HC Deb 26 June 1962 vol 661 cc931-3
10. Lady Tweedsmuir

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is satisfied that the balance of payments is sufficiently strong to enable grants and loans to be paid for fishing vessels built in foreign yards; and if he will make a statement.

20. Mr. B. Harrison

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amount of foreign exchange will be required to purchase from foreign yards fishing vessels attracting subsidy under the Sea Fish Industry Bill.

Mr. Selwyn Lloyd

I hope that prices quoted by British shipyards will be so competitive that no orders will be placed overseas. In which case no question of a strain on the balance of payments arises.

Lady Tweedsmuir

Even if my right hon. and learned Friend hopes that no orders will be placed overseas, does he not think that, in view of his continued hope of conserving foreign exchange, it is most unwise to introduce this measure now, particularly as it has never been done before on the ground of balance of payment difficulties?

Mr. Lloyd

I think that I can answer that in two ways. First, I do not think that it would be right to deny the British fishing industry the chance to buy the boats which they need and which are the tools of their trade at the cheapest possible price. Secondly, to maintain this restriction under present circumstances would, in my view, be a breach both of the G.A.T.T. and the E.F.T.A. Treaties.

Mr. Harrison

Cannot the Chancellor get his right hon. Friend to have another look at this? It seems to me that he is laying himself open to a drain on our foreign currency, and does it not seem rather extraordinary that this should only have just been realised and that the subsidy should only have just been extended to foreign built vessels?

Mr. Lloyd

I hope that our own shipyards will be able to quote prices which will mean that they will get the business. On the other hand, it is difficult to deny to the fishing industry the right to buy their boats at the cheapest possible price. The reason for doing this now is that new legislation is required and there are our obligations under E.F.T.A. and also under the old G.A.T.T. obligations.

Mr Hector Hughes

Will the Chancellor give figures showing how much it is open to him to pour into foreign shipyards workers and owners at the expense of British shipyard workers?

Mr. Lloyd

If the hon. And learned Gentleman will put down a Question saying precisely what figures he wants, I shall try to give them.

Lady Tweedsmuir

As it is possible for this country to apply for a waiver of the G.A.T.T., would my right hon. and learned Friend not think that that would be a wiser move?

Mr. Lloyd

I am afraid that I cannot agree with my hon. Friend.