HC Deb 14 June 1982 vol 25 cc197-8W
Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he is satisfied with existing Community policy in relation to the wool textile industry; if he will examine schemes existing in other European Economic Community countries such as France, Belgium and Holland designed to assist and aid their wool textile industries; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will consider the introduction of new policies for aid to the wool textile industry; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what steps he is taking to ensure that the competition policy of the European Economic Community relating to wool textiles is being fully carried out and implemented; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor

The Government share the concern of the wool textile industry, and other industries in the United Kingdom textile and clothing sector, about the increasing levels of state aid reported in other member countries of the European Community. The investigation of aid schemes is a matter for the European Commission. Last month, my right hon. Friend urged the Commission to reconsider the effectiveness of the existing machinery for controlling aids in this sector with a view to cutting short what is becoming a dangerous spiral of Government assistance.

The Government believe that halting the growth of aids elsewhere in line with EEC competition policy is the better way to deal with this problem. The wool textile industry has received substantial assistance through two sectoral schemes under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972. The Government have no plans to introduce another.