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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.