HC Deb 11 July 1957 vol 573 cc531-2
30. Mr. Hirst

asked the President of the Board of Trade what answer he has received from the Government of the United States of America following the representations made by Her Majesty's Government in the interests of the wool textile industry with reference to the imposition of further restrictions upon imports of wool fabrics into the United States by means of a tariff quota of only 14 million lbs.; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir D. Eccles

No answer has been received, and I am not in a position to add to the statement made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State in answer to Questions on 4th June.

Mr. Hirst

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the acute concern about this in the wool textile industry? Will he do what he can to get the American Government to give a sympathetic answer in this problem? Is he aware that there is a feeling that the industry is being used as a whipping boy, when I am sure he knows that there are quite different reasons for the fall in production amongst American producers?

Sir D. Eccles

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and I have made very strong representations to the United States.

Mr. Wade

In view of the urgency of this matter and of the fact that valuable dollar-earning contracts are being lost as a consequence of this tariff quota, would the Minister be prepared to make further representations, even if only to get the date postponed when the increased tariff will come into effect?

Sir D. Eccles

I think we had better await the reply to our note.

Mr. Kershaw

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this tariff quota is almost prohibitive in the high-class woollen trade of this country and that it is no protection of the American domestic trade, because none exists in this quality? Is it, therefore, not an infringement of the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade?

Sir D. Eccles

I think it is right to say that the American Government are within their legal rights in doing what they have done, but it certainly injures our trade and has a particularly bad effect, as my hon. Friend says, on the high-quality cloth.