§ 20. Mr. Cartland
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is now able to state what action the Government propose to take with regard to the report of the Import Duties Advisory Committee on the iron and steel industry?
The Committee refer particularly in their report to the desirability of a general oversight of the policy of the iron and steel industry by an independent body looking to the public interest. They point out that this oversight has so far devolved almost inevitably upon them in view of their responsibility in relation to tariff measures. The Import Duties Advisory Committee have been invited, and have agreed, to continue for the time being to exercise this oversight. The Committee's report contains a number of recommendations on other questions. Some of these are now under consideration by the Departments concerned; others are directed mainly to the industry itself.
§ Mr. Cartland
Can my right hon. Friend say how long it is proposed that this work of over sighting shall be carried on by the Committee?
Clearly, while the present temporary conditions of difficulty exist, it will be necessary to have such an oversight, but if conditions substantially change, the whole of this matter will be reconsidered.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Does the original answer of the right hon. Gentleman mean that the recommendations contained in the report of the Import Duties Advisory Committee are to be carried through by the Committee itself?
All I referred to in my answer was the question of oversight. That, as I say, will be left to the Import Duties Advisory Committee. A number of other recommendations are now being considered by the Department concerned or by the industry.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Is it not just because of the temporary emergency that many of the complaints are being made about the quota system in the giving of orders, and is it not in the public interest to have some completely outside person or body away from the Import Duties Advisory Committee, who are necessarily mixed up in the matter?
I have considered the matter very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that the Import Duties Advisory Committee, by their knowledge of the thing, are especially fitted for this duty, and that if you had another independent body for the oversight which, in the nature of their duties the Import Duties Advisory Committee can give, it might lead only to confusion.
§ Sir Percy Harris
Have the Committee any staff or organisation to deal with this matter on the spot, or are they dependent entirely upon information given by the industry concerned?
It is part of the normal duty of the Import Duties Advisory Committee to get information, and their staff are getting it.
§ Mr. Louis Smith
Are the Board of Trade satisfied with the progress that has been made during the past 12 months?