§ 70 and 71. Major LONG
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether before the commercial treaty between the South African Government and the German Government was ratified he was informed as to its contents;
(2) in what form the most-favoured nation clause has been included in the commercial treaty between South Africa and Germany; and how it will affect future tariff concessions on the part of South Africa and the Mother Country?
§ 72. Colonel GRETTON
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs what action has been taken by His Majesty's Government in regard to the proposed treaty between the Union of South Africa and Germany giving the latter most favoured-nation status; and if the treaty, when confirmed, will end the preference for British goods entering South Africa?
§ 73. Sir N. GRATTAN-DOYLE
asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs in what way the most-favoured-nation treaty which the South African Government has concluded with Germany affects preferences on the import of British produce and manufactures into the Union of South Africa?
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the COLONIES (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
I have been asked by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs to answer these questions on his behalf. As my right hon. Friend stated on the 26th November in reply to a question by my Noble Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Viscount Sandon) His Majesty's Government in Great Britain were informed of the negotiations which led to the signature of the Treaty. The Treaty (which does not come into force pending ratification) provides that goods produced or manufactured in Germany will, on importation into the Union of South Africa, be entitled to the same treatment as similar goods produced or manufactured in any other country, subject to the proviso that, in the case of goods in respect of which preferential treatment is, under existing Union legislation, specifically accorded to other parts of the British Empire, Germany will not he able to claim any minimum rates or rebates actually granted to other parts of the Empire. It is understood that in this respect the provisions of the Treaty are intended to carry out the general policy of His Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa as embodied in Customs Tariff legislation passed by the Union Parliament in 1925 and 1926.
His Majesty's Government in Great Britain drew the attention of His Majesty's Government in the Union of South Africa before signature took place to the potential effects of the provisions of the Treaty on the system of inter-Imperial preferential tariffs. In replying to the communication made to them the 993 Union Government explained that their general policy was as indicated above but intimated that they were fully alive to the fact that at some future date it might be desirable to revise the list of goods in respect of which preferences are granted to other parts of the Empire.
§ Colonel HOWARD-BURY
Does that mean that this Treaty prevents any further preferential agreements with the Dominion of South Africa?
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
Does it mean that the present system of preferences granted by South Africa is not weakened by this Treaty?
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
As I understand it, this Treaty does not affect existing preferences, but, if future preferences are granted, that is to say, if South Africa decides to increase the preferences given to other parts of the Empire then, on these new items, Germany will get the benefit of those new preferences.