HC Deb 29 April 1965 vol 711 cc612-3
22. Mr. Marten

asked the President of the Board of Trade what representations were made to him by the delegates at the International European Free Trade Association Action Committee in mid-March about the surcharge and the export rebate; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Redhead

None, Sir.

Mr. Marten

I am much obliged for that reply, but could the hon. Gentleman say whether there is in Europe a great stockpiling of exports waiting to come to this country when the surcharge is reduced? Would it not be better to no away with the whole of the surcharge straight away and let trade flow freely?

Mr. Redhead

It has been repeatedly made clear that the Government intend to reduce and abandon the surcharge just as soon as the balance of trade position improves.

Mr. Peter Emery

Will the Minister of State bear in mind that certain exporting firms are having to decrease the price of their exports by their export rebate so as to get business? This is because of the effect of the surcharge. Will the hon. Gentleman bear this in mind particularly as an extra reason for reducing the surcharge immediately?

Mr. Redhead

We have some evidence of isolated cases of that kind, but they must not be exaggerated in their total effect.

Mr. Snow

In the meantime, would my hon. Friend draw to the attention of at least one member of E.F.T.A. the fact that over a long period it has had an extremely favourable balance of trade with us and that one of the quickest ways of getting rid of the necessity for the surcharge would be to rectify that imbalance?

Mr. Redhead

We lose no opportunities of drawing the attention of relevant countries to such factors.