HC Deb 29 March 1955 vol 539 cc202-3
59. Mr. Edelman

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been drawn to the damaging effect which the new Australian restrictions on imports will have on the British motor industry; and what action he is taking to deal with this situation.

Mr. Low

The effect of the restrictions on the motor industry's exports to Australia is not expected to be severe, and I am glad to note that the industry is confident that it will be able to offset loss of trade in Australia by gains in other markets.

Mr. Edelman

Although the Minister says that the effect is not expected to be so bad, is he aware that it is anticipated that the total loss of exports will amount to the value of £3 million; and will he and his right hon. Friend the Minister of Supply consult directly with the motor industry in order to try to find alternative markets?

Mr. Low

We are, of course, always in touch with the motor industry on this and other important matters. The industry has recently stated that, despite the checks in shipments to Australia, it is still confident that it will be able to raise its world exports above the 1954 level. More will be sent to other markets, especially to South Africa.

62. Mr. Malcolm MacPherson

asked the President of the Board of Trade to what extent the import restrictions recently announced by Australia are likely to affect exports of cast-iron goods from this country.

Mr. Low

The Australian quotas for rain-water pipes and certain types of stoves are to be cut by 15 per cent. The category B quotas covering most other cast-iron goods are to be cut by one-third. But importers are free to use the category B quotas on a wide range of alternative goods from a wide range of countries, and it is, therefore, impossible to forecast the effect of the recent restrictions on particular United Kingdom exports.

Mr. MacPherson

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall the very severe effect which the previous Australian import cuts had on the light castings export trade, and does he realise that in the last week or two short-time working has begun again in this industry? Will he take steps to see that as few as possible of our markets in Australia are lost?

Mr. Low

As the hon. Gentleman is probably aware, the present cuts are much less severe than those in 1952. He is also probably aware of the inter-Departmental inquiry that took place following the 1952 cuts, and of the subsequent report which tended to show that the difficulties in 1952 were not solely due to Australian import cuts.