HC Deb 03 August 1922 vol 157 cc1681-3

(by Private Notice) asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is now in a position to make a statement in regard to negotiations for a commercial treaty between this country and Spain?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Stanley Baldwin)

The text of a Commercial Treaty between Spain and this country was initialled on 27th July, and instructions have been sent to His Majesty's Ambassador at Madrid to arrange for its signature with as little delay as possible. It is hoped that an understanding may be come to for bringing its provisions into force immediately on its signature without awaiting formal ratification.

By virtue of this Treaty, practically all goods of United Kingdom origin sent to Spain will be entitled to the advantage of any reductions from the rates in the second or lower column of the Spanish Customs Tariff which may be accorded by Spain to the goods of any other country, the goods to which this treatment is to be immediately applied being set out in a schedule to the Treaty. A further provision is included in the Treaty that, should any such reductions be accorded to goods not included in the schedule, the Spanish Government will extend the benefit to similar British goods on receiving an intimation that any United Kingdom interest is affected. In fact, therefore, if not in form, all products and manufactures of the United Kingdom will receive full most-favoured-nation treatment.

Over and above this, which is perhaps the matter of the greatest importance, reductions of duty of varying degrees will be accorded in the case of a substantial number of tariff headings in which British trade is interested. In all, reductions are accorded in the case of about 100 headings in the tariff not covered by any existing Spanish Treaty, whilst, of course, we shall also enjoy all the benefits accorded by the Treaties recently entered into by Spain with France and Switzerland. The Treaty also secures the continuance in force of the important provision that British tinplate shall be admitted free of duty if used for packing produce for exportation from Spain.

Full details of the various provisions embodied in the Treaty will be published in the "Board of Trade Journal" when the Treaty is signed.

In return for these advantages we have given an undertaking to admit free of duty Spanish oranges, grapes. walnuts, hazel nuts, almonds, onions, olive oil, preserved vegetables, corks and cork discs and iron ore, and to impose no restriction on the importation of these articles from Spain. We have also undertaken that the existing duties on Spanish wine and wine lees, raisins and brandy shall not he increased for at least three years, nor thereafter, without six months' notice, which is the period for which the Treaty is concluded.

Apart front the Customs Clauses, the Treaty contains the usual provisions which are found in Commercial Treaties, including national treatment for our shipping.

In view of the recent changes in Spanish legislation affecting the taxation of foreign companies, the question of the treatment of British companies in Spain and Spanish companies in the United Kingdom is to form the subject of a further special agreement.

I should add that whilst the Treaty only affects directly the relation between Spain and the United Kingdom, it. contains provisions enabling any other portions of His Majesty's Dominions or Protectorate to adhere to it if they desire.


Will the signing of the Treaty prevent the putting into operation of Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act?


The subject was not mentioned on either side.


Will not the signing of the Treaty prevent the operation of Part II of the Act affecting any goods from Spain?


Something else will prevent that and that is the state of the Spanish currency.


Can the right hon. Gentleman get Spanish juice included in the list?