Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Anti-Dumping Duty Order 1963 (S.I., 1963, No. 90), dated 17th January 1963, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd January, be approved.—[Mr. Erroll.]
§ 10.12 p.m.
§ Mr. George Darling (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
I hope that we shall not approve this Order without some explanation from the Board of Trade. We wish to know what is this chemical upon which the anti-dumping duty is to be placed, why it is necessary, who are the producers in this country, and why it is that they need this protection. I believe that the Minister of State can give us the information which we require. If it is satisfactory the Government will get the Order without further ado. If it is not satisfactory, we shall have to take the matter further.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ The Minister of State, Board of Trade (Mr. Alan Green)
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Hillsborough (Mr. Darling). As the House knows, this is an extension of a previous case in which the Order was approved by the House. This Order imposes anti-dumping duties of £15 per ton on phthalic anhydride originating in France, and £8 10s. per ton on phthalic anhydride originating in Switzerland and produced by Reichhold Chemie A.G. of Hausen bei Brugg.
This Order is, in effect, a supplement to the one approved by the House on 24th January imposing anti-dumping duties on imparts from Austria, Western Germany and Poland. At the time the decision was made to take action against dumped imports of phthalic anhydride, the Board of Trade had not completed its investigations on the facts of dumping by exporters from France and Switzerland.
After a careful investigation of the facts, the Board was satisfied that imports from France and imports from one of the two producers in Switzerland had been sold at dumped prices in this market and, therefore, that anti-dumping duties should be imposed on these imports, also.
176 A general warning was given on 7th December that anti-dumping duties would be imposed on phthalic anhydride imported from any other sources if it were established that these were dumped. I wish to take this opportunity of again emphasising that this warning still stands. I think that I should do that. Perhaps I might also remind the House that I said that the case for anti-dumping duties had not been proved last time, when I brought the previous Order before the House, against imports from Denmark and Belgium.
I hope that the fact that we have not approved anti-dumping duties against at least two countries is evidence that we take each country and each case separately and try to prove our case each time.
In these circumstances, I ask the House to approve the Order.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Holt (Bolton, West)
It may be evidence that the Government takes one country at a time, but the Minister has not produced any evidence at all to show that we should pass this anti-dumping Order tonight. Therefore, I wish to say a number of things about it.
I told the Minister the other day that I was very concerned about the Order we passed the other night. I have now had a little time to make some investigations and it seems to me on a number of counts that we should not pass this Order tonight. From my inquiries into this case, it is an abuse of the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, 1957, to use the Act for this kind of case. This is a case where the whole market price has dropped, and dropped because another initial raw material, naphthalene, which is used for making phthalic anhydride, which was in very short supply and put the whole world price higher, is now in surplus.
At the same time, a more modern process has been brought into use—I think that I can pronounce it correctly—o-xylene, which is used as a feed stock in making phthalic anhydride. This is a much cheaper process. I am advised that phthalic anhydride under this new process can now be made at £60 a ton, 177 or, by another method of pricing commonly used in the trade, it is the equivalent of 6.4d. per lb.
I should like hon. Members to bear 6.4d. per lb. in mind, because it is now alleged that this is the modern, up-to-date price of production and there is no reason why it cannot be made in this country at that price. That and above it is the dumping price which is now complained about. What is being complained about is that something is being sold to this country at a price which is no less than that for the modern method of production.
I draw the attention of hon. Members to the fact that this is an important raw material in a modern type of industry. Phthalic anhydride is used in alkyd resins in the paint trade and also plasticisers in the plastics industry. It is a material which is most important if we are to get out of the kind of troubles we are in at the moment and to produce efficiently and cheaply in this country. Otherwise, a great burden would be put on the paint trade, which is a good exporter in these days, and also on plastics.
This is a very important matter. I say that in these conditions it is an abuse of this Act to use anti-dumping duties. If hon. Members read the first Section of the Act they will see that Parliament's intention clearly was to have a weapon to deal with a country which got in a mess of over-production and tried to escape by dumping it on our market, completely disrupting our market. My point is that there has been a complete change in the world price and that the world price will settle at the price at which, it is complained, this material is being dumped. If the Minister can refute my figures I shall be greatly relieved, but that is the position as I see it.
Section 1 of the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, 1957, states that, in spite of information on which the Board of Trade may be satisfied in respect of prices, the Board shall introduce an anti-dumping duty only if, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be in the national interest so to introduce that dumping duty. I suggest that what I have described is not in the national interest at this time of all times, just after the collapse of the Common Market talks. Not only is there an import duty of 33⅓ per cent. on this material, but it 178 is now proposed, on top of that, to add another duty equivalent to another 25 per cent. This is an important new raw material. Traditionally, even in the last 30 years when we have had a measure of protection, it has been our policy not to put an import duty on raw materials.
This is a matter which it would not be appropriate for me to go into now, but the House should certainly look at it. There are modern raw materials of industry on which we now have a duty, but it is a matter for consideration that at least we should not make matters worse by putting an anti-dumping duty of 25 per cent. on top of the 33⅓ per cent. duty already in existence.
I have given what I understand to be the modern cost price of this raw material when made under the most modern pro-process—6.4d. per lb. The British price at the moment is 11d. per lb. That has come down from 14d. peer lb. but the British manufacturers have a long way to go, and I suggest that it will not help them to face up to the reality which obviously they must face—completely to modernise their process—if we give them the extra protection now of an antidumping duty.
That is the main burden of my argument, but I should like to put two subsidiary points which I think support the case. I do not know whether evidence has been brought to the Board of Trade about this—we are in a difficulty because the Minister does not reveal what is produced as evidence to him—but it is alleged that the British manufacturers of phthalic anhydride are dumping on the Continental market at 8d. per lb. This is typical—I am sure that hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), who knows—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Sir William Anstruther-Gray)
Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but he is beginning to move rather far from the Order.
§ Mr. Holt
I respect your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I thought that it was a relevant en passant remark in relation to my general argument.
I want, finally, to point out to the Minister that phthalic anhydride is an important raw material for both the paint trade and the plastic industry. These two industries are also exporters and do not 179 get any rebate on an anti-dumping duty put on one of their raw materials, let alone the tariff which is already on it. This is a minor point that the Government should consider.
I hope that the Minister of State will respond to what I have said tonight by telling the House that he will look again at the Order and in the meantime withdraw it.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)
I am shocked by what the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) has revealed to the House tonight. As I understand the research which has been carried out by the hon. Gentleman, we are being asked to pass an Order which, in effect, imposes an import duty on a product manufactured in Switzerland and France by the latest scientific methods, thereby bringing the price of the product down to a level lower than that achieved by the manufacturing process used in this country, a process which is out of date.
This is not imposing a duty against dumping. This is imposing a duty against an industry because it is more efficient. This is how I see it, if the statement of the hon. Member for Bolton, West is correct. The rate of duty is to be £15 per ton on phthalic anhydride originating in France and £8 10s. per ton on phthalic anhydride originating in Switzerland. I presume that in both France and Switzerland the technical processes for manufacturing the product are identical. I presume that both countries manufacture the product under the new modern technique.
If both countries are doing that, why is the duty to be £15 per ton on the product originating in France, but only £8 10s. per ton on the product originating in Switzerland? The Minister of State should answer the question posed by the hon. Member for Bolton, West, to whom the House should be indebted. The House considered an Order like this last week. We are entitled to know whether we are passing Orders which are imposing an import duty on products because they are being dumped.
We understand "dumping" to mean that products are being dumped in this country at a price lower than that at which they are sold on their home market—in fact, at a price below the cost of production. We should know what 180 the price of the product is on the home market as compared to the selling price in this country. If we impose a duty on the product and make it dearer to our users, who use it in manufacturing products which they export, we are imposing a duty on our manufacturers.
This question should be answered. I shall not feel happy about letting the Order go unless this question is answered by the Minister of State.
§ 10.29 p.m.
§ Mr. Jeremy Thorpe (Devon, North)
I support what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt). I want to put three short questions to the Minister of State. As my hon. Friend pointed out, at the moment there is a 33⅓ per cent. ad valorem duty on this product when it enters this country. It is suggested that this ad valorem duty is insufficient to protect the home-produced product against dumping. We are, therefore, asked to add a very substantial uplift on to the uplift which already operates, £15 per ton in the case of France and £8 10s. in the case of Switzerland.
The first of the three questions I wish to ask is this. In support of their case, I understand that the manufacturers in this country published certain alleged costs of manufacture in various countries on the Continent. Those who are most likely to be adversely affected by this duty, namely, the paint manufacturers in this country—a respectable and well-known body with a considerable scientific background; there is the Joint Manufacturers' Executive Council and I can give the Minister of State chapter and verse on this if he so desires—disputed the accuracy of these figures and thought that while the manufacturers in this country suggested that the home price in Belgium was 12d. per lb., their enquiries led them to believe that it was nearer 7.7d. per lb.
Similarly, while the complainants allege that the price in Belgium is 12.9d. per lb., the information which the manufacturers of paint obtained was that it was nearer 7½d. or 8½d. per lb. Is the Minister entirely satisfied as to the authenticity of the prices which the home manufacturers allege represent the current prices of manufacture on the Continent, were those figures obtained independently by the Board of Trade or 181 merely presented by the United Kingdom manufacturers and, if so, were they or were they not subject to challenge?
My second question is this. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West pointed out that the home price in this country is nearer 11d. per lb. One is entitled to ask, therefore, whether this is the genuine price in this country. And in deciding whether or not it is the genuine price, in my respectful submission it is vital to ask—and this point was raised when we were discussing a similar type of duty on ammonium sulphate in March last year—whether the home manufactured price corresponds to the export of goods manufactured in this country.
I am informed that although 11d. is the price for internal production in this country, the manufacturers here export at 8d. per lb. Already, therefore, the British consumer is expected to pay a 3d. per lb. subsidy to the manufacturers to subsidise them to dump abroad.
§ Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)
Can the hon. Member say what proportion of the total production is exported?
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am not aware of that figure. All I can say on exports is that the significance of this product, from the paint industry's point of view, is that 40 to 50 per cent. of that industry's manufactures is exported, a high percentage, but I cannot say what the percentage is for this particular product.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I did not suggest that. I suggested what is the market price for the home-produced product in this country and what the manufacturers charge for the same product when they export it abroad. My information is that it is 3d. per lb. cheaper than the current price prevailing in this country. Will the Minister confirm or deny that, already without any anti-dumping duty, a subsidy is being given willy-nilly by the consumers of tills country to enable the home producers to subsidise their exports abroad?
My third question relates to Section 1 of the relevant Act. There are two cases in persuit of that Section by which such an Order may be introduced. Under that Section there are two subsections which 182 indicate the circumstances in which it would be incumbent on the Board of Trade to bring in an anti-dumping Duty of this nature. Section 1 (a) concerns the Board of Trade considering that goods of any description are being imported into the United Kingdom in circumstances regarded as having been dumped.
An alternative and a possibly more stringent case is where it appears to the Board of Trade that some Government or other authority has been giving an actual subsidy to the home producer. That, of course, would be a much more serious case demanding far more stringent action. Is the Minister suggesting that this is a subsection (1, a) situation or a subsection (1, b) situation? That is to say, are we being asked to pass this Order merely because the Minister takes the view that it is possible to regard these goods as having been dumped, or is he going further and suggesting that they are actually in receipt of subsidy from the manufacturers' home Government?
When we consider the importance of this product in the plastics and paint industries, when we consider how important these components are in our industrial drive in this country, coupled with their importance to the export trade at this moment when the whole of our economic policy must be geared to making the country as competitive as it possibly can be, even having the ability to leap over the external tariff or whatever it may be in the Common Market, this surely is no time to bring in a duty of this nature without the Minister having proved his case up to the hilt.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Green
I have been asked three questions. Before I try to answer them I should like to make one thing absolutely clear. I would have thought that it really was clear already. It is that the Board of Trade uses or calls in aid these powers under the anti-dumping duty Act extremely sparingly. I think that this can be proved by the very few cases which have been brought before the House since the Act came into operation. I do not think that any hon. Member, knowing the sort of pressures that are brought to bear, will dispute that statement.
§ Mr. Green
The fact that they happen to have been chemicals, with respect, has absolutely no bearing on the general statement I have made. They could have been cotton textiles or any other product. The fact is that the Board of Trade uses its powers extremely sparingly. The history of the application pf the Act up to date proves that.
The second point is, I agree, a minor one, but it is a point to be made. It is that other cases involving phthalic anhydride were also examined. In three of them it was not proven that dumping was taking place, and anti-dumping duties were not applied on the Danes, the Belgians and the South Africans. I am trying therefore, first, to establish the general fact that we seek to go into these things as closely as we can. Why "chemical" should be a magic word to the hon. Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt) I do not understand. I do not think that it is. There are plenty of raw materials and I do not think that the hon. Member really is trying to make a case based on the fact that this is a chemical.
Perhaps with that out of the way, we can agree that many cases were looked at in relation to this chemical. Some of the sources were judged by the Board of Trade to have been sources of dumped material, and some were not. This again is part of my general case that the Board goes into the matter thoroughly and carefully. What we have proved, with respect to the hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), is not his second question. We do not have to prove that dual pricing in home and export markets is vicious and evil, which was his second question. There are plenty of cases of dual pricing which are not cases for antidumping duties.
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am sure that the Minister wants to answer precisely the question I asked him. I asked whether this was a paragraph (a) or paragraph (b) case. The first relates to where the Board of Trade takes the view that a certain commodity has been dumped; the second relates to the case in which an actual subsidy has been paid. Which of the two is this?
§ Mr. Green
With the greatest respect to the hon. Member, he asked me three questions and he made a point of saying that he asked me three questions. I am trying to dispose of one of them as being wholly irrelevant to the case. His middle question, which is irrelevant, is the question of dual pricing. He made the point that if the British exporter is exporting at a lower price than that which he charges in his home market, no conceivable case of dumping at a lower price than the one he charges in his home market can arise in his home market. The question of dual pricing is irrelevant in this matter. Of course, it has to be taken into consideration, but it is largely irrelevant to the question of how the Board of Trade is to judge whether it should bring in an anti-dumping duty or not.
What must be proved first is that dumping arises, whether straight dumping or because of a Government subsidy, which is the third question. If it can be shown that dumping arises, whether straight dumping or not, or because of the Government subsidy permitting straight dumping, then the question arises whether that dumping materially injures the home industry. These are the criteria. If British industry dumps abroad. and the country in which the dumped material is received has some anti-dumping legislation, no doubt it will apply it on almost exactly the same criteria. But I am sure the hon. Gentleman will not tell me that British industry should not send articles abroad at a price chosen by British industry for the market concerned. If the market concerned, over which I have no jurisdiction, and cannot have, by definition, proceeds to produce its own protection for its own domestic industry, I can have no complaint. Nor can the industry which is doing the dumping.
I am driven back to the hon. Gentleman's first question, which is the relevant point—
§ Mr. Thorpe
I am grateful to the Minister for giving way.
If I heard him correctly—and I am sure that he will correct me if I am wrong—he said that when he tried to decide whether dumping was taking place one of the criteria was whether or not it materially injured the home product. Presumably, one criterion would be: does 185 this dumped product greatly undercut the cost at which the home product is put on the market? If that be correct, he is wholly wrong in saying that the home price is irrelevant.
Would the Minister not agree that in assessing whether or not the home price is a genuinely competitive price it is relevant to see at what price one can afford to export it? If, for the sake of argument, it was being sold at Is. 6d. per lb. in this country, and exported at 2d. per lb., to take an extreme case, obviously one would be materially injured if it came in at 9d. per lb. Is the Minister saying that that is irrelevant?
§ Mr. Green
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman's commercial experience is—I am not seeking to inquire into it—but if one has some stocks built up at a certain price, and one is unable to sell them at the normal price, and one finds a bargain basement in which to dump them, then perhaps that is what one would do. One's own home price, if one can find a foreign dump into which to put the product, will be wholly irrelevant to one's costs of production. The hon. Gentleman is not making his question relevant to the real question before the Board of Trade.
We must first have proved that the material is dumped. If, having proved it to be dumped, one is then satisfied that the dumping of it at that particular price is doing material injury, one comes to a decision. Of course, if we are satisfied that there is only one shipment and there will not be any more, we take, or may well take, a different view. But to say that a shipment of the British product at a lower price than that charged in the home market constitutes the British manufacturer's opinion—
§ Mr. Green
All right. We can argue this until the cows come home. I am trying to explain to the hon. Gentleman on what criteria the Board of Trade seeks to make a judgment. It makes it very sparingly.
As I said before, if any particular Continental manufacturer— in this case, a 186 Swiss manufacturer, if I understood the hon. Member for Bolton, West aright—can produce evidence not currently available to us to show that we have misjudged his true costs of production, we shall take that evidence into account. If we find his case proved, we will revoke the Order against him and repay to him the duty which he has been charged up to now. I can only go on the information so far available to me. I must be extremely careful here, as the hon. Member knows, and I must not give figures or evidence given to me in confidence. I shall not do so, however hard I am pressed to do so.
My information suggests that there is no home Swiss price on which we can go. At least, there is nothing known to us at this moment. If something can be shown to us, then, of course, we shall look at it again. However, so far as our information has gone to date, these chemicals have been dumped from Switzerland and France. It is the fact that the dumping is doing material injury to the industry in this country, and, in those circumstances, it seems to me to be only proper to ask the House to accept the Order.
The hon. Gentleman has not produced tonight, and he has not produced to me before tonight, and neither has anybody else, any evidence which would cause us to revoke the duty in relation to either Switzerland or France, or to any other named country. However, if we have evidence not so far—
§ Mr. Holt
I note what the Minister says about the Swiss manufacturer. He will appreciate that it was not part of my argument that Swiss manufacture was at the order of 6.4d. per lb. My argument was that the whole home market was changing, first, because of a surplus of naphthalene, and, secondly, because the situation was exacerbated by the fact that a new process, a new feed stock, the o-xylene, could be used in modern methods of production.
Therefore, the market would eventually settle down at this price, and this was a situation in which it was quite inappropriate to use the anti-dumping legislation. Moreover, even if it was thought that it came within the Act, the Minister still should not put the Order on, having regard to the point about over-riding 187 national interest which he must take into account.
That is my argument. Although I am grateful for the Minister's assurance about what he would do if he found out more about the price of Swiss manufacture, that does not answer my point.
§ Mr. Green
With respect, I genuinely hope that it does. If this were one country which had got one new process then there might be rather more in his argument. There might be, but the fact is that we have found that there has been dumping from other countries as well as Switzerland—dumping in the true sense of the word. It is far from the Board of Trade's wish, as I think the hon. Gentleman knows, to do anything which increases the price of raw materials, provided there is not dumping, and, if there is dumping, if there is not material injury to the British industry affected. There are two gates to go through.
I give the hon. Member this assurance and give it very willingly—I gave it last time—that if, in a particular case, or, indeed, in both cases for which I am now asking protection for what I believe to be a respectable British industry—fresh evidence can be provided which shows that this duty should not have been imposed, then not only will the Order be revoked but the duty will be repaid. This is the normal process in the Board of Trade's actions on this subject. But so far as my information at present goes, dumping has been proved. So has material injury. It is in those circumstances that I would ask the House to accept this Order, accepting, as I hope the House will, my assurance that fresh evidence of a real kind will change my mind.
I would make one reply briefly to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Bence), if I may have his attention for a moment.
§ Mr. Green
As the hon. Gentleman knows quite well, because he is among those, quite understandably, pressing the Government to provide protection for home employment—and I do not blame him for it; it is understandable—we really do seek to ensure that so far as possible raw materials do come into this 188 country freely. I am not getting at him in any way whatever. I do not want him to think that I am. I want him to appreciate, if he will be good enough to do so, that we do seek so far as we can to see—
§ Mr. Green
This, of course, we do, too, but that is a rather wider question, if I may say so.
I want the hon. Gentleman to appreciate, as I am sure he does, that we do wish to put in the hands of British workmen and management raw materials as freely as we can. The hon. Gentleman was rather quick on the draw. He did not let me finish my sentence. I want him to appreciate—I know he does—that we want to do it in such a way that British manufacturers of raw materials, whether they are chemicals, steel or whatever they may be, do have a fair chance to compete with their foreign opposite numbers. This involves us in scrutinising carefully any applications that antidumping duties should be applied. We seek to apply them carefully. I thought I ought to address these few remarks to the hon. Gentleman if he did not mind my doing so. He put the point to me, and now I am trying to put it back to him, and no more.
So I come back to the point that if there is fresh evidence I shall be grateful to have it and I want to have it. I shall most certainly look at it, and, if it convinces me that this Order or any part of it should be revoked, I hope the House will take it from me that I shall take action to revoke it. But I must have evidence that at present is not in my hands. The only evidence in my hands is that these countries have been dumping and that this dumping has been causing material injury to a British industry, and on those grounds I ask the House to approve the Order.
§ 10.56 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
This is a complicated matter, and I would not claim any expert knowledge about it. But 189 the result of this Order, together with the previous Order, is that there will be five separate rates of duty on this material coming from different countries.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Yes; I was talking about anti-dumping duties. What bothers me is the case of Switzerland. Apparently, one can have this material originating—which I suppose means "being manufactured"—in Switzerland, and if it is not a product of a particular firm it can then be imported into this country without attracting the duty. Why is this? Is there, in fact, some other manufacturer? I see the Minister shaking his head, but perhaps he would explain it to us in a moment.
What is described here isPhthalic anhydride originating in Switzerland being a product of Reichhold Chemie AG. of Hausen bei Brugg.If it does not come from Reichhold Chemie AG of Hausen bei Brugg, then, even though it originates in Switzerland, it will not attract anti-dumping duty under this Order. What is the position? Is there any other firm in Switzerland which makes it?
The Minister nods. Then the position is that there is one company, and one company only, of the Swiss manufacturers which is affected by this anti-dumping duty, and there are other companies or there is another company in Switzerland also producing the material which is not affected by the anti-dumping duty. How difficult it must be to exercise fairly this very delicate jurisdiction which the hon. Gentleman no doubt has under the Act.
I appreciate that in those circumstances, if the sources and the merchants are not too numerous, the first thing the Board of Trade does is to make representations to get the practice stopped. I appreciate the difficulty where one is dealing with all the manufacturers in, say, France, Poland or one of the other countries mentioned in the last Order, but in Switzerland there is, apparently, only one manufacturer affected. What representations has the hon. Gentleman caused to be made 10 the firm or with respect to it?
I ask this because I am sure that he will agree that this really is an extremely difficult jurisdiction. That is abundantly 190 clear from the nature of the case. It is one where he cannot properly disclose the full facts which satisfy him. It is, therefore, even more necessary that we on our side should be satisfied that reasonable attempts at least have been made to get the practice stopped by representations before the hon. Gentleman brings before the House one of these very involved Orders, involved not only by reason of the curious product we are considering, but also by the strange variety of duties which it appears to attract according to its origin.
§ 11.0 p.m.
§ Dr. Jeremy Bray (Middlesbrough, West)
Perhaps the Minister of State could tell us rather more of the economic circumstances which lead to this kind of anti-dumping Order, in particular as they apply to the case of phthalic anhydride, which is not all that mysterious a product and is made by my constituents. There is a gross excess of capacity over demand for it in the world. There are relatively few plants, and the process used in each is well known to all other manufacturers. Consequently, one can make a rather good guess at production costs.
When this situation arises in other countries, France, in particular, is extremely quick at applying anti-dumping duties. The complaint is that this country is far too slow.
§ Dr. Bray
I was about to ask the Minister whether he could give us a little more economic information about this case. In particular, I do not think that the selling price or the cost of manufacture or the contribution of capital cost to manufacturing cost are really very secret. It would save the House a lot of trouble if the bare facts could be presented to us.
§ Mr. Green rose—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. The Minister of State will require leave of the House to speak again. He has already spoken twice. Rather than have that process repeated again and again, it would be wiser to finish the debate and then for him to reply. I call Mr. Lubbock.
§ 11.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)
The Minister of State said that my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Holt) had made out a very good case. I regret that that is more than I can say for the Minister himself. His reply was an absolute farrago of nonsense. It seemed that he had done no homework whatever. I appreciate the reason. Probably he did not realise that anyone would raise the subject. He has left unanswered questions posed by my hon. Friend, but we still want answers.
I rise only to reinforce the plea made by my hon. Friend and to remind the Minister of the questions. The hon. Gentleman has said nothing about the price of 6.4d. per lb. Yet the whole case for the Order hinges on that. If it is possible to manufacture this substance at that price by the new process which my hon. Friend has described, then the hon. Gentleman has no argument in favour of imposing an anti-dumping Order. I would like a definition of what dumping is. We have been told that dumping has been established, but what are the criteria? The hon. Gentleman has said nothing about that.
The Minister also talked of material injury, a phrase calculated to excite the minds of hon. Members, but I would like him to be much more specific. How has this created a material injury? What is proposed is obviously to the great advantage of our manufacturers. The hon. Member's offer to see whether any fresh evidence can be produced is in itself evidence that he has a very weak case in answer to my hon. Friend.
I hope that the House will reject this Order.
§ 11.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Green
The hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) is quite right. It is impossible for me to disclose the evidence given to me in confidence. A number of merchants and overseas manufacturers were involved. In the ordinary course, if there are not too many, we first seek to get agreement with the people against whom an application has been made. We always seek to get that agreement first. If there are a largo number of firms involved, this may 192 not be possible, because the process of getting agreement among such a large number might involve such a passage of time that material injury would become irredeemable. That is the case in regard to this substance.
§ Mr. Mitchison
There have been two Orders so far—one affecting three countries, which we dealt with in a previous debate, and this one, dealing with two countries. In one of those countries only one manufacturer is named. That manufacturer, therefore, attracts a special rate of duty. Surely some representations might have been made. I hope that they were.
§ Mr. Green
We seek to do this; I can promise the hon. and learned Gentleman that.
What is suggested to me tonight is that there are new circumstances involved, and a new price. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Dr. Bray) put to me points that would involve my giving him confidential information. I wish that I could do it as simply as that, but I get this information from various manufacturers only in confidence. If it were as simple as he suggests we might not need an Order of this kind; we could write a certain price into an Act or an Order and say that anybody going above or below that price could be dealt with. But that is not the case. But I will willingly see the hon. Member about the matter afterwards. That is the way to meet the point that he has put.
Apparently the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) has not read the Act. This is the only conceivable explanation I can put forward in view of the question he put. It is quite clear that he sat in his place tonight unwilling to listen to what I said. He may have reason—I am not trying to denigrate him in any way—to believe that he knows very much more about this subject than anybody else.
§ Mr. Green
The hon. Member has made an assertion—I think a little ungenerously—from which it is evident that he did not take any notice of the reply I tried to give his hon. Friend the Member for Bolton, West (Mr. Holt). I suppose he came into the Chamber with a 193 little speech that he was prepared to make, and was not prepared to listen to the answer I gave.
The answer—if I may repeat it—is that the Board of Trade first has to have an application from the home manufacturers that dumping is taking place. It has to be satisfied that dumping is taking place. In addition, it has to be satisfied that material injury is being done, and it takes a good deal of trouble to try to establish this fact. Only when it has established this fact—
§ Mr. Lubbock rose—
§ break—as he well knows. I am not going to do it. Again, I invite all those against whom I am asking this Order to be made to produce fresh evidence. They have already had an opportunity to produce evidence—because we do not proceed without inviting evidence.
§ If I can have fresh evidence from any of those against whom the duty is to bear, I shall of course, take it into consideration, as I have all the evidence which I have received so far. If that evidence causes me to change my mind, the Order will be revoked and the duty paid by the complainant will be repaid. But I must have the evidence first. The hon. Gentleman has told me that he thinks that there is fresh evidence. I am prepared to examine it. But I must have the evidence first. Under those terms I ask the House to approve the Order.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 123, Noes 5.195
|Division No. 38.]||AYES||[11.11 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Gower, Raymond||Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe)|
|Aitken, W T.||Green, Alan||Peel, John|
|Allason, James||Hamilton, Michael (Wellingborough)||Percival, Ian|
|Awdry, Daniel (Chippenham)||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Pitman, Sir James|
|Barber, Anthony||Hastings, Stephen||Pott, Percivall|
|Batsford, Brian||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Profumo, Rt. Hon. John|
|Bidgood, John C.||Hendry, Forbes||Proudfoot, Wilfred|
|Biffen, John||Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk)||Pym, Francis|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hobson, Sir John||Rawlinson, Sir Peter|
|Bingham, R. M.||Hocking, Philip N.||Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin|
|Bishop, F. P.||Holland, Philip||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Hornby, H. P.||Shaw, M.|
|Bourne-Arton, A.||Hughes-Young, Michael||Skeet, T. H. H.|
|Box, Donald||Hurd, Sir Anthony||Smith, Dudley (Br'ntf'd & Chiswick)|
|Boyle, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Johnson Eric (Blackley)||Smithers, Peter|
|Brown, Alan (Tottenham)||Johnson Smith, Geoffrey||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Buck, Antony||Kershaw Anthony||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Bullard, Denys||Kimball, Marcus||Stodart, J. A.|
|Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn)||Kirk, Peter||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|Chataway, Christopher||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Storey, Sir Samuel|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Legge-Bourks, Sir Harry||Studhotme, Sir Henry|
|Clarke, Brig, Terence(portsmth, W.)||Litchfield, Capt. John||Talbot, John E.|
|Cleaver, Leonard||Longden, Gilbert||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Corfield, F. v.||Loveys, Walter H.||Taylor, Edwin (Bolton, E.)|
|Coulson, Michael||McLaren, Martin||Taylor, Frank (M'ch'st'r, Moss Side)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. Sir Oliver||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Bute & N.Ayrs)||Taylor, Sir William (Bradford, N.)|
|Crowder, F. P.||McLean, Nell (Inverness)||Teeling, Sir William|
|Cunningham, Knox||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Thomas, Sir Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Curran, Charles||Macpherson, Rt. Hn. Niall (Dumfries)||Thompson, Sir Kenneth (Walton)|
|Dance, James||Maddan, Martin||Touche, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon|
|Deedas, Rt. Hon. W. F.||Maginnis, John E.||Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Mathew, Robert (Honiton)||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. M.||Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)||Walker, Peter|
|Duncan, Sir James||Mawby, Ray||Wall, Patrick|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshaltan)||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Webster, David|
|Elliott, R.W. (Nwcastle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Emery, Peter||Mills, Stratton||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Finlay, Graeme||Montgomery, Fergus||Woollam, John|
|Forrest, George||Neave, Airey||Worsley, Marcus|
|Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton)||Nichols, Sir Harmar|
|Freeth, Denzil||Osborn, John (Hallam)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Gilmour, Sir John (East Fife)||Pannell, Norman (Kirkdale)||Mr. Rees and Mr. MacArthur.|
|Bowen, Roderic (Cardigan)||Thorpe, Jeremy||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Grimond, Rt. Hon. J.||Wade, Donald||Mr. Holt and Mr. Lubbock.|
|Hooson, H. E.|
That the Anti-Dumping Duty Order 1963 (S.T., 1963, No. 90), dated 17th January 1963, a copy of which was laid before this House on 22nd January, be approved.