HC Deb 15 May 1950 vol 475 cc851-2
62. Mr. Watkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that manufactures of German origin are becoming a serious menace to British exports, due to the low prices at which these are offered in foreign markets; and whether he will take steps to stop the export of such goods at artificially low prices.

Mr. Ernest Davies

I cannot agree with the hon. Member that German exports constitute a serious menace to our export trade. They would have to be increased many times before they represented in general a threat equivalent to the German prewar export rate. Nor can I agree, as a result of exhaustive inquiries within the High Commission, that prices are kept lower by artificial or unfair means. There is therefore no justification for action by the High Commission to interfere with the German export trade. Indeed a principal concern of the High Commission is to diminish Germany's dependence on external aid for which an increase of exports is necessary.

Mr. Watkinson

Will not the hon. Gentleman look at this very vital matter again, particularly from the point of view that German exports may be going to neighbouring countries, from which they are then exported again, for example, to Brazil, where I know that German competition is a very serious factor against our export trade? This is only the beginning. It should be looked at now and stopped.

Mr. Walter Fletcher

Will the hon. Gentleman remember that the same reply was given by his predecessor four years ago about Japanese exports; and will he see that the same policy of waiting until it is too late is not again adopted?

Captain Waterhouse

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that quite recently the Minister of Health stated that he had bought glassware in Germany in order to drive down prices in this country?

Mr. Davies

This matter has recently been gone into most carefully by the High Commission, who appointed a commission to investigate the matter. It has been concluded that, at the present time, there is no risk of this excessive competition.