Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Textile Industry.

98.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, having regard to the serious reduction in the employment of textile workers, he will outline what positive steps he intends taking against the situation of foreign textiles capturing the Irish market and, as a consequence, seriously affecting the employment of Irish people.

I have received representations from certain sectors in the textile industry and am at present considering the position in the light,inter alia, of our international obligations.

Can the Minister say if it is true that cheap textiles are being imported from places such as Hong Kong while our Irish factories are closing down?

Certain allegations have been made about cheap imports. I am not in a position to reply to a specific question flung at me about Hong Kong. I did receive a trade union deputation some time ago in connection with the redundancy in Tullamore where allegations were made of importation of cheap suitings from Portugal and eastern states. I have checked fully into the allegation made at that stage; it was fully investigated and we did not have these alleged importations.

If a worker who is redundant from a textile factory is almost knocked down by a lorry off which a bale of Hong Kong cloth falls on the road, can I take it that he needs to have his eyes tested, that the wrong name is on it?

Maybe from the point of view of nearly being knocked down by the lorry, yes. Maybe that could be an eyesight problem.

But when he looked at the cloth and saw "Made in Hong Kong" on it, are we to take it that it was wrong?

I am not saying it. I try to cater for whatever supplementaries are likely to come but I was not expecting that supplementary.

In view of the fact that the question says "having regard to the serious reduction in employment of textile workers, he will outline what positive steps he intends taking against the situation of foreign textiles capturing the Irish market", what kind of a supplementary did he expect to get to the question?

What one looks at in this regard is the total importation into the country.

Are there any cheap foreign textiles being imported into this country under licence?

There is a certain amount, yes.

Did the Minister ever hear of the case of the Hong Kong shirts? It may be a long time ago and the Minister's mind may not go back so far, but is he aware that Hong Kong shirts were kept out of this country before they landed?

This was in the days of the tariff barriers. It used to be mohair suits and this is a bit of a change.