§ 39. Mr. Bishop
asked the President of the Board of Trade which foodstuffs and other commodities imported from the dollar area and from non-dollar areas, respectively, are still subject to import restrictions for balance-of-payments reasons.
Imports from the dollar area of nearly all manufactured goods as well as many foodstuffs and a few raw materials are still restricted to protect our balance of payments. A large proportion of our imports from O.E.E.C. and certain other foreign countries is free of restriction but we cannot yet afford unlimited imports of a limited range of foodstuffs and manufactured goods and a few raw materials. Except for certain commodities, mainly raw materials, imports from certain other foreign countries are also restricted. There are, in general, no such restrictions on imports from the sterling area.
§ Mr. Bishop
Can my right hon. Friend say what is the prospect of getting rid of these restrictions entirely, especially in the case of imports from non-dollar areas?
I think my hon. Friend knows that it is the policy of the Government to work for the progressive removal of import restrictions of all kinds. I think he would agree that considerable progress has been made in that direction during the past year, but we must still proceed with caution.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the proportionate figure of the dollar imports still subject to restriction?
I am afraid that I could not give the proportion accurately now, but if the right hon. Gentleman will put down a Question on the subject I will endeavour to give him an answer.
§ Major Legge-Bourke
When my right hon. Friend says that the Government are working for the removal of import restrictions, may I ask him for an assurance that it does not mean that the position of horticulturists in this country has been overlooked, as they can only be protected by tariffs?
I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the position of our horticulturists will not be overlooked.