HC Deb 04 February 1954 vol 523 cc537-40
21. Mr. Dodds

asked the President of the Board of Trade what discussions took place with the leaders of the industries concerned before signing the agreement with Japan.

29. Lieut.-Colonel Schofield

asked the President of the Board of Trade what steps were taken to consult representatives of the cotton textile trade before the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese trade pact in view of the fact that the British cotton trade will be adversely affected.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I would refer the hon. Members to the answers given by my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury to a Private Notice Question by the right hon. Member for Huyton (Mr. H. Wilson) on Monday last.

Lieut.-Colonel Schofield

As the industry was not consulted, why is such a large proportion of the sterling under the payments agreement to be provided at the expense of the United Kingdom cotton trade? Would it not have been better to spread the burden over a greater number of industries instead of letting it fall so largely on the cotton textiles of this country?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The Agreement covers trade of £200 million each way. It has never been the practice of this Government, nor that of the previous Government, to enter into consultations with industry on the removal of quotas imposed on balance of payments grounds.

Mr. H. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has never been any negotiation, since the war, involving Japanese competition, which has not been the subject of the fullest possible consultation with the industries concerned? Secondly, since his answer referred to the answer given by the Economic Secretary, does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is an unworthy answer for a Minister that he has informed a certain gentleman in Manchester, in confidence, of what was happening and then, having muzzled him and prevented him from consulting the industry, quotes him as evidence of consultation?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is absolutely plain that such a quotation has not been made as evidence of consultation. The answer which I gave just now is the accurate one, that neither this Government nor any previous Government has entered into consultation with individual industries about the removal of quotas imposed for balance of payments, as opposed to protective, purposes.

Mr. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer my first question, in relation to Japan? Does he not agree that in every previous case involving Japan—about which many industries are peculiarly sensitive; it is not like trade with Holland or other such countries—there was full consultation? Why was there not consultation this time?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I am answering the question about whether or not there has been any consultation about the imposition or removal of quotas, and I say that under no Government has there been consultation, nor should there be.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that what he says on that issue evades the point which my right hon. Friend is putting to him? Is not the real reason why nobody in Lancashire was consulted about it was because it was clear that if they had been consulted none of them would have agreed?

Mr. Thorneycroft

It is perfectly plain that no consultation could take place on the quotas so far as this country was concerned because they were imposed for balance of payments reasons; and still less would it be proper for Her Majesty's Government to consult Lancashire about quotas which the Colonial Empire brings into force.

30. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade what assurances concerning the prevention of unfair trading practices, such as the copying of designs and falsification of trade marks, were sought by Her Majesty's Government from the Japanese Government before signing the recent Trade Agreement.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

Under the Peace Treaty, the Japanese Government declared their intention in public and private trade to conform to internationally accepted fair practices. Since the war, we have had only a small number of complaints of copying of designs or similar practices on the part of Japanese traders; we have taken these up with the Japanese authorities and have found them cooperative in stopping these infringements.

Mr. Swingler

Would the Minister read, or get one of his advisers to read, the report of Her Majesty's Commercial Minister in Tokio, which came out 18 months ago, since the Peace Treaty was signed, and which shows quite plainly that there has been a revival of the manufacture of counterfeited and copied British designs? As this is a matter of very great importance to the pottery industry, and as there is no protection in the Colonies under the Merchandise Marks Act, does his answer mean that we have had no assurances from the Japanese Government in this matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I have read the report, and I will consider any individual examples given to me, but I would add that British traders would help if they protected their designs and trade marks by registration both in this country and in the export markets.

Dr. Stross

As the Government are to allow £50,000 worth of Japanese pottery to come into this country this year, can we have an assurance from the President that, if some of it imitates any of our well-known patterns, action will be taken, because, otherwise, it will merely add insult to injury?

Mr. Thorneycroft

If any individual example occurred and it is brought to my attention, I will certainly take the matter up.

Mr. Burden

Is not one of the difficulties in this matter the fact that one cannot register a design, but that, where there are infringements of patents and trade marks, action can be taken? It is very difficult to take action if a design is copied.

Mr. Thorneycroft

I understand that it is possible to register these designs in foreign markets.

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