HC Deb 14 December 1976 vol 922 cc1177-8
10. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions have been issued in his Department regarding the buying of British textiles.

Dr. Gilbert

An instruction has been issued to the Department on the application of the terms of the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry in this House on 23rd July 1975. Over the last 12 months we have been able to purchase British textiles in all cases where they have been offered.

Mr. Hoyle

I welcome the reply given by my hon. Friend, but I would point out to him—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not able to point out anything. He may ask a question.

Mr. Hoyle

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the past there have been instances of the purchase by the Services of foreign textiles that have been dumped in this country? As there is unemployment in the textile industry, will my hon. Friend ask, through his Department, that other than commercial considerations be taken into account in the purchase of textiles for the Armed Forces?

Dr. Gilbert

If my hon. Friend has any evidence of dumping, no doubt he will wish to speak to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. If my hon. Friend examines the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry he will see that we have been following these matters closely, and I think that he will be satisfied.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Is the Minister aware that, for once, I agree with his hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle)? Is he further aware that no other country allows its armed forces to be clothed with foreign textiles in the way that we do? Will he please state the percentage or the degree to which our Armed Forces are clothed by foreign textiles at the present time?

Dr. Gilbert

I have made it clear to the House that we have purchased British textiles in every case where they have been offered. The only circumstances in which we would not buy British textiles would be where there was a considerable price differential and where it would not be in our interest, in terms of an exporting country, to violate the rules against discrimination. The only case of which I am aware where we are not purchasing British textiles relates to special clothing for Arctic use.

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