HC Deb 31 May 1951 vol 488 cc395-6
24. Mr. Russell

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a statement on the Report of the Torquay tariff negotiations.

Sir H. Shawcross

I did not intend to make any further statement. If the hon. Member has any particular question he would like to put to me, I will of course answer it, or if he would care to talk or write to me about the whole matter I will be glad to see him.

Mr. Russell

Is it not a fact that, as a result of these negotiations, we have tied our hands for another three years not to introduce any new tariff preferences or to increase any existing ones? In view of the declining enthusiasm for this policy all over the world, does not the right hon. and learned Gentleman think it a monstrous decision to have to come to?

Sir H. Shawcross

No, Sir, on the whole I think the advantages that we have got from the regulation of the position under the Tariff Agreement are greater than the disadvantages which the hon. Member has in mind.

Mr. Braine

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware of the important part tariffs and preferences have played in the past in stimulating Empire economic development? Would it not have been more in accord with the interests of this country and of the rest of the Commonwealth to have denounced this Agreement?

Sir H. Shawcross

No, Sir, I do not think it would be to the advantage of this country to denounce this Agreement. I am particularly concerned to stimulate as far as I possibly can trade between the different parts of the Commonwealth; but our trading interests do extend, as do those of the other parts of the Commonwealth, beyond the Commonwealth itself, and it is important to have regard to them as well.