HC Deb 17 December 1935 vol 307 cc1529-31
22 and 23. Mr. PERKINS

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (1) whether he is aware that the Australian manufacturers of elastics have applied to their tariff board for a heavy duty against British elastics over one inch in width; and whether in view of the terms of the Ottawa agreements, he will make representations to the Australian Government;

(2) whether he is aware that before the signing of the Ottawa Agreements, British elastics under one inch in width were admitted free of duty into Australia, and that a duty of approximately 27½ per cent. against British elastics under one inch in width has been imposed by the Australian Government since the signing of the Ottawa Agreements, and that the Australian manufacturers are now applying for a heavy increase of these duties; and whether he has made or will make any representations to the Australian Government?


My right hon. Friend is aware that a duty has been imposed by His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia on United Kingdom apparel elastic under one inch in width since the signature of the Ottawa Agreements, and that the duty is now 26¼ per cent. ad valorem, excluding primage duty. He is also aware of the fact that the Commonwealth Tariff Board have been requested to review the existing duties upon all widths of apparel elastic. The board's inquiry took place, he understands, in October, and, in accordance with the provisions of Article 13 of the United Kingdom-Australia Agreement concluded at Ottawa, full rights of audience were given to United Kingdom producers at the inquiry. The procedure contemplated by the Agreement has, therefore, been followed, and, subject to any points which may arise when the report of the board is issued, my right hon. Friend is not aware of any ground upon which he could make representations to the Commonwealth Government on the subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it was agreed at Ottawa that British manufacturers should have equal opportunities to compete with Australian manufacturers in their own market; and that if this new application for a big increased tariff is granted, it will be impossible for British manufacturers to compete in the Australian market?


I do not think we are aware of that yet, but Article 10 of the Agreement covers this matter. It provides that tariffs may not be prohibitive, but may be competitive. Until we have the details of this increase, we are not in a position to make any representations.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is not an isolated instance, but that there are five or six other instances in other industries; and does he not consider that the time has come when the Government ought to retaliate in some of these cases?


What is the Navy for?


We cannot take any steps, providing the Agreement is being maintained.


Is it desirable that the hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Perkins) should thus sow dissension in the ranks of the party opposite?