§ 63. Sir H. CROFT
asked the President of the Board of Trade, whether he will give an undertaking not to complete any negotiations for further trade agreements during the Parliamentary Recess, or to commit this country definitely in the matter of future trade agreements, until the House of Commons has had an opportunity of discussing any such agreements?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the BOARD of TRADE (Dr. Burgin)
The only negotiations likely to be completed during the Recess are those now proceeding with Argentina, Finland and Russia. Article 3 of the Convention with Argentina, which was signed on 1st May last, provides that a supplementary agreement relating to import duties and similar charges, and to quantitative restrictions, shall be concluded as soon as possible, and that if it is not concluded by 1st August, either contracting party may terminate the Convention at any time thereafter, at one month's notice. In the case of the Argentine negotiations, my right hon. Friend cannot, therefore, give the undertaking desired. As regards the negotiations with Finland, my right hon. Friend hopes to be able to make a statement tomorrow, and as regards those with Russia, I would refer to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 20th July.
§ Sir H. CROFT
May I ask whether the House can understand that there will be no alteration of the duties agreed to, under the various orders that have been passed by this House, without further consideration and that there will be no reduction of duties while the House is not sitting?
§ Dr. BURGIN
No, Sir, I can give no assurance of that kind. What I have said in my answer is this: Argentina, negotiations will go forward, and it is hoped that they will be concluded at an early date; Finland, an announcement to-morrow; Russia has already been 2777 dealt with by questions and answers that have been given. There is an assurance that before ratification an opportunity for the discussion of the treaty will be given to this House.
§ Mr. THORNE
Between now and tomorrow, will the text of the agreement with Finland be in the hands of Members of the House?
§ Dr. BURGIN
I cannot say that. I should think that that is extremely unlikely. The President of the Board of Trade will make a statement as to the progress of the negotiations, and he will make that statement to-morrow. It is unlikely that the text will be in the hands of Members between now and tomorrow.
§ Mr. THORNE
If the President of the Board of Trade is to make a statement on the agreement with Finland, he must know the text of that agreement.
69. Mr. WALLACE
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, before concluding a trade agreement with Russia, he will take into account the importation from that country of certain linen products at prices with which Dunfermline linen manufacturers find it impossible to compete?