HC Deb 18 November 1971 vol 826 cc625-6
Q4. Mr. Ford

asked the Prime Minister what action he has taken consequent to requests to him from the wool textile industry on his recent visit to Bradford to reintroduce regulations requiring marks of origin on imported textiles.

Mr. Maudling

I have been asked to reply.

When my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met members of the regional advisory committee of the Trades Union Congress in Bradford on 30th October, he undertook to look into their proposal that origin marking of textiles should not be discontinued from the end of November. Similar representations had been made to him in Manchester the previous day by the British Textile Employers' Association. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry received on 4th November and is now considering a formal application from the wool textile delegation for marking orders under Section 8 of the Trade Descriptions Act for imported woven cloth and woven garments.

Mr. Ford

While thanking the right hon. Gentleman for that answer, may I ask whether he will convey to the Prime Minister that it seems that he is somewhat complacent towards this matter and that if these markings are not continued there will be further unemployment in this industry, which would be monstrous, taking into consideration its continuing and significant contribution to the export earnings of this country over many years?

Mr. Maudling

This is a complicated matter involving international obligations. I discussed it with my right hon. Friend this morning. I know that he is very concerned about it and will do everything he possibly can to help the industry.

Mr. Wilkinson

May I remind my right hon. Friend that the reductions in purchase tax and in company taxation have proved beneficial to the wool textile trade in the medium term and that our membership of the E.E.C. will be beneficial to exports in the longer term, but that in the short term the proposed abolition of marking orders is something which could have grave consequences for the domestic, internal trade? Will my right hon. Friend expedite the examination he is having?

Mr. Maudling

Certainly. I fully recognise the importance of this matter.

Mr. David Steel

The right hon. Gentleman will, I am sure, accept that this is a matter of concern also to the Scottish woollen industry and that in the present unemployment situation in Scotland it is causing considerable disquiet throughout the whole of industry. Will he, therefore, have further consultations with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to make sure that action really is taken and the matter is not allowed again to lapse?

Mr. Maudling

Yes, certainly.