HC Deb 08 August 1940 vol 364 cc464-5W
Sir W. Allen

asked the Minister of Supply whether he is aware of the serious unemployment in the linen industry of Northern Ireland, created largely by the shortage of flax for the manufacture of goods for the export trade, and that many spinning mills will shortly close down unless supplies are forthcoming in larger quantities; and will he see that further supplies are released forthwith?

Mr. Harold Macmillan

My right hon. Friend is aware that unemployment on the spinning side of the linen industry in Northern Ireland has increased in recent weeks owing to the shortage in the supplies of flax. As my hon. and gallant Friend will be aware, vigorous steps have been taken to increase production in the United Kingdom, but this will not be available for some months, and in any case it is not practicable completely to fill the gap caused by the cutting off of supplies from the Continent of Europe. Stocks have to be conserved for essential war purposes, but my right hon. Friend hopes to ease the present position to some extent by releasing certain supplies of flax tow in the immediate future.