HC Deb 03 November 1949 vol 469 cc568-70
8. Mr. William Teeling

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has any statement to make about the recent cuts in Japanese export prices; what steps he proposes to take to protect British interests; and how far he estimates that they will be affected.

15. Air-Commodore Harvey

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the decision of the occupying authorities in Japan to abolish price controls on Japanese manufactures.

Mr. H. Wilson

There is no reason to think that there will be any appreciable increase in imports of cheap goods from Japan into the sterling area in the near future because it will be necessary for balance of payments reasons to restrict imports from Japan for at least the next year. Nevertheless, I recognise to the full the anxiety which certain of our industries naturally feel about the eventual re-emergence of low cost Japanese exports on a large scale. I shall watch this matter closely and I regard it as of considerable importance that in announcing the abolition of the system of minimum export prices last week, General MacArthur's Headquarters made it clear that "dumping" would be prevented.

Mr. Teeling

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether these cuts were made or known about before the present trade negotiations had been concluded, or, indeed, if they have been concluded?

Mr. Wilson

I should want notice of that question. We were informed of the proposed changes a short time before they took place, but we had no opportunity, nor indeed any locus in commenting on them.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that on 26th October "The Times" said that the export floor prices had been abolished for all export goods except silk? Does that apply to raw silk or to silk piecegoods?

Mr. Wilson

I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would put that question on the Order Paper.

Mr. Scollan

Has my right hon. Friend seen a report which was given great prominence in last Sunday's Press, to the effect that the Japanese had undercut us in a £10 million contract for Siam for the supply of locomotives and rolling stock?

Mr. Amory

Is the right hon. Gentleman really satisfied that British interests are properly and adequately represented when these matters are considered?