HC Deb 12 February 1953 vol 511 cc585-6
29. Mr. Mulley

asked the President of the Board of Trade why he refuses to grant import licences for semi-manufactured goods from Western Germany which cannot be produced in this country but which can be processed here for export and home use, thus earning and saving foreign currency, while he permits imports without restriction from Western Germany of fully manufactured goods which can be produced in this country and whose manufacture here would avert unemployment.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I understand that the semi-manufactured goods which the hon. Member has in mind are agatine rings for fishing rods and that the manufactured goods are cutlery. Agatine rings from Western Germany are admissible under the quota for sports goods and parts. Cutlery from Western Germany is admissible under a similar quota for cutlery. Import licences under both of these quotas are issued to importers on the basis of their past trade.

I am re-examining the licence application for fishing rod rings, which the hon. Member has mentioned to me, in the light of the possibilities of re-export, and I shall write to him about it as soon as I can.

Mr. Mulley

May I point out to the Minister that though I am grateful to him for looking at this individual case, it is only one example of many brought to my notice of instances where his Department will not issue licences unless the importer has imported that commodity in the past? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if a manufacturer wants to import some material for experimental purposes in order to try and develop a trade which does not already exist, he gets a blank refusal and no co-operation from the Board of Trade? Will not the right hon. Gentleman insist that his officers carry out the precepts which he so ably lays down in his public utterances on the subject?

Mr. Thorneycroft

Import licences, of course, are generally issued on the basis of past trade, which is the main basis on which one would have to issue them. At the same time, the Board of Trade have always been prepared to look favourably at any suggestions which might assist exports, and I am perfectly willing to look at the case put forward by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. P. Roberts

May I point out to my right hon. Friend that it will give great satisfaction if lie will look at this matter: and, further, that these controls were put on by a Socialist Government in the past and that nothing was done at that time to remedy the position?