HC Deb 10 November 1964 vol 701 cc812-3
9. Captain Orr

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, before imposing the 15 per cent. import surcharge, he discussed with the Northern Ireland Government the possible effects of this surcharge on the economy of Northern Ireland.

Mr. MacDermot

We are in very close contact with the Northern Ireland Government, but it is not customary to consult them in advance about changes in Customs duties or other reserved taxes.

Captain Orr

While there may be no constitutional obligation to consult in this case, would it not have been wiser so to do in view of the fact that there are quite a few industries in Northern Ireland whose raw material is adversely affected and whose employment is likely to be affected, including a large tannery in my constituency? Will the Minister look at special cases?

Mr. MacDermot

The hon. and gallant Member will realise the difficulties which were in our way about consultation with any other Governments over the imposition of these charges. We have received a letter from the Northern Ireland Government dealing with some of the matters to which the hon. and gallant Member refers and I assure him that it is receiving close consideration.

Mr. Maudling

What were the difficulties about consultation with the Northern Ireland Government?

Mr. MacDermot

The right hon. Gentleman knows quite well—the reasons have already been explained fully in debate—what were the difficulties in the way of consultation.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that Northern Ireland is now one of the centres of the man-made fibre industry? Has he evaluated what will be the result to this industry of the surcharge and, indeed, its effect upon employment.

Mr. MacDermot

All questions as to the effect of the surcharges—or, to give them their right name, temporary charges—on Northern Ireland are under discussion with the Northern Ireland Government.