HC Deb 24 April 1968 vol 763 cc217-8
43. Mr. Robert Howarth

asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the effect on the level of trade in the cotton textile industry of the proposals contained in the Budget.

Mr. Crosland

One cannot isolate the effect of the Budget from other influences. But I would expect the recovery of production in the cotton textile industry to continue in the post-Budget period.

Mr. Howarth

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the upturn in the industry started only late in 1967, and that it would be a disaster if the Budget were to push it down once again into a trough of inactivity?

Mr. Crosland

I would certainly agree with that, but the upturn started as early as last September. The latest figures show that the recovery in production which then began is being well maintained, and that order books are still lengthening against the seasonal trend. I would expect this pattern to continue.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Would the right hon. Gentleman arrange to have the by-elections at Nelson and Colne and Oldham, West before the trade falls off again?

Hon Members


Mr. Arthur Davidson

Would my right hon. Friend not agree that this might be a suitable time to look again at the whole system of imports in the cotton textile industry?

Mr. Crosland

No, I have made it clear more than once to the House and to the industry that I do not propose any serious change in our import policy until I have seen the results of the Textile Council's productivity and efficiency study—and I must sick to that.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

When does the right hon. Gentleman expect to receive the long-delayed report of this deep analysis, which many in the industry think can produce no new facts, since all the facts are already known?

Mr. Crosland

The report has certainly been delayed more than I or people in the industry would like, but we must be clear about one at least of the reasons for that, which is the failure of a large number of firms in the weaving section of the industry to answer the questionnaire sent out by the Textile Council. We expect the report by the end of the year. As to whether it will show anything new, the answer is clearly, "Yes." It is already obvious that it will show a number of new facts and trends which are not available from the existing published figures.