HC Deb 15 March 1938 vol 333 cc184-5
39. Mr. Burke

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he is making representations to the New Zealand Government regarding recent tariff increases operating from 1st March, 1938, on boots, shoes and slippers, in view of the grave effect these increases are likely to have on the Lancashire export trade?

38. Mr. Lyons

asked the Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs whether he can make any statement with reference to the increased tariff in New Zealand upon British-made boots and shoes?

The Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs (Mr. Malcolm MacDonald)

The ad valorem Customs duty in New Zealand on footwear, other than rubber footwear, from all sources was increased on the 1st March by 5 per cent. ad valorem, and certain kinds of footwear became liable to a specific duty where this gives a higher return than the ad valorem duty. A preferential margin is retained in respect of imports from the United Kingdom. Full details were published in the Board of Trade Journal on the 3rd March.

Before deciding to alter the rates of duty, the New Zealand Government, in response to a request by His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, gave the United Kingdom Federated Association of Boot and Shoe Manufacturers an opportunity of submitting their views on the proposed changes. I understand that the association have since made further representations to His Majesty's Government in New Zealand about the incidence of the specific duty on certain kinds of United Kingdom footwear. His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom are keeping in touch with the association in the matter.

Mr. Burke

Can the Minister tell us why these variations have been brought about?

Mr. MacDonald

The New Zealand Government have made these changes in order to check the unemployment in their own industry due to increased imports and rising costs of production within the Dominion.

Mr. Burke

Is it not a fact that the cost of production has also increased in this country and that the position now is substantially the same, as between the two countries, as it was in 1934 when the original agreement was made?

Mr. MacDonald

I understand that that is the sort of point on which fresh representations are now being made to the New Zealand Government, and the Government of this country are keeping in touch with the Association about the whole matter.

Mr. Graham White

Are these increases in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Ottawa Agreements?

Mr. MacDonald

There has been no breach of the spirit or the letter of the Ottawa Agreements.

Sir Joseph Lamb

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this is not a question which affects Lancashire only, but that it affects Staffordshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire?

Mr. MacDonald

The Association is representative of all the interests in this country.