HL Deb 20 December 1960 vol 227 cc836-9

2.44 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the first Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many yards of grey cloth were imported into this country during the twelve months up to the end of September, 1959, and in the twelve months up to the end of September, 1960, from India, Hong Kong, Spain and the United States of America, and what are the figures in yardage for the same period for finished cloth and made up garments.]


My Lords, United Kingdom imports from the countries named during the twelve months ended September, 1959, and September, 1960, were 299 and 399 million square yards of grey cloth, and 12 and 30 million square yards of finished cotton cloth respectively. The value of imports from the same countries of those cotton made-up garments identifiable in the trade statistics for the same periods were £900,000 and £2 million respectively. The statistical information on which I have based this Answer is sum-

October, 1958— September, 1959 October, 1959— September, 1960
Thousand sq. yds. Thousand sq. yds.
Grey Cloth
India 154,853 243,524
Hong Kong 141,337 106,211
Spain 2,567 45,434
U.S.A. 6 3,633
Finished Cotton Cloth
India 7,444 8,491
Hong Kong 3,589 10,994
Spain 970 6,069
U.S.A. 173 4,711
Total imports from all sources 65,580 117,557
Quantity Value Quantity Value
dozens (£'000) dozens (£'000)
Made Up Cotton Garments
Hong Kong 906,234 750 1,800,396 1,490
Spain 2,416 2 164,460 93
U.S.A. 1,918 10 365 4
Total imports from all sources 1,456,122 1,279 2,091,764 1,805
Quantity Quantity
garments garments
Hong Kong 860,032 144 2,088,469 342
Spain 5,830 6
U.S.A. 639 3 158,815 154
Total imports from all sources 1,515,478 1,222 3,182,577 1,979
Total value of imports of made up garments from all sources 2,501 3,784

(a)Knitted or crocheted underwear containing more than 50 per cent. of cotton.

(b)Women's and Girls' costumes, suits, dresses, coats and skirts.


My Lords, I hope that the noble Lords understand the reply we have had. I appreciate the difficulty of giving many figures in this matter. May I ask the Government whether it is not a fact that imports of grey cloth and finished cotton cloth from Hong Kong have, taking one year with another, gone down by quite a considerable amount, whereas from other countries, such as Spain, they have increased about twenty-fold; and, indeed, there marised in a table which I will, with your Lordships' permission, circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I have sent a copy of it to the noble Lord.

Following is the table referred to:

have been similar increases from America and other countries?


My Lords, there have been variations in the imports of cotton piece goods and on made-up goods from Hong Kong. Imports of made-up goods have increased substantially during the last two years, but imports of piece goods from Hong Kong have declined this year. I think that the figures for the other countries mentioned in the noble Lord's Question will be available in the table of figures which I am circulating.


My Lords, while the quantities and values of made-up garments from Hong Kong have risen considerably, would the noble Earl not agree that those amounts are taken into account in the sort of global figure that was agreed by the Hong Kong manufacturers and the Cotton Board as to what should be the annual limit for grey and finished cloth? Would the noble Earl not agree that, following, the success of the Government's redundancy scheme, whereby, I believe, to-day 50 per cent. of the spinning capacity has been abolished and 40 per cent. of the weaving capacity has been abolished, we shall have considerable shortages in this country and shall require considerable importations of grey and finished cloth? And could the Government not look once again at the position of Hong Kong imports into this country?


My Lords, that really all arises on the next Question on the Paper in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. But, since the noble Lord has asked about production in Lancashire, I would say that I do not think there is any difficulty on the part of consumers in getting what they want. There has been a rise in demand, mainly owing to the need for making up stocks which were depleted during the 1958 recession. But in spite of the very great shortage of labour in Lancashire, and in spite of the temporary disorganisation which is inevitable during the process of reorganisation, production has been kept up and it is expected to increase as soon as the process of re-equipment under the Act begins.


My Lords, is the noble Earl not aware that on a two-fold haircord—cotton haircord—the standard quality of Lancashire, many of the leading producers are now quoting delivery seven to eight months ahead?