HC Deb 07 November 1977 vol 938 cc288-9
7. Mr. Cronin

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on his policy with regard to the import of hosiery into the United Kingdom.

Mr. Meacher

United Kingdom imports of hosiery from low-cost suppliers will be covered by the new Multi-Fibre Arrangement bilateral agreements which are currently being negotiated. If these bilateral negotiations are unsuccessful, the Commission will propose unilateral measures for the EEC.

Mr. Cronin

I should like to congratulate my hon. Friend on the firm stand being taken in the EEC negotiations on the Multi-Fibre Arrangement. Bearing in mind that the effects on employment in the hosiery and knitwear industry may be very serious, will he go ahead with bilateral agreements to reduce hosiery imports if the EEC negotiations fail or take a wrong turning?

Mr. Meacher

I certainly hope that the bilateral negotiations now being undertaken with, I believe, 26 negotiating countries will be successful. The EEC mandate is an extremely tough one, but it is also being negotiated toughly by the Commission. It remains true that, if the results are not in accordance with the mandate, the United Kingdom, as with any other member State, will be able to veto acceptance of a further MFA. We shall certainly want to ensure that in all essential aspects, including hosiery, our interests are met