HC Deb 09 February 1937 vol 320 cc192-3
14. Mr. Liddall

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the fact that the imports of machinery into this country have increased from 54,745 tons in 1932 to 103,452 tons in 1936; how much of the machinery imported in 1936 was exempted from duty on the ground that it was of the kind not made here; and what steps he proposes to take to facilitate the increased manufacture in this country of the kind of machinery we are able to make?

Mr. Runciman

The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. Of the machinery imported in 1936 about 23 per cent. by value was imported free of duty under licences issued on the ground that similar machinery was not for the time being procurable in the United Kingdom. The machine-tool industry and other makers of machinery for which there is an increased demand are making every effort to increase their production.

Mr. Louis Smith

Having regard to the enormous increase in these figures, will the right hon. Gentleman consider requesting the Import Duties Advisory Committee to make special inquiry to find out what measures have been taken to decrease such importations?

Mr. Runciman

The Committee have from time to time looked into this question, and only recently, I think, completed an inquiry.

Mr. T. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say approximately what was the value of the exports of machinery from this country?

Mr. Runciman

I could not say that without notice.

Mr. H. G. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what was the result of the inquiry?

Mr. Runciman

There appear to have been a number of results, and one of the most important is that if machinery is required here for our manufacturers—[Interruption.]

Sir Frank Sanderson

Is it not a fact that a great proportion of the machinery which has been introduced into this country is of a highly technical and secretive character and cannot be manufactured in this country?

Mr. Runciman

Yes, that description is quite properly used in regard to some of the machines, but they are not all of the same kind.