HC Deb 10 November 1964 vol 701 cc815-6
12. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will now restrict imports of non-essential luxuries and semi-luxuries, rather than restricting essential industrial imports for further manufacturing purposes.

Mr. MacDermot

In general, these imports are subject to the import charge

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is the hon. and learned Gentleman aware that certain commodities essential for our manufacturing industries, and thence for exports, are not available in this country? Is it not inequitable that such commodities should be exposed to the same kind of restrictions on imports as are luxury and semi-luxury goods? Will he take steps as quickly as possible to remove this imposed barrier on our export performance?

Mr. MacDermot

One of the purposes of the temporary charge is to encourage the manufacture at home of articles which at the moment are only available from abroad. The effect of the import cuts at the moment is spread evenly. If we had exempted all imports used by industry, the range of imports subject to the charge would have been reduced by about two-thirds, which would have put a quite unfair burden on the rest.

Mr. Maudling

Would it be right to draw the conclusion that it is not the intention to place the surcharge on anything that cannot be made in this country?

Mr. MacDermot

No. That would be quite wrong.

Sir C. Osborne

If import charges are only temporary, how can they do any good to the economy?

Mr. MacDermot

The hon. Gentleman will realise that we can impose charges of this kind only on a temporary basis. We believe that the country will respond to the opportunity provided by it.

Mr. Fell

The hon. and learned Gentleman said that these charges were spread evenly over all imports, but, of course, this is not so in the case of paper. The duty is imposed on imported paper but not on imported pulp for making paper. This is causing the greatest anomalies among firms using either paper or pulp. Those using paper have to pay the surcharge while those using pulp do not.

Mr. MacDermot

The Question on the Order Paper was not directed to raw materials. Pulp is, of course, included in the surcharge as a raw material.