HC Deb 22 July 1952 vol 504 cc261-2
24. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the substantial opportunities for sale of British machine-made carpets in Western Germany; and whether, in view of the German surplus on European Payments Union account and the continuing United Kingdom deficit on that account, he will instruct the office of the United Kingdom commercial representative at Cologne-Marienburg to press the German Government for British machine-made carpets to be placed on the list of goods not subject to German import quota restrictions, and thus help the employment position in Kidderminster and other carpet manufacturing centres in the United Kingdom.

The Secretary for Overseas Trade (Mr. H. R. Mackeson)

The German Federal Government have recently removed quota restrictions over a considerable range of their trade, including machine-made carpets of cotton; and we shall continue to take every suitable opportunity to press for improved facilities for those of our exports, including machine-made carpets of wool, which are still subject to quota restrictions.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that a large range of manufactured goods are admitted into the United Kingdom, free of quota restrictions or tariff, from Western Germany? Would it not be equitable if reciprocal advantages could be obtained for our principal manufactures, notably such articles as woollen carpets?

Mr. Mackeson

I understand that in view of Germany's balance of payments situation O.E.E.C. are now investigating her claim to have freed 75 per cent. of her imports. If this proves true, since carpets are on the O.E.E.C. Common List, we would expect to sell more.

Mr. Bottomley

Will the hon. Gentleman agree that this form of private enterprise hinders rather than helps successful national trade negotiations?

25. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of carpet imports into the United Kingdom during the six months ended 30th June, 1952; and the anticipated level of imports during the second half of 1952 in consideration of the present state of the carpet industry in Britain.

Mr. Mackeson

The value of carpets imported into the United Kingdom in the first six months of 1952 was £1,836,000. In view of the general uncertainty of the market, I should not care to predict the level of carpet imports during the remainder of the year.

Mr. Nabarro

Would my hon. Friend undertake to bear in mind the exceptionally difficult conditions in the British carpet industry arising from the 80 per cent. cuts in Australian imports? Would he therefore review very closely all future United Kingdom import programmes for carpets? Can he in particular say what has been the level of imports for the first six months of this year as compared with the first six months of last year?

Mr. Mackeson

Of course, I will bear my hon. Friend's remarks in mind. The imports for the first six months of last year were approximately £10 million.