HC Deb 16 July 1959 vol 609 cc577-8
40 and 41. Mr. Blackburn

asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) whether, under his regulations, in order to secure remission of duty on imported textile machinery, the importing firm has to satisfy the Board of Trade or the British manufacturers of textile machinery;

(2) why, since W. T. Taylor's of Horwich and John Dugdale's of Blackburn were granted duty free licences for the Schlafhorst BKN winding machine, the same remission of duty has not yet been granted to Ashton Brothers and Co Ltd., Hyde, who imported the machine for more specialised work.

Sir D. Eccles

Before recommending duty remission, the Board of Trade has to be satisfied that the foreign machine has a marked technical superiority over any comparable and available British machine. In the case of the machines imported by W. T. Taylor Ltd. and John Dugdale Ltd., the evidence on the availability of a similar British machine was unsatisfactory and licences were therefore issued. In the case of Ashton Bros., whose machine is somewhat different, the evidence so far provided is not sufficient to justify duty remission.

Mr. Blackburn

On Question No. 40, is the President of the Board of Trade aware that although the matter referred to in Question No. 41 has been proceeding for some sixteen months, and although his officials say that they were satisfied on all the points, they still insist on referring the matter back to the textile machinery manufacturers? Does not that give the impression that it is not the Board of Trade that makes the decision?

With regard to Question No. 41, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the firm of consulting engineers which imported these machines cannot understand the discrimination against the firm in my constituency?

Sir D. Eccles

The Board of Trade has to make the decision, but it also has to get technical advice. I would assure the hon. Gentleman that there is no discrimination. If further tests should prove the case of Ashton Brothers, whom we know do very well in the export market, of course I shall accept that.