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Cotton Imports

Volume 928: debated on Monday 21 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade what percentage of the home market for cotton textiles is supplied by foreign imports; and how this compares with the previous percentages over the last 20 years given at five-year intervals.

It is estimated that the share of the home market for cotton yarn, in terms of weight, supplied by foreign imports in 1976 was 25 per cent., and for cotton cloth, in terms of area, it was 62 per cent. The comparable figures for 1959 were 4 per cent. and 31 per cent. respectively. With permission, I will include figures for intervening years in the Official Report.

Does not this show a serious decline in the Lancashire cotton industry? Is there any hope that the industry will eventually survive? If there is such hope, in which direction must it look for help?

We believe that through the Multifibre Arrangement we have already brought more help than ever before to the textile industry. We are taking a tough bargaining stance in the renegotiation of the arrangement in Geneva, particularly over cumulative disruption and the downward adjustment of growth rates, which are the two key problems for the textile industry. If we can succeed here—and we intend to try—the textile industry will be in a stronger position than ever before.

Has my hon. Friend's Department had the opportunity of examining the level of imports of cotton yarn from India recently? Could he have a look at that?

The import level of cotton yarn from India is about 20 per cent. I might add that it is exceeded by imports of cotton yarn from the EEC, which are 22 per cent. It is not, therefore, the largest supplier. I am glad to take this opportunity to announce that with regard to Indian hand-loom textiles, exports of which to the United Kingdom enormously increased in 1976, we have, in collaboration with the EEC, managed to secure a substantial cut-back in trade. In the case of woven shirts, which reached a level of 7·6 million pieces in 1976, we are today announcing a cut-back to 5·45 million for 1977. For women's shirts and blouses, which reached a level of 11 million in 1976, we are announcing today a cut-back to 7·4 million pieces. This is a substantial cut-back and I am sure that the House will be pleased to hear of it.

Following are the details:

The figures for the intervening years were as follows:

Cotton Yarn (in terms of weight)

per cent.


Cotton Cloth (in terms of area)

per cent.


Figures prior to 1959 are not comparable with those for later years.