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Shirt Manufacturers

Volume 885: debated on Friday 31 January 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what action he proposes to take to enable British firms engaged in manufacturing shirts to stay in business in view of the Government's take-over of the Ben Sherman Group.

Because of the exceptional nature of the problems, the Northern Ireland Department of Commerce is trying to preserve employment in the Ben Sherman Group. These efforts have no direct relevance to the position of other manufacturers. As regards the shirt industry in general, the Government are aware of its difficulties, particularly the high level of import penetration. We have told our Community partners that, where there is justification in terms of the GATT Multi Fibre Arrangement, we are prepared to join with the Community in seeking restraints on knitwear and in extending our existing restraints on garments of cotton and polyester cotton to include other fibres, and these restraints will have a direct relevance to shirts. The relevant EEC mandates for negotiations with Hong Kong and South Korea and for autonomous action in the case of Taiwan are currently under discussion in Brussels.