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Raw Cotton Imports

Volume 481: debated on Thursday 30 November 1950

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28.

asked the President of the Board of Trade what action is being taken to improve the supply of raw cotton to the United Kingdom.

29.

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the United Kingdom has received a smaller allocation of the current United States crop of raw cotton than Japan or Germany and a relatively smaller allocation than Italy.

30.

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of inadequate allocations from the United States of America, he is satisfied that the existing stocks of raw cotton are sufficient both in quantity and quality to maintain cotton textile production at the highest level compatible with existing machinery and labour.

I am not satisfied that an adequate share of the United States' cotton crop has so far been made available to us. Representations are now being made to the United States Government in Washington, and I am sure that the House will not expect me to make any further comment now.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say in what growths the most serious deficiencies exist, and can he say whether the cotton trade is getting clear information of the details so that they can plan accordingly? Is he aware that full employment in the cotton trade depends entirely on an adequate supply of raw materials?

I am certainly well aware of the last point. The Raw Cotton Commission have given guidance to the Lancashire mills, but since it was only at the end of last week that we had the detailed allocation of the second batch of exports from the United States, it is too early yet to be able to assess its effect.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that buying by competent private enterprise would get us a larger allocation for the Lancashire industry than we get under this Government to Government allocation?

Since this particular cotton is sold by private enterprise, and since the whole difficulty relates to the question of the export licences issued by the United States Government, the method of purchasing in this country has absolutely nothing to do with the matter.