§ Mr. Nicholas Winterton
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) whether his Department has received a copy of the statement issued by the tent manufacturing industry of the EEC which met in London on 17 January for the purpose of considering the serious crisis in the West European tent making industry; and, if so, if he will state his policy on the proposals;
(2) what representations have been made to his Department by the United Kingdom tent manufacturing industry; what assistance has been granted to the industry; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. David Mitchell
There is close and regular contact between the Department of Industry and the Made Up Textiles Association, the trade association which includes tent-making among the industries it represents. We are fully aware of the difficulties facing this sector.
According to our records, in the last 18 months the industry has been offered some £35,000 in selective financial assistance and is likely to have benefited from 14W regional development grants, although details are not readily available.
A copy of the statement issued by the EEC tent makers after their meeting on 17 January was sent to the Department. Several issues are raised.
As far as imports from low-cost sources are concerned, tents are dealt with under the regime applied by the Community to textiles and clothing generally under the multi-fibre arrangement—MFA—and associated measures.
We are concerned to ensure that these arrangements are applied by the Community as effectively as possible for tents as for other textile and clothing products. However, there is no prospect of any special treatment for tents outside these arrangements, and it would not be practicable to renegotiate the bilateral agreements which have been reached with supplying countries. We shall, however, bear in mind the proposals in the statement when we come to consider the arrangements which will succeed the current multi-fibre arrangement when it expires at the end of 1981.
On enlargement of the Community, the Greek accession treaty has now been signed. Spain and Portugal are not expected to join the Community until after the present multi-fibre arrangement runs out.
The statement also refers to origin labelling for tents. While there is no universal origin marketing requirement under existing legislation, imported goods sold here under a United Kingdom mark or anything likely to be taken as such are already required to be accompanied by a conspicuous indication of their origin. However, the points made by the industry in the statement have been noted.
On the question of Community rules of origin for tents, following detailed discussions with the industry new EEC non-preferential origin rules for sails and tents have been agreed in Brussels and it is expected that the new regulation will be published in the Official Journal shortly.