HC Deb 03 November 1959 vol 612 cc836-7
15. Mr. Hamilton

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further talks he has had with representatives of the paper industry in the last three months concerning the possible effects of the agreement to establish an outer free trade area in Europe; and whether he is satisfied that the safeguards for the industry are adequate to guarantee its future prosperity.

32. Mr. Willis

asked the President of the Board of Trade what further proposals he has to make to safeguard the employment of those engaged in the paper-making industry, when the proposals for the Outer Seven free trade area come into effect.

Mr. Maudling

Representatives of the industry have had further discussions with officials of my Department. I do not consider that any safeguards beyond those already proposed are required in the European Free Trade Association arrangements.

Mr. Hamilton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are particular problems attached to the Scottish paper industry and that the statement which the former President of the Board of Trade made just before the Recess did nothing to allay its fears? Will he give an assurance that in the event of the paper industry declining, provision will be made before the event takes place and not afterwards, because that is the main point of the grievance of the paper trade in Scotland?

Mr. Maudling

The paper trade in Scotland, I agree, is likely to face increased competition, but I think that the degree of it can certainly be exaggerated. In the Free Trade Association there will be provision for what can be done if an emergency arises, and there will also be the provisions of the Bill which will be before the House in the near future. Beyond that, clearly we cannot claim special protection for any one British industry.

Mr. Willis

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the assurance failed completely to satisfy the industry, the local authorities and the workers in Scotland? Is he not aware that we cannot afford to allow unemployment in the industry before taking further steps to deal with it? Will not he give this matter further consideration?

Mr. Maudling

I have given it a great deal of consideration, but the object of this Association is a great expansion of our export trade, in which Scotland will share. If we are to sell more abroad, we must expect to buy more from abroad. We must certainly face that.