HC Deb 02 May 1933 vol 277 cc655-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that British manufacturers of needles are being called upon to furnish the French authorities with particulars of quantities and weights of the needles exported to France in 1932, as a preliminary to permits being granted for importations under the present regulations; that the difficulty of procuring these particulars for each consignee and the payment of a fee of 10 francs for each permit is making the business of needle manufacturers with France almost impossible; and whether he will take action, as other countries are doing, to bring this state of affairs to an end?


I am aware that French importers, who are required to furnish the authorities with particulars in order to obtain permits, have in some instances approached British manufacturers for information, and it has been represented that the requirements of the licensing system are such as to discourage the importers from placing small orders. The restrictions are connected with the withdrawal of certain tariff concessions accorded to Germany. I am informed that the Bill to increase the duties is likely to be introduced directly the French Parliament meets this month; and, having regard especially to the temporary nature of the restrictions, I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by protesting to the French Government.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell the House what is the object of the French Government in putting restrictions on British trade for the purpose of hitting Germany, when the only result of those restrictions is to destroy British trade? Ostensibly they are actually against Germany, but could not the right hon. Gentleman make a protest, in view of the fact that what is happening is that British trade is being destroyed while Germany is being done no harm?


My information is that we are being treated exactly like other people in this matter, and that the object which the French Government have in mind is to safeguard themselves against forestalling.