HC Deb 20 March 1952 vol 497 cc2537-8
23. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade the value of United Kingdom exports of carpets and rugs to the Commonwealth of Australia during the 12 months ended 29th February, 1952, or latest convenient date; the extent and percentum or ad valorem reduction of imports of carpets and rugs imposed by the Australian Government for the remainder of 1952; and the estimated loss of United Kingdom exports thereby entailed.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The value of carpets, rugs and mats exported from the United Kingdom to Australia during the 12 months ended 29th February, 1952, was £10.9 millions. Under the new Australian import restrictions these goods will be licensed at the rate of 20 per cent. of the value imported during the base year 1st July, 1950, to 30th June, 1951. As the quotas are not tied to particular countries it is not possible to say precisely what amount of United Kingdom carpets will continue to be imported into Australia, but the effect of the restrictions will undoubtedly be serious, for Australia has recently been taking almost half of our total exports of carpets.

Mr. Nabarro

In view of the grave significance to the carpet manufacturing areas of the United Kingdom of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, namely, to Kidderminster and Kilmarnock, will my right hon. Friend endeavour to assist the industry by discussing with the Chancellor of the Exchequer what prospects there are for bringing carpets within the general provisions of the Douglas Report in order that they might have the Purchase Tax upon them abated to help production within the industry?

Mr. Thorneycroft

That is, of course, a question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that the very important questions which are involved in the Question are exactly the kind of matter on which the researches of the Export Research Organisation, if the right hon. Gentleman had not so hastily brought it to an end, would have been most useful? Is it not the case that the only way in which this damage can be minimised is by the provision of alternative markets? Is not that exactly what the research organisation was for?

Mr. Victor Yates

Is the Minister aware that the Ministry of Labour announced in a review this week that 465 people have already been discharged, mainly from the carpet industry, as well as from the motor car industry? Is it not going to be a very grave situation for this industry? It certainly is not in accordance with what the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) promised at the last General Election.