HC Deb 04 June 1959 vol 606 cc341-2
15. Mr. Lipton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what reciprocal concessions he has obtained from the United States Government in return for removing restrictions on dollar imports.

Sir D. Eccles

The lifting of the discriminatory restrictions on a range of dollar imports follows from the improvement in our balance of payments and has not been a matter of negotiation.

Mr. Lipton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that British manufacturers and traders do not always have a fair deal in the American market? Was not it his obvious duty to find out what concessions he could obtain from the United States Government in return for throwing open the British market for more dollar goods? What is he doing as President of the Board of Trade if he is not helping British traders and manufacturers? It may be necessary to report him to the Institute of Directors if he goes on like this.

Sir D. Eccles

I think that the hon. Gentleman may not be fully aware that we are importing all these things from Europe, for instance, from Sweden and Germany, and we were keeping the dollar quotas only when dollars were short. When dollars are not short, we have no right to keep on the quota.

Mr. Jay

Why does the President of the Board of Trade persist in making these unilateral concessions without getting anything in return? Did not the matter of the American wool tariff, where America has an extremely poor case, give an obvious opportunity to set one concession against another?

Sir D. Eccles

It is not a concession. It is something which we are under an obligation to do when our balance of payments permits it.

17. Mr. Turton

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he will give an assurance that the effects on the Commonwealth canning industries of further liberalisation of imports of dollar canned foods will be fully considered before any Government action is taken.

Sir D. Eccles

Yes, Sir. Commonwealth Governments whose interests are affected are consulted. The increase recently granted in the quota for dollar canned fruits is equal to 2½ per cent, of our imports in 1958.

Mr. Turton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the value of Commonwealth trade in canned fruits is about £28 million a year and that this is in danger of being jeopardised if further imports are allowed to come from the United States?

Sir D. Eccles

I hardly think that so small an opening of the quota could endanger such a large import from the Commonwealth and, as my right hon. Friend will know, the Commonwealth Conference at Montreal pressed us to make this liberalisation.