HC Deb 10 March 1953 vol 512 cc1108-9
26. Lieut.-Colonel Schofield

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that the admission of Japan to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade will enable her to claim a right to most-favoured nation treatment, which was denied to her under the Japanese Peace Treaty; and if he will take this factor into account in opposing Japan's membership of the organisation.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

It is, of course, true that, if we assume the obligations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade towards Japan, we shall assume an obligation to accord her most-favoured-nation treatment. But, as my hon. Friend the Secretary for Overseas Trade indicated in reply to my hon. and gallant Friend on 3rd March, the Inter-sessional Committee has suggested, in its recent report, certain provisions for permitting a suspension of obligations towards any country whose competition caused violent disruption of trade. No decisions have been made in this matter and, in considering these suggestions, we shall certainly take into account the points to which my hon. and gallant Friend has referred.

Lieut.-Colonel Schofield

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this right to deny the most-favoured-nation treatment to Japan is the United Kingdom's most powerful weapon against cut-throat Japanese competition and that there will be much misgiving in Lancashire if that weapon is thrown away?

Mr. Thorneycroft

This raises large and complex questions of commercial policy. As I have said, no decisions have been made, but a report has been referred to the Governments concerned.

Mr. Noel-Baker

Of course we must protect ourselves against unfair Japanese production through the International Labour Organisation and in other ways, but will the right hon. Gentleman recognise that we must hold out the hope of a prosperous future to the Japanese people if they are to remain a democratic and peaceful nation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I think that it was the object of the Inter-sessional Committee to try to find, if possible, a compromise between those two views.

Air Commodore Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be a reasonable period during which the Japanese will be put to the test to see whether they are going to play fair in normal methods of trading?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have said that this report has only just been received and is still under consideration.

Mr. S. Silverman

Whatever may be the truth about Japan, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it is even more important to guarantee a prosperous future to Lancashire, and will he say what steps the Government are taking to prevent Japan seizing to its own advantage the trade with China, which the policy of the Government has prevented us from doing?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Question refers to the specific recommendations of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the interests of Lancashire are very close to my heart.

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