HC Deb 08 March 1960 vol 619 cc232-3
34. Mr. Swingler

asked the President of the Board of Trade the net addition in value to United Kingdom imports from China in 1958 compared with the previous year; and what is the net addition in value allowed for this year if all the quotas and allocations set out in Notice to Importers, Number 921, are fully used.

Mr. Erroll

The net addition in value of total imports from China in 1958 over the previous year was approximately £4.3 million. The new quota arrangements announced in Notice to Importers No. 921, cover only about 12 per cent. of United Kingdom imports. If fully used, they will 'provide for a net addition of about £2 million over the value of imports of similar goods in 1958.

Mr. Swingler

Is it not the fact that it is in this range of goods that the substantial increase to which the hon. Gentleman referred is likely to take place? Bearing in mind past restrictions and future potentials, is not it really a meagre sum? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that many regard this as a derisory kind of increase which does not allow for any new enterprise in the trades concerned at all?

Mr. Erroll

The quotas provide for a substantial increase. I would draw the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the reply to his Written Question which will be made available to him in a few hours.

36. Mr. Frank Allaun

asked the President of the Board of Trade what principle is adopted in refusing, or partly refusing, applications by business firms for licences to import from China goods affected by the recent restrictions; and what steps he is taking to ensure that new enterprise is not excluded because firms cannot quote figures of past performance.

Mr. Erroll

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given to the hon. Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Swingler) on 23rd February.

Mr. Allaun

If it be the wish of the Government to expand trade with China, why cut down on applications or tie firms to past levels? Is it not the fact that some of the most promising trade is along new lines for which, of course, there can be no earlier figures of trade?

Mr. Erroll

It is the normal licensing policy to issue licences in the first instance to importers with a record of previous trade. Full consideration is given to new importers wishing to import. We shall have to take into account new items not covered by quotas.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why he is choosing this moment, when there is an easing of imports from most other sources, to tighten up on imports from China in view of the considerable market for British goods which exists there, as he and I realise from our visit to that country?

Mr. Erroll

I have explained before on a number of occasions, but I will do so again today for the benefit of the right hon. Gentleman, that we are not tightening up on trade with China. We are making reciprocal arrangements which will help our own exporters because exports to China cannot be freely negotiated.

Mr. Wilson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have studied those past Answers and the fact remains that with respect to certain commodities he has tightened up? How will that help our exporters?

Mr. Erroll

I do not think that the figures would confirm what the right hon. Gentleman has said.