HC Deb 29 July 1965 vol 717 cc675-7
35. Mr. Mapp

asked the President of the Board of Trade what progress has been made in the negotiations in respect of the import of cotton textiles for 1966 onwards; and if he will make a statement.

40. Mr. A. Royle

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the Hong Kong textile quota, in order to relieve the uncertainty which is damaging the Colony's trade.

Mr. Jay

I hope shortly to put formal proposals on the arrangements to be applied to imports of cotton textiles after the end of 1965 to exporting countries including Hong Kong. I shall make a statement as soon as possible.

Mr. Mapp

Does my right hon. Friend recall the statement of the chairman of Courtaulds recently in which this modern capitalised industry, as it is becoming, sought a clear and forthright statement of policy such as I hope he will be able to give to the textile industry in the next week or so?

Mr. Jay

Yes Sir. We hope to achieve a limitation of total imports into this country from the end of this year onwards in order to give reasonable stability to the industry.

Mr. A. Royle

Why is the President of the Board of Trade taking so long to come to a conclusion in this matter? The delay is causing great damage to the Colony of Hong Kong's trade at present. Secondly, will he give an assurance that, in any action he proposes, he will maintain the individual quota for each territory and not institute a global quota?

Mr. Jay

The reason why it is taking some time is that there are several countries involved in the negotiation and not all of their views exactly coincide with ours.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

While fully realising the importance of this aspect of our import problem for Lancashire, will my right hon. Friend consider, since a large part of our present serious international economic situation is due to the excess of imports generally, not only textiles, whether it is time that the Government devised a planned economic import policy as a whole?

Mr. Jay

We are devising precisely a plan for cotton textile imports over the years following the end of this year, and I fully agree that the present balance of payments prospect is an additional argument for our setting some limit on these imports.

Mr. Barber

Have these proposals the full backing of the Cotton Board?

Mr. Jay

No, Sir. I would not say that they had the full backing of the Cotton Board. This is a controversy in which any solution is bound to displease most of the parties concerned. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] It is bound to. We had all better recognise that frankly. I am trying to achieve the most equitable possible compromise.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

What other authorities and expert bodies besides the Cotton. Board is the right hon. Gentleman consulting?

Mr. Jay

I have consulted both sides of industry, and I have met a number of hon. Members who put their views to me as well as the cotton trade unions.

Forward to