HC Deb 02 March 1954 vol 524 cc994-5
30. Mr. Horobin

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that much greater freight rates are being charged for raw cotton from Pakistan and India to England than is charged for shipments to Japan as a result of shipping conference agreements; and what representations he has made with a view to getting this discrimination against this, country removed.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

I am aware that the current rates for raw cotton shipped from Pakistan and India to Japan tend to be lower than rates to this country. As my hon. Friend knows, there is no Governmental control of freight rates, which are the subject of commercial negotiations between shippers and ship owners. I am, however, in consultation, with my noble Friend the Minister of Materials and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport on this matter and will communicate with my hon. Friend shortly.

Mr. Horobin

I thank my right hon. Friend for his reply, but does he not agree that the facts which I have submitted to him indicate that cotton is being shipped to Japan at not much more than one-third of the cost of bringing it to Liverpool, obviously as a result of subsidised Japanese shipping? Does not this constitute a clear breach of the undertaking in the Japanese Treaty? If the facts are substantiated, will he make the strongest representations possible about the matter?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I can assure my hon. Friend that if it can be substantiated by proper evidence that there is some unfair practice or something else which is contrary to the ordinary rules of inter national trade, I shall certainly take the matter up at once with the Japanese Government.

Mr. H. Wilson

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to the statement by the President of the Federation of British Industries yesterday about the unfair practices of the Japanese? Has he also given consideration to other unfair practices, such as export subsidies, to which his attention has been directed?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I saw the statement by the President of the Federation of British Industries, which I thought was a very fair statement of the facts. As I have said, if not mere suspicion but real evidence is given of unfair practice, by the copying of designs or in other ways, I shall be perfectly happy to look into the matter and take it up.

Lieut-Colonel Schofield

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that it is the slick methods of trade that make it so difficult for British manufacturers to meet Japanese competition?