Air Commodore Harvey:
asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will arrange for all imports of textile articles of foreign manufacture to be marked with the name of the country of origin or with the word "Foreign."
Orders under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1926, already require many classes of imported textile goods to be marked with an indication of origin. We should be prepared to refer to the Standing Committee on Marking Orders any application which we might receive from a representative body to make an Order extending that requirement to further classes of textiles.
If so, I will of course consider any case that he brings to my notice, but, if he wishes an Order to be made for an additional class of textiles, the procedure which I have indicated should be followed.
Her Majesty's Government would, of course, welcome increased purchases of British textiles, but the responsibility for a campaign such as my hon. and gallant Friend suggests must lie with the textile industries.
There is a certain vagueness and ambiguity about the use of the word "sponsor" in my hon. and gallant Friend's Question, but I did not wish in my answer to suggest that these very vigorous industries are not capable of initiating their own campaigns.
Would the hon. and learned Gentleman consult with the Minister of Labour with a view to getting him to sign the 12 Orders which he has so far refused to sign, which would thus put extra purchasing power in the pockets of two million people, thereby enabling them to make a contribution to the object of such a campaign.
No, Sir. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, the question of scheduling new areas as Development Areas needs very full investigation. Besides the claims of the textile areas, we must also take into account proposals which have been made for scheduling other areas. All these proposals are now being considered.
But in view of the success that this policy has had in the old distressed areas, and the present situation in textile areas, is there really any reason why the Government should delay action any longer?
I think that the right hon. Gentleman, who I know has taken an interest in this topic, will find that the 1948 White Paper on the Distribution of Industry lays down some quite complicated matters which must be taken into consideration, particularly in paragraph 86 of that Report. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree that to consider these matters carefully and reach the correct conclusion is much more important than to reach a quick decision. He will remember that, when this matter was raised in an Adjournment debate, the party opposite, among others, was quite divided on whether this was an advisable step or not.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that ever since the Highland Development Area was scheduled by the last Government, no industry has come into the Highlands, and will this Government do more about it?
Will the hon. and learned Gentleman bear in mind that whatever difference of opinion about this matter may exist elsewhere there is no difference of opinion about it in any quarter in North-East Lancashire, which unanimously desires it to be scheduled? Can the hon. and learned Gentleman tell the House anything about the recent negotiations which his Department has had with the local authorities in that area?
Will he also bear in mind that although it is very important to come to a correct decision it would be too late to come to a correct decision after all industry in this area has come to an end?
I think that if the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) will refer to the debate of 21st May this year, he will find that there was a considerable difference of opinion among Lancashire Members. As regards discussion with local authorities, it is quite true that we contemplate that.
Will my hon. and learned Friend take action which will be equivalent to declaring a Development Area in North-East Lancashire in view of the undoubted legal complications and prolonged negotiations involved in taking effective action under the Development Areas Acts?
Certainly. I am glad that my hon. Friend raises the point. Needless to say the fact that this area has not been declared a Development Area does not mean that we cannot take many steps to encourage orders to go there, and that we are doing.
In view of the fact that there is no real evidence of any substantial improvement in the cotton and rayon producing areas, will the hon. and learned Gentleman be able to give an interim reply on this point before the Government go on their holidays for the summer?