HC Deb 20 October 1966 vol 734 cc376-7
6. Mr. Dickens

asked the First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Economic Affairs what steps he is taking to ensure that the forthcoming removal of the import surcharge is passed on to the consumer in lower prices.

The Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Mr. William Rodgers)

My right hon. Friend expects those concerned to recognise fully their responsibility in this respect.

Mr. Dickens

Does my hon. Friend remember that, in November, 1964, many manufacturers increased their prices to consumers by amounts at least ample to cover the import surcharge? Can we have an assurance this afternoon that the Government will take the most rigorous action to ensure +hat those manufacturers will reduce their costs to consumers by amounts at least equivalent to the import surcharge?

Mr. Rodgers

I can give that assurance and there should be some scope for reductions. However, it is only fair to say that inquiries which we made early in 1965 showed that the majority of importers, wholesalers and retailers, had, in fact, absorbed the import surcharge, wholly or in part.

Mr. Frederic Harris

Would not the hon. Gentleman agree that a large number of importers reduced their prices, because of the import surcharge coming down in November, when it was announced by the Chancellor last July, as otherwise they would not have sold their goods?

Mr. Rodgers

Some reductions might have taken place, but there is scope for many more.