HC Deb 22 March 1956 vol 550 cc1449-50
21. Mr. Russell

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that Britain's share of the markets for imports into Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the Colonial Territories as a whole has declined, while that of the United States of America has increased; and what steps he proposes to take in order to check this tendency.

Mr. P. Thorneycroft

There has been such a tendency in some, but not all, of the markets to which my hon. Friend refers. I am hopeful that the measures recently taken by the Government will help to improve our competitive position in these and other overseas markets.

Mr. Russell

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the measures announced by the Government will do everything to remedy the situation? Would he not agree that if we were to encourage our importers to buy more produce from Empire countries, the Empire countries might be encouraged to buy more of our exports?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The steps recently taken by the Government are calculated to deal with inflation and make us more competitive in these markets.

Mr. H. Wilson

While I endorse the President's statement that the previous Government signed the General Agreement, which the present Government have maintained, does he not recall that under the previous Government's administration the proportion of Commonwealth trade considerably increased as regards both imports and exports? Will the right hon. Gentleman now say whether, within the General Agreement, it is or is not the policy of the Government to increase the proportion of our trade with the Commonwealth?

Mr. Thorneycroft

The right hon. Gentleman knows the terms of the General Agreement as well as I do.