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Italian Silk Scarves

Volume 527: debated on Tuesday 4 May 1954

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asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that yarn dyed fine silk organza scarves, 20 inches by 20 inches, imported from Italy are being retailed in this country at approximately 4s. 11d., and that this compares with similar British goods which are sold at 8s.; and what action he proposes to take in this matter.

Silk scarves imported from foreign sources are already subject to import duty at the rate of 33½per cent, ad valorem or 15s. 0d. per 1b., whichever is the greater. I have no evidence that this duty is not sufficient.

Will my right hon. Friend say how the British textile industry can possibly compete with the Italians after paying nearly double wages and giving better conditions of work than is the case with the Italians? Will he do something to protect this industry, because unless something is done very soon it will run into very serious difficulties. Will my right hon. Friend look at the samples which I have in my hand giving proof of what I have said?

I will certainly look at anything which my hon. and gallant Friend cares to put before me, but there is a very substantial protective duty on these scarves already.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is not much point in buying from abroad things which are dearer than those which we have at home?