HC Deb 04 February 1954 vol 523 cc532-3
12. Mrs. Castle

asked the President of the Board of Trade why, in view of the steps taken to liberalise trade with Europe and, particularly, with Scandinavia, the import of Scandinavian kraft paper is still restricted by licensing to a level below 1951, thus causing unemployment in essential industries.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

The United Kingdom's balance of payments is not yet such that we can afford to relax all our restrictions upon trade with Western Europe, and the removal of all quota restrictions from imports of paper would cost too much in present circumstances. Substantial additional quotas have recently been made available, however, for the import of paper and board of most types, including Scandinavian kraft paper. I would add that imports of paper during the year 1951 were exceptionally high, and included imports for stock building.

Mrs. Castle

But is it not absurd that at a time when we are liberalising trade with Europe, and bringing in many more luxuries, we should be restricting employment in this country by restricting the importation of raw materials? Is not it a fact that only the other day the Economic Secretary to the Treasury said that there were no longer any balance of payments reasons why we should restrict Japanese imports? Cannot we therefore bring raw material into this country and so create employment instead of destroying it?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I hope that the hon. Lady is not in favour of the liberalisation of Japanese imports to the same extent as we are liberalising them from Western Europe.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall endeavour to raise this matter on the Adjournment.