HC Deb 15 June 1950 vol 476 cc529-31
20. Sir H. Williams

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will publish a White Paper to indicate to what extent British exports to the United States of America are hindered by the high level of United States tariff rates.

Mr. H. Wilson

There is no doubt that existing United States tariff rates hinder United Kingdom exports to that market, but it is extremely difficult to estimate the extent of the hindrance. I doubt, therefore, whether the hon. Member's proposal is practicable, but I shall certainly bear it in mind.

Sir H. Williams

Will the Minister represent to the United States, who are constantly preaching one doctrine for themselves and another for us in Europe about their tariff rates, that they might start a bit of improvement at home?

Mr. Wilson

We have discussed with British industry all the rates, the lowering of which would lead to an increase in exports, or the removal of which would lead to the starting of a general increase in exports, and this matter will be coming up at Torquay.

Sir H. Williams

I asked the Minister whether he will make representations to the people of the United States who preach one doctrine for themselves and another for us?

Professor Savory

Has the Minister's attention been called to the enormous protective duty on Irish linen, which hampers very considerably the export from Ulster?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir, my attention has been drawn to it on a number of occasions. If I remember rightly, some improvement was made in it at the Conference at Geneva.

Mr. Maclay

Can the Minister say whether any improvement has been made in the executive side of the Customs procedure in the United States which was almost as big a barrier to our goods as the tariffs themselves?

Mr. Wilson

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman. We are hopeful that there will be some substantial improvements on the administration side in the United States.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I ought to point out that it is now 3 o'clock and that we generally get through 60 or 70 Questions in the hour; we have got through 20 in the first half hour. Some of the supple-mentaries have been long and very repetitive.

22. Mr. Jenkins

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will make a further report on the progress in the development of our exports to North America.

Mr. H. Wilson

Yes, Sir. Though too much should not be read into the figures for a particular month, I am glad to say that the strenuous efforts which all concerned have been making to develop our exports to North America are now showing encouraging results. The value of United Kingdom exports to North America last month is provisionally estimated at £20.6 million, compared with a monthly average of only £10 million during the third quarter of 1949—that is, immediately prior to devaluation— and £14.5 million in April, 1950. In terms of U.S. dollars the increase has been from 40.3 million dollars per month in the third quarter of 1949, to 42.8 million dollars in the first quarter of 1950, and 57.7 million dollars in May. Up to now we have made rather more rapid progress in developing our exports to Canada than to the U.S.A. In May, our exports to Canada were £12.4 million compared with £8.2 million to the U.S.A.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

Can the right hon. Gentleman give us some break-up as between industries in these gratifying figures, with reference to the motor car industry?

Mr. Wilson

Yes, Sir. The motor car industry has certainly accounted for a considerable proportion, particularly the exports to Canada. When the full Trade and Navigation Accounts are published next week the hon. Gentleman will have all the figures he wants.