asked the Secretary of State for Industry, Trade and Regional Development the value of British wool textile exports to the United States of America in 1955 and 1963; and what information he has from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as to how they compare with Japanese wool textile exports to the United States of America in the same years.
Imports into the United States of America of wool yarns and fabrics from the United Kingdom were valued at £12 million in 1955 and £8 million in 1963. Corresponding imports from Japan were valued at £2·7 million in 1955 and £17 million in 1963.
Is not the Minister gravely concerned at this devastating onslaught by Japan on our trade with North America? How far is it due to the assistance given to Japan by our own Foreign Office for political and strategic reasons? How far is this policy to be pursued at the expense of our own wool textile industry?
Sales in the American market are a question of competition between all countries in that market. Japan's sales are not being aided by the British Foreign Office in any way. This is a matter of competition between industries and countries in the American market. I hope that our wool industry will do its utmost to compete with the Japanese, although I realise exactly how fierce this competition is.
Does the Minister agree that the wool trade has shown great resilience in exports by exceeding this year the export figures to foreign countries for the past five years? Is the Minister aware, however, that we could do even better in our trade if we got as good assistance from Government organisations here as the Japanese get from their Government?
I am the first to pay tribute, as I did in Bradford recently, to the achievements of the wool industry in exports; they are invaluable to us. If the hon. Member would like to let me know of any instances in which he thinks that we can be of more service to the wool industry, I will gladly consider them.