HC Deb 31 July 1922 vol 157 cc978-80
57. Dr. MURRAY

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his atten- tion has been drawn to the fact that the standard price of American vulcanised fibre in this country, and for several months past, has been 1s. 7d. per lb.; whether he is aware that the price quoted by the British firm, who are complainants before the Committee appointed under Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act, is 1s. 3½d.; and on what grounds he considers a primâ facie case to exist for proving that sales of American fibre, which is the raw material for many trades, causing, or likely to cause, unemployment in the British industry?

60. Mr. BRIANT

asked the President of the Board of Trade why the meeting of the Committee appointed by him to consider the complaint and application for a duty of 33⅓ per cent. on imported vulcanised fibre, which was fixed for August, has now been adjourned; whether this complaint is only made by one firm employing a small number of people; if so, in view of the serious position to which many firms who find it necessary to import this substance to carry on their business are exposed, and seeing that the prices of the imported article have not varied substantially for the last six months, will he see that this ease should either be heard at once or dismissed; and can he also state the date when this application for a duty was received by his Department?


A complaint in respect of American vulcanised fibre was made on the 7th April by the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association, acting on behalf of one of their members. As there appeared to be primâ facie evidence that the American price in this country current at a very recent date was below the American cost of production, as defined in the Safeguarding of Industries Act, the complaint was referred to a Committee. I understand that the Committee have been informed that about April last the American price was increased, but, in all the circumstances, I think the Committee should proceed with their inquiry, and I do not propose to interfere with their discretion as to how that inquiry shall be conducted. Pending their report, I do not think it would be proper for me to make any statement on the subject, but as to the position of importers, I would refer the hon. Member for Lambeth, North (My. Briant), to the provisions of Section 4 of the Act.


Was not the primâ facie case against the inquiry?


No, certainly not. There was a clear primâ facie case for the inquiry.


Is it not a fact that the total number of people engaged in this industry is something like 50, whereas this raw material gives employment to thousands, and why should those thousands be kept in a state of uncertainty for 50?


Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will nut a further question down?