HC Deb 20 January 1959 vol 598 cc13-4
35. Mr. Peel

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether he is aware that the United States Government proposes to approach the Hong Kong Government with a view to it restricting exports of textiles from Hong Kong to the United States of America; and whether he will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government to this proposal.

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I understand that the United States Assistant Secretary for International Affairs in the Ministry of Commerce, who, in the course of a tour in the Far East, will shortly visit Hong Kong, wishes to discuss with Government officials and industrial leaders exports of cotton apparel from the Colony and their impact on the United States domestic industry. I cannot pre-judge the course of the conversations.

Her Majesty's Government's general policy is to oppose vigorously the unilateral imposition of restrictions by other countries on the import of Hong Kong goods.

Mr. Peel

Could my right hon. Friend say whether the greatest fear that Hong Kong had in connection with the recent negotiations with this country over the restricting of imports of textiles here was that any agreement would be regarded as a precedent to be used by other countries? Has not that great fear been fully justified, inasmuch as France has already restricted imports of Hong Kong textiles and it looks as if the United States may try to do the same? In the circumstances, will my right hon. Friend say that Her Majesty's Government will give the Hong Kong Government every possible support in their forthcoming negotiations?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Yes, Sir, we certainly shall.

Mr. S. Silverman

In giving the Hong Kong Government legitimate support in any legitimate direction, will the Minister bear in mind also that Lancashire has a great interest in this matter, and we should like some support too?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

There is a Question on that subject put down to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade for, I think, the day after tomorrow.

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