Skip to main content

Cotton Goods (Imports)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 9 May 1961

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will circulate details of the importation of cotton piece goods and yarns for the first quarter of 1961 from the main exporting sources including Hong Kong; and if he will make a statement on the refusal of the Hong Kong cotton textile industry to renew the voluntary undertaking given by it to the Cotton Board on 31st December, 1958, regarding limitation on the export of cotton goods from Hong Kong to the United Kingdom.

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT figures of imports from the major supplying countries. My right hon. Friend has seen reports in the Press that the Hong Kong industry is not willing to renew the present undertaking when it expires in January, 1962, but, so far as he is aware, there has not yet been any direct communication between the Hong Kong industry and the Cotton Board. In the opinion of the Government it would be most regrettable if it does not prove possible to continue to deal with the problem by way of inter-industry agreement. The Government believe that an inter-industry agreement would be in the best interest of Hong Kong and Lancashire alike.

Will the right hon. Gentleman impress on the President of the Board of Trade the need for more modern organisational and marketing arrangements? Will his right hon. Friend also keep in touch with, or consult, the trade unions concerned in this vital question? In view of President Kennedy's action, has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the forthcoming international conference between importing and exporting countries on the subject?

I can assure the hon. Gentleman that my right hon. Friend maintains close touch with all representatives of the industry. I should like to see a Question on the Order Paper about President Kennedy's proposal.

The following are the figures:


Main Supplying Countries

Cotton Cloth*
India62·6million square yards
Hong Kong20·2million square yards
Spain16·3million square yards
Japan16·3million square yards
Total Imports176·4million square yards
Cotton Yarn
India3·1million lbs.
Spain2·6million lbs.
Hong Kong1·1million lbs.
Italy1·0million lbs.
Total11·8million lbs.

* These figures relate to grey cloth only. They include grey cloth for finishing and re-export. Total imports of cotton piece goods of all kinds were 224 million square yards but a complete analysis by country of source is not yet readily available.