HC Deb 05 April 1955 vol 539 cc977-8
12 and 13. Mr. Nabarro

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) what steps he is taking to assure reciprocity in carpet tariffs between Great Britain and India; (2) the comparative figures for 12 months ended on the latest convenient date, for Indian carpet and rug imports into Great Britain tariff free, and for British carpet and rug imports into India subject to tariff, both expressed in sterling values.

Mr. Low

Our Trade Agreement with India provides for a measure of reciprocity in preferences though not in the level of duty. The Government of India accords United Kingdom carpets a 12½ per cent. preference, but their imports of carpets are at present severely restricted by quota for balance-of-payments reasons. We hope that these restrictions will be relaxed as soon as possible.

In the 12 months up to the end of February, the value of imports of carpets and rugs, duty-free, into the United Kingdom from India amounted to £2,300,000. The value of United Kingdom exports of carpets and rugs to India in the same period, which would be subject to duty, totalled £7,600.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend have regard to the fact that while cotton goods are recognised as textiles and woollens are as well, carpets are an important branch of the textile industry; and in the event of any rearrangement being made with India for adjustment of o tariffs, will he have regard to the very inequitable state of tariffs on carpets between Britain and India at the moment?

Mr. Low

My hon. Friend is raising another and rather wider question.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Will the Minister bear in mind the very big increase in the import of jute carpets from India that has taken place during the last year or so, and which is threatening employment in the Dundee area? Will he consider whether jute carpets could be brought within the scope of the control upon imported jute goods?

Mr. Low

I will certainly consider that point, but the hon. Gentleman knows what the regulations are at present.

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