HC Deb 17 July 1972 vol 841 cc25-6
25. Mr. Jay

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he proposes to continue after 1st January, 1973 import quotas on cotton yarn imported into the United Kingdom from areas outside the European Economic Community.

Mr. John Davies

I have nothing to add to the answers given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade to the hon. Member for Heywood and Royton (Mr. Joel Barnett) on 1st May and to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. James Lamond) on 21st April.—[Vol. 836, c. 17; Vol. 835, c. 171.]

Mr. Jay

As most of the EEC countries shut out yarn imports by underhand methods, will not the abolition of the quota here concentrate cheap imports on this country? In these circumstances are the Government taking no further action to support the spinning industry?

Mr. Davies

The right hon. Gentleman can rest assured that the Government will continue to be very much concerned with the success of the industry and will not lightly abandon their interests. The right hon. Gentleman need have no fear whatever on the subject. The evidence is to be seen in what the Government have done in the last year or so. The right hon. Gentleman has made allegations about Community countries. If he has a particular instance which he can cite I shall be grateful if he will let me know. Vague charges are difficult to follow up.

Mr. Normanton

I thank my right hon. Friend for the assurance he has given of his deep and continuing concern for the industry. Will he accept that evidence can be found—and I shall be delighted to produce it for him—to show the way in which Continental textile industries take the law into their own hands? I earnestly hope that my right hon. Friend will continue to assure the industry of his support on every possible occasion.

Mr. Davies

What I have already said should be a strong reassurance and I will certainly repeat that as required. Any evidence which my hon. Friend can give me will be equally appreciated because, as I say, trying to base cases on vague charges is never easy.

Mr. James Lamond

Is it not surprising that the right hon. Gentleman should have to be told of the methods used by EEC countries to keep out cotton yarn when many of his hon. Friends are able to demonstrate that this is so and when the textile industry is so alarmed that it has sent deputations to EEC countries to discover how it is done? Is not this a job that his Department should be doing if the right hon. Gentleman means what he says about protecting the industry and does not support the Prime Minister's view, recently stated in a letter, that he is prepared to write the industry off?

Mr. Davies

I absolutely refute the hon. Gentleman's last statement, which is incorrect. Concerning his former questions, I have a very considerable compendium of knowledge about methods alleged against other countries in their handling of this problem. When it comes to the hard facts and having to cite them, though, people are much more hesitant to do so, and that is what I am seeking from the House.