HC Deb 26 October 1988 vol 139 cc294-5W
Mr. Kirkwood

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement outlining the reasons for the need to commission an independent study of the effect of international textiles and clothing trading policies in the United Kingdom economy; what was its precise terms of reference; who is undertaking the study; and what it is expected to cost.

Mr. Alan Clark

The study was commissioned to help the Government play a full part in future international discussions covering trade in textiles and clothing. These include current GATT negotiations and future negotiations on the multi-fibre arrangement, the current phase of which extends to 1991. The study will assess the economic impact of the mult-fibre arrangment and the associated voluntary agreements on the United Kingdom textiles and clothing industries and on the economy more widely, including United Kingdom consumers of such products.

Professor Silberston has been asked to look at the costs and benefits of protection for a number of sectors within the textile and clothing industries. Apparel will be distinguished from non-apparel and the group 1 products (the most sensitive categories under the MFA) will be assessed separately.

Particular emphasis is to be placed on developments since 1984, which was the terminal date for the previous study ("The Multi-Fibre Arrangement and the United Kingdom Economy") carried out by Professor Silberston for the Department. The study will consider the effects of both protection of the United Kingdom market and the implications for United Kingdom exports of protection in major overseas markets. The economic effects of proposals now being put forward for the future development of international trade in textiles and clothing will also be considered.

Professor Aubrey Silberston, Emeritus Professor in the University of London, will undertake the study. The total cost of the work, which will take some 10 months, is expected to be about £70,000.