Textile Council (Dissolution)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 1971.

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Photo of Mr Joel Barnett Mr Joel Barnett , Heywood and Royton 12:00 am, 14th December 1971

If the hon. and learned Gentleman wants to make that sort of sedentary remark, he would be better doing so in the place from whence he has come. He is not helping the people of Lancashire by making such comments.

What representations has the Minister had from the developing countries, India and Hong Kong, and what has he told them? What is happening about Portuguese imports which have been so disruptive in many parts of the textile industry? Does the hon. Gentleman still expect that, given a continuation of the quota system, we will still be importing, 55 per cent. of home consumption next year and beyond? We have imported that percentage even with quotas. What co-ordination and discussion is he having with the Common Market countries? Will they increase their quotas whilst we come down with ours so that gradually we come together on the level of imports? Will this happen during the transitional period if we enter the Community? In other words, will we all come down to a level of, say, 25 per cent. of our home consumption? This would be more beneficial to the developing countries than the present situation and much more beneficial to the workers in Lancashire.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, East said that quotas would not solve the problem. With the present quotas we still have 55 per cent. imports, We in Lancashire have always accepted the inevitable rundown of the industry and in this respect the trade unions have been very helpful. Now, however, with a very high level of unemployment in other industries in the area, it is vital that the rundown should not be as fast as it has been recently. It is important for Lancashire and the developing countries to have clarification of the Government's policy. We must know what is to happen from now onwards. Will we continue with 55 per cent. imports or, as I hope, will there be a movement—