Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Art Silk Knitted Fabric Industry.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in view of the fact that importers of rayon yarn have to pay 30 per cent. more for it than English domestic manufacturers, he will provide some measure of protection to the art silk knitted fabric industry until such time as conditions improve in the world market and prices tend to fall.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state why the art silk knitted fabric industry, which is capable of producing all the country's requirements, has been refused protection whilst at the same time the woven fabric industry using the same raw materials and capable of producing only one-twentieth of the country's requirements, is protected by a 50 per cent. duty (33? per cent. preferential) and also if he will give further consideration to the application of Fabrics, Limited, for protection for art silk knitted fabrics equal to that granted to other industries of a similar nature.

I propose, with your permission, to take Questions Nos. 14 and 15 together. In considering the application for protection for the manufacture of artificial silk knitted fabrics, the Government had to have regard to the general good of the community. The difficulties of the artificial knitting industry, arising out of the discriminatory charges for artificial silk yarns made by the British yarn manufacturers, are fully appreciated. An important section of the clothing industry, manufacturing the cheaper lines of underclothing is, however, dependent upon supplies of knitted fabric as its main raw material. Any increase in the price of such materials would not only affect the cost of living, but jeopardise the maintenance of the level of employment in the clothing industry, which is much greater than that in the fabric-making industry. The Government did not consider that the employment provided in the manufacture of knitted fabrics would justify the cost to the community which would be involved in the grant of protection on the basis sought.

In the case of woven artificial silk fabrics, the considerations I have mentioned, while they were present, did not apply to the same extent as in the case of knitted fabric. The Government were satisfied to authorise protection for the manufacture of woven artificial silk fabrics because of the employment that would be provided in the industry and because that employment could be provided at a much lower cost to the community than in the case of the knitted fabric.