Orders of the Day — Cotton Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 1962.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Erroll Mr Frederick Erroll , Altrincham and Sale 12:00 am, 28th June 1962

I beg to move to leave out from "1961–62)" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: and welcomes the assurances on import policy contained in the Government statement of 6th June as providing the basis upon which the cotton textile industry can work for future efficiency, stability and well being within a prosperous national economy". The Amendment stands in the name of the Prime Minister and the names of other of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

On 6th June I made a statement about the cotton textile industry and the imports of cotton textiles, and I now welcome this debate, which provides me with a further opportunity of explaining the Government's policy towards this important industry. I say "important industry" deliberately, because, despite its difficulties, the industry can certainly retain a valuable place in Britain's expanding economy, provided that it grasps the opportunities which still lie before it. The cotton textile industry now knows the extent of the restraints which have been set on imports for the next three and a half years. It can draw fully on Government funds provided by the taxpayer for modernisation and re-equipment. It still has a large home market and many opportunities for winning back lost export markets. No other manufacturing industry in Britain has the same definite safeguards.

There are opportunities for the future, and yet the industry is passing through a crisis of confidence which one must recognise. I believe that the industry is capable of passing through this crisis of confidence successfully, and I think that it will. Although Lancashire now possesses a highly diversified industrial structure, and a very prosperous and a successful one, too, Lancastrians still think of cotton as the county's main industry. In fact, of an insured population in the North-West region of just over 3 million people, only 277,400, or 9·2 per cent., are today employed in textile manufacture. Nor are former textile workers unemployed. Unemployment in the cotton belt, at 1·5 per cent., is well below the national average of 1·8 per cent.