HC Deb 17 May 1962 vol 659 cc1502-3
3. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will make a full statement on his recent negotiations with Japan; what steps he took to safeguard United Kingdom world trade, standards of living and industrial conditions; and what action he will take to meet the growing competition from Japan.

The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Sir Keith Joseph)

My right hon. Friend visited Japan to study prospects for increased trade. The Commercial Treaty now under negotiation will provide safeguards against disruptive competition in the domestic market, while ensuring fair opportunities for our exporters in the expanding Japanese market and will thus help to improve our economy.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Is it intended that the conclusions of the negotiations should form the basis of a new trade agreement? If so, will that be submitted to the House?

Sir K. Joseph

It is our hope that these negotiations will lead to a new commercial treaty, but I cannot give an accurate picture of the timing yet.

Mr. Snow

While I have every sympathy with the motives behind my hon. Friend's Question, may I ask whether the Minister of State understands that British industry would be misled if it assumed that Japanese wages were of such a low character as to be comparable with the practice in Japan before the war and that false conclusions may easily be reached unless that is borne in mind?

Mr. Ellis Smith

Will the Minister of State inform his right hon. Friend that there is great uneasiness among those who are well informed on industrial affairs, because their sources of information are such that they know that great concern is being created in this country? Will he consult his right hon. Friend to ensure that any agreement that is arrived at will be submitted to the House for confirmation?

Sir K. Joseph

My right hon. Friend has made it plain that some safeguards will be needed and he has kept in close touch with the industries which will be affected. But we must recognise that this is an increasing market for our goods, and if we are to enjoy the benefit of their liberalisation we must consider liberalising to some extent here.

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