HC Deb 08 December 1949 vol 470 cc2060-2
16. Mr. Austin

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether it is now the intention of His Majesty's Government further to identify and publicise individual firms who have successfully responded to official appeals for greater dollar-earning efforts.

Mr. H. Wilson

Yes, Sir, subject to the practical difficulty of being sure that credit goes where credit is due.

18. Mr. H. D. Hughes

asked the President of the Board of Trade what cartel agreements exist discouraging British firms from expanding trade with dollar markets; and what action he is taking to see that such agreements are terminated.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am not in a position to know of private agreements which may exist between firms in the United Kingdom and firms overseas; nor could the effect of any such agreements on our exports to dollar markets be assessed without full investigation in each case. If any concrete instances where such agreements appear to be restricting our dollar earnings were brought to my notice, I would see what could be done having regard, if need be, to the provisions of the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices (Inquiry and Control) Act, 1948. Meanwhile I would urge all concerned to consider the matter carefully before continuing old or entering into new agreements.

Mr. Hughes

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to statements by officials of the State Department and the European Co-operation Administration, reported in a responsible Sunday newspaper last week, that they have information that British firms are deliberately staying outside the dollar markets in order to honour illegal cartel agreements, citing chemical fertilisers in particular, and will he approach the E.C.A. and the State Department to ask for the necessary information to enable him to investigate this matter?

Mr. Wilson

The only cases brought to my attention are cases where the British firms concerned are subsidiaries of American firms or are manufacturing under patent royalty arrangements where there have been agreements that our firms will not enter the dollar market.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Do I understand from the replies of the right hon. Gentleman that no specific instances justifying action under the Monopolies Act have been brought to his attention to date?

Mr. Wilson

That is the position.

20. Commander Noble

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will now consider allowing exporters to dollar countries to retain a percentage of the dollars earned; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. H. Wilson

I am not yet in a position to make a statement about what, if any, additional incentives are necessary or desirable to assist the export trade to the dollar areas, but the Government remains ready to consider on its merits any scheme, orthodox or unorthodox, which would promote exports to the dollar areas.

Commander Noble

Will the Minister be saying something more about this point later, because he was widely reported as having said something on his recent return from North America?

Mr. Wilson

What I said was that a number of suggestions had been put before us and, in answer to a query from the Press representative concerned, I gave a description of the scheme in force in Holland, which was one of many suggestions made to me, but it does not represent a scheme on which we have taken any decision about introducing into this country.

Forward to