HL Deb 14 December 1966 vol 278 cc1654-8

2.55 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Order standing in my name on the Order Paper. This draft Order further amends the Cotton Industry Development Council Order 1948. Noble Lords will be aware that the Cotton Board was established under this Order as a Development Council under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947. For a number of years it has carried out important and valuable activities on behalf of the cotton industry and since 1964 has included the users of man-made fibres. Noble Lords will also be aware that the principal Act provides for a review of the position of the Development Council after three years and then at five-year intervals. The current review began in July, 1965, and is the fourth of its kind. The Act requires the Board of Trade to consult organisations representing both employers and employees in the industry on the question whether the Council should continue in being and, if so, whether the Development Council Order should be amended in any respect.

The Board of Trade have consulted the Cotton Board and the organisations representing employers and employees and have established that they all wish the Development Council to be continued for a further period. There were many in the industry who felt that, because of the increasing use of manmade fibres, the development of new textile processes, and the increasing part played in the industry by large firms with wide ranging interests in textiles, the time had come to extend the Council to cover all textiles, but this view did not commend itself to all the interests concerned. The man-made fibre producers, the yarn processors and the warp knitters have agreed to join the Council. The narrow fabrics industry may join later. On the other hand, the wool and hosiery industries have declined to participate in the Council. Nevertheless the door remains open if any of them should change their mind.

The object of this amending Order is to provide for the new members by adding to the definition of the industry certain activities in the manufacture of man-made fibres, filament yarn and warp knitted fabrics and by re-naming the Development Council as the "Textile Council (for the Man-made fibre, Cotton and Silk industries of Great Britain)". Other changes include a revision of the basis on which the levy is to be cal-calculated; an increase in the maximum amount which may be imposed on the industry from £525,000 to £625,000 for the year beginning April 1, 1967; an increase in the number of employer members from 4 to 8 and of employee members from 4 to 6; and a revision of the functions of the Development Council to exclude a number which upon examination were found to be unnecessary.

Noble Lords will wish me to make the following points about the proposed changes to the principal Order, which have all been agreed by the industry. An increase in the maximum amount of levy which may be imposed on the industry is necessary because of the increase in the membership of the Council. The figure of £625,000 is a ceiling designed to give the Textile Council some room for manæuvre in the next five years. The increase in the number of Council members reflects the increase in the Council's responsibilities, but it was recognised that if the number of union members was to be increased in line with the increase in the number of employer members the resulting body of 19 members would be somewhat unwieldy. The trade unions have therefore agreed to smaller representation than the employers on the understanding that, with the independent representatives, they will still have a majority of one on the Council.

I believe that the new Textile Council and the discussions with the industry which have led up to it show a very real appreciation by those in the industry of the changes in its structure and organisation which have taken place since 1948, and I am sure that the new Council can play a major part in assisting and guiding the industry in the years ahead. If the Order meets with the approval of the House, the membership of the new Council will be announced before January 2, 1967, when the Order is due to take effect. In saying this, I am sure that the House would wish me to pay a well deserved tribute to the valuable work which the Chairman, members and staff of the Cotton Board have done for the industry over many years.

The proposed amendments to the principal Order are contained in Schedule of the draft Order (pages 3 to 9), and Schedule II (pages 9 to 21) sets out for the convenience of all concerned the fully amended version of the principal Order. The amending Order requires an Affirmative Resolution of both Houses. I beg to move that the Order be now approved by this House.

Moved, That the Draft Cotton Industry Development Council (Amendment No. 6) Order 1966, laid before the House on November 30, 1966, be approved.—(Lord Rhodes.)


My Lords, I am sure noble Lords in all parts of the House would like me to thank the noble Lord for taking us through this 22-page Order at such a brisk pace. We are very pleased to see that the old Cotton Board is to be widened in its scope to include man-made fibres. I think this is a wholly desirable development. I think we are probably all sorry that the woollen industry has preferred to remain out; and I hope the noble Lord, who has such a long-standing connection with the wool textile industry, can bring his powerful influence to bear on the woollen industry to reconsider its attitude in this matter.

I think, in view of the fact that the woollen industry is not inside the Council and that, of course, the linen industry, the jute industry and the asbestos industry, which is another form of textile, are also outside, it is perhaps a mistake to describe the Council as the Textile Council and it might have been better to call it what it is namely, the Cotton, Silk and Man-Made Fibre Council. That could be conveniently abbreviated into "Cosimmafco", which is a much better way of describing the Council than the way it is described in the Order, the Textile Council (for the Man-made fibre, Cotton and Silk industries of Great Britain).

I have one other small point to make. I should be grateful if the noble Lord, when he comes to reply, would just remind me about the publication of the salaries and emoluments paid to the Chairman and the chief executive of the Council in both its old and its new form. Otherwise, I think we can safely approve this Order, subject to contributions to be made by other noble Lords, and particularly my noble friend Lord Eccles.


My Lords, I should just like to pay a tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale, who was Chairman of the Cotton Board during a most difficult time. I think it would have been very hard to get the reorganisation of the industry through without his valuable help. I, too, am very sorry that the wool and hosiery industries have not come in. I am sure this is a mistake. The developments in fibres are going so fast that it becomes very clear that blended fibres for carpets and for fabrics of all kinds are going to be the normal thing in the future. I am sorry the wool people do not see that, because I am confident that in the future their volume of business will depend very largely on blends. I know that they feel strongly that "all wool" is best. So it was; but it will not be in the future, and the reason is this. If you are talking about improving a fibre, it is much easier to speak to a chemist than to a sheep. The Australians have yet to understand that that is the way things are going, and I hope that any noble Lords who come from Yorkshire will use their influence in this respect, because our textile industry is not all that strong and if wool was included as well we could make a good showing in the world.


My Lords, I would say to the noble Viscount that it is sometimes easier to get a sheep to do what you want than it is a chemist. But I take the noble Viscount's points. I am an enthusiast for these sentiments myself, but even with my persuasion it has not been possible. We on our side of the Pennines are a pretty independent lot. There is more to it than appears on the surface. When the noble Lord, Lord Erroll of Hale, talks about the name of the Council, one of the reasons why I like it to be called the Textile Council is that that leaves it open for other people to join as and when they want to. I am not pessimistic about the position. I think it needs time to work, and I hope it will work.


My Lords, could the noble Lord answer my question about the salaries?


They will be announced at the time the composition of the Council is made known.

On Question, Motion agreed to.