more concrete than that in the way of immediate help to the cotton textile industry?

Sir D. Eccles

The immediate help will be the agreements with the Asian industries, if they are made. After that, as I said in my speech, the Government are very willing to discuss with the Lancashire industry any long-term proposals that the industry may have for stabilising itself in the future.

Sir J. Barlow

While I appreciate what my right hon. Friend said this week in his speech, may I ask whether he can say that the Government will look favourably upon the idea of redundancy schemes in the various sections of the cotton industry? Would they be likely to receive Government approval?

Sir D. Eccles

No, Sir. I should have to look at any such proposals with great care before I could give an opinion.

29. Mr. Hirst

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the difficulties being experienced in the wool textile industry, what steps he is taking to explore with the trade organisations especially concerned avenues of encouraging more trade; and whether, to that end, he is still in close touch with the authorities in both Canada and the United States of America with a view to securing more favourable import terms for British wool textiles.

Sir D. Eccles

My hon. Friend the Minister of State recently discussed with representatives of the industry the main difficulties confronting them in their export markets. I am in close touch with the Canadian and United States authorities and am pressing both to remove disabilities against our goods.

Mr. Hirst

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, while the woollen textile industry appreciates the relatively narrow limits within which he can assist the trade, it does view with very great concern the situation arising over the Canadian and United States' import tariff quotas? I hope that he will bear in mind that at this time of year we are reaching the vital period and that negotiations will be coming to a head? I hope that he will bear this in mind on every possible occasion.

Sir D. Eccles

Yes. I want to do all I can. The House may be interested to know that the Canadian Finance Minister has just told me that it is the firm intention of his Government to restore the margins of preference formerly enjoyed by the United Kingdom.