HC Deb 18 January 1971 vol 809 cc498-9
13. Mr. Normanton

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will give manufacturing industry in general an assurance that, while supporting the long-term objectives of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, he will under no circumstances allow the interests of sections of British industry to be prejudiced in the short term.

Mr. John Davies

In deciding on action to support the objectives of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development we would naturally take full account of the interests of United Kingdom industry.

Mr. Normanton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am grateful for that assurance, particularly within the context of the textile industry, which is particularly brought to bear on Britain under the terms of U.N.C.T.A.D.

Mr. Davies

I thank my hon. Friend for his observation. It is true that the position of most textiles has been reserved under the proposals made by this country, in relation to the scheme. Certain textile products, however, are included within the preference arrangements.

Mr. Bagier

I in no way decry the need to help under-developed nations, but would the right hon. Gentleman, in addition to looking at the problems of textiles, look at the problems of the cordage industry? I understand that if complete freedom is given to under-developed nations, our cordage industry will be completely unable to stand up against their competition in view of the extremely low wages that are paid by certain of them.

Mr. Davies

We have that point in mind. We have reserved the right to withdraw or modify any preference granted under the scheme in the event of severe injury to our industry. I emphasise, however, that the whole purpose of the scheme, which we have consistently backed, is to help under-developed countries, and we would seek to do that.

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