HC Deb 10 February 1959 vol 599 cc995-7
35. Mr. Boardman

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the decision of the Restrictive Practices Court on the price agreement of the Yarn Spinners' Association, and the Court's anticipation that its ruling is likely to cause further deterioration in the employment position in the cotton towns, he will take urgent steps to get other industries into the affected towns.

Mr. J. Rodgers

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Leavey) on 3rd February, we shall do all we can to mitigate any hardship that may result from the implementation of the Court's decision.

Mr. Boardman

Will the Minister make know to industrialists that this is not merely another appeal on behalf of Lancashire and that employers will find men and women in the cotton towns whose skill and industrial loyalty is completely unsurpassed? In order to encourage employers to go to this area, will he try to persuade his right hon. Friend to build a few new factories?

Mr. Rodgers

I endorse the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question. Regarding the building of new factories, we have already issued the list of places where the Government are prepared to build factories and the list does not include the whole of Lancashire.

41. Mr. Thornton

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will give an assurance that no Treasury funds will be made available for any redundancy scheme for the cotton textile industry which does not provide compensation for redundant workers as well as for redundant directors and shareholders.

61. Mr. H. Hynd

asked the President of the Board of Trade what plans he has for paying compensation to workers displaced from cotton mills and to those put on short-time working.

Mr. J. Rodgers

I am sure that those concerned with the current discussions in the cotton industry are alive to the human problems which any re-organisation scheme will create, but I do not think it would be helpful if I were to prejudge the Government's attitude to any proposals which after full consideration the industry may decide to put forward.

Mr. Thornton

Having regard to the parlous condition of industry in Lancashire and to the approaching General Election, will the hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to keep uppermost in his mind those famous—or perhaps I should say infamous—words, "Too little and too late"?

Mr. Rodgers

I think that the hon. Gentleman is overlooking the fact that the trade unions are being associated with the industry's discussions. They are represented on the Special Development Committee and also on the Cotton Board itself.

Mr. S. Silverman

Is the hon. Gentleman satisfied that the Government have adequate powers to render any help of this kind? Has not he repeatedly told the House that the only powers possessed by the Government by way of persuasion are negative powers which prevent people from doing things in certain places? From his experience, and from our experience, is it not clear that this is not sufficient, and that the Government need positive powers to make sure that new industries are taken to those districts which are losing what they already have?

Mr. Rodgers

That is a totally different question.