HC Deb 30 June 1960 vol 625 c1530
7. Mr. Fitch

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will remove the import duty on the Reece button-hole machine, details of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Wigan.

Mr. Maudling

I will consider an application from a representative body of users for the removal of this duty.

Mr. Fitch

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that reply. Does he realise that this import duty discriminates against the small tailoring firms and that its removal certainly will be welcomed by them?

Mr. Maudling

I think that there is quite a problem here about removing the duty, which I will certainly consider if it is put to me, and remission in individual cases. I think that the problem is the rule that for administrative purposes there must be a minimum figure below which applications for remission of duty cannot be considered.

Mr. Jay

Can the right hon. Gentleman explain to the House the apparently rather extraordinary situation in which the fewer machines a person imports the higher duty he has to pay?

Mr. Maudling

This was the result of the Wilson Smith Committee recommendations in 1954, which imposed a value limit. If the total value of machinery being imported was below £2,000, an application could not be considered. The point was to cut away the very large administrative difficulties involved in handling a great number of applications. It was a rule adopted as a result of the Wilson Smith Committee Report in 1954 and is, on the whole, a sensible rule.