HC Deb 19 July 1960 vol 627 cc221-3
9. Mr. Grey

asked the President of the Board of Trade what estimate he has made of the full effect of the proposed increase in the importation of Japanese radio receivers upon industry in the United Kingdom; if he will take steps to see that the industry is not depressed as a result of such an action; and if he will make a statement of his intentions in the matter.

11. Mr. Dodds

asked the President of the Board of Trade, in view of the difficulties facing the radio industry of the United Kingdom resulting from the re-imposition of hire-purchase and credit controls, if he wild ensure, during the Anglo-Japanese trade talks, that there shall be no substantial increase in the import quota of low-priced Japanese transistor radios produced by low-paid labour.

Mr. Maudling

I have agreed to increase the quota for transistorised radios to be imported from Japan to £200,000. In addition, I am instituting a quota of £100,000 for the import of Japanese non-transistorised radio and television sets and a quota of £100,000 for the import of Japanese non-transistorised radio gramophones and gramophones.

I do not expect these increases to cause any serious difficulty for our radio industry.

Mr. Grey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the alarm which exists in the country about the prospect of this agreement? Does it not mean that there will be on the home market large quantities of Japanese transistor radio sets at a time when the home industry, as a result of recent Government restrictions, is having to cut back its sales? Is he aware that a radio factory in Spennymoor has had plans for future development, but owing to this agreement and the restrictions which the Government have already imposed it is very doubtful whether that development can be carried out? Is there any sense in the Government's talking about expansion of industry when at the same time they do such things as this, which make it more difficult for British firms to sell the goods which they manufacture? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the agreement will not have disastrous effects on the home industry?

Mr. Maudling

I do not agree that there is any cause for alarm. The quota is £200,000, and the latest figure that I have for the sales, of home-produced sets is more like £7 million. If we expect to sell our manufactured goods abroad, we must be prepared to allow imparts. I think that, on balance, the agreement with Japan will mean a useful increase in trade in both directions.

Mr. Dodds

Is it not regrettable that the quota should be increased tenfold at a time when Government action is hitting the radio industry? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that Japanese components have been imported in Austrian and Italian sets? Is it not a fact that, as a result of the Eire Government's favourable terms to a Japanese subsidiary, we are likely to get more of these goods from the free port of Shannon? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that the main component of these transistors is not the raw material but the labour? They have a high labour content. Is he aware that the Japanese workers are getting only 1s.—1s. 6d. an hour compared with 6s. per hour in this country? What chance have we got? When will this sort of thing be happening with television sets?

Mr. Maudling

The increase in the import of Japanese radios is extremely modest. On the other hand, as a result of the agreement we shall sell in Japan, I am sure, greatly increased quantities of such items as machine tools and woollen cloth, and that is a very good thing for British trade.

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