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Cotton Industry

Volume 464: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1949

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asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now in a position to make a statement on the Government's present policy with reference to the re-equipment of the cotton industry.

The main policy governing this question is that which was stated during the Second Reading of the Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act, 1948. My hon. Friend will be aware that the period initially allowed under that Act for the placing of contracts expired at the end of April. An extension of this period to the 5th April, 1950, has now been made in view of the difficulties encountered by certain groups in framing their modernisation plans. I hope this modification will lead to further progress in placing contracts for re-equipment.

Would the Parliamentary Secretary say how many applications had been received under the Act by the appointed date; what assurance he has that a considerable number more will be forthcoming during the period of the extension; and whether he is aware that informed circles in Lancashire—by which I mean the progressive parts of Oldham—are very considerably concerned about the delay in the re-adaptation and re-equipment of the industry?

So far, a total of 17 groups have been registered, comprising 284 mills and approximately 17½million spindles, which is about half of the spindles in the trade. I can only hope that, with the encouragement which has been given by the recent doubling of the initial Income Tax allowance on new capital equipment, there will be greater progress in the next year.

Japanese Competition


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether any decision has yet been reached on the British proposal to send an Anglo-American mission to Japan to discuss the encouragement given, by the Allied Supreme Command, to Japanese concentration on cotton textiles to build up their export trade.

No, Sir. Discussions are still in progress between the United Kingdom and the United States cotton textile industries on the proposal for a Joint Mission to Japan about the international trade in cotton textiles.

While these discussions are taking place are His Majesty's Government taking any steps to prevent the dumping of Japanese textile goods in the Colonial markets, thereby endangering the staple industry of Lancashire?

That is an entirely different matter and perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will put a question down upon it.

Liverpool Exchange


asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now consider the urgent question of re-opening the Liverpool Cotton Exchange.

No, Sir. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 18th January.

In view of the answer which has been given to Question No. 37, is the Minister aware that the urgency of re-opening the Liverpool Cotton Exchange and allowing the textile industry to compete in America and elsewhere is very much greater even than it was in January, and will he not reconsider the matter as one of prime and immediate importance?

May I ask the Minister whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements for the supply of raw cotton to the spinners?

That is an entirely different matter, but I am completely satisfied that the re-opening of the Liverpool Cotton Exchange would not do away with the currency difficulties, which are the main cause of our present troubles.



asked the President of the Board of Trade how many spinning mills and weaving establishments have respaced their machinery; how many are in the process of so doing; and how many have not yet commenced such work.

I regret that the detailed information requested is not available. A considerable amount of respacing has been carried out, and a sample inquiry of nearly 600 weaving sheds in fact showed that 60 per cent. had been respaced.


asked the President of the Board of Trade how many automatic looms have been installed in the cotton textile industry since 1st July, 1946; and if he is satisfied with the present rate of delivery.

The preliminary results of a recent survey of the cotton and rayon weaving industry showed that there were approximately 27,000 automatic looms, and approximately 3,000 Lancashire looms fitted with automatic attachments, in the industry on 1st September, 1948. These figures compared with 18,000 and 1,350 respectively in 1939. Information concerning the position at 1st July, 1946, is not available, but the bulk of the increases have taken place since that date. I am not entirely satisfied with the recent rate of delivery of automatic looms to the home market, but an improvement has been arranged for the near future.



asked the President of the Board of Trade what portion of the subsidy offered to the textile industry had been merited up to 31st March, 1949; and whether he is satisfied that full advantage is being taken of the Government's offer.

No payment under the Cotton Spinning (Re-equipment Subsidy) Act, 1948, had been made up to 31st March, 1949. The first claims for subsidy have recently been made and are being examined. It is too early yet to measure the extent to which advantage is being taken of the scheme, but we have recently impressed upon the industry the need for quicker progress in submitting plans for modernisation.