HC Deb 17 April 1956 vol 551 cc823-5
10. Mr. J. Paton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what he proposes to do about the import at unfair prices of the special baskets largely used in East Anglia and known as potato pickers.

Mr. Low

I have no information which would enable me to compare the prices at which baskets of home manufacture and imported baskets are being sold.

Mr. Paton

Is the Minister aware that the production of these baskets occupies

Other Foreign Countries in Class A, Division 5, of Accounts relating to Trade and Navigation of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Low

As the answer contains a number of figures, I will, with permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Godman Irvine

Can the right hon. Gentleman say from the figures what purchases were made behind the Iron Curtain in the three years in question?

Mr. Low

I should have to add up the figures and I would rather that the hon. Gentleman did that for himself.

Following are the figures:

the basket makers at the Norwich Blind Institution for six months of the year, and that they sell them at the very keen price of 7s. 6d.? How can they compete with imported foreign baskets at 5s. 9d. which includes substantial Import Duty? Is it possible to do something to stop this unfair competition?

Mr. Low

I have no evidence that imports have recently increased very substantially. There are quotas and, with one small exception, they are no bigger than last year. Although it would be entirely inconsistent with our general policy and international obligations to re-impose quantitative restrictions for protective purposes, if the hon. Member will produce evidence of hardship to blind basket producers, I will examine it to see whether any case merits exceptional treatment.

Mr. Collins

Is the Minister aware that blind basket makers in many rural areas who make baskets for six to eight months of the year are losing their employment because Dutch baskets are being imported at little more than the bare cost of trade union rates of wages, and that this is a new development? Will the Minister see whether there is a concealed export subsidy, or will he receive a deputation from the blind basket makers?

Mr. Low

I have said that I will examine any evidence of special circumstances.

Mr. Nabarro

Are there any Russian baskets coming in?

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